I won’t be pleading for world peace like in the Miss World contests, but please read my plea for more group hugging below: a topic that was a highlight, for me at least, of The Booking Ring panel I took part in at ILMC 28, in which we discussed the current state of the business.
Being a woman in a business consisting mainly of men, though fortunately progressing towards a more balanced group, I’d like to share my thoughts on the preservation of a healthy and growing business.
A quick sidestep on the tricky subject of gender: adding women to the mix is very healthy, in my opinion. It diverts from the male obsession with he who laughs loudest, and brings every business down to in-depth discussions, different perspectives and more respect for differences.
Our business is a group effort between the stakeholders in the food chain (artist, manager, agent and promoter). It is a people’s business and I’d like to think we are all part of building artists’ careers. Or is that being too sentimental and romantic? But don’t we all love hearing the wonderful stories from long ago? I’d say so, since the busiest panels at gatherings such as ILMC, Eurosonic, IFF etc are the Q&As with the major agents and promoters recalling extremely funny situations, stories of lucky signings and bloopers. Or for instance, at the last ILMC Breakfast Meeting where Ed Bicknell interviewed Marc Geiger about his career that had involved both huge successes and quite terrible losses, along with his new ideas on developing and creating the most efficient business, changing to territorial booking, etc. Climbing up, falling down. We revel in those stories. And when we come out of those sessions we’re all inspired, wanting to achieve the same or similar, experiencing what they have experienced, well, preferably just the ‘ups’, of course.
In the end, it all comes down to one thing: creating the opportunity for both artists and fans to have a brilliant 75-90-minute experience. Making sure everything falls into place. And, a minor detail, making a living for everybody in the food-chain.
“Whether we like global deals or not, whether we like territorial booking or not, we will always be looking for new ways to change the business into a better and hopefully more profitable one for all”
With this food-chain being what it is, I think the only way to achieve the above, is by working more closely together, and making it a team effort, as you should within your own company.
During The Booking Ring, one of the questions I asked while we were preparing was “Why do agents think of their artists (or managers) as being their only client?” Agents on the panel thought this to be a fair question; needless to say, without promoters there is a lot less business. We put the guarantees on the table for everything including artist fee and commissions.
So needing each other as we do, let’s show a good example in being more loyal and respectful. Let’s try to do a better job by informing ourselves better and sharing this information. I want to hear from the source why I am still waiting for a confirmation, so I can anticipate. Information is crucial for everybody, and when working in teams information can often get lost. Having information is really not always the same as having power, or being more in control, that’s definitely overrated. We can all be a lot more efficient in sharing information instead of creating a bureaucratic business model of moving pieces around without exactly knowing why that is a good thing. By sharing we can understand why we do the things we do, maybe even contribute with a great idea, and more easily shoulder the disappointment when a decision is made to our disadvantage.
Whether we like global deals or not, whether we like territorial booking or not, we will always be looking for new ways to change the business into a better and hopefully more profitable one for all. Still, artists don’t like to be seen as cash cows (some do like the money though!), or to be just a small part of a big machine. They want to be special, and looked after in a personal way. There’s that ‘people’ business again.
Though the business has become more about quick money and less loyalty, we can turn that around by doing all of the above and group hugging more! So, the next time you need a favour, call me and I’ll do you the favour because it’s you, and because it’s ‘we’, and not your CEO calling mine and being a bully about how much business has been done.
And then we hug…