Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lessons from the Industry Formerly Known as "The Record Business"

by James Barton and Brian Message
A record company's value used to be measured by the acquisition, protection, and exploitation of copyrights. Exploiting those copyrights by selling songs is an easy business model to understand and used to be the foundation of a very healthy global industry. Historically, the record business was the heart of the music industry. Sell a lot of records and you were a successful business. And artists also succeeded through record sales: they became household names when they had sold a lot of records.
From the business perspective, artists and songs could be viewed as interchangeable commodities. If any given artist failed to deliver hits, another waited in the wings to take their place. This impersonal approach allowed the music industry to grow extremely profitable by simply selling "product."
But the sale of recorded music has taken a battering over the last decade, and it's no longer smart to judge an artist's commercial viability on record sales alone — not least when there is a new generation who questions the need to pay for recorded music at all. For many artists and their managers, record sales are now just one of many revenue streams and one of a number of factors with which to judge success.
Despite this dramatic change in the marketplace, many struggle with the concept of uncoupling success from record sales. It doesn't help that most measures — the charts by which many fans learn about new music — are still based on this notion. For emerging artists this is particularly precarious, since careers are too often ended early if a first set of recordings fail to sell.
So how should a "content producer" behave in this new environment? And what lessons can we learn from this new model of value? Here are the two keys:
  1. Do not treat artists as commodities
  2. Value the artist-fan relationship as highly as traditional rights
Smart managers realize every artist is a standalone business that generates income from multiple revenue streams. A manager's job is to create those businesses and run them well. This requires thinking globally and being agnostic about which revenue stream or territory is the most important. As long as those channels can deliver the aesthetic the artist wants and make a profit, the business is a success.
But the business of relationship building is not a quick one. Artists have to earn the respect of fans, convert that respect into trust, and, eventually, convert that trust into faith. Building communities takes time, and it can only be achieved over the long-term. In this model, artists can no longer be treated as interchangeable hit makers.
The key to artist-management success is identifying talent early and developing it cost-effectively over a long period of time. Artists — and their art — are the only real assets. The systems and structures that surround them should be treated as a means to maximize the commercial value of each artist. As such, the traditional music industry — be that companies that make and distribute records, publishers who collect performance royalties and create sync opportunities, concert promoters, or merchandisers — should be regarded primarily as service providers to artists.
As the digital age gathers pace, managers must engage in the shaping of the music landscape. That landscape is still plagued by a mindset that regards copyright as an instrument of control (which further limits commercial exploitation to traditional models) rather than as a remuneration right that can generate revenue wherever a market may be. The future is about accepting consumer behavior and looking for as many ways as possible to monetize it.
In addition, managers must also simplify the complex structures of the industry and create healthy businesses based on monetizing the behavior of consumers and those businesses that wish to use creators' works for their own profit. Without a simpler, better structured digital market, the direct artist-to-fan business will struggle to grow. Moreover, it will undermine the modern-day manager's opportunities to improve their artists' business.
Managers must also figure out alternative investment for artist businesses. Traditionally, it was the record business that invested in new talent. Restricting investment to direct rights exploitation keeps the emphasis on making money from record sales, which keeps the "investment risk" for would-be investors high. A viable alternative would be a market for investors to put their money into artists' whole businesses, where artists retain rights and investors participate in all the profits.
The music industry was the first of the creative industries to be affected by the disruptive nature of the internet. But it's not all bad news. Disintermediation has forced a focus on talented individuals who produce great art. One of the jobs of their managers is to create an environment that allows them to do so. Ways of collecting fans and connecting them to artists are ever changing, but by embracing new technology opportunities, creative businesses will flourish. Other content producers take note.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

This post originally appeared on BMA on December 20, 2005.
There are amazing women musicians out there. But the industry signs acts based on marketing. It’s definitely a loop. There aren’t women out there doing well, because they haven’t been signed, so (the record) industry doesn’t sign any more, figuring they won’t do well.” - Jason Mraz

The explosion of music downloads in the late 1990s cut deeply into the cash coffers of record labels. As a result, record executives decided to cut back on promoting ‘unproven’ artists, and went from focusing on talented female artists, to looking for a marketing vehicle. Out with Lilith Fair, in with Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica. So as Gen Y helps prompt a change in the country’s musical tastes, this poses a very tough question for female artists whose last name isn’t Spears or Simpson: Do they try to reinvent themselves like Jewel did, or forge forward relying on their talent to win them fans?
And this isn’t a problem reserved for undiscovered artists. Some of Jewel’s contemporaries such as Sheryl Crow and Alanis have seen their album sales slide since their Lilith days. Many of today’s labels see a woman onstage with a guitar in her hands as a ‘marketing risk’. But musicians don’t have to reinvent themselves every few years simply because tastes temporarily change.

