I'm an entertainment agency owner in what was once (and I still consider it to be) the entertainment capital of the U.S., Las Vegas. So, how hard should it be to book talent (especially talent that has talent)? What is the climate during this period of recession? Should talent pound the pavement and make their own deals, or use agents (the age old question which is even more pertinent today)?
Here in Vegas, home of Star Entertainment Worldwide, there is a casino literally on every corner, and a few in every neighborhood off Strip, and all of them have lounges and/or showrooms. Then there are the out of state properties, the fairs and festivals, the corporate events, cruise ships and even bars (for those hearty souls willing to move from town to town for brief stints at honky tonks). Who is hiring and what are they paying?
We seem to have regressed from the steady money and perks talent used to get for travelling gigs. Now, we are working harder than ever at routing talent from anchor gig to anchor gig, booking small venues in between for their gas and food money. Some bars and clubs are reverting back to percentages of cover charges and bar net without a minimum gig fee. Get your contracts in advance, no matter how small the gig.
I definitely have the pulse of what is happening because I personally spend at least 40% of my 14-16 hour days emailing and calling entertainment bookers for the talent I represent. I also network with other agents across the country (and internationally) to get my acts work.
I can say without hesitation that performers need agents to make their deals now more than ever. We have the booking power because we have more than one talent to offer any specific client, and we can make the deals without harassing the entertainment directors, fair buyers, corporate marketers, casting companies, and club owners. There is nothing worse than talent selling themselves when they are hungry (literally) for work.
Pick and choose your agent, ask other talent, and when possible, get contracts with them as well. You can find all kinds of entertainment industry agreements online or contact me directly (I really don't mind)lucille@StarEntertainmentWorldwide.com and we'll get you a standard booking contract template.
Finally, even if you work with an agent, if you don't hustle, you won't get the gigs. For every gig, there are hundreds (and often thousands, especially for acting/modeling jobs) of talented folk trying for one spot. Don't just sit back and wait for the calls to come in, get online and join every social networking site available to you. The best are Facebook, MySpace (still great for b2b networking in the entertainment industry, especially for bands), Twitter, and LinkedIn. Be social, but also be professional. Remember, potential clients are reading your profiles.