The Agency Group

In the music world, talent booking agents are responsible for arranging tours and negotiating details with venues. And in the world of booking agents, The Agency Group is the largest independent company.

This is a world based on relationships: with venue programmers, with promotors and with artists. While one would think this adds a degree of stability, there is actually a good degree of churn as artists (and agents) move from agency to agency and programmers move from venue to venue. So as one way to keep updated, the industry holds regular tradeshows where programmers and promotors have the opportunity to visit with all the agencies in the span of a couple days.

The form of currency at these tradeshows is the roster. The roster is a curated list which reflects the most successful acts and range of genres which an agency currently has on offer. It is traditionally printed in two-colors on letter-sized paper — and immediately put in a file when the programmer returns to their office.

Programmers tend to inhabit some pretty dismal offices: often in the basement, near the prep kitchen or in some other windowless box. And the profession isn’t necessarily the easiest road to riches. Programming a club may be a step on the way to a Ron Delsener level, but that requires a monomaniacal focus and a good amount of luck. So one could argue that these people do this job to somehow stay connected to creativity and art.

Therefore, we proposed rethinking the roster so it would live on… proudly displayed instead of languishing in a file cabinet of forgetfulness. We would turn the roster into an illustrated poster.

Summer 2012, Illustrator: George Bates

Summer 2012, Illustration: George Bates

Winter 2013, Illustrator: Melinda Beck

Winter 2013, Illustration: Melinda Beck

Roster side, Winter 2013, Illustrator: Melinda Beck

Roster side, Winter 2013, Illustration: Melinda Beck

Summer 2012, Illustrator: Noah Woods

Summer 2013, Illustration: Noah Woods

Winter 2014, Illustrator: Aad Goudappel

Winter 2014, Illustration: Aad Goudappel

Summer 2014, Illustration: David Plunkert

Summer 2014, Illustration: David Plunkert

Winter 2015, Illustration: George Hardie

Winter 2015, Illustration: George Hardie

Granted, making a poster is a clichéd graphic design response. 9/11? Make a poster. Hurricane Sandy? Make a poster. But in this brand context, a simple thing like a poster was highly effective.

Since there’s so much churn in the talent booking industry, there’s also a general sameness to how things look. Besides the letter-sized rosters, tradeshow booths are decorated with glossy headshots of their clients, arranged artfully around the company logo. And after a couple years, The Agency Group’s booth, with the collected rosters displayed in place of all the headshots, now has a distinctive look and feel separate from the competition.

In effect, the company’s brand has been changed … without touching the logo. Because now, The Agency Group is understood to be committed to art.

Beyond that, anecdotal evidence supports the initial hope that programmers would keep the roster up on their office wall. So the next time you find yourself in a club basement, keep an eye out for the most recent roster.


Agency: Malcontent
Creative direction, design: Mark Kingsley

The Agency Group: Andrea Johnson, Ronnie Lapone, Laura Dunaway, Connor Singletary

George Bates
Melinda Beck
Noah Woods
Aad Goudappel
David Plunkert
George Hardie

GM Printing

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