What Do I Look for in Selecting a Client?
- An attraction to their music - by inference this means that you have seen them live.
- Some experience in booking themselves - if they don't have that, they will never understand how complicated, occasionally ridiculous and tedious it can be, i.e. they will never appreciate what we do.
- A similar vision of what needs to be done: an awareness that this is not about filling up blank spaces in a calendar but building a career which means every date should count. Also means that what happens before and after the date is often as important as the date itself and that often the business end of the date itself (mailing lists, pressing the flesh, etc.) can be of as much value as the performance. Similarly, presentation, appearance, etc. is viewed as an important part of the package rather than focusing only on the music.
- A willingness to work as a team: two very important things happening in that short phrase. The first is "work" - artist has to be committed to approaching this as a profession. Doesn't mean that it can't be fun or inspired but it must be seen as serious and important. The other is a "team" approach - we are working together toward a shared goal. There needs to be an ongoing exchange of information on progress, leads, new ideas, feelings, changes going on, etc.
- Support from significant others in their life: experience has taught me that if the important people in an artist's life are just "waiting for this phase to pass", there will be trouble eventually. Either he/she will eventually capitulate to that pressure or they will sever the relationship which often is sufficiently traumatic to make them non-functional for extended periods of time. Better to give it a miss.
- A certain hunger to be on stage: not to be confused with desperation to be on stage where you want to do every thing that comes down the pike. But there must be an inclination toward trying to find ways to make dates work rather than looking for reasons why they won't ("I'm not sure how I feel about driving 150 miles in a day" vs. "I can handle three hours easy." or "Gosh, I don't know if my family can cope without me for four days." vs. "I know they will do just fine and I'm kinda looking forward to getting a break.") Also, without a strong need to make things go, the artist will never persevere past some of the disappointments that are periodically part of this.
Have I ever decided to work with someone from a cold call? Do I have a wish list of clients with whom you would like to work?
I have never ended up working with someone who called me cold but it is not outside the realm of possibility. For many of those folks, I never even get to the first step of seeing them live so the point is moot. Lots of cold calls are from folks who are nowhere near ready to have an agent. I don't really have a wish list of clients although there are groups of which I am a fan and yes, I have ended up working with several of those although they approached me rather than the other way around. In general, I was unaware that they were without an agent at that point so I wouldn't have thought to approach them. By and large, I end up working with people whom I have been aware of for several years and, similarly, they have been aware of me. Considering the complexity of the relationship, that seems to me to be appropriate.
If I have decided to stop working with a client, what were some of the reasons why things don't work out? When did I know there was a problem?
- I got swept away by the music and didn't take the time to check out some of the other aspects that I know are important so I got into it only to learn that the artist (for example) doesn't follow through with timely mailings, etc.
- Often artists that have been booking themselves for long periods of time have a hard time letting go: shows up in an unwillingness to get you the materials you need (I had one artist who would only send 8 of anything [recordings, pictures, etc.] after I had run out of it so I was always playing catch-up. Essentially, made sure he was always in control.) Another symptom is that "nothing is right": they just know they could have negotiated a better deal, more perks, etc.
- Another problem is the "aging rock star" syndrome: Often artists that have been more famous in the past have difficulty (wouldn't we all?) recognizing that their situation has changed and they may need to re-align their expectations. You know that realistically you would be lucky to get $750 for a date; they truly cannot comprehend why you aren't bringing them $2000 offers.
- Some folks just aren't team players, i.e. they aren't really interested in "sharing with the group". The may be fine for them but I work best with people who keep me informed and involved in what they are feeling and doing. Keeps me energized and insures that my efforts are properly directed based on what going on in the here and now.
- Basically, the primary reason that things don't work out with a new artist are the same as the reasons why any relationship fails. Either there is:
- insufficient time put into exploring the relationship before making a decision to proceed
- there isn't good communication going on within the relationship
- sometimes, once you get into it, you discover that you are not a good combination.
This is a relationship and generally a pretty intense one at that since the business of performing music pulls in dreams and desires in a way that working on the loading dock at Sears does not. Periodically, despite best efforts by all, it takes getting into it and trying it out for a while to discover that it isn't going to work out.
I generally have intimations (feelings that we are pulling in different directions rather than working together) fairly early on. I usually will give anything at least 6 months before being sure there is a problem.
What constitutes a good partnership between an artist and me?
A good partnership between an artist and me is not a matter of time or money. It's a shared vision and an ease in working together with equal involvement and mutual respect. Like good art, you know it when you see it.
© McShane Glover/Noteworthy Productions