Singers Who Sing &; Talent Agents Who Book

Singers Who Sing & Talent Agents Who Book

In the world of the music business, there are truly singers who sing and singers who don’t, along with talent booking agents who book and those that couldn’t sell cotton candy at the circus. Is it drive, talent or a mystical combination of “factors” that create singers and talent booking agents, or is it yet the pure unexplainable? Let’s look at some factors in this article as singers, looking to further their careers, try to find suitable representation.

As a former talent booking agent with the William Morris Agency, I can tell you that there are many factors that determine both effective agents and marketable singers and artists. While there are many explainable factors, there certainly is the element of luck, the right place at the right time and the “Who knows, it just happened,” phenomenon. Let’s start with what we can determine and hopefully you will gain some insight into what effective booking agents look like and your securing one of them.

To begin with, there are many caliber of booking agents out there. As I’ve outlined in a previous article on booking talent, that you can find at ReelMusician, there are the order taking agents who book mainly headline acts, the agent who started in some agency somewhere and who branches out starting their own agency booking more of the “has been” acts and the lowest, but not always the least on the totem pole agents. These agents are usually friends of the artist or a manager looking to push their act before a major record deal signing, etc.

With each agent level comes a different approach. The order taking agent, with the larger well known talent agencies, isn’t going to be interested in your act unless there is interest and ongoing courting from a major record label. These agents take the “baby” acts and use leverage, with promoters who want the headline act, into a must take the baby act as well deal – And most promoters don’t have a problem and understand that this is part of the deal when playing in the big boys club. Unless you have a record deal or are very appealing and are drawing some interest from the labels or a big time manager, you won’t find yourself behind the desk of one of these agents. If you are trying to approach the agent at the top of the pyramid, you must recognize that image, packaging, appeal, and your knowing and talking the game to a tee, and not in artsy fartsy language, is going to be key.

I recommend that you really have your act together and don’t even begin to bother these individuals, not that they’re necessarily the best agents in the game, but certainly have more power and influence from position alone, before approaching them. Your artist bio, pictures, artist demos have to look like there label ready. And before that, you really need to have a manager and a manager working on securing an agent on your behalf.

Again, many more articles on this and other topics can be found at ReelMusician. So, unless you really have your act together, with management in place, don’t bother wasting yours or the agent’s time.

The next level down the agent totem pole will be not only be easier to gain access to, but easier to gain representation from. The middle line agents are hard working agents who make their bread and butter on the older, end of the product or market shelf life acts. These acts, because of name recognition, can make these agents a significant income. You will have to prove to this agent that you will not take up any more time than any other act that they are promoting. Why should they spend all of their time trying to book your act with nothing or little in return? This is a key question. Ask yourself, as an agent, what do I get out of this? – Phone bills and mailing costs or am I going to see a valid positive cash flow return on all of my time expended on this act? I want you to think about that question and reflect. This alone will help you not only relate, converse knowing their difficulties in booking, but ultimately help you secure a booking agent.

In the game of booking, you as an artist have to have something more than “hip and cool” and a “new” artist sound, but you have to be able to present to the seller, that being your agent, that he or she has something of value to sell with minimal headaches. You can’t possibly begin to imagine how hard it is to book some acts – when you start booking your own shows, with vested interest I might ad, you begin to touch on the realities of the agent’s day to day barrage of booking complexities. So begin to compile a mental list of positive booking attributes that you or your band can bring to the table.

As you look at either contemplating a manager, or a serious friend who wants a try at booking and management of your act, try to be reasonable in your business relationships. I’ve said it before, that everyone wants to be a star, but nobody wants to help pay for it. For the most part, artists just expect that booking agents and managers will pick up the exhaustive phone, mailing and press kit bills. You might inquire, if you are really serious about securing a business team, about helping out with some of the initial start-up costs trying to land your act on the map. It takes a tremendous amount of energy and money and just your willingness to help out alone, will tell a manager or booking agent that you are serious and not just “takers.” This alone, even if they decline the financial help, may be the key in determining the start of a successful relationship.

In closing, in order for you to succeed, you must remain in front of the masses and this is done not so much musically, but in your day to attitude and business focus and with your professional and well laid out blueprint for success. Feel free to contact us at the contact numbers that follow.

Indie Artist Management: Economic Realities & Insightful Strategies

Three personal managers of independent artists outline pathways for success in an increasingly competitive marketplace – a Los Angeles Music Network program, reported by Scott G (The G-Man).

“An artist’s music must be something I love,” stated Jennifer Yeko of True Talent Management. “It has to be music I want to hear in my personal life as well as when I’m working.”