A perfect example is Sarah McLachlan. Her music is basically the same today as it was in 1989 when she released her first album, Touch. Touch sold over 500,000 copies, while Afterglow, which is her fifth and latest album of new material, currently has over 2 million in sales.

The best way for Jewel and other female rockers in her position to re-establish a strong bond with their fans could be, you guessed it, the internet. There are so many ways to reach out directly to fans. Artists can tap fan sites, mailing lists, MySpace, anything. Blogs are another obvious way for artists to reach their fans. Such viral efforts are already being used to launch the careers of female artists such as Missy Higgins, they could easily work for established stars. These moves are authetic, and fans will respond to any musician that reaches out to them in such a personal way.

While the current music climate has put a temporary crunch on some female artists, the ultimate loser here could be the record labels themselves. As the record companies make it harder and harder for emerging and existing female artists to make a name for themselves, these musicians are looking for other outlets to promote themselves. And the risk that labels run is, once these acts find a way to circumvent the current system, will they ever return?

“The major label system is broken, but I’m not crying. It couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people.” said Carla DiSantis, editor of the magazine ROCKRGRL.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

True Blue Fan (TBF)

Many artist & their bands can sing & play, but, they are amazed (sometimes mad) when the audiences fail to connect with them.  Artist and bands work on perfecting their play list of songs to sound like the studio version or the 'cover' version they hear. On stage, it's entertainment time!  If I go see a movie and it doesn't entertain, connect, excite me, then most of the time I actually take short naps.  Most artist/band never think about changing up a song to allow it to 'CONNECT' with their audience. And, if you don't connect and create special moments of memory, then, in most cases you will not have won over new fans & you certainly will not have what every artist should strive to have and that is:  TRUE BLUE FANS!  Yes, that is a KSE exclusive.  TRUE BLUE FAN OR TBF IS WHAT EVERY ARTIST MUST HAVE to create longevity as an INDIE touring band.  TBF are those people that will become the most important part of your TEAM.  In short, they are the ones that will show up for your shows with new fans & they are the ones that will buy tickets, merchandise, and leave tips in your tip jar.  As we all know most young inexperienced bands can only tour if they can meet expenses.

Developing into an entertainer takes time, much practice, money, and developing TRUE BLUE FANS!  It's like going from grade school, Jr. High, High School to getting your Bachelors, Masters and your PhD.  After you have completed those degrees, you need continuing updates and training....All Roads that lead to the STAGE must be incrementally improved each year, but, only after an artist has mastered all the baseline stages.  Once this is accomplished, an artist/band will forever be developing their passion for creative performances that make connecting memorial moments that last with their new fans that will change into TBF.

Fine line between self-promotion and the “me, me, me”

It’s really important to not overdose your fans or the press with your promotions. It can be taken the wrong way. Firstly, if you saturate everyone, no one will read your emails or promotions. Secondly, find a way to promote yourself but also add cool opportunities or interesting stores along the way. Then people won’t turn off if it’s just all about you. I love to read gig news emails if it starts with some funny anecdote about what the artist has been up to or a story they want to tell. It grabs me in. Then, in a subliminal way, I’m also fed great gig and music news. 

 It’s hard to be your own promoter, that’s for sure. But if you don’t have someone to do it for you, or you don’t want to use a pseudonym and write in the third person, then go for intimacy. Speak from you, colloquial, and let us into your world. Fans love to know the “real” artist! 

 Don’t’ be afraid to self-promote. It’s a new era, and you can do it. Just watch any language you use that might suggests a focus too much on yourself and please veer away from fancy words like ‘outstanding’, ‘the hottest performer ever’, or ‘ the new Madonna of Studio City’. Try not to compare yourself too much and be your own unique being! Being humble is also important. It’s nice to be glorified, but let others glorify you, not you.

