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uk revival and Agents

The Sandman 05 May 19 - 01:35 PM
Vic Smith 05 May 19 - 01:44 PM
The Sandman 05 May 19 - 02:12 PM
Jack Campin 05 May 19 - 02:31 PM
Vic Smith 05 May 19 - 02:49 PM
Vic Smith 05 May 19 - 02:53 PM
Big Al Whittle 05 May 19 - 05:12 PM
The Sandman 05 May 19 - 05:16 PM
Jim Carroll 06 May 19 - 03:04 AM
Iains 06 May 19 - 04:08 AM
John MacKenzie 06 May 19 - 04:13 AM
GUEST 06 May 19 - 04:29 AM
r.padgett 06 May 19 - 04:39 AM
Big Al Whittle 06 May 19 - 04:46 AM
The Sandman 06 May 19 - 05:24 AM
GUEST 06 May 19 - 05:30 AM
Howard Jones 06 May 19 - 05:37 AM
Jim Carroll 06 May 19 - 05:38 AM
GUEST,Shaman 06 May 19 - 05:40 AM
Iains 06 May 19 - 05:42 AM
Dave the Gnome 06 May 19 - 06:32 AM
Mo the caller 06 May 19 - 06:42 AM
Jim Carroll 06 May 19 - 06:59 AM
Howard Jones 06 May 19 - 07:52 AM
The Sandman 06 May 19 - 07:53 AM
The Sandman 06 May 19 - 07:55 AM
The Sandman 06 May 19 - 08:00 AM
Iains 06 May 19 - 08:16 AM
The Sandman 06 May 19 - 08:22 AM
John MacKenzie 06 May 19 - 08:37 AM
Mo the caller 06 May 19 - 09:03 AM
GUEST,Starship 06 May 19 - 10:11 AM
Big Al Whittle 06 May 19 - 10:52 AM
Johnny J 06 May 19 - 11:21 AM
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Subject: uk revival and Agents
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 May 19 - 01:35 PM

to what extent are agents responsible for the present state of the UKFOLKREVIVAL?


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: Vic Smith
Date: 05 May 19 - 01:44 PM

Very little. Next thread please.


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 May 19 - 02:12 PM

Vic, why so dismissive?and no clarification as to why you think they have had little effect on the uk folk revival


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 May 19 - 02:31 PM

Their job is surely just to get their clients a larger share of the available work. They don't make any difference to the total amount of work that's going.


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: Vic Smith
Date: 05 May 19 - 02:49 PM

Sorry, Dick, but I read the title and what I saw the potential for this becoming yet another thread that develops into long wrangling from the same group of people taking up the same positions without there being any hope of resolution. If it doesn't then I will apologise to you. I sincerely hope it doesn't because to many folk enthusiasts that I talk to Mudcat has become something of a laughing stock because of this.
So I will give my contribution and the retire and watch what happens.

For many busy profesional performers in all branches of the performing arts, there comes a time when handling their own appearances/engagements/contracts/publicity etc. takes too much of their time and they are pleased to hand over that business to an agent for a percentage of their earnings. I would reckon that it is a pretty tough job without a guaranteed income. Relationship between an artists can have many points at which it can become fraught.
In 50+ years of running folk clubs and festivals, I have worked with very many agents. They have ranged from the the excellent and utterly reliable to the hopeless and inefficient with most somewhere between the two extremes. Just like all the other people that I interact with in my life, in fact.


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: Vic Smith
Date: 05 May 19 - 02:53 PM

Two words missing:-
Relationship between an artists and agents can have many points...


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 05 May 19 - 05:12 PM

I disagree. For about twenty years now, the agents have had a malign influence.Promotiing very dull acts.

I suppose its come from the knowledge that social secretaries at colleges,and frequently people booking folk festivals don't have a clue about acoustic music, and anyway they'll have moved on by next year. So earning a rebooking doesn't matter.

THe deals that at one time were done at street level by folk clubs are no more. Another by product of the diminution of the clubs.