This view was echoed by Ben Laski of Sonic Management, and Steve Ross of Raving Loon Management, as all three spoke on the Indie Artist Management program presented by the Los Angeles Music Network (LAMN).

“I will never work with an artist whose music I don’t love,” said Ross. “Commercial radio,” added Laski, “sucks, and so…” He waited for the applause to subside, “…and so, why would I want to work with anything other than music that means something to me?”

Each of them acknowledged the economic realities of the marketplace (“The product has to be viable at some point,” Ross pointed out), but all three were adamant that their personal reaction to an artist’s music was the primary factor in selecting them for representation. “It’s like a marriage,” said Ross, “so it’s best to make a careful choice.”

Speaking before an audience made up of equal numbers of indie managers and artists seeking information about management, Ross, Yeko and Laski provided insights into their approach to guiding recording artists to achieving commercial success as well as their maximum career potential.

Moderated by Tess Taylor, LAMN President, the event covered a lot of territory and generally moved rapidly from one topic to the next, although too much time was spent on answering repeated audience questions about California labor law dealing with booking agents.

Basically, no one may “procure employment” for a client in California unless they are a registered agent who has posted a bond and followed other formalities. Since this means that managers are putting their entire contractual relationship at risk if they book a gig for a client, there were a lot of managers in attendance who were hoping to find a loophole in the law.

Both Laski and Ross are attorneys, and Ross has obtained his agent license in order to book gigs for his clients.

During a spirited Q & A session following the formal part of the presentation, one artist asked four questions without waiting for an answer and there was a bit of fun for the rest of us as we watched the microphone being wrestled away from her. It’s nice to see passionate artists, but there is also something to be said for displaying a modicum of decorum in public.

Highlights from the presentation:

On obtaining publicity for clients:

Ross: “You do whatever you can for publicity.” He occasionally spends time in music chat rooms to see who is into which artists in local markets. “You call, write, give out 200 sampler CDs. It all builds for the future.”

Laski disagreed: “I don’t believe in artists giving out free samplers to fans. Make an EP and sell it for $5.”

Yeko: “We call music editors to get reviews and write-ups, but the main thing is to figure out your goals ahead of time. Under the right circumstances, you can’t give out too many flyers or CDs.”

Ross: “Writers across the country can be very helpful when bands come in from out of town.” He also recommends that you “get on-air appearances for your artists who are on tour. Call people, tell them why your artist will be good for their station or their club.” Taylor challenged him to give an example of how he talks to people on these calls. To much laughter, he said, “If I’m talking to a club, I always say the artist plays ‘good drinking music.'”

Laski: “There are different levels of publicity. At the start, you call reviewers. As you move up in sales, you hire a publicist to work a release or a tour, and you make certain he is in the proper genre of music. You can also call the BMI or ASCAP publicist, who can be helpful in getting contacts in the press.”

On preparing marketing plans for artists:

Yeko: “It’s helpful to list your goals, and the steps you need to take to achieve them. This is a good idea even if you don’t follow your plan exactly as it was written.”

Ross: “Unfortunately, marketing plans require marketing money.”

Laski: “Marketing plans are too time-consuming. We plan what we need to do as the need arises. Too many factors change as you go along.”

On touring:

Ross: “Outside of L.A., you can actually make some money.”

Laski: “Touring is going to be a losing proposition at the beginning of an artist’s career, unless you can get tour support from a record label.”

On making money for indie artists:

Laski: “We place songs on TV and film soundtracks. It not only makes some money for artists, it is excellent exposure.”

Yeko: “We have had great success with film and TV placement of songs, but some of our artists have developed clothing items and merchandise that actually generate more income at shows than CD sales.”

On artists looking for a magic formula for a breakthrough:

Yeko: “There is no shortcut to success other than hard work.”

Ross: “When you get those e-mails from people offering to set-up showcases, or the ones that tell you all about a great CD sampler they’re sending out, run away. These are never a good deal.”

On must-do lists for artists and managers:

Ross: “Whatever you receive from anyone, whether it’s a writer, club owner, or someone at retail, thank them!”

Yeko: “Look into the NACA, the National Association for Campus Activities at We’ve also had an artist who did an entire summer of playing shopping malls.”

Ross: “When you send CDs to radio or press, remove the shrinkwrap. And do not send a CD to radio without a proper 1-sheet.” NOTE: you can download a PDF of a proper 1-sheet here:

Oddly, the most provocative statement of the evening failed to draw any comment from the audience or the panelists. Taylor began the program with a prediction that “In the wake of industry changes such as the Sony/BMG mergerHealth Fitness Articles, indie record distribution may ultimately move from a single digit percentage to as much as 25 to 30 percent.” Perhaps this is really a prelude to the next LAMN or NARIP presentation.

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