Street Promotion

  • Street teams are it! – gather people in cities you will tour, who are fans of yours to help promote you before you come to town. You’ll find that your fans will work twice as hard for you if you give them and their friends some free passes or maybe even CDs.
  • Flyer handouts – hand out gig notices and CD release flyers to people on the street, outside other performances. If you play Brazilian music, find a hot Brazilian music concert and flyer away!
  • Posters at venues – put up posters at venues you’re going to play at.
  • Rallying fans – entice your fans to help you spread the word and offer cool merch, swag and CDs in return. They like to feel special. 

What are the odds of succeeding WITH a record deal?

July 19, 2011

Robin Davey in The Road to Success, Understanding Record Labels, record deal, recording contract, success 
If your aim as an artist is to purely chase a record deal as a means to succeeding in this business, I will tell you right now that you are doomed for failure. You can throw all the trumped up statistics around that you want, but fundamentally your chances of actually landing a record deal are extremely slim. Furthermore, your chances of actually making money directly from that deal are pretty much zero.
In the good old days when the CD was king and big advances were de rigueur, the percentage of bands that succeeded in the system was around 5%. That was before the CD crashed. Now if you do not fit the predisposed top 40 vision of the major label machine, there is no space left for you. There may still be a few independent labels who still have a working business model to accomodate less mainstream acts, but they survive by cutting down their roster, and investing in those who have already amassed an ever growing following. Quite simply if you can’t already pull the people, you are not ready for a label.


When a previously burgeoning scene dies, it either disappears, or it finds a way to get subsidized, not due to popularity, but due to status.  This is why the pay-to-play system swallows up the shell of a once happening music scene. LA is a prime example of this, with venues like The Whiskey using its once legendary name to con bands into paying up to $500 for the privilege of playing there.
These venues survive, not because they offer a legitimate service, but because there are enough bands that blindly believe they are the ones destined for success. As a result they will happily make the monetary sacrifices in order to be “discovered”.
The music industry has long since been an extension of this pay-to-play mentality. You think that once you get a record deal your talent shines through and all the magazines, radio stations and established bands looking for opening acts are itching to include you in their insular worlds? Get real. These opportunities are all paid for. It is just another pay-to-play milieu that a record deal gains you access to.


Just look at Rolling Stone magazine these days. How many bad reviews do they write in an issue? You would think that journalists are chomping at the bit to express their distaste for the latest debacle by a pop princess, but no, all the reviews are glowing. Surely this means every bit of space is bought in one-way or another.
You want to be a part of that world? You go ahead, but don’t think you will actually have a musical personality left by the end of it. Certainly don’t believe that it will affect your bank balance positively.
The major record companies think they are still king, but they are the corporate equivalent of a band who think they have stature because they bought themselves a 8pm slot at the Whiskey. Once you play the Whiskey you realize why they have to charge bands to play there – because no one else shows up.
Similarly no one is buying Magazines any more, so what happens? I would say it is pretty fair to assume they instigate a pay-to-play policy. Just like Johnny No Name believes that to have an appearance at the Whiskey on their bio holds some weight, the majors seemingly believe that to have a review in Rolling Stone also still means something.  But if no one is reading the magazine, the truth is, it doesn’t mean shit.
This is the major labels conundrum, they are locked into an old system, putting up the front of a reigning potentate, but behind the scenes they are a crumbling monarchy quickly losing favor with their subjects, reflecting a distinct lack of understanding for what the people want.


They pay for features, pay for songs, pay for radio, pay for style, pay for TV, they’ll probably even pay Bob Lefsetz for a mention if he’ll let them. But if no one is buying the products, how can they sustain this? And when everyone is jostling for the record company to use their money to bribe someone on their behalf, the reality is why should they use their ever-diminishing cash pile on you. Unless you are prepared to do whatever they want you to do in order to achieve their goals. But of course you will be signed because of your unrivaled talent. Right? Yeah right.
Maybe the future of the major labels will become a step-up from the Pay-to-Play model adopted by music clubs. Rich Mommy and Daddy putting up the cash to have the major label machine pimp their child’s product. This already happens with smaller labels that offer a kind of middleman role - if you have the cash  they provide everything from radio promotion to distribution. You are basically buying yourself a record deal.


