This is the first in a series of posts about the inner workings of Midnight Mango and to a large extent booking agencies in general. The Posts themselves will live in our Learning Hub on the Midnight Mango website. This public-facing space is there for anyone to check out. As time goes by I hope it will become a useful resource…
A special type of employment agency
Booking Agencies are essentially employment agencies. To prevent the booking agency exploiting the “work-seeker” there are certain rules that they must follow and certain practices that are not allowed. This protection is a good thing.
These rules are enshrined in UK law, so for agencies based in the UK, they must follow these rules regardless of where the “worker” resides.
In essence, we, at Midnight Mango, find work for the artists we represent, so we are an “employment agency” and the artists is essentially a “work-seeker”.
Of course agencies and artists in the music industry approach work in a very different way to most other employment agencies. For example an employment agency that supplies office staff or teaching staff or bar staff works differently to one that supplies performances. For this reason, the rules that apply to agent and artist in the entertainment sector, are different.
Although the rules are different, they have the same end goal, which is to regulate our part of the industry and create fair working practices within it.
OK – so what are these rules and how are they different?
Well there are the two take-away points…
The main difference is that Entertainment Agencies can charge the work-seeker a fee for finding work – normal employment agencies can’t do this – they bill the hirer. This would be like a booking agent billing a venue for supplying an artist and then the venue paying the artist. Whilst there’s nothing technically wrong with this approach, it’s just not the one most contemporary music booking agencies do. (There is a secondary argument that this arrangement might not incentivise the agent to get the best fee for the artist – but that’s another discussion.)
The big important rule, is you can’t charge the artist a fee until they have agreed to your Terms and Conditions. IT’S THE LAW. So any agent who avoids this is breaking the law and any artist who won’t agree to terms is asking the agency to turn a blind eye to the law.
More importantly though, the law is there to protect the artist, to make sure they have agreed to the agency’s working practices and that they know what to expect from them. Of course the agency’s terms are also there so the artist understands their obligations under the agreement. Here at Midnight Mango we explain to our artists that they need to sign our Terms Of Business because we really want them to know how we work and what to expect from us. This is also why we prefer the artists themselves to sign that they have read and understood them, rather than getting their manager or lawyer or grandma to sign on their behalf.
Now of course…
What goes in to a booking agency’s Terms of Business is a very different matter altogether – they are very different between agencies. However there are certain things that must be in a booking agencies Terms of Business – This will be the subject of the next post in this series: The Terms Of Business.