Frequently Asked Questions
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About Noteworthy Artists
I want to buy some CDs by some of your artists. Can I get them from you?
No. Here are the sources for product for all of my artists:
Seamus Kennedy: Go to www.CDBaby.com and search by Seamus' name (or just click here).
Dave Rowe Trio: Go to www.CDBaby.com and search for Dave Rowe (or just click here).
Toby Walker: Go to www.CDBaby.com and search by Toby's name (or just click here).
Pat Wictor: Go to www.CDBaby.com and search by Pat Wictor (or just click here).
Rev. Billy C. Wirtz: Both the CD and DVD of Sermon From Bethlehem can be purchased from Blind Pig Records (or just click here). Other titles are available at the Rev's website www.reverendbilly.com (or just click here).
I want one of your artist's CDs to play on my radio show. Can you send it to me?
No, you need to contact the record company for this. Here's the information for each artist:
Seamus Kennedy: Contact Gransha Records at email@example.com or call 410.544.5205
Dave Rowe Trio: You can get recordings by Dave Rowe, Dave Rowe Trio, Rowe By Rowe, Turkey Hollow from Dave Rowe at 866-655-7171 (Toll-Free) or 207-221-6163 (In Maine).
Toby Walker: Contact Toby at LTW@littletobywalker.com or call 631.239.5624
Pat Wictor: Contact Pat via the contact page on his website.
Rev. Billy C. Wirtz: The Sermon From Bethlehem CD is available to radio from Blind Pig Records. Contact Peter Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want to know more about one of your artist's schedule. Should I contact you for this?
No. (Are you noticing a trend here?) All my artists list their schedules with Musi-Cal at www.musi-cal.com and that is usually the most accurate source of what they will be doing. In addition, Dave Rowe, Pat Wictor and the Rev. Billy C. Wirtz all maintain a calendar on their websites. Seamus Kennedy and Toby Walker have links to their Musi-Cal listings from their websites. (When using Musi-Cal, remember there may be more than one page of dates so you may have to click on the "next>>" in the right margin to move to the next page.)
I know a great place in my town for your artists. What should I do?
Leads on possible places to play are always welcome. Please send me the name and a phone number (including area code) at email@example.com. Any other information that you have regarding the place (how often they do music, how many people they seat, etc.) is great.
I want to get on/get off one of your artist's mailing lists. How do I do that?
Seamus Kennedy, Dave Rowe, Toby Walker, Pat Wictor, and the Rev. Billy C. Wirtz all make it possible for you to do that at their website.
Do any of your artists do private events and how much does it cost?
The answer varies with the event and the artist. If you get in touch, I will be glad to see what we can work out.
I want to learn one of your artist's songs. Can you send me the sheet music?
I pass along these requests to my artists but don't be surprised if it turns out that the sheet music doesn't exist. Many songwriters do not create sheet music when they write. Some artists might be willing to create this for you but they may be reluctant to do so for free.
I'm doing a benefit concert. Will your artist donate their services to this worthy cause?
Maybe but probably not. Like everyone, artists are willing to donate a certain amount of their time and expertise to worthwhile endeavors but generally they are already involved in the causes about which they care. It would be impossible to fulfill every request of this nature. The decision has nothing to do with whether the cause is worthwhile. If an artist decides to donate their services to a fundraiser for dyslexic children rather than one for heart disease, it certainly doesn't mean heart disease isn't a worthy cause. It just means that we all have to make choices regarding how we use our time and energy. Periodically, some artists may charge a reduced fee for charitable endeavors.
I think X (insert the name of any one of my exceptional artists) is great and I want to help out. What can I do?
The best thing you can do for any artist is support their efforts. Show up at their shows and bring a batch of your friends/relatives with you. Give CDs of their music as gifts for holidays and occasions. Spread the word about how great they are. This is all about building a community and you are an important part of the equation.
About Noteworthy Productions
I'm looking for an agent. Are you interested?
Read Desperately Seeking Representation: Parts One and Two. That should answer most of your questions.
I've got a great song that I want you to get recorded. Should I send it to you?
No. We do artist representation. We are not song pluggers. You are looking for a publisher, which is an agency that creates a link between writer and artist. If you want to get your song to a specific artist that we represent, you can send it to them c/o my office and I will pass it along. If they are interested, they will get in touch. Other than that, you likely won't get any other feedback.
You might want to do a little research first. Listen to the artist's recorded material to get a feel for their style. Check out the songwriting credits to see how much material they do by other artists. If they generally write all their own songs, anything you send is liable to prove to be a charitable donation to the US Postal Service.
How do you get paid?
By and large, I work for a percentage of the artist's income. For me, the percentage is usually 15% of performance fees but deals vary. Other artist representatives may charge more or less. All such terms are negotiable. If an artist is not generating enough income for a percentage deal to make sense, then we can talk about a monthly guarantee of a certain dollar figure vs. a percentage (whichever is greater). I do fewer of those deals.
I pay for postage and phone calls because I would spend more time trying to break out and bill for those services than the actual cost. The artist has to supply ready-to-do materials or pay me a separate fee to assemble them.
I also have separate fees for other services, such as publicity, material design, consultation, concert production. These services are provided both to my artists and to others on a contract basis.
What do you look for in an artist that you decide to represent?
