Booking Agent Nick Storch on Communication
I wantto bring in, um, my booking agent nick's torch from a company called icy and partners whose job is based around communication and this gets a little bit more practical because we're talking about booking so some of the things I want to ask nick involved, you know, how does someone who's starting out get better of booking? When is it appropriate to hire a booking agent? How do you hire booking agent? How does that work? Who did they choose to work with? And really I'd like him to explain his job, what he does every day, who he communicates with, how he learned to be a good communicator, whether he was expressive, is a kid or had become expressive, so that's kind of stuff I want to respond if you guys have any questions, we can take it as well. So, um, do we bring him in now there is nick, your man. I'm good good to see a let's see here last time I saw you, I was sitting like in that chair to your left and I was grilling you really hard e I did, I did, eh? So I'll give you a brief ...
sort of intro is toe what what I want to do, I've already told everybody who you are and our relationship I love you our booking my band periphery and that you are an excellent booking agent with a great reputation you've been doing it for years and years and years um and we'll get into some questions about the industry and your role but the overall topic that we're discussing right now is communication ok and I think for you your job is based and centered around communicating with other people you know am I right in assuming that thousand percent ok cool so um when nick and I met for the first time it was when my band was actually interviewing different booking agents and uh you know, it was it was funny because they came down from york city where he lives teo baltimore are to d c where my band convened with our manager and they came and that was awesome just the fact that he came down and met with us in person that said a lot from a communications standpoint it wasn't just a phone call he wanted to show his face he wanted to t get in front of us and let us meet him and see what he's like is a person on dh just show up mean that sometimes a great way t get a gig is to show up and put yourself out there on dh it worked for him but I was kind of a tough customer because I want to make sure that we were hiring the right booking it so I was growing up with all sorts of questions like name five for every song you know like like tell us like you know all this stuff that you know about our band and hey did a really good job actually it was pretty cool and you know, that's that's part of reason why I got the job but I think at the end of the day the main reason was you know, it was about communication as a a person in a band that's experience all sorts of different relationships and different types of communication with different people we had some bad experiences in the past with with that area of booking and communicating and that's that was what we wanted out of nick we wanted good communication so now we're working together we're working together on planning a tour for the fall and things they're things there moving so it's good but so nick I guess before we get into any civic questions do you mind just sort of telling everybody how you got started and really kind of basic from the idea of communication like were you a good communicator is a kid were you expressive? How did you get into this and how did you learn how to communicate better with others what's you know, hopefully that makes sense doesn't it? I mean I got start because uh I don't know where to go and I ask my boss you don't know where to start I had no family really shit no connections whatsoever so I said wherever I go he made a call for me in a small booking agency and it kind of steam rolled from there I didn't have a clue what I wanted to do it wasn't a very expressive child wasn't very communicative and chatty, but I had to learn with his job because that I don't sell a product that sound standing that's a physical products sell intangibles so I have to be in a cell passionate excitement so it's communicating so my job is to get him a phone or meet with people and tell them why I don't need to be in business with the arts that represents and what they what they need and communicate that effectively for the right people and since some people don't care about record sales or they care about what they look like they care about, you know how many people they're gonna bring what's the aesthetic what kind of people walking in the door there's all kinds of different variables that I have to know I need to know my audience and go to them and present the right points is that the press? Is it you know david rohl likes them so there that's that's the selling point just knowing speaking to your audience with what they're looking for organ during maybe something they don't like maybe there's a violent aspect the fanbase try to sidestep that don't bring that up showcase it you doing your homework on the people you're dealing with so yeah, that's great. So and when you when you started doing this, did you start as a promoter? Initially? No, I I I started as an intern it and it's taking a flyer in the bathroom. But I mean, I only have only ever been an agent in a business, ok, about thirteen years now. Okay, so thirteen years so what's what's what's the process for you? Like, how do you one how do you pick a band toe work with what? What? What is what are the I guess the qualities that you look for in an artist or a band, you know, for you to say, you know what? I think I can really help book these guys, you know, approach really like, and I think I asked that question because I think there's a lot of people who want to get their bands out there, the music out there, they want to start touring, they want to start playing shows, what do you look for? What can these people do to better their chances for really getting to that next level? What I'm looking for ultimately is I'm looking for a long term relationship with a with an artist that we're gonna have a relationship for fifteen, twenty, thirty years so we're going up and down but it's a long term relationship to success for each other I do believe that I know a lot of people like to talk about business and personal should be separated, but I think it's all interconnected everything in the world isn't connected, so I'm looking for artists that can understand that and then when there are thinking about the short term that what's in their front of face and thinking about the decision they make today how they're going to affect them into three for ten years time and building towards something and always having a purpose and a reason for their existence not just doing it for the sake of doing it there's gotta be a reason so there's gotta be a passion my strategy of people you're