As an agency Midnight Mango has been booking shows for ten years. It’s been a decade of steady growth. The success of new musicians rarely happens over-night, more often, several years of touring and positioning will get an act to a place where they can create enough income to support themselves. It is always a long term investment for an agency to take on a new artist and the act always costs the agency more in time and salaries before it starts to see a return on the investment.
Back in the 2000s, before we became an Agency we were promoters, touring bands the length and breadth of the UK. I think we did a good job, but it wasn’t easy to get the acts that we wanted to promote. Too often, agents take the path of least resistance and farm acts out to national promoters. Too often in this industry, hard work is rewarded by moving that work elsewhere. Nevertheless, as promoters, we worked with some relatively strong artists – and by a quirk of fate around 2010 four of them asked me to represent them as an agent; Adrian Edmondson & The Bad Shepherds, The Beat, Neville Staple and The Selecter.
This opportunity was game-changing, I was able to employ an assistant, take on an agent, take on an office, give up the part-time teaching job and move away from the risky rollercoaster life of promoting shows. I reversed engineered “being a promoter” and we morphed into an agency. No one taught me, I just did it myself.
Being a promoter is such a volatile position – it is really easy to lose a lot of money and contrary to popular opinion, somewhat harder to make a fortune. Of course, there were paydays – frankly there needed to be – but generally speaking, running an agency is a lot less stressful than being a promoter. Like any business there are challenges – but you don’t know you are alive until you have felt that gnawing pit in your stomach when a show fails to sell the last few hundred tickets. (200 X £30 = £6K I particularly remember that one!)
The coronavirus pandemic has changed that – An agency can more easily shrug off the financial consequences of a failing show. But not all shows… not every goddamn single one of them!