First and foremost, I have to like their music. Notice that I do not say that their music has to be good. There are lots of artists out there doing good music to which I don't relate. I have never been able to warm up to John Hammond whereas Dave Alvin sends me over the moon. Does this mean Dave Alvin is a better artist than John Hammond? Obviously not. It just means that I like him better which is a totally different statement. However, to represent someone, I have to be wildly enthusiastic about his/her music. What I do is sales (a fascinating product, but sales nevertheless) and part of what I am selling is my own enthusiasm.
I like to see an artist live before talking seriously about working with them. Even live recordings rarely capture the intricate dynamics that take place between a performer and an audience.
I am generally only interested in exclusive representation of an artist. Unless there are very clear lines of demarcation, having more than one rep involved can mean you spend more time talking to each other trying to coordinate what you are doing than you ever do actually doing it. Also, most artists are not generating enough income to make it fiscally viable to split the pie too many ways.
I like to hear that significant others in their life are supportive of their musical career choice. If not, this conflict constitutes an important energy drain on an artist's drive. This business is difficult enough without someone you love telling you on a regular basis that you ought to get "a real job". Somewhere along the line, it is likely that the artist will try and resolve this dilemma. One way is to make another career choice, in which case I will have put in a lot of time and energy without any ultimate payoff. The other possibility is that the artist decides to terminate the significant relationship. This can be so emotionally devastating that s/he is pretty non-functional for quite a while. Either way, it is a concern.
I want an artist to have booked him/herself for a significant period of time. Otherwise, their expectations on how quickly and smoothly things will start happening will be way out of line with the reality. Also, if they haven't been booking themselves chances are good they aren't working enough to justify having a rep.
A related characteristic is that the artist has to be making enough money to make this make sense from my point of view. This means is that the artist has to already be working and generating an income. That already-existent income will support my efforts to expand their market. This is where it matters that an artist has some experience with booking. Finding gigs can be a tedious, frustrating and periodically unrewarding experience. I have to be willing to go through that for a percentage of the income the gig generates. I am not going to be excited about a situation where I have to do two hours of work to land a $150 gig (where I make $22.50 for my efforts.) Most artists wouldn't do a two-hour show for $22.50 - and justly so. One of my favorite phrases to hear when I am talking to an artist about possibly working with them is, "I am so busy touring that I am having a hard time keeping up with the bookings." (Alternatively, one of my least favorite phrases is, "I'm not working at all. Can you help me get out there?")
Some things are more intangible. The artist/rep connection is a relationship. Some of it is simple chemistry: you got along or you don't. You had better have a certain ease with each other because you are going to be interacting quite a bit, especially in the initial stages. There needs to be a similarity in modus operandi. I tend to be fairly grounded and goal-oriented so I usually don't work well with people who want to spend time examining their motivation or trusting to the "big break" to make their careers. I tend to seek out people who are committed to making a good living doing something they love and not necessarily on being "famous". The industry can only support so many "superstars" but not everybody has to make millions of dollars annually to feel successful. My preference is to work with people who see us as a team who are working together for a common goal. With that in mind, they keep me current on important things that are happening in their career, even if they don't see any direct impact on my role.
I also look for artists who seem to be almost driven to perform. I'm not talking about the kind of mindless frenzy where an artist takes every gig offered to them without any thought whatsoever as to whether they have some reason for doing the date. Instead this is a deep and abiding desire to do whatever is necessary to get the music out there and share it with other people. Lawrence Block says it well in his book, Telling Lies for Fun and Profit (Substitute "music" for "writing" throughout):
"It strikes me now and again that talent may be one of the least important variables in the writing business. People without a super-abundance of talent succeed anyhow. People with tons of talent never get anywhere. It happens all the time…. What does it take, then, to be successful at free-lance writing? …It seems to me that will is enormously important. There are any number of jobs a person can pretty much fall into, but I don't believe that writing is one of them. Every once and a while somebody does become a writer apparently by accident, but such persons rarely remain writers for very long. In order to get into this business and in order to stay in it, you generally have to desire it with a passion bordering on desperation."
Making a living in music is not easy. It is a competitive field and many people will not understand what is involved in what you are doing. Without this kind of overwhelming conviction that this is how you were meant to spend your life, an artist is likely to become discouraged and switch to a more lucrative and less challenging career choice.
With all that said, just like everybody else, I occasionally am carried away by someone's music and decide to work with them even though they don't fit neatly into all of the above criteria.
I'd like to take you to lunch so we can discuss my career. Is that okay?
Are you a friend? Sure, I'm always happy to help out a friend as time and energy allows. However, if I don't know you, then you are asking me to provide you with 90 minutes of my time and knowledge while offering me to reimburse me with a Caesar salad. Nobody calls up a physician or a lawyer and asks them to chat for an extended period of time about that nasty little disease or divorce they are experiencing. Few people would even think of trying that with a mechanic or a plumber. In these cases, we recognize that time and expertise have value. It's the same thing here. If you want guidance in a specific area, contact the expert of your choice and offer to pay them for their time and knowledge. I have learned that charging a consultation fee tends to weed out the not-so-serious players and makes people more likely to do some preparation for the session so they can get the most out of the time allotted.
What's your advice to aspiring artists?