Thinkband 3: Opening for a supergroup (even if your band is just starting out)

Not even an album in the market and an almost unknown Peruvian metal band The Fallen Symmetry is already playing in the same stage with THE multimillion selling metal band from Sweden: Arch Enemy. So how could that happen? I had the chance to interview the vocalist of TFS, the band I managed just a couple of months ago.

Jaime: Hi Gustavo, what’s the secret to play alongside Arch Enemy without even having released any album in the market?

Gustavo: It`s all about hard work and seeking opportunity. You have to be ready when the chance comes knocking at your door. We did not had our album out yet when it happened, but we played some good gigs, we had a pretty professional sounding demo out and we even had a Video of one of the songs of our demo. So, looking back, even if we did not had a official LP out, we did had material and had worked pretty hard for the last year as a band. Now, besides that, I guess there´s a matter of luck too, we were in the right place at the right time. But I guess that´s how things work, as I said before, you have to be ready when the train of opportunity passes by.

J: Your fan is a very special one: you don’t have a big amount of clicks in your Facebook fanpage or Twitter account, but I know your live shows always get packed, what do you think about this?

G: We as a band, exist for just over a year, so we are in the process of building our fan base. The thing about the metal genre is that fans are pretty loyal, they will go out and check out new bands, even if they don´t know you, of course, after that you have to make your thing so they become fans of your band, so they leave the show and go to their houses and look for your fanpage or webpage and stick with you in future shows. It´s a slow and hard road to make a name in the scene, but every show is a wonderful chance to gain more fans, for me, if at least only one person leaves the show in love with the band waiting for the next show, I´m happy.

J: Not so many long ago we did together some PR for the band having El Comercio (Peru’s most important newspaper) with positive reviews about the band’s debut videoclip, what are your plans now?

G: Just work and try to do things right. We are always looking for the next step for the band. We release our first album in a month time, we have 3 shows this month, after that we have the Arch Enemy show and 2 weeks after that, we headline one of the biggest local metal festivals in Lima, so we have no stop until the end of the year. We plan on shooting a video early next year for one of the album singles and then we want to record the band playing the whole album live on a location soon to be picked. so, actually we don´t have a PR plan, we just believe in doing things the best we can, and releasing the best material we can do, and with a little luck, word will pass along. There´s always space in the music business for bands who make a good job, we believe in that.

J: What do you think of festivals? What does Metal Madness mean? Tell us if you see potential of getting it outside Peru.

G: Festivals are always awesome. It´s pretty sweet to share the stage with other bands, listen to them, getting to know great musicians and all the vibe around what a festival represents. It´s also a great chance to bring your music to people who do not know. The Metal Madness Festival is pretty important for us because we along with 3 other bands are the promoters. It´s our way to thank everyone who support and listens to us. We put the best equipment we can, we put on the absolute best conditions we can even if we don´t get the money back. As I said, it´s our way to thank our fans and the people who support us in any and every way. It’s still a very early stage to say we’re gonna export this festival outside Peru but we never close any doors.

J: What does “artist management” means to you? Do you think a manager is a vital part of your business or do you believe more in the DIY culture?

G: Of course it´s super important to have a manager. As a musician, it´s vital to have your head on the music. Nothing else, nothing more. You, as an artist, have to be focused on your craft, that´s a main thing if you want to reach certain level. Of course, in the beginning, it´s not easy and you have to do things for yourself until someone checks you out and wants to take a chance with you, that may take some time, so it´s always very important to know how to move your band in the market until someone wants to do business with you. You have to know how to do things for yourself first, then delegate…

Understanding the underground club music industry: managing and booking new talents at The Secret Agency (Interview with Ben Start)