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 May 19 - 05:16 PM

i would like to as k Vic a question , you ran a folk club for avery long time do you remember whether over the years you booked through agents in latter years more frequently than in the sixties or seventies


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 May 19 - 03:04 AM

A PIECE OF HISTORY ON THE SUBJECT
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: Iains
Date: 06 May 19 - 04:08 AM

Surely agents promote commercial acts. They are not running a charitable organisation. It is all about bums on seats, nothing more nothing less.
No audience, no dinaro. It is all about entertainment(talent), in this case a small niche in the entire spectrum.
Those with talent and ambition thrive, others do not. The agents grease the wheels of the process and speed the road to stardom.
The vast majority will listen to music/songs that appeal to then whether it be dylan, one direction, or Ewan MacColl. It is a tiny tiny minority that wish to strip the carcase and divinate with the bones of a restricted genre.


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 06 May 19 - 04:13 AM

Aye Jim Carroll, and not a lot has changed since that was written. Only difference now, is that the agents have colleges and universities training up grist for their mills. Much less travel involved for them, on recruiting drives ;)


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: GUEST
Date: 06 May 19 - 04:29 AM

No musician is forced to employ an "agent" if they don't want to.


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: r.padgett
Date: 06 May 19 - 04:39 AM

I would say that they can be very useful to visiting folk guests from overseas in fixing up tours at Concert clubs and other venues

Not sure about the word Revival in this question

Ray


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 06 May 19 - 04:46 AM

to be honest, I had a great affection for the old time agents. The ones on the folkscene never did me any favours. But I understood that, I wasn't showbiz enough for them. The acts were mainly entertainers who relied on getting rebooked by the working class audiences who frequented folk clubs.


The new breed. I just think they're bad news for everybody. They're part of the middle cass land grab.

Folk music is now a bit like the civil service. A safe career option for middle class kids.

The clerical officers and assistants are the ordinary joes who sit in sessions, provide the support acts and PA free for the privilege of rubbing shoulders with professionals.

The executive officers are a few posh gits. Musically accomplished but not much cop at communicating with an audience. Making records that don't sell. Gigs for college kids who know nowt, festival gigs for foreigners, dire programmes that no one watches for BBC4.

Still as Hyman Roth says in Godfather 2. this is the business we are engaged in.


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 May 19 - 05:24 AM

IANS said Surely agents promote commercial acts.
they promote their own commercial acts, true, they also through promotion, create commercial acts.
now if they promote and create STARS in the same way that pops stars are created then logically they have an influence on the uk folk revival.
I am not going to comment on whether this is good or bad,but just remark that this is happening, and if it is happening then agents are not just getting work for artists but are shaping and influencing the uk folk revival to some extent., to what extent that is happening compared to thirty years ago is debatable


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: GUEST
Date: 06 May 19 - 05:30 AM

Re Jim's post; I got as far as 'just a simple modest chap', noted the false accent and fell about laughing. Fake folk with banjo.


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: Howard Jones
Date: 06 May 19 - 05:37 AM

The original question contains the implication that somehow agents are damaging the folk scene. I'm not quite sure how. They will only take on clients who they believe they will be able to find gigs for, so these are presumably the most successful and (whilst this doesn't always follow) the most talented. Is it being suggested that these performers don't deserve the gigs they are getting, or is it sour grapes that they are getting more work than those without an agent?

I believe the folk revival is underpinned by its professional musicians. Without them we'd just be a bunch of amateurs singing the same handful songs to each other. No doubt someone will pop up to say that is what folk music should be, but unless you are fortunate enough to have someone of exceptional talent in your circle it probably wouldn't be very inspiring, in an age when we have many other sources of entertainment.