saying there's got to be like passion tied to what they're doing there's got to be conviction to a commitment so to speak absolutely because I'm going to be committed to you I'm gonna wake up three o'clock morning about the veil that I forgot to get or something I've got to double check on the contract so I expect the same in return for their dedication to their craft okay, how would an artist go about hiring you and at what point in their career are they ready to do that you know that's a great question because it varies for everyone some some band will come off sounding a massive record deal and they've got a big time manager the band needs to be for lack of a better term popped you know they need to have every big opportunity right out the gates because if they don't, the project could very likely fail where there's other kinds of bands that it's a slow build and it's it's a process of years and experiences so there's not a cash and carry way of looking at it for each band but the one thing I've learned over the years is that bands don't need to reach out to us as much they need to start focusing more on developing there their image, their music, their their their why why are they showing up? We will find that I mean there are so many more bands to find every day outlets to find those bands that we don't need them to contact us. They just need to a great job presenting themselves because everyone although they don't need to do to reach out at least as an agent sure know that that makes great sense and other I guess are there any specific aside from the conviction and the passion are there any steps that you would say that bands should take to get to that point because like for example, you know the are the acts that I played with, you know, growing up we didn't need a booking agent because we were we weren't really taking it seriously, so I think anybody who's watching this class is probably serious about where they want to be and if not, they're starting to get serious, but I mean, would you say that they should have experience in booking their own tours, booking their own shows just so they can respect your job more but also kind of appreciate what it really takes to get out there? I mean, does that does that make sense? Absolutely, I think it's very important for you to do your homework, you know? I mean, look, it's it's two sided, they shouldn't learn to book their own shows and the least understand the general process. Obviously they don't need to know every every little detail that's why you go to mit and hire a professional so you don't have to deal with that. But, you know, I also think its important for bands to be you never as a band you're a creative entity that's the first that's the primary goal never stop growing on that perspective always get better always be practicing, always reevaluating your live show, and he always needs to be sincere because your audience knows better than you do if you're being sincere and we need to become to be challenging yourselves as if your soul orders of the band to grow and change, you know, until you're reaching bon jovi status where you can phone it in and you could just play the hits you're always developing bands that are thirty is inner still developing because when you stop going that's when you're gonna make the states because you think the world now revolves around you but the world is constantly changing, the way that I developed bands and I started is to drastically different you could tour the market three times before the record release. Now you need to wait, you know, for six weeks till after the records out now, and that could change again and everything is different and it's just you need to be focused on your craft so you could do with the best job you can. So the point that you just made about artists let's say they put out a record and then they want to go on tour, how would they without the experience that you have and with a lot of touring touring bands have like, how would they no, that four weeks after you put out your record is the appropriate time? Is there any way that they can that bands can research this? Is there a specific place that they can go or is this more so just through communication with people like yourself for the team that they can learn about this stuff I mean they're any tips for for marketing point you made about communication they need to be should be building relationships assumes you're comfortable and ready to play shows confidently not just play because you think that's what you're supposed to do but go out and call the local longer psychotic in ten minutes covering your coffee and just ask a few questions and how can we work with you? Because we want to work with you it does it should be you should want to book us because we're from this town the exact opposite they don't need you do you should humble yourself and call them hey we want to come play a room open for someone in building towards headline in your room I mean build relationships call call the local music journalist could you come watch our practice? What we buy dinner we go out, you give us an critiques I mean it's all balls down the communication that's what you do as an artist you communicate with your thoughts and feelings through your music and then you have to go out on the water communicate again to get people's attention to you so are their resource is and no, I think they just you have to go and ask questions because it's always evolving changing and how one band grew is going to be completely different from how the other man so you had to ask people as people in the know how they did it and you might get fifteen different responses to ask people and you know the one thing you can only everyone loves to hear himself talk so when you call someone asked for their advice they're gonna be giving classes great someone thinks I'm important because no one's ever gonna turn down an opportunity talk about what they know so copy bosco said quickie mart man please get five minutes of your time obviously don't kiss their ass too much but a little humility and a little hate I knew I could learn from you they're probably give you the time but when you say when there's a sense of self entitlement which I find with a lot of young damns you are going to get the door shut your face very quickly and uh since we're on the topic of tips don't bring up how much money you can make somebody that's really tacky and it's implied this is a business talk about what you can do, how you want to grow and all those sorts of things there's just no need to bring up the financial content yeah, I agree that's that's fantastic and you really hit on some points that I've briefly touched on so far you know the sense of entitlement due you run into that a lot like bands being entitled and time you know? So you you'd say no no you don't you know inspiring anyone to want to