Those artists who have broken during these last dark few years, achieved their success because they did what it takes to succeed, and with the major labels that currently means metaphorically sucking dick whenever the situation deems it necessary.
It may be a route to fame, for a very select few, but is it really a route to musical satisfaction, for both the artists and the fans? And what is a business without satisfied clients and customers?

Robin Davey is a Musician, Film Director and Producer born in the UK and now residing in Los Angeles. He was inducted into the British Blues Hall Of Fame at the age of 23 with his band The Hoax. His band The Bastard Fairies achieved over 1 Million downloads when they were the first band to release an album for free via the internet in 2006. As a director he won the best Music Video award at the American Indian Motion Picture Awards. His feature documentary The Canary Effect - an exploration into the hidden Genocide of Native Americans, won The Stanley Kubrick Award For Bold and Innovative Film Making at Michael Moores Traverse city Film Festival in 2006. He is also head of Film and Music Development at GROWvision - A full service media, management and production company

Monday, June 27, 2011

"A body can pretend to care; but they can't pretend to be there."

Indie Female Artist Must Consider, Daily, these Questions:

  • Who Are You
  • What is your style
  • How Is It Special
  • How is it Different from Other Artists
  • Plans for the next 10 years; stepping stones to success. Need breaking down into 2 year specific increments.  Will need adjusting, dependent on your success and failures.
  • Stage Presence
  • Fans and True Blue Fans
  • Music (Originals/Covers)
  • Song Development ( How many do your and your band know; how many sets can you perform at each gig...must know 3-5 sets to get booked at a majority of venues)
These are but a few of the many areas a Indie Artist must know.

Some Keys To Becoming A Successful Artist

Invest in your act.  Learn how to play your instrument.  Connect with
your fans.  Make True Blue Fans! Put tons of images and photos on your 
Website.  Don't give up to go to law school.  There are NO OPTIONS if you want to make it in the music business.

But today a video won't buy you much.  All the old nineties
tools...you can employ them, but you come up empty-handed.  It's a new
music business now.  It's about bands and fans.  It's about
relationships.  That's what the Web offers.  All those assholes who
lost their jobs running labels who said that no act ever broke on the
Internet just don't understand that THEIR kind of act hasn't broken on
the Net, a ubiquitous superstar...but acts are breaking.  Rather,
they're building.  Growing.  Into sustainable entities.  And it takes

The whiners are gone.  The easy money is history.  Only the lifers
remain, the people who NEED to be in the music business.  And they're
working with acts with the same passion they possess.

And that's what it's about, PASSION!  Hearing that record and needing
not to buy it on iTunes, but STEAL IT, because you just don't have
enough money to feed your music addiction.

The old players have got it all wrong.  It's not about a walled
garden, charging a fortune for admission.  It's a matter of connecting
with people, making music that they want to hear forever.  They'll
give you all the money they've got.  The most passionate down loaders
are the most passionate concertgoers, they'll even buy the CD to hear
the music of their favorite bands in a PRISTINE FASHION!  But they
want the privilege of being able to surf and find new acts.  They're
always in search of greatness.  They're fed up with the pabulum that's
been fed to them by the media manipulators.

A successful career is not about impressions any long....bands are
sold by word of mouth, one fan to the next. And you can no longer
manufacture buzz.  Buzz has got to be real.  Because there are people
out to bust you for your shenanigans, and most don't have time to pay
attention anyway. But if people find something good, they'll give it
ALL their attention.

That glow from the show?  That high you had for twenty four hours?
That's what cemented your FANDOM.  It had nothing to do with the
backdrops, the special effects, but the vibe, the music.

The music is king once again.  You don't have to look good, you just
have to play/sing well and have something to say.

Will vapid pop stars continue to be flogged?  OF COURSE!  But there
will be fewer and fewer, because it's almost impossible to make any
dough doing that anymore.  You need a 360 deal and advertisements and
movies...  It's damn hard.

But if you make one great record, and you're in it for the long haul,
and you can wait for the virus to spread, you can play music for the
rest of your life.  You may not own a Rolls.  Your mother's friends
might not know who you are.  But when you hit the stage, you're going
to hear a roar of appreciation that will put a grin on your face just
like when your first grade teacher gave you a compliment.  You're
gonna feel like life's worth living.  Because you know what you mean
to these people.  You're part of their lives.  You help them get
through.  You have a RELATIONSHIP!
No relationship, no future.
Forget branding, forget sponsorship, forget placement.  Focus on
music.  Great music finds its own way.