Whilst I have taken some inspiration from fellow club musicians, it has come mostly from the professionals I admire. These are the ones who dig about in RVML to find new and interesting songs and work them up into a performance, which the rest of us can then steal. They are the ones who develop techniques and styles appropriate to the music. They are the ones with the time and motivation to think deeply about the music, to explore new avenues and to take risks. Most of the rest of us only follow in their wake. They are the ones who make albums which spread this new material and inspire others. If it weren't for them I'd be a far more limited musician than I am, with a much smaller repertoire.

No one is getting rich from playing folk music. A few probably make a decent living, many only just scrape by but keep doing it because they love it. I suspect nearly all of them could probably have made a far better for themselves had they chosen another profession. It's a tough job, involving large amounts of travel and sleeping on people's sofas, and for many the task of chasing up gigs is the most unpleasant aspect. If they choose to use agents to help them that is entirely understandable. If those agents are then successful in getting work for their clients they are only doing their job.


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 May 19 - 05:38 AM

Sigh.......
Much rather have mid-Atlantic Dylanese, I'm sure
The song was a piece of satire - you're meant to laugh
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: GUEST,Shaman
Date: 06 May 19 - 05:40 AM

We were looking for a 'Celeidh' band for a wedding and when we googled we found a band featuring somebody we knew and in fact we had seen the band and realised that they would be ideal, and it turned out they are with an agency.

So the question is whether to approach the person we know direct or whether to go through the agency. It would be nice to go direct as presumably the musicians will get paid more if there is no agents' cut.

These are not people whose main living is got by playing music, though the standard is professional. But I'm not averse to them earning money using their skills, which are not in doubt. Moral problem. Answers on a postcard.

These agencies we discovered tend to put up videos and audio files of their acts, as do acts which don't use agents. So if people are booking acts blind just because they are with an agency, they should really be looking at the online evidence before making a decision.


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: Iains
Date: 06 May 19 - 05:42 AM

One thing that agents do is provide publicity. Whether this merely preaches to the converted or widens the audience is debatable. You can be sure that agents can only have a positive influence- to what extent they encouraged a revival is hard to say.
The one difference between today and the sixties is the lack of folk exposure in the media. The Corries, Robin Hall and Jimmy Macgregor, Julie Felix, The Spinners to name but a few, they all had exposure regularly on prime time TV back in the sixties and groups such as the Strawbs, Pentangle, Steeleye Span all got into the hit parade in the 70's
Such things no longer happen today, so perhaps we owe a lot to agents for keeping the genre in the public eye. Again no real statistics to support the view, just a gut feeling.


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 06 May 19 - 06:32 AM

We still have regular chart success from folk acts. Bellowhead, Show of Hands and Seth Lakeman to name but three have had chart success and are in the public eye through radio and TV. I imagine they all have agents who played a part in getting them where they are. Of course some may dispute that they are folk artists but the public perception is that they are and, as such, are contributing to the revival. So, in some cases, I think agents impact could be possitive. Just my 2p.


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: Mo the caller
Date: 06 May 19 - 06:42 AM

I've seen an agent's webpage for ceilidh bands that disguises the names of bands, so that people don't go direct. Word of mouth may be a better way to book - or maybe not. E.g. if someone approaches me to call a ceilidh I can tell them a bit about various bands and they can choose.
If you know a musician I don't see anything wrong with approaching them directly. If they have an exclusive arrangement with the agent, them it's up to them to say so, but I would have thought most would allow for personal bookings too.


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 May 19 - 06:59 AM

The result of MacColl's experiences, which led to the composition song was interesting
He decided to set up the Singers Club (and wrote an article as to why he had)
According to Diz Dizley's book on the scene at the time, the agent absconded with the takings of the Club MacColl departed from (Ballads and Blues)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: Howard Jones
Date: 06 May 19 - 07:52 AM

There's nothing wrong with approaching the band direct. They will tell you if the booking must be made through the agency. These aren't always exclusive arrangements, and it will depend on the terms of their agreement with the agent.

My own band mostly finds its own gigs but gets several referrals a year from an agency. They usually pay at least as well as ones we get ourselves, and that's after any agent's fee, which suggests that the agent is better at his job than we are (as you'd expect).


