The 5 Common Pitfalls to Growing Your Artist Booking Agency

published on
July 25, 2023

Here are the five most common pitfalls to growing your artist booking agency and our practical solutions to help your agency navigate them smoothly.

The world of booking agencies is as dynamic as it is challenging. Being efficient, productive, and profitable requires overcoming several common pitfalls that can get in the way of growth. At Gigwell, we’ve spent the past decade researching the inefficiencies and barriers to growth in booking agencies worldwide, and we see the same common pitfalls again and again. The agencies that are able to recognize and address these pitfalls grow exponentially, leaving their competition in the dust. Here are the five most common pitfalls to booking growth and our practical solutions to help your agency navigate them smoothly.

1. Inefficient Communication

The Pitfall:

One of the primary roles of a booking agency is to facilitate communication between artists and venues or event organizers. However, inefficient communication can lead to misinterpretations, missed opportunities, and strained relationships. This can occur due to lack of clarity, slow response times, or using inappropriate communication channels.

Scenario: An artist is informed about a venue change via voicemail, but they miss the notification and arrive at the wrong location, leading to delays and dissatisfaction.

The Game Changer

  • Centralized Communication Tools: Implement a shared platform that enables all parties to communicate efficiently, keeping conversations and information in one place.
Our tip: Gigwell’s booking software allows all team members to have a customized view of essential documents, with centralized communication for contacts, itineraries, updates, calendars, and emails. We also recommend Slack for instant communication across teams and channels, making it easy to loop the right people into conversations—we use it at Gigwell to connect our team with all our key partners and agencies.
  • Clear Communication Guidelines: Establish specific protocols for communication, detailing when and how communication should occur.
  • Conversation Tracking: Read receipts allow you to instantly see when a recipient has viewed or signed a contract, and an activity log tracks when a member of your team makes a change to a booking or does any activity to the booking. This full visibility helps the entire team to know the status of fast-paced booking operations.
  • Regular Check-ins and Updates: Schedule regular meetings and updates with artists and venues to ensure alignment.
  • Crisis Management Plan: Develop a communication plan for emergencies or sudden changes to ensure rapid response and minimal confusion.
  • Training and Education: Provide training to your team to ensure everyone understands how to communicate effectively within your specific process.

2. Lack of Real-Time Availability Tracking with Radius Clause Awareness

The Pitfall:

Without real-time tracking, scheduling conflicts may occur, such as double-bookings, radius clause conflicts, or just booking delays. Confusion around booking dates leads to potential loss of revenue and/or legal vulnerabilities.

Scenario: A booking agent spends hours each day fielding inquiries for already booked dates, leading to wasted time and frustration for both the agent and potential clients who found the information outdated and inaccurate.

The Game Changer:

Prevent overlaps with a scheduling system that updates availability in real-time and makes it simple for team members to monitor and manage the schedule. And then to safeguard the schedule, implement automatic alerts and clear backup plans.

  • Real-Time Scheduling Software: Use a scheduling system that updates availability and radius clause awareness, in real time, accessible to agents, artists, venues, and buyers.
Our tip: Gigwell's platform provides a live view of all bookings, allowing agents, artists, and venues to see available dates instantly.
  • Automatic Notifications and Reminders: Set up automatic alerts to inform parties of bookings, changes, and cancellations.
Our tip: Gigwell's system can send automatic alerts to inform relevant parties of new bookings, changes, or cancellations, keeping everyone up-to-date and aligned. We also recommend Zapier for connecting apps for instant alerts, which requires a little more technical know-how, but can be fully built to filter and send instant alerts.
  • Backup Plans: Have a plan in place for resolving scheduling conflicts quickly, such as standby venues or artists.
  • Historical Data Analysis: Analyze past booking patterns to predict potential challenges and avoid them in future scheduling, such as outdoor venues in areas that commonly have weather disruptions.

3. Failure to Analyze Performance Metrics

The Pitfall:

Not understanding performance metrics leads to misguided strategies and stagnation. Without a clear understanding of key success indicators, an agency may waste resources on ineffective methods and miss opportunities for growth and improvement. Essentially, this lack of insight hampers innovation and adaptability, causing an agency to spin all wheels in no particular direction.