PS: I love that word: FANDOM .... OUR KEY TO SUCCESS!!  FANDOM!!! equals True Blue Loyal Fans (TBLF)

Independent Music Promotion on the Web: 3 Steps to Success

Let's face it, the wildfire spread of web-based portals designed to introduce independent music to the world has created a bewildering array of opportunities and costs. So where do they all balance out? When does the cost of signing up to yet another music promotion service yield results? What results are we looking for anyway?

The key is to make your web promotion targeted, systematic and rich.

What is the main drive for independent artists promote their music on the web? The fundamental incentive for web promotion is the opportunity to get your music heard by people who might otherwise never know that you exist! If people know you exist they can become fans and repeat-listeners. Which of those fans buy CD's and downloads? Targeted listeners.

The most important goal of web promotion is to attract targeted listeners.

Any independent artist who says they use the web to sell their music has missed the primary target - attracting targeted listeners. Attracting targeted listeners should be every independent artist's first priority. Remember, you don't sell your music - listeners BUY your music. It's a buyers market. The more targeted listeners you have, the more sales you make - provided you are systematic in getting your targeted listeners.

The best way to get targeted listeners is to be systematic.

Many artists tend to approach their web promotion thinking that since they have a website and have signed up to a couple of artist showcase sites, that the listeners will just come pouring in. Yes you have managed to target some potential listeners, but you still have to shout, "Hey, over here...you'll like the sound of this!" A systematic approach to getting listeners to hear your music will attract and maintain their interest. But remember to make sure you have the content ready for the listener to enjoy.

Sites rich in content will retain your targeted listener.

In the independent artist's case, the rich content is the music. This may seem like old news, but look at the amount of independent artist websites that give the visitor loads of info about the band but very little (or hidden) ear candy. Music should be the first thing a visitor gets. At the very least they need an obvious link to where they can listen to your music. And not just one or two tracks but a variety of your music. Independent artists have to remember they have not had the radio exposure to model the presentation of their music after more well established acts. Listeners need to be convinced they like your independent music before they will buy it.

So the question is how to make your web promotion targeted, systematic and rich?

Tips for Targeting

The best targeted listeners on the web will be those that make it to your website. Find a way to know who they are. Setup a newsletter and make it easy to sign up to it. People interested enough to want to receive news about you are your hardcore web fans, keep them happy.

The next best group of targeted listeners are those that hear your music on other sites. Try to pick sites that allow listeners to link to your site. If they like your music they might click on that link to visit your site. You can then find out where these visitors are coming from. Find a good web statistics package that lets you know which sites your visitors are being referred from. Take note of those sites and focus your efforts with them accordingly.

When choosing sites on which to promote your music, check to see if they offer any individual stats relating to your music. Like how many track plays or page views you and your music receive on their site. This way you can check in periodically and monitor your performance with these sites.

Systematic Steps

The key to being systematic is organization. Keep a note of all the sites you use to promote your music, a brief description of what they do and how much it costs. Try to get into the practice of monitoring all of them regularly. Take note of which sites are getting better results than others and focus your efforts accordingly. You might pay for minimal promotion on one website, while another gets you loads of listeners for free. Naturally you'll want to put more effort into updating the sites that are getting better results.

Provide a link on your website and newsletters to all of the sites you use to promote your music. Remember your website visitors are your hardcore web fans and are the most likely to check out and spread the word about your spot on other websites. So encourage them to visit your profile on other websites. At the very least it raises your stats on those websites - making your music look more popular!

Try to create a ring of sites that link to each other though the content you supply. For example, you might have your music on your own website and two other showcase sites - Site A and Site B. Your site should without a doubt link with Site A and Site B. Site A should link with your site and Site B, Site B should link with your site and Site A and so on. What if these sites don't allow you to setup links to other sites? Put a web address in the areas where they do allow you to supply content. Like biogs or descriptions.

The ultimate aim of linking all your sites is to provide your listeners with a variety of access points to your music, as well as access to the different ways various sites may deliver your music. Remember to link to your specific page on the site and not just the site itself. Your site linked with a site that play your tracks on Internet radio, linked with a site that sells your downloads, linked with a site that sells your CD's provides for a powerful combination of exposure.