take a fall on your behalf pull a favor, it's one thing if you're in people significant sums of money then you know what? Fine it is a service industry but if someone could walk away from your band heartbeat what where's your entitlement coming you want people to be excited to show up every day? Sometimes the most inspiring projects are the ones that make the making money they're the people that are just grateful for your time and your insight and your hard work so if you make someone feel part of something everyone at the end of the day is looking for an emotional connection that's I think that's the human goal in life you want to get married because you want a partner you make friends because you want people to share your experiences with so when you hire team members managers, agents you have a promoter that you were all looking for a relationship yes there's there's the finances that yes there's the art side but lt means the human connection you know, like you said earlier about you know don't go in with what you have to say go and see what you can add to the situation go and try to make some of the better so you need to call your manager you need to call your agent. How about hey, how are you doing? Not where's my rider. I'm not getting my writer hold on a second. This needs to be in houston biotic relations where we can help each other, then you can work through it. It doesn't need to be found in your sister. We're expecting because you don't explain z you know, this isn't like being a doctor where you need to perform a surgery and you want this is something where we deal with the public opinion of bands they're emotional or lack thereof emotional investment in your music we can never know it's like when you hear the nirvana stories where one day these bands or in arenas and the next day smells like teen spirit head and it was over, you know, we can't control people like her don't like, so be a nice person, you know, community as jake you, kate, with respect, fantastic, fantastic advice. One of one of the last things I just wanted to kind of ask about that I'm that I'm curious about is what? So when you really want a certain artists or you really want to achieve something like one of your goals, how do you go about communicating with managers? Or record labels or different people in the business to achieve your goals like is it the same way I mean, do you do you work the same way? Like would you go by someone dinner o r go I was saying would you go by someone dinner or would you go do something selfless losing you again? I was saying what do you do that to help others in order to get what you want like dealing with industry people? How do you how do you achieve your goals the way that I go about it and this is my own specific decision I made from day one but I'm a music fan first, so I show up and I just like when I showed up in baltimore I should've because I cared and passion I want you to see and feel that I hear that from me when I'm trying to pitch you on working with me uh you know way all I get's the undercurrent this is it's called the music business for a reason because we want to make but I want to be successful to make money to buy nice things and have a fruitful life you know, maybe after band or whatever, but my whole thing is my passion, my excitement if I call a festival buyer, I call him manager I called record label to say I love the band you always have to recite you know, song titles or lyrics or have the t shirt you just be excited and have a vision for those people so that's how I show up every day and I sign bands before that I don't know where you come from but I'm seeing where you're going and the one band I'm thinking ahead their way we're not calling you for you to know where we came from we called you because we think you want to know where we're going and but that's passion that's an excitement and you can't manufacture that because at the end of the day there are going to be really challenging moments in this business and it's your passion that will help you fight through those bad moments it's like when people work for you if they know that you care about them they're not gonna look at their paycheck but the minute they feel mistreated the first thing you're gonna do is look at their paycheck so I guess my point is that it comes back to what you said before I jump colleges treat people with respect and you know the passions I walk him through and so yeah it's getting a little off tangent here but that's great you just show up and speak from your heart you care and you know for me I can't sign yours if I don't care because I don't wanna wake up with you I signed to work with people that I care about as humans and as artists because we're all going to be successful at the end of the day if you fail, I fail. I lost time was time away from home with my family I lost time I could invest in other sexual opportunities so to me, my selling point to my passion for what I do that's awesome. Well, I know your time is important before we go, I just wanted to see if there's any questions in the audience that that you guys may have or even online for nick, is there anything in particular you guys wanted to ask or did he cover everything he pretty pushed in a really good job, but yeah, sure, I guess I'm curious about whether or not the percentage of like, if he works with bands directly or with labels. Okay, I guess I'm curious about that relationship. So the question is like, is there a percentage one side of the other that you work more with bands like independent artists? Or more so with record labels or managers? At this point when finding new talent is that kind of ideal? If you were to find new talent, would you go look and talk to the band's themselves? Or would you go to your industry, friends or record labels managers to find that talent I lost a handful so what I think the question is will I do I go just to the labels or I will cut on signed artists is that yes okay yes okay, I have I have work with artists about labels I'm not afraid of it this is the twenty, forty nine there are all different ways to skin a cat so I'm open to it but ultimately I do have to think about the longevity of the career of the artist on dh having a team around them to help grow the artist on all this being on the same page what about timeline is is just a five year bill that is just a ten year building just six months billed? You know, there's all kinds of wild stories have an artist that nine records in is now doing really business nine records that's unheard of usually by the ninth record we know where you stand it either it's over we just do what you're going to do and so it just depends depends what I hear personally do I hear something special that it's just going to be that right moment that right time and I just need to help be there help foster opportunity or just wait it just depends I