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 May 19 - 07:53 AM

Howard, there is no implication ,it is a simple question, if you interpret it that way that is your interpretation.
but since you made this remark, let me answer that question how do agents damage the scene.
there could be damage to the scene if it is in the hands of only a couple of agents, why? ,
because the scene POSSIBLY COULD be saturated with ONLY the people who they promote, that does not imo lead to a musically diverse scene. THIS COULD OF COURSE BE USED AS AN ARGUMENT FOR MORE AGENTS, because if more performers are represented by agents, there possibly could be more musical diversity , that again is debatable


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 May 19 - 07:55 AM

Howard your post gives an impression that agents represent ALL professional folk musicians , they do not, agents represent musicians who in their opinion are the most commercial


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 May 19 - 08:00 AM

At the same time agents do protect artists from being exploited, exploitation is rare in the uk folk revival ,but it does happen. in a period of 40 years i have been attemtedly ripped off three times on two of those occasions that would not have happened if i hahd had the protection of an agent


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: Iains
Date: 06 May 19 - 08:16 AM

I wonder if the folk revival would have occurred if contemporary folk was not present. Would an entirely fossilised genre attract anything like the present audience. Do folkies follow the tradition or compose and perform in traditional fashion. Does any performance in a folk club meet the rigid definition of traditional?

Unless a few broad definitions are accepted the arguments become circular and increasingly polarized.


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 May 19 - 08:22 AM

Ians could you start a different thread if you wish to discuss an off topic matter


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 06 May 19 - 08:37 AM

Snerk


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: Mo the caller
Date: 06 May 19 - 09:03 AM

Howard said "They usually pay at least as well as ones we get ourselves, and that's after any agent's fee, which suggests that the agent is better at his job than we are (as you'd expect)."
Or maybe it shows we are more soft-hearted and don't want to overcharge.

Mind you, I often use someone else to negotiate my fee - the band leader, if asked I say "I'll have the same as the musicians". So with some bands it's two thirds of what I get with others. I don't much like negotiating, I want people to be able to afford me for their party, charity etc. but don't want to be taken for granted (had too much of that as a Playgroup Supervisor).


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 06 May 19 - 10:11 AM

"to what extent are agents responsible for the present state of the UKFOLKREVIVAL?" How would one quantify that? That is, how will you know when you have the answer to your question?


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 06 May 19 - 10:52 AM

I remember one night I was in a music pub.

This guy came in with a cardboard box full of folk cds. He said, help yourself everybody...

Turns out he worked, or he ran or owned one of these three or four agencies that call the shots.

All these people had asked him to listen with a view to an audition. Had he listened to any of them.
He actually laughed at the mere idea.

The same attitude is there in Froots also ran column...you have to be able to buy into the folk aristocracy.

The nice thing about life is that when people withold their respect - you learn to live without it, and if you work at your craft - you will find audiences. And theres a whole country full of folk based musicians saying...fuck 'em.

Maybe not the unaccompanied ballad singers, Jim Carrol believes the folk world is clamouring for and being cruelly denied. But musicians influenced by the great folk scare artists of the 1960's and 70's. artists with something to say other than - look how different I am from the plebs.


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Subject: RE: uk revival and Agents
From: Johnny J
Date: 06 May 19 - 11:21 AM

Agents don't always necessarily book the most commercially successful acts but they usually do have an agenda.

For instance, one well known Scottish agent relentlessly pushes "Americana" acts of varying quality. To be fair, they are usually very good for "their kind" but this certainly has had an influence on the booking policy of many folk clubs for good or ill and the more traditional/home grown acts often miss out as a result.

However, whatever the genre of music, many clubs and concert organisers can fall into the trap of just accepting what is on offer when they could and should be more pro active themselves as regards bookings... i.e. seeking out the artists and styles of music that they and their audiences really want.

Of course, they should still be prepared to try something new or different as well and, arguably, they may benefit from the knowledge and efforts of a good agent too.


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