Featured Transmission: Do You Need an Agent?

In this feature article, The Waveform Transmitter’s Simon Huxtable looks squarely into the eyes of the artists in the industry and asks a very pertinent question…is an agent a necessity?

So here you are, a bounding mass of creative energy with a few gigs under your belt in your local town and a mind full of music you want to share with the world. So how do you get from local star to international headliner? Well the short and uncomfortable answer is – hard work.

Sorry. I don’t want to burst your bubbles, but the fact is whether you plan on becoming the next Carl Cox, Tiësto, or even Flume, its a constant battle up a very slippery slope of carefully managed public relations, self marketing and social media positioning to put you in the right place for a professional company to take you on. And even that is a chess game of cleverly written emails and perseverance.

So whats the right content for social media? Simply put, use your common sense. When you pore over your news feed, what are the sorts of things you naturally gravitate to? Those are the sorts of things others might like and so might be a good way for you to go.

Magnetic Mag published a really good guide recently which outlined ways to avoid the pitfalls and problems in social media marketing and improve your presence within the white noise of global PR. Essentially everything I’ll write here but less tl:dr. Its definitely worth a look though, and while you’re at it, check out a few other self help guides as well, this is one of those times when Google is your friend and knowledge is power.

As a good guide, I personally tend to post about 10 times on Facebook per day across my personal page, DJ page and various business I own. You’ll find some brands will post across a number of platforms, which is great if you want to juggle multiple accounts, but I think its better to be consistent on one.

For Twitter, you can post more frequently but have something to contribute. Nothing worse than a load of pictures of your dinner and a hashtag saying #sandwich or whatever! Also it’s useful to not post about your brand constantly because people get turned off very quickly. Maybe one in five posts needs to be about your music; better to build an audience around your personality than simply the music. Think Seth Troxler rather than DJ Sneak.

Prepare yourself for a lot of NO’s and no return emails. There are many, many young and established producers/DJ’s searching for representation. Last but not least, learn to say to yourself “Fuck it! I make the music I like, it’s my passion and I love to do it.” No agent, A&R or manager can take that away from you. – Joost Veerman

Once you have a better social media presence, then, and only then, can you start to think about PRs and agents. The important thing to remember here, is that although someone else now has to find you gigs etc, it is going to cost you money and they are also going to expect you to be making sellable product to finance that. You basically become a business.

Interviews, guest mixes, gigs and shows all appear very glamorous, but you’ll be expected to be able to turn on the charm and perform at the drop of a hat whatever’s going on in your life. So, if you make it to this stage, be very sure you want this completely – a few months working in Ibeefa doesn’t qualify you as a ‘professional’.

PR’s and agents may want to totally reinvent your brand so that it fits better in the industry as they see it. They aren’t going to be your best friends remember, you make them money any way they want you to. Just look at the career of DJs like Tiësto or David Guetta. “The music industry loves to think in boxes,” says Joost Veerman, agent/booker for Tom Hades, “…so you have to ‘fit their profile’. Maybe it’s unnecessary to say, but make sure your music counts! Release quality music and work with the right labels so they can back you up.”

Once you’ve made your mind up and you are totally sure you want this life, first up is the research phase. Most agents won’t have easy to find websites because they hate unsolicited mail. Best to see who represents your favourite artists and approach them that way, or attend conferences where they are going to be but be prepared for a lot of ignored emails.

I find the best way to get a good response is to strike up conversation; network rather than simply be blinkered. Once people know you, even in a digital sense, you are far more likely to get a good response. Once you’re in, the real hard work begins. Your agent has to build a head of steam about you, so there will be much to do and you may feel your life is not your own, but with perseverance and hard work come the spoils. Good Luck.

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