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The EvO:R-Pedia Musicians Tips Section
Welcome to the EvO:R Tips Section. We call this section EvO:R-Pedia because it is like a complete
reference library for Indie musicians...Just about every tip has been used so you won't find false
promises and a series of books to buy after reading each tip. This section was put here by musicians
so that people that followed can take this knowledge and use it's power.
Indie Artist Management
Economic Realities & Insightful Strategies
Three personal managers of independent artists outline
pathways for success in an increasingly competitive
marketplace - a Los Angeles Music Network program.
Reported by Scott G
"An artist's music must be something I love," stated
Jennifer Yeko of True Talent Management. "It has to be
music I want to hear in my personal life as well as
when I'm working."
This view was echoed by Ben Laski of Sonic Management,
and Steve Ross of Raving Loon Management, as all three
spoke on the Indie Artist Management program presented
by the Los Angeles Music Network (LAMN).
"I will never work with an artist whose music I don't
love," said Ross. "Commercial radio," added
Laski, "sucks, and so…" He waited for the applause to
subside, "…and so, why would I want to work with
anything other than music that means something to me?"
Each of them acknowledged the economic realities of
the marketplace ("The product has to be viable at some
point," Ross pointed out), but all three were adamant
that their personal reaction to an artist's music was
the primary factor in selecting them for
representation. "It's like a marriage," said Ross, "so
it's best to make a careful choice."
Speaking before an audience made up of equal numbers
of indie managers and artists seeking information
about management, Ross, Yeko and Laski provided
insights into their approach to guiding recording
artists to achieving commercial success as well as
their maximum career potential.
Moderated by Tess Taylor, LAMN President, the event
covered a lot of territory and generally moved rapidly
from one topic to the next, although too much time was
spent on answering repeated audience questions about
California labor law dealing with booking agents.
Basically, no one may "procure employment" for a
client in California unless they are a registered
agent who has posted a bond and followed other
formalities. Since this means that managers are
putting their entire contractual relationship at risk
if they book a gig for a client, there were a lot of
managers in attendance who were hoping to find a
loophole in the law.
Both Laski and Ross are attorneys, and Ross has
obtained his agent license in order to book gigs for
During a spirited Q & A session following the formal
part of the presentation, one artist asked four
questions without waiting for an answer and there was
a bit of fun for the rest of us as we watched the
microphone being wrestled away from her. It's nice to
see passionate artists, but there is also something to
be said for displaying a modicum of decorum in public.
Highlights from the presentation:
On obtaining publicity for clients:
Ross: "You do whatever you can for publicity." He
occasionally spends time in music chat rooms to see
who is into which artists in local markets. "You call,
write, give out 200 sampler CDs. It all builds for the
Laski disagreed: "I don't believe in artists giving
out free samplers to fans. Make an EP and sell it for
Yeko: "We call music editors to get reviews and write-
ups, but the main thing is to figure out your goals
ahead of time. Under the right circumstances, you
can't give out too many flyers or CDs."
Ross: "Writers across the country can be very helpful
when bands come in from out of town." He also
recommends that you "get on-air appearances for your
artists who are on tour. Call people, tell them why
your artist will be good for their station or their
club." Taylor challenged him to give an example of how
he talks to people on these calls. To much laughter,
he said, "If I'm talking to a club, I always say the
artist plays 'good drinking music.'"
Laski: "There are different levels of publicity. At
the start, you call reviewers. As you move up in
sales, you hire a publicist to work a release or a
tour, and you make certain he is in the proper genre
of music. You can also call the BMI or ASCAP
publicist, who can be helpful in getting contacts in
On preparing marketing plans for artists:
Yeko: "It's helpful to list your goals, and the steps
you need to take to achieve them. This is a good idea
even if you don't follow your plan exactly as it was
Ross: "Unfortunately, marketing plans require
Laski: "Marketing plans are too time-consuming. We
plan what we need to do as the need arises. Too many
factors change as you go along."
Ross: "Outside of L.A., you can actually make some
Laski: "Touring is going to be a losing proposition at
the beginning of an artist's career, unless you can
get tour support from a record label."
On making money for indie artists:
Laski: "We place songs on TV and film soundtracks. It
not only makes some money for artists, it is excellent
Yeko: "We have had great success with film and TV
placement of songs, but some of our artists have
developed clothing items and merchandise that actually
generate more income at shows than CD sales."
On artists looking for a magic formula for a
Yeko: "There is no shortcut to success other than
Ross: "When you get those e-mails from people
offering to set-up showcases, or the ones that tell
you all about a great CD sampler they're sending out,
run away. These are never a good deal."
On must-do lists for artists and managers:
Ross: "Whatever you receive from anyone, whether it's
a writer, club owner, or someone at retail, thank
Yeko: "Look into the NACA, the National Association
for Campus Activities at www.naca.org. We've also had
an artist who did an entire summer of playing shopping
Ross: "When you send CDs to radio or press, remove
the shrinkwrap. And do not send a CD to radio without
a proper 1-sheet." NOTE: you can download a PDF of a
proper 1-sheet here: http://www.delvianrecords.com/onesheets/1S_Platinum_Rad
Oddly, the most provocative statement of the evening
failed to draw any comment from the audience or the
panelists. Taylor began the program with a prediction
that "In the wake of industry changes such as the
Sony/BMG merger, indie record distribution may
ultimately move from a single digit percentage to as
much as 25 to 30 percent." Perhaps this is really a
prelude to the next LAMN or NARIP presentation.
Scott G writes and records as The G-Man and his work
is on iTunes and at http://www.gmanmusic.com.