The secret Agency, LondonThe secret Agency is a development of the legendary London party crew secretsundaze. After 11 years of parties and strong relations formed with both artists and promoters across the world this seemed like a logical progression. The agency aims to continue the secretsundaze ethos of openess, honesty and forward thinking musical direction and ultimately delivering results for both the promoter and our artists. The reputation of our artists is based as much on their ability to spin records as to make them. We pride ourselves on looking after artists individual needs and being pro-active in terms of seeking work for our artists as opposed to sitting around waiting for the telephone to ring. With regards to dealing with requests from promoters and bookers we aim to give a professional, reliable, honest and efficient service.
Hello Ben, from secret agency in london, thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience about your job in the electronic music panorama…we are here to talk and understand a little bit more about the underground club music industry, how it works behind the scenes and how it is actually different from the rock, pop, urban and indie rock, especially in finding, managing and booking new artists…let’s begin!
First question: given the fact that in today’s industry the “artist” is often the producer as well as the live performer and the DJ… What do you look at first in finding new talents?
I guess the main resources are the labels, if an artist is signed to a label that we respect, then this could trigger our interest for sure… Of course they need to be skilled DJ’s that we would feel confident sending to a club to represent our brand, or even book for one of our events and parties. In addition to that, it’s all about their ability of delivering good releases or albums, and yes, obviously their attitude! Do they really want to make something in this music industry?
What are your main resources in finding new artists? Do you think an artist has to have already built a strong following to join your company?
We look for artists worldwide mainly through the internet, the records we buy, mixes we listen to, parties we go to, interviews we read. It’s quite difficult these days to find an artist fully developed with a strong following, who is not already signed somewhere; it seems that every young DJ and producer has a manager these days!
How do you deal with the fact that many record labels integrate a booking and management agency within the same structure? Would you consider them competitors?
Well, usually labels unearth new talent and promote their own music, agencies make sure that the artists are getting the right exposure through the other side of what they do: the performance. There are labels like Ramp which are building their “own family” at the grass roots and like to take care of the booking for their artists at the same time, but this is quite rare though. The Secret Agency works under the secretsundaze umbrella, along with all the parties and the newly launched label, so it actually feeds into each other.
Do you think is more important for an artist to have a strong live performance rather than good EP’s/Albums? What does actually trigger your interest the most?
I think that now competition is tougher than ever !!! An artist really needs a strong live/DJ set, good releases and remixes. Having their own label might help them, as well as a decent haircut and some nice trainers! 😉
How important is the personality of an artist behind his or her skills? Is it something that you considered as a key-point?
It’s important to have personality in this industry, but different people express this in different ways! As long as the music or the live performance has something that set it apart from everything else, then this is the most important thing. Of course the artists are performing in a social environment, so it’s important that [they] are able to deal with this in a good way.
In what do you think a good company has to be good at these days, in order to discover a new potential superstar? Are there still potential superstar out there? How do you recognize when an artist is ready to take the big leap?
We are still dealing with very underground artists, so the leap you mention usually happen organically, so an artist will have a break-through-track which will receive lots of exposure, support, booking, and fame and girls soon follow… There are always potential superstars out there! As music becomes more democratic and small scale, in some cases this has opened the door to more and more managers at grass roots level, so I think there is intense competition for people with potential star-quality, resulting in people getting picked up early.
Do you think that “do-it-on-your-own” strategy to build a career could work in the electronic music scene? How would you compare this to the more common “who-you-know” policy? What’s your opinion on that?
I think the do-it-yourself approach can work, but there are certain rules and obstacles individuals will face at some point. The right contacts and the network you have are always going to be useful when you come up against this.
How is your approach in evaluating how to achieve goals? How important is your consulting service/advisory in planning his or her career at the beginning?
Most artists know exactly where the best clubs are and of course [they] want to play there! It’s up to us to work with them steadily in order to get them there, or at least helping them get closer to that. It’s really important to listen to their thoughts, we’ve come to realise that really are the little things that count in this job!
How difficult is it to sign a contract with a company like yours? How much does the whole process usually take?
We work on a no-contract basis with a artists… Usually we work on an initial term of one year; some artists will take longer to settle in than others, but we constantly evaluate their performance as we go, as they do the same with us.
Which is the most challenging issue that you’re facing right now in the industry?
The biggest challenge is the competition we are facing from other agencies, artists can sometimes think that the grass is greener on the other side (even if it’s not), but at the same time competition is something that we are all exited about!
How do you think this economic recession has affected this industry?
I think that the recession is definitely catching some promoter clients off guard. People have been tightening their belts for the last 4 years, some have been squeezed out, but that means the competition that remains is stronger; it’s a natural selection.
What do you think you will need to improve to stay ahead of other competitors in the industry? How will you differentiate yourself in order to succeed?
We need to continually improve to stay in the game. In terms of our range of service, we need to address their individual needs and wants in a better way every year. We also need to continue to improve our roster and offer a exciting variety of artists. We generally try to differentiate ourselves by giving a friendly, “boutique-like” service but with a very professional edge. Of course what makes any company unique is the type and the quality of the music it represents!
Would you like to give us some good advices to follow for a young artist? How can they trigger the interest of a manager?
Be yourself, confident, daring, be willing to experiment but also be able to focus your goals…
Finally, how do you see recruitment and scouting as a value in the future?
Its an ongoing, never ending task. Our stock of artists needs to be continually developed and updated. This development can also come with artists already on our roster adding new strings to their bow through their natural development, or experimenting and reacting to what is going on around them. Without this, well the roster would get stale and promoters would lose interest very quickly. So it all feeds into each other!
Ben StartBEN START : Ben was given the enviable task of shaping the secretsundaze vision of an agency in late 2009. With a varied background in many facets of the music scene he has helped to mould a modern, forward thinking agency. Ben enjoys the hands on, day to day task of dealing with genuine legends of the scene, thriving on building relationships worldwide.

