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#662872 - 10/26/08 12:09 AM Booking Agents question from AU  
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 109
debra manskey Offline
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debra manskey  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 109
Australia
Hi everyone,

Hope I've picked the right forum to post this is - please let me know if I've erred!

On the strength of my current network and online sales I'm looking at the possibility of coming to the US for a short tour in 2010 to promote my forthcoming cd. I think 4 weeks max is all I can afford at present.

Because it's such a big country I'm restricting myself to the NE sector (though I'm up for other suggestions) where singer/songwriter events & festivals seem to be abundant but I daresay (like here in Australia) hotly contested.

I'm interested in keeping it fairly low key and using this trip as a territory building exercise. I have no illusions about making heaps of $'s but happy to sell a few cd's & other merch from playing small, intimate house concerts & coffehouse gigs as well as doing a few workshops in voice, songwriting, performance and arrangement skills.

I'd like to find a booking agent who understands and respects those kinds of sensibilities. Any ideas, suggestions, web links would be most welcome.

Debra


One of the finest female voices imaginable - Rock'n'Reel Magazine UK
http://debramanskey.com
http://www.facebook.com/debramanskey
#662903 - 10/26/08 05:48 AM Re: Booking Agents question from AU [Re: debra manskey]  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 19,151
Brian Austin Whitney Offline
Brian Austin Whitney  Offline

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Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 19,151
Indianapolis, IN USA
Debra,

I don't know of booking agents over here that do much work in those smaller arena's for the practical reason that they can't make any money themselves booking those types of gigs. In addition, the pay for that type of gigs is between low and non existent. House concerts are one place that people can make a little money but good ones are booked way in advance with a long waiting list usually of people the hosts WISH they could book. You could set up house concerts with lesser known or new house concert hosts, but then those are hit and miss as well.

I think you'd likely be better off doing some networking in the cities you wish to visit and making your own contacts and setting up your own gigs. You'll be better off that way and you'll know a lot more about what you're getting yourself into as well. Obviously in cities like Boston or NYC it's VERY competitive to get ANY type of gig and if you come from out of the area with no real built in fan base, the venues are hesitant to book you at all (even with your track record). You'll need to search for venues that are into your music (usually by sending them your music and following up). There are so few REAL listening rooms anymore that finding quality presenters at all is a difficult task. And because there's little money attached, a booking agent can't make a living working with them.

I am not trying to discourage you, but rather I am suggesting you think about doing it on your own. The US is a gigantic and diverse market and folks are curious about artists that bring something unique. But most places musicians perform care most about how many people you can bring into their venue and unless you can demonstrate an ability to do that over here, it makes things tough (even moreso in this tough economy).

I spend a lot of time touring all over North America and I know musicians pretty much everywhere. I think you should start with some guidelines like:

1. What cities do you want to visit/perform in
2. What support group do you already have (i.e. do you know anyone in these places yet?)
3. How much do you need to make to afford the tour
4. What type of show can you present (i.e. is your act diverse, can you do multiple genres that might appeal to different types of artists etc.)
5. Aside from your previous experience, is there any other marketing hook you can offer that will make folks want to book you? (i.e. you play an unusual instrument or in an unusual way, you do songs about something interesting, etc.)
6. What time frame (i.e. tour dates) are you planning?

All these things will help narrow down what is possible and how to approach the next step.

Now I am sure you could HIRE someone to help out with a tour like this, but I doubt you'd recoup the cost of it in a best case scenario. Small shows are just void of decent upfront money, if you get paid at all.

That's some food for thought,

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
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"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney

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#662910 - 10/26/08 07:06 AM Re: Booking Agents question from AU [Re: debra manskey]  
Joined: Sep 2005
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WriterTomYeager Offline
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WriterTomYeager  Offline
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Harrisonburg,Virtginia
Hi Debra

heres a link to a agency that one of my co-writers is with.....he is from toronto and he said they are good.........best of luck!

http://www.seethemusic.net/


Tom

#662961 - 10/26/08 01:25 PM Re: Booking Agents question from AU [Re: WriterTomYeager]  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 19,151
Brian Austin Whitney Offline
Brian Austin Whitney  Offline

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Indianapolis, IN USA
Tori Sparks is listed on their roster and she's a real go getter. She's a regular JPF in Nashville so she'd be a good contact to get the low down on what that company offers. Her email is tori@torisparks.com Send her a note Debra and ask her if that company would be a good fit for what you want.

I still think that doing it yourself is the way to go. But no reason not to follow any lead.