The Game Changer:

  • Comprehensive Analytics Tools: Utilize software that can track a wide range of metrics, from booking rates to client satisfaction.
Our tip: Through visually engaging charts and graphs, Gigwell makes complex data more accessible, allowing users to quickly identify trends, strengths, and areas for improvement. Agencies can generate customized reports based on their specific needs and goals, enabling a focused analysis of performance in areas needing improvement. As a more technical tool, we recommend Tableau for fully-customizable data visualization and analysis.
  • Set Clear Goals and Benchmarks: Define specific, measurable goals that align with your agency's mission and vision.
  • Regular Progress Reviews: Implement periodic reviews with your team to monitor performance and adjust strategies as needed.
  • Employee Involvement: Engage your team in understanding and working towards performance goals.
  • Competitor Analysis: Monitor competitors’ performance to identify areas where you can improve or differentiate.
  • Continuous Improvement Culture: Foster a culture that encourages continuous improvement, learning from successes and failures.

4. Chasing Payments and Signatures

The Pitfall:

Chasing payments and contract signatures is not just an inconvenience for booking agencies; it can become a major time-consuming task that detracts from other essential business activities. In our agency research, one agency admitted that they had to employ a full-time person solely to chase down payments. This constant pursuit not only diverts valuable resources but also creates a chain of problems like cash flow interruptions, legal vulnerabilities, and strained relationships with artists and venues.

In today’s automation era, chasing payments no longer requires manual work. And that agency who told us they used to employ a full time payments pusher? That employee is now booking artists full-time, scaling growth faster for the agency.

The Game Changer:

  • Implement a well-structured invoicing and contract management system with automated payment reminders and electronic signatures. Create, send, and sign contracts electronically, so chasing contract signatures is fully automated.
  • Implement real-time tracking of payments and contract statuses, offering a clear view of what's paid, pending, or overdue. This visibility helps in planning and avoids unexpected cash flow issues.
Our tip: Gigwell's platform can send out automated invoices and contracts and then follow-up payment and signature reminders to clients, so you don’t have to do manual chasing. Real-time tracking tells you at a glance which payments and signatures are paid.
  • Clear communication about payment expectations and timelines, along with building relationships with reliable partners, can streamline this arduous process.

5. Failure to Adapt to Digital Centralization

The Pitfall:

In an increasingly interconnected digital world, the failure to adapt to digital centralization can put booking agencies behind their competitors. Sticking to fragmented systems and isolated databases results in inefficient workflows, lost information, and an inability to scale.

Scenario: an agency using separate systems for contracts, bookings, and communication may experience delays and confusion as they switch between platforms, leading to missed opportunities and wasted time.

The Game Changer:

  • Implement a Unified Platform: Choose a centralized platform that integrates all essential functions such as scheduling, contracts, communication, and reporting. Having everything in one place streamlines operations and minimizes the risk of errors.
Our tip: Gigwell provides a one-stop solution that integrates scheduling, contracts, communication, reporting, and more. By centralizing these functions, Gigwell eliminates the need to juggle all the booking tools and PDFs buried in different places, making everything centralized, organized, and efficient.
For storing and sharing web resources in one place, we also recommend Notion as a tool for clipping articles from the web and saving in one centralized location, though Notion does has a learning curve for those who are getting started with their page builder.
  • Invest in Training and Education: Ensure that staff members are adequately trained and comfortable using new digital tools. Provide workshops, online courses, or one-on-one coaching to their skills. Your booking software vendor should offer instructional webinars and customized training sessions.
  • Regularly Review and Update Technology: The digital landscape is ever-changing, and regular reviews and updates ensure that the agency's system remains relevant and effective. Stay informed about industry trends and be ready to adapt as needed.

Want to learn more? Dive deeper into growth strategies for your agency with our free downloadable guide: The Data-Driven Secrets to Growing Your Artist Booking Agency.

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