The Live Touring Forum is a new series focussed on the ins and outs of the live music business, revolving around questions asked by you and answered by Dave Poe, senior talent buyer at Knitting Factory Presents. Have a question for Dave? Email it to Rootfire@Rootfire.net with the subject line “Live Touring Forum” or tweet us at @rootfire_intl with the hashtag #livetouringforum. In the meantime, read on and learn what Dave has to say about something he’s asked about often: How do you get the attention of an agent?
The lifelong journey of a musical talent is not an easy one, especially when the business that surrounds it is sometimes more about the business and much less about the passion it evokes in its fans. The journey can begin with a simple three chord melody written in an upstairs apartment in Duluth and progress all the way to a headlining set at Madison Square Garden in front of 20,000 fans, but it’s how an artist navigates their path within the industry that truly makes all the difference. After the songs are written and the hometown shows have played off, procuring an agent to represent you is a logical next step to really get your music to the masses. But how is that done? Much like most things in life, there are many ways to skin a cat. (I’m a dog person)
Get an experienced manager. This may sound like an obvious one, but it’s probably the most important. The music business is built on relationships, so working with a manager who knows agents at major agencies is a sure-fire way to get in front of the right ears. Agents are a busy lot, but for the most part they will take a flier on a young artist if they feel that they are surrounded by people who can navigate the business well. Recording and releasing songs is the easy part, but having a manager who can orchestrate the ultimate game plan is critical.
Promote your shows effectively. You can’t rely on the venue owners and talent buyers to do the heavy lifting in promoting your concerts. An artist will reap the benefits of a strong street team and grassroots promotional effort to get the word out to the local fan base. If you can think of creative ideas to sell tickets to your shows and maximize the turnout, the buzz will follow. Talent buyers will likely start adding you as support to national touring artists and in turn will get the attention of agents looking for new clients. Selling out a 500-capacity club in your area will do wonders for your future touring business.
Boost your social media numbers. Nowadays, a bolstered social media profile is an integral aspect of how far along an artist is on achieving early success. Facebook likes, Instagram followers and Spotify streams are the big ones, and continued growth of these numbers (for real, not with bots) will separate the seasoned professionals from the forever local artists. In the beginning, the money is tight, so I would suggest getting a young and enthusiastic PR team member on board who will specialize in social media awareness to push things forward as much as possible.
Festival plays and support slots. Every artist wants to play on the biggest stages at the biggest festivals and support their favorite artists at the regional venues in town, but how you position yourself to obtain these highly-coveted slots is what makes all the difference. Don’t be afraid to reach out to festival buyers and artist representation to explain how you will help a show’s turnout and offer unwavering support to an event. No matter how big an artist is, having a local artist pre-sell tickets or push online marketing campaigns will be beneficial to everyone involved. Take a chance and let them know…just don’t write a three-paragraph email—short and sweet is the right way to go.
Good luck out there!