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
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Skype: Brian Austin Whitney
Facebook: www.facebook.com/justplainfolks

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney

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#663347 - 10/28/08 05:11 AM Re: Booking Agents question from AU [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
Joined: Aug 2007
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debra manskey Offline
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debra manskey  Offline
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Australia
Hi Tom & Brian,

Thanks so much for your suggestions. I'll check out the agency and contact Tori in the next few days.

I suspect you're right Brian and I'll have to pretty much do this on my own but I figure I'd never find out for sure if I didn't ask. I've been watching gig listings & doing quite a bit of territory homework the last 12 months, gathering a database of 'likely suspects' I can contact.

It seems small gigs are the same the world over!

Thanks again,

Debra


One of the finest female voices imaginable - Rock'n'Reel Magazine UK
http://debramanskey.com
http://www.facebook.com/debramanskey
#663435 - 10/28/08 02:46 PM Re: Booking Agents question from AU [Re: debra manskey]  
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 7,831
Dave Rice (D) Offline
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Dave Rice (D)  Offline
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Texas
Hi All:

Interesting post. Debra, when the smoke has cleared and you have made a decision, I hope you'll fill us in on the decision path you took... and why. As an aside, I hope you will consider the season (weather) when factoring in which area of the "states" you plan to visit. I would have thought the west coast could serve your needs equally well at less expense.

I'd enjoy being able to tell you that Texas should be first on your list... and Austin is a great venue... but, in reality... we have work to do. Maybe some day... LOL!

Brian is probably correct. Keeping control of the "project" yourself may be more in line with your comfort zone.

Makes me glad that I don't perform or tour. That does not mean I am not interested in how the process works... and the problems related to it. If I understand that part of the equation, I will be able to serve my clients (performers) better as a songwriter.

Regards,

Dave Rice

http://www.showcaseyourmusic.com/DaveRice

#664857 - 11/03/08 01:27 AM Re: Booking Agents question from AU [Re: Dave Rice (D)]  
Joined: Aug 2007
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debra manskey Offline
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debra manskey  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 109
Australia
Good points Dave and I'll try to keep you all 'in the loop' as things progress. I haven't touched this for a while cos it's getting to the end of the year when schools start scheduling for 2009 and last week was diabolically busy... next week will be worse!

Firstly, I've just contacted Tori today so I don't expect anything to happen on that front for at least a week.

Secondly, with regard to east coast v west coast, I've taken careful note of where overseas interest has come from and in the US it's predominantly the east coast. I've built a database around venues, concert series, festivals and other artists who've contacted me on MySpace and it's mostly north east. The US (like AU) is so big and I think a lot of touring musicians don't take the sheer distance and travel costs into account. Over the weekend I had contact from Indiana and an open invite to play a paid show. Last month I had a similar offer from a club in Massachusetts, just have to contact them about six to eight months beforehand to make solid dates and deals.

Thirdly, I've thought for a long time that the late spring or autumn would be the optimum time to come over as many of the coffeehouses don't operate in mid-summer but ultimately it's determined by what work I can book. If a festival wants to book me in January and I can guarantee gigs around that then I'll be brave, take out the appropriate travel insurance and come in winter.

Hey I'd love to come to Texas, I've always been intrigued by the south and the coast around Galveston and i really want to visit glynda in Paris. If I could get the work to pay for the trip I'd be there in a flash - but I doubt I'll get the work til I build my profile in the more heavily populated areas.

I think Brian's right on target too - I'm very organised and prefer to take time to do all my own booking here cos I know my territory fairly well. I find it rewarding gradually filling in dates and working out itineraries and I find a lot of clubs really like dealing direct with the artist... yes I know I'm weird!!! I think it's always good to get specialist advice tho when getting into new territory.

Anyway, I hope that gives you a little info on how I approach this.