THINKBAND 2: Be a 121 musician and start making money NOW.

If you liked the idea of TICKSTAGE from my last post ( but thought that it would be only possible to reach for rich investors or wealthy entrepreneurs well, this time I’ll be discussing about a very simple idea, affordable for most musicians: 121 strategy to sell your music directly to your client’s needs.

But let’s focus on the problem set first:


Bands aren’t making (enough) money. The times of playing in big arenas are part of the past. And we all think: wouldn’t it be nice to receive a fair amount of money just like any other job? But wait, what if you start working with your band as a real job? For example, freelance designers work their $·”$ses off to get paid, and they usually start making projects for their friends, relatives and network in general. Now, what if people pay for something they really, really want to hear from you? If you have a band with very TALENTED musicians on board continue reading, if you are not sure GET some good musicians first and continue reading…


Some basics to get birth to the idea: people love seeing themselves in multimedia content that is RELEVANT for them, some of these contents are special occasions as birthdays, weddings, welcome parties, you name it. That is no other than creating EXPERIENCE. Now, everyone is talking about brand experience but just a few brands had been able to develop 121 marketing, with name and surname products or campaigns on it. BUT, actually musicians can do it in a very clever, creative way.
So here’s the idea: make your friends your first clients, pick 5 of them and charge $50 to make the song they NEED to accomplish something, for example a guy that wants to apologize to her girlfriend but doesn’t know how, or a girl that just wants to say something but is not sure about how to say it, or even a couple that want to make their recently born baby a very special song. You new clients will have the right to pick the subject and MAYBE some lines for the lyrics, the music should be ENTIRELY yours and your friends should know about it, obviously they have to like the kind of music you are doing. Then you can make multimedia content in Youtube (about 1 day of work with iMovie and some photos or videoclips your clients can facilitate) and the people for whom you made it will take care of getting it viral: they will share it everywhere with everyone.


Now you made $250 for this experiment. In worst cases you’ll feel it’s not your thing but still earned some cash to get new lovely gear. In best cases you’ll find that more and more people is getting into your proposal of custom made music (thanks to viral factors) and you’ll have a lot of work and nice amount of money by the end of the month, that is what it’s all about right?

Note: his is a think tank post series to get your mind outside the box, not a secret formula. This ideas MAY work if you develop them with ideas of your own.