Be Rich

Without money! That is the challenge that most independent artists face. The conventional approach to selling music is that it should not be too readily available to listen to, should the incentive for listeners to actually buy albums be undermined. This has persuaded independent artists that they should limit web listeners to low-quality snippets of streaming audio.

Independent artists have to remember they don't have the resources and finances to support the "shotgun approach" of spraying their music across radio and music television. Big artists have big companies behind them that need to recoup the costs of mass media exposure, and therefore try to limit the extent to which listeners can sample their music on the web. Listeners have already heard the music and are trying to find a copy of their own.

Conversely, listeners haven't had a chance to listen to independent artist through conventional media. Therefore independent artists can't assume that people will buy their music off of a website if they don't get a chance to really listen to it. If people have already heard an artist's music, and like it, the value they pay for is in owning a copy they can play whenever they like. If people have not already heard an artist's music, the value is in being able to sample as much of the music as possible.

So being rich is providing your listeners with as much of your music as they want to listen to before they buy it. Now you don't have to make all your tracks available for free download, but you can provide good quality, full-length streams that impress the listener and enhance your sound. Not tight-fisted snippets that lose the listener because they are lo-fi and over before they attract the listener's interest.

Being rich is also making your music available in a variety of formats for different audiences. Telling fans that your music can be heard via Internet radio, on-demand streams, mp3 downloads and mail order CD means you can appeal to listeners who prefer more than one type of media. You can also use your web promotion to go beyond simply plays and sales - consider licensing.

Licensing your music for use with television, film, advertising, websites, video games and other multimedia will open up your listening audience, provide revenue and introduce a degree of professionalism to your career that attracts the notice of industry reps and A&R. Adding this depth to your web promotion helps to enrich the presentation of your music and retain targeted listeners.

So remember:

a) maximise your targeted listeners, 
b) be systematic in obtaining them, 
c) retain them by making sure your own site and other sites are rich in content. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Making True Blue Fans

So how DO you make fans today?  By making something so creative or good that people pay attention.  That's the major label formula.  They want to sign you AFTER you've gotten everybody to pay attention.  But if you make that deal you're shortsighted, because all the label can do is get you on radio and TV, two dying media, meanwhile taking too much of the upside and paying very little in advance.

In other words, one Funny Or Die clip is better than hours spent working with Dr. Luke. That's the secret of OK Go.  The videos were so creative, they were passed from hand to hand via e-mail, IM and the Facebook wall.

Yes, the words of the poets are written on the Facebook wall, the subway's passe.

So instead of handing out fliers, e-mailing everybody you know to listen to your music, the game is to stay home and create something so good, so interesting, that when it's posted online, people won't be able to stop sending it to their friends.

It's not even about genres.  There are no limits online.

And catchy is catchy.  I may have only heard Rebecca Black's "Friday" one time through, but the chorus is stuck in my head.

So stand back, take a deep breath and change direction.  Don't play by the old rules. Today you've got to be really good or really creative or both.  Your song must connect in one listen.

That doesn't mean you can't keep trying, you can't keep uploading songs and videos, but the sheer mass, just staying in the game, won't help.  You're now an inventor, looking for that one breakthrough product.  When you succeed, your history is unlocked and your fans can wallow in your past.  This is the opposite of the major label paradigm.  There's the hit and..?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Getting A Booking Agent To Take Me and My Band Seriously?

The answer to this question is simple, straightforward, but not necessarily the easiest to stomach. So here goes:

Drum roll.....The best way to get booking agents to take you seriously is to ignore them, not worry about them at all and wait for them to eventually approach you.

Ignore them?

Not worry about them?

Wait till they approach you?

Is This Guy For Real?

Think about it for a moment. In the most simplistic sense booking agents see you and your band as a commodity that has a certain price tag associated with it. For example, let’s say right now your band might only be worth $100 for a thirty minute slot on a Saturday night. When you’re able to demand $1,000 a show and can sell out a 250 capacity room without much effort, you’ll be sure to grab the attention of a booking agent – and they’ll take you very seriously.

By then, the issue of will they take you seriously will no longer apply because your value as a band to them is far greater and they will take you seriously automatically as they now see possible financial reward from investing their time into your commodity, which is your band.

