Words by Michelle Sullivan
On some level, we all want to communicate something to the world. A career is long, so why are we always in a hurry? Here's something to consider - patience.
While this concept is challenging for most of us - It is undoubtedly the constant motif with everyone we talk to for The Manifesto. We all want to do well and we all want to be right, but ultimately lessons learned teach us that not everything is within our control. The music business is just like any other business - each player is working to serve their own agenda, not yours, unless yours will somehow serve theirs. Make sense?
So what do you do when everything seems to be driving you to drink? - Be patient and just get on with it.
If comparing yourself to others is still the loop that you’re stuck in, then ask - why am I complaining? We choose to under-take this path. It is not someone else’s responsibility to support what we do. It's our passion. We need to back it, back ourselves and get on with it.
It's risky. It might work, or It might not and we fail. All these things are possible. There are always procrastinations to invent and people to blame, but sometimes it really is just a matter of giving yourself the time and permission to find out.
Sometimes the most helpful thing to do is ask somebody to break it down for us - That person for me is Dayna Young.
Dayna is a Senior Agent at Select Music in Sydney, representing artists such as The Aston Shuffle, Miami Horror, Sampology and DCup. Depending on how much of a romantic you are, agents are either great champions of the dream, or straight up hustlers. Dayna is a friend of mine, meaning I get to hear stories both on record and off. So I decided to call her and get an insight to the agent side of this concept. "Hi Mich. What's happening?"
M: I'm writing some thoughts on the idea of patience (Both Laugh). Anyway - I wanted to look at it from the agent side. How important is timing for you?
D: Very important. From an agent’s perspective we are looking to work with artists where the pieces of the puzzle come together. I’ve turned down opportunities in the past that I would have loved to be a part of because the timing wasn’t right. However, saying that when you really want to work with an artist you’ll do everything you can to bring opportunities to the table and to piece the puzzle together.
M: Every un-signed act generally believes they need an agent. I've always worked from the tip that artists should put themselves in the best possible position to do that deal. What questions should artists be asking themselves before approaching an agent?
D: Is the music ready? Can they clearly describe who they are, the opportunities they want to chase and where they want to be in 5 years’ time? Are they already creating performance opportunities for themselves? Are they clear on their branding and positioning?
M: I would love you to discuss the importance of patience in the pursuit.
D: All Agents wants to work with artists who realize that their career is a long horse race – it makes defining the touring strategy for the act all that much easier and clear cut. For example so many artists (and managers) today set their goal as playing this or that festival; they see that other artists play to large, receptive crowds and understandably they want that too. But what they’re not taking into account is the series of performances and releases that brought that artist to that point. Play festivals too early in your cycle and you’ll be playing an early set, to few people and at a low fee. Have the patience to build your own profile separate to festivals – everything else should fall into place if you get this right.
M: Regardless of talent and the pursuit of the dream, it's still a business.
D: 100%. The music industry may be built on hopes and dreams but at the end of the day an agent and an artist choose to work together for one simple reason: financial reward. I find it interesting that an agent’s role is seen as “finding gigs” and that once an artist sign’s with an agent – or manager - they feel their work is done, that they can take their foot off the pedal. I don’t see my job – or the artist’s - as that at all. I’m here to capitalize on momentum and turn that into a solid touring strategy. The momentum though, that comes directly from the artist. I had a great chat with an artist I’m looking at working with just the other night, and he said to me “once I sign with you, I need to deliver the music”. In short he gets it, it’s a business relationship and for me to do my job he has to first do his. It was refreshing to hear!
M: Good talk.
D: Anytime Mich. See ya.
The pursuit is not an easy one. When in doubt, I find that the best antidote is just to get back to work. This is a business for the passionate, the brave and the faithful.