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Folk Agencies

Uncle Tone 10 Sep 16 - 12:06 PM
GUEST,padgett 10 Sep 16 - 12:26 PM
GUEST 10 Sep 16 - 01:13 PM
GUEST,Bloke in Groucho mask 11 Sep 16 - 02:56 AM
GUEST,FloraG 11 Sep 16 - 03:20 AM
Uncle Tone 11 Sep 16 - 04:29 AM
GUEST,FloraG 11 Sep 16 - 04:33 AM
Uncle Tone 11 Sep 16 - 05:17 AM
GUEST,FloraG 11 Sep 16 - 06:14 AM
Will Fly 11 Sep 16 - 06:48 AM
Leadfingers 11 Sep 16 - 06:53 AM
BobKnight 11 Sep 16 - 06:58 AM
GUEST,FloraG 12 Sep 16 - 02:47 AM
GUEST,Peter 12 Sep 16 - 06:26 AM
punkfolkrocker 12 Sep 16 - 07:16 AM
GUEST,Not an agent thankfully 12 Sep 16 - 10:59 AM
Uncle Tone 13 Sep 16 - 07:54 AM
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Subject: Folk Agencies
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 10 Sep 16 - 12:06 PM

I expect this has been discussed before, but I can't find it.

Folk Agencies, good or bad?

I'm sure the answer is yes, both, depending.

But two incidents:

A long while ago I wanted to book Cyril Tawney. I went through his agent who quoted a ridiculous fee for a folk club to pay. What this guy didn't know was Cyril was an old naval mate of mine.

I went to Cyril direct. Cyril was most put out. 'I've never earned that sorta money from his bookings. No wonder I haven't been working much lately!'

We negotiated a reasonable fee. Cyril sacked the agent and did his own bookings and promotion very successfully from then on.

On another occasion I wanted a local duo to sing at a charity gig for Yorks Air Ambulance.

I asked their agent, who responded 'Why should they do freebies when they can get paid elsewhere?' So I got someone else instead.

Later I told the artists what had happened. 'You should have come directly to us,' I was told. 'We would have done it for you!'

Then again, when I receive material from certain agents and promoters for the show I do sit up and take notice, because I know their acts are all excellent otherwise they wouldn't be handling them.

So, mixed blessings here.

It also seems that some promoters nowadays only take on artists who pay them to do so!

Any other points of view?


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Subject: RE: Folk Agencies
From: GUEST,padgett
Date: 10 Sep 16 - 12:26 PM

I think agents should justify their fees and for artists who who wish to make a living start to look at no "traditional" ~ that is other than established venues clubs etc (fewer and fewer folk clubs booking artists btw ~ I believe?)

There is a lot of evidence of new artists having tours booked already
and good luck to them of course

Ray


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Subject: RE: Folk Agencies
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Sep 16 - 01:13 PM

I asked their agent, who responded 'Why should they do freebies when they can get paid elsewhere?' So I got someone else instead.
Badly expressed but it is the agent's job to find them paying gigs.


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Subject: RE: Folk Agencies
From: GUEST,Bloke in Groucho mask
Date: 11 Sep 16 - 02:56 AM

When you make your living from performing, you need a balance, you also need to be spending the day time working on your set, not peddling your arse on the phone. Agents can do this for you and whilst there are good and bad ones out there, lazy ones as well as hard working ones, agents are the only route to having no other income.

The demise of the large folk club over the years has led acts to look elsewhere, and st least three agents I know accept that fill in gigs booked direct to folk clubs are a good marketing exercise so don't get precious about contracts.

The "money" is on the provincial theatre circuit and larger festivals, as well as the steady income from albums which are much much cheaper to produce these days, especially download. As noted above, agents are there for commercial not altruistic reasons. Most acts of a folk genre negotiate a contract that frees them for contributing to small folk venues, seeing them as publicity for larger bookings.

I have never been a full time professional but have been on the books of agents as a semi pro band member over the years and this is my take from what I have seen, as well as booking acts for folk clubs and theatres many years ago.


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Subject: RE: Folk Agencies
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 11 Sep 16 - 03:20 AM

OK - I've mostly heard complaints - charging too much - getting details wrong - asking for accommodation when not needed - making changes at the last moment.
Who can you recommend as good?
I think such a list of recommendations could be valuable.
FloraG


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Subject: RE: Folk Agencies
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 11 Sep 16 - 04:29 AM

Recommendations?

These are very good but it's not easy to get on their books:


http://stradamusic.com/


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Subject: RE: Folk Agencies
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 11 Sep 16 - 04:33 AM

As it should be Tone. Agents should act as a basic filter of quality control.
FloraG.


