Here’s why I’m attending the Jayme Stone seminar, How To Book Yourself Without An Agent on January 12, 2016. I check Jayme’s web site from time to time and am astounded by the amount of work he finds. He's also just informed me that he books all of these gigs himself. I've never seen a tour list this long from a self managed performer. And they're quality gigs.
As someone who sells for a living, both houses and music, I want to know what he does. My plan is to steal this knowledge and put it to good use in 2016.
In the early days of Whiskey Jack, we achieved some success fairly quickly. That wasn't unusual in itself but we did it on our own, as a self managed act. Being in control of our own destiny was a double edged sword with a severe and almost unmanageable learning curve, something all entrepreneurs must figure out if they want to achieve any kind of sustainable success.
On the one hand, we were able to create our own brand and develop custom marketing strategies that were specific to the show we were selling. On the other hand, there were many time consuming duties that distracted us from our main goal, creating good music. These were also skills we weren’t necessarily good at.
For example, we were obliged to write our own press releases, produce and distribute our own albums and most importantly, negotiate the majority of our contracts. Finding work consumed the majority of our time.
Around the same time, a new publication hit the stands. Canadian Musician (CM) was a music industry publication that was an instant hit. One of the publishers of CM was a teller at my local bank. Her name is Kathy Whitney. Each time I visited her wicket, we exchanged a story or two about the progress we were each making with our new ventures. Her co-publisher is, and continues to be, Jim Norris.
Shortly after CM hit the news stands for the first time, they had this idea to host a music management conference at one of the big hotels downtown. There were a number of rather significant guests who were on the panel. One of the country’s most important booking agents, Neill Dixon, was there, as was Bob Roper from Warner Bros. Records. I was on the panel representing the “self managed” performer. The ballroom at a local hotel was jam packed, not just with young new musicians, but also experienced successful professionals.
Whiskey Jack was a self managed four piece acoustic act with a new album on our own label but most importantly, we had a lot of gigs. That's why I was on the panel. This was an unusual combination, good music with a successful business plan.
We soon learned that self management was never going to work if we wanted to elevate our success to a national or international level. There were too many responsibilities that we weren’t qualified to perform at a high level. To top it off, we didn’t have enough capital to invest in more recordings and more promotion.
We briefly tried to work with a management company (In Tune Management, Toronto and Nashville) but again, with no excess capital to invest, it went nowhere fast.
Over the years, I’ve continued to search for and negotiate paid gigs for the band. This is a topic that is of great interest to most journeymen musicians. We all struggle with it. Most of us never have enough gigs. Nor are the gigs we secure profitable enough.
While this experience has had value and has helped me find work for the band, I’m certain that there is a lot about the booking of gigs that I know nothing about. I'm expecting a great deal from Jayme's success.