When you’re in the business of booking artists, managing artist expectations is a serious challenge. Even if you’re a seasoned pro, this is something you just can’t avoid. After all, it's your responsibility to fill their tour schedules with consistent quality gigs.
So, what can you do to handle their expectations and make sure you keep an authentic relationship with them at the same time?
Let’s start with the most important thing - listening. It sounds obvious, but it needs to be said. Your artists will generally tell you if you’re not meeting their expectations, if not directly, indirectly. Make sure you’re listening actively to what they’re saying and addressing their concerns.
Often, it simply isn’t possible to get everyone the timeslots they want at events. It's also not realistic to do everything as the artist imagines. It's your job to find a middle ground and to make things work.
You need to make sure you discuss things with your artists upfront when you start working with them. If you're planning to work with them for a long time, you will need to trust each other, and that means that it's often your job to initiate difficult but necessary conversations. You'll be thankful that you had that tough conversation down the line when you avoid a potentially massive issue with violated trust.
Strong and honest communication is something you want to start every business relationship with, and something you want to maintain throughout the course of that relationship (if you want it to go smoothly). Otherwise, you'll lose their trust and their business.
Next, you need to develop a stronger personal relationship with your artists. Hang out with them before and after shows, and share regular phone calls. The personal connection helps establish something a lot bigger than a simple agent-artist business relationship.
It's important to not just be a business partner, but also a friend. Artists will feel a lot more comfortable discussing important things with you, which is critical to long term success. Music is a personal and friendly business after all, and the friendlier you can be with your colleagues, the better and more authentic your crew will get!
Last but certainly not least - you need to make it clear you’re working hard for your artists. If you want to keep them happy, it’s essential to let them know what you are working on and check in regularly. Often, artists don't even know what their managers are doing, and this can lead to resentment if they feel like nothing is getting done.
Be sure to show a lot of initiative and let them know you’re on their team. Ask them about their new music and make sure they know that you genuinely care and see potential in their projects. Keep them updated with what you are working on, and always make sure to keep them informed with important decisions.
Naturally, there’s a lot more to managing artist expectations than what we just mentioned. Being a booking agent is no easy task, and the situations that can end up on your plate are endless. If you want to take a step ahead and focus on the critical stuff we mentioned above, we recommend taking a look at our artist management platform, Mainstage. Let us handle the rest while you work on what matters - building good relationships with your artists and getting them good shows.