It’s impossible to grow a business with only one person, you can start a business and perhaps you can even get it off the ground as just one person – and perhaps, if you get it right, you can make a steady income – but you can’t grow it.
Let’s start by looking at this from the artist’s perspective…
As an artist, you will need to surround yourself with people who can help with all the different roles of your business. To start with there are the obvious things, your website, your socials, finding shows, the driving, etc – but pretty soon it gets more complicated. You’ll need to record music. Use digital service providers. Produce merch. You’ll need to grapple with PR. You’ll need to sign up with PRS and so the list goes on!
Ultimately you’ll need a manager to coordinate all the above. However, more often than not, a manager will be a piece of the jigsaw that won’t come until you’ve already been successful with all the above.
You’ll also need an agent to book your shows and network your name. A label to release your music. A publisher to exploit your songs. Then when you sign stuff – well, you’re gonna need a lawyer too!
It’s all pretty daunting!
No one person can do all that. And guess what, all the people mentioned above will somehow or another want paying. Some will invest in you now, cos they know you can’t afford it – but one thing is sure as night follows day – they’re not doing it out of blind altruism.
Add to that, the fact it almost never happens that you recruit people to your “Team” in a logical order… bringing together a solid team is not an easy thing to do, especially if you’ve never done it before.
Of course, at the beginning, you may be able to call in favours. If you are in a band you may be able to share some responsibilities between band members (this rarely lasts long!). Perhaps you can get your Mum to drive you to shows – but that’s not going to work long term…
OK, let’s look at it from the booking agent’s perspective.
Booking agents book shows, then they get paid a % of the fee the band achieves. This means that if they try to do other things one of two things can happen.
- They don’t get paid for their time
- If they charge for it, they have less time for booking
This is why booking agents need to stick to booking. (Almost) all of their time should be spent improving their network and booking shows for their artists. This way they will become better booking agents and book better and more appropriate shows.
However, and it’s a big, however, none of us exist in isolation, and it’s very often the case that the agent is the most experienced member of an artist’s team. It’s also very often the case, that an artist doesn’t have a manager or is self-managed. So the agent is often the first person that the artist asks for advice.
“Agents need a broad knowledge of the music industry”
So although agents don’t need to have all the answers, they do need to have a broad music industry knowledge and in particular, it’s super helpful if they have contacts who they can introduce. They need to be able to join the dots for the artist.
- “I’m not a publisher, but try speaking to X”
- “I know a tour manager, she may be able to help you”
- “This is a good website to start your search for a manager.”
- “We don’t organise work visas, but I know a company who does”
This way an agent can be integral in helping an artist to build a team. They can do it without taking too much time away from their core role – the thing they should be really good at – which is booking shows.
Here at Midnight Mango, we provide broad music business training to our agents. Twice a month we invite experts into our company, to tell us about their work and how that fits in with what we do.
We do this so our agents can offer advice and crucially JOIN THE DOTS!