THE MUSIC PUZZLE: EXPLORING BOOKING PRACTICES IN EUROPE

Booking practices in the cultural field have arisen as a research object during the last 15 years, being investigated for and through their peculiar situation at the intersection between economic and artistic fields. Bookers have to manage their way between a variety of tasks, partnerships and responsibilities conferring them a key role in the musical landscape: they do evolve where art meets commerce, but also where artists meet audiences, and where access meets outreach.

The European network Live DMA represents over 2280 music venues and clubs in Europe, scattered over 16 countries. For this new study, Live DMA sought inspiration within on-going academic works tackling booking practices, but also within a Working Group they hosted in early 2021, when the whole sector was still shaken by the Covid-19 pandemic. The multiple gigs and tours cancellations, the rebooking patterns, and the jam they provoked when live music started to resume, put the bookers in the spotlight, along with their responsibilities.

These working groups gathered 15 bookers from different European countries, during which the wish for fairer practices within the booking community was acknowledged. The final objective of this research is then to be an incentive towards a European Fair Practice Code, which drafting implies more transparency but also a better understanding of this role. As such, this study aims to give an overview of who the bookers from Live DMA are, to investigate their daily tasks, to highlight the main challenges of live music programming, to identify the main partners bookers work with, to allow for more transparency within these operators, and eventually to pave the way for more social and artistic diversity.

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