Granted, this description sounds dry and un-arty, yet the reality is that this is what really happens and to really understand the answer to this question, it’s important to understand the mechanics of the situation. No agent will every speak like that or make you believe that’s the case, however at the back of their minds when they know they’ve got bills to pay and they’re under pressure by their superiors to bring in the commissions, what else would be at the core of their thought process?

A booking agent sits on the phone all day long, cutting deals, booking rooms, organizing tour schedules, gossiping and a whole lot more. To get one of them to take you seriously, you must be able to prove worth. In doing this, by default you are also getting them to spend less time booking their other bands and tasks which could potentially bring in the payola.

Not an easy task.

However when you can understand what motivates them and what will get them excited, you’ll certainly have a better chance at getting them to take you seriously.

Remember that it is their job to be finding the next great talents of the world and if they haven’t come knocking at your door yet, there is probably a good reason why.

This does not mean to say that you should throw in the towel and give up either. Rather it means that more work and effort needs to go into your career before you reach that next step of getting a professional to do all the bookings and talking for you.

As a result, the whole concept of dealing with booking agents at the beginning of a bands music career is generally very misunderstood. By realizing the above, you’ll slowly start to realize booking your own shows until you can prove your value and pulling power might be the best way to go and ultimately you’ll be able to get agents to take you seriously.

In my humble little opinion this is really the only way to get an agent to take you seriously.

The Upside To This Approach?

This might not be the answer you wish to hear and nine out of ten bands I’ve ever spoken to always say the same thing, “We just want to focus on our music,” but look at the flip side, imagine how much more knowledge and understanding you’ll gain by starting out yourself, not to mention the network you will also carve out as a result!

The more hands on experience you can endure at the beginning of your career, the better shape you’ll be in when agents come knocking at your door and ultimately take you very seriously.


Successful booking is one of the life-bloods of all Indie Female Artist.  Most Indie Artist have to initially book themselves because booking agents, for the most part, don't want to waste their time on any new Indie Artist, especially females Indie Artists. After all if you can't book gigs, how are you going to grown your fan base and how will you meet all your fiscal responsibilities?

Whether you contact a venue by email(lest recommended), by phone, or you drop by in person, you must be well prepared as most of these folks are on tight schedules, which means you must maximizes the time you have with them.  Here are a few questions to ask:

  1. What genre of music do your patrons prefer?
  2. What nights of the week do you have live music?
  3. Are there nights you prefer acoustic and bands?
  4. Do you require artist/bands bring a certain amount of paying fans?
  5. Currently I am booking for ......... and for .........?
  6. How does your calendar look for those time periods?
  7. Ask about sound system and sound engineer.
  8. Get information rates they pay and the best time to reach them by phone.
  9. Get all their numbers you can: work, home, cell, and personal email.
  10. Give them your business card with all your information on it, including your website.
  11. Make sure you reenforce that you will do exactly what they require to keep a crowd happy for the allotted time frame you will be performing.
  12. Show the Booker a few of your song set list for their review and comments. 
  13. Inform the Booker how many songs are in your repertoire.
  14. Make sure you know the expected off-load times and by when you must be ready to start.
  15. Above all be polite, respectful, and courteous.  If you do book one date, try for one or two more.  Many venues like to have the same bands come in for 1-3 nights every 4-6 weeks.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Indie Female Success is dependent on how much time you will consistently dedicate to being pro-active to promoting and developing your career.

You should be thinking: Today is the first day of the rest of your life/career. Achieving your goals means taking all the necessary steps in a prescribe order. This will prevent repetition and redundancy on this Indie Road you travel. Sometimes your 'steps' will be short; sometimes they will be long, but, remember every step takes your forward towards achieving your dreams.

As an Indie Artist it's difficult to know what your next step should be, let alone know when your next paycheck will come. Every new fan; every new gig is progress. Each day there are many things to do. Most days your preparation is doing the same things over, but, with the goal of improving or doing them better.

Independents wear many hats because for a long period of time, they must do everything themselves. If this isn't your calling, you may want to think extensively about seeking another career, either inside the music market or outside it. Just Remember: The harder you work the luckier you get!


To live the life of a creative person is a rare gift. This alone should be enough motivation to do whatever it takes to have it become a reality. Surround yourself with creative people with whom you can share dreams, goals, insights, strategies, resources, etc. You want people around you who encourage, think positive, inspire, and who will give you candid inputs, both good and bad. Be patient, for non-patience has been the downfall of many potentially great artists.