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Subject: RE: Folk Agencies
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 11 Sep 16 - 05:17 AM

I agree, but I know of one agency that will not take on anyone unless they are already proven to be earners on the folk scene. They won't take chances on talented new-comers. This makes them rather hard-nosed and greedy in my book. They could almost be accused of encouraging a 'closed shop' of artists, too. I favour agencies that have a more entrepreneurial approach.


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Subject: RE: Folk Agencies
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 11 Sep 16 - 06:14 AM

Yes - that's a worry.
The Cambridge folk club encourages new artists by having open mike nights, then encouraging the best to return as part of a triple booking, then support to a better known artist. I'm not sure how you could link this up to agencies recruiting new talent. Perhaps there is a case for an ' agency day' at a central venue. Are there enough agencies for this?   
FloraG.


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Subject: RE: Folk Agencies
From: Will Fly
Date: 11 Sep 16 - 06:48 AM

As the person who deals with bookings for out ceilidh band, I don't have a lot of time for most agents. Generally, what happened was that I got an "urgent" request from an agent to see if we were free on a particular date, and to send him or her details of repertoire, a band photo, fee, etc. etc. Having sent in the stuff as a matter of "urgency", I then heard usually nothing for weeks and, on requesting an update, was told that the client was "still making their minds up". Then, mainly, nothing.

I now turn down all requests from agents except one, who we know, and whose email requests are for confirmed, agreed bookings. I accept those if we're free. He transfers the fee into my bank account a week before the gig so that I can pay the band cash on the night. It all works and he's very reliable, but it's a firm "no" to anyone else. Most of our bookings come from word of mouth or via our website anyway.

Slightly off-piste: When I was playing in a rock'n roll band, many years ago, we used a local south coast agent who had many of the local British Legions and Trades & Labour clubs sewn up, and we got lots of work from him. But he was occasionally greedy and booked us in a '60s band when he knew perfectly well we played mainly '50s music. So those people who turned up for a dance in flared trousers, hippy wigs and crimplene shirts, expecting stuff from the Stone, Beatles, etc., weren't very pleased when we turned up and banged out Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly and so on. When they complained to us, we simply said, "Blame the agent" and carried on playing.

So, mixed views on agents...


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Subject: RE: Folk Agencies
From: Leadfingers
Date: 11 Sep 16 - 06:53 AM

Agreed that it is an agents job to get work for 'his' artists , but very few artists on a tour would say no to a relatively cheap gig with overnight accomodation ,rather than have to pay for a B&B and not work


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Subject: RE: Folk Agencies
From: BobKnight
Date: 11 Sep 16 - 06:58 AM

A list of "Folk" agencies would be handy - anybody??


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Subject: RE: Folk Agencies
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 12 Sep 16 - 02:47 AM

A list of good ( recommended ) ones would be even better.
FloraG.


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Subject: RE: Folk Agencies
From: GUEST,Peter
Date: 12 Sep 16 - 06:26 AM


I don't have a lot of time for most agents. Generally, what happened was that I got an "urgent" request from an agent to see if we were free on a particular date, and to send him or her details of repertoire, a band photo, fee, etc. etc. Having sent in the stuff as a matter of "urgency", I then heard usually nothing for weeks and, on requesting an update, was told that the client was "still making their minds up". Then, mainly, nothing.

Sounds like the cold calls that I used to get from employment agencies before I retired. I don't perform professionally but from experience in other sectors I would say that if the agent is chasing artists then s/he probably isn't much good.

However, extrapolating from the way that job hunting through an agency seemed to work the comment about the client definitely rings true.


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Subject: RE: Folk Agencies
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 12 Sep 16 - 07:16 AM

One of our ex band members [in all senses of the word] is now a full time agent with some biggish 'folk' clients..

Saw him on the telly sat on one of the tables at the last BBC4 Folk Awards..

He seemed to be checking his smartphone throughout all the performances..... 🙄


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Subject: RE: Folk Agencies
From: GUEST,Not an agent thankfully
Date: 12 Sep 16 - 10:59 AM

"He seemed to be checking his smartphone throughout all the performances..."
The perils of being self employed. Since I stopped being a "wage slave" I can no longer afford to simply switch off for a night. If a client wants a response they want it now or they give their business to somebody else.


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Subject: RE: Folk Agencies
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 13 Sep 16 - 07:54 AM

there is another side to this. I got a lot of promos from publicists who are not agents. I assume that these are being paid by the artists to write a favourable blurb and to put their new albums about to responsive radio stations and possibly gig organisers.

This seems to be a bit like vanity publishing.

I do wonder whether the quality of the material has any bearing on it. Some of the promos I get are pretty ghastly. Most are very good, which gives me the problem of choosing which ones to give air-time to.

The competition for air-time is fearsome even on a regional station like ours. How Mark Harding sorts it out I have no idea!


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