Debra


One of the finest female voices imaginable - Rock'n'Reel Magazine UK
http://debramanskey.com
http://www.facebook.com/debramanskey
#664873 - 11/03/08 04:13 AM Re: Booking Agents question from AU [Re: debra manskey]  
Joined: Oct 2011
Posts: 267
AJ Baker Offline
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AJ Baker  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2011
Posts: 267
Union,Ohio
Hi Debra,As far as singer songwriter events in the US there is no place thicker than Nashville TN i have not heard your music but when you hear mine you'll know that i'm a square peg in a round hole there.Yet i'm readily accepted there.You can play there for exposure almost any night of the week.At the Commodore Debi Champion resides a really nice person with lots of contacts and knows alot of people in the industry there.I"m from Dayton,Oh.It's about 5.5hrs Fom Nashville.As far as Dayton right now there are two possible places to play if they like you.Canal Street Tavern and Peaches Bar &Grill.2010 is a long time from now
places are closing all the time so it ishard to plan that far ahead.AJ


Life was once a beautiful thing when we were able to live it.Love is such a beautiful thing when we are able to give it.Time alas has no meaning when there is no time but it takes but a moment for one to be so kind
#665600 - 11/05/08 09:32 PM Re: Booking Agents question from AU [Re: ]  
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 109
debra manskey Offline
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debra manskey  Offline
Serious Contributor

Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 109
Australia
Good morning everyone,

Thought I'd update you all as Dave rightly suggested.

No word back from Tori or DreamScapers - but it's been an unusually busy week in the US!

In the true Australian spirit, I threw caution to the wind and put some feelers out the last few days and already have three paid shows for 2010 in MA & IN - my territory boundaries I talked about in an earlier post. I think I'll go to Chicago as an ex vocal student of mine is living there I believe, and it'd be nice to see him (and hit him for a bed for a night!)

The main thing at the moment is that I stay in touch with these venues and get all other dates confirmed, tickets & accom booked & paid for, visas sorted and media locked in as we get within 8-12 months. (In response to AJ's earlier post most of the places I play or run workshops book at least 3-6 months in advance and most prefer 12 months.)

At this stage it's looking like DIY is winning but I'd still like some expert advice on this new adventure!

Take care all

Debra


One of the finest female voices imaginable - Rock'n'Reel Magazine UK
http://debramanskey.com
http://www.facebook.com/debramanskey
#668352 - 11/16/08 05:33 PM Re: Booking Agents question from AU [Re: debra manskey]  
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 7,831
Dave Rice (D) Offline
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Dave Rice (D)  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 7,831
Texas
Thanks so much, Debra:

You have a daunting task ahead of you. Thankfully, when I was younger and airport security, etc. was not such a hassle, I had the entire western half of the U.S. as my sales territory. It was a ridiculous assignment. By the time I would get back to a client in Seattle, that I had called on for the first time in November (for example) it would be late summer when I returned and that person either would have been promoted to another department or left the company... so I would have to start the process all over again. They say (in sales) it takes a minimum of five visits before the "comfort zone" exists between parties, especially when high-dollar equipment and systems are involved.

The process of touring and doing your own bookings sounds twice as difficult. When the smoke is cleared and if you have time, let us know your schedule. Maybe some of us can be fortunate enough to have the opportunity to hear and see you perform.

B-T-W, a distant kinsman, Tandy Rice, the founder of an agency in Nashville would have been ideal for your requirements. Unfortunately, I believe he has retired now.

Good luck and safe travels to you.

Dave


#668383 - 11/16/08 09:22 PM Re: Booking Agents question from AU [Re: Dave Rice (D)]  
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 109
debra manskey Offline
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debra manskey  Offline
Serious Contributor

Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 109
Australia
Dave thanks and yes, as things tighten up I'll certainly post my schedule. I would really love to meet some of the wonderful supportive folks I've met here, maybe even set up some joint shows.

It is a lot of work but at the moment I'm time rich and making the most of it. Also I firmly believe that the rise of the internet and mobile phone technology has made touring incredibly different (you note I did not say easier!) from when I was booking back in the 80's. I used to have an address book that I'd update every year or two. Now I have a massive database of over 1100 current venues from AU, UK, western EU & eastern US. And that's not counting festivals, arts & community centres where I run workshops or fans/friends who want to come to gigs.

I remember organising tours by phone, setting aside a week when we weren't on the road to lock myself in the office and harass venues & booking agents and respond to the mountains of phone messages that would bank up the longer I was away. I don't know if this is the case outside of AU but pre internet I think people were more likely to return calls than they do emails today.

Now I have a mobile phone that I love to switch off!!!! and I'm looking at buying a laptop to take on tour with wireless broadband connection so I can write my blog, load my database and email posters, media releases etc to promoters, radio stations & press before I get to their town.

Yes, its a lot faster to contact people to when I was first doing this kind of thing - but I don't know that it's any easier. I'm interested to hear other performers thoughts on this one too, especially those who have been around this industry as long as I have.


One of the finest female voices imaginable - Rock'n'Reel Magazine UK
http://debramanskey.com
http://www.facebook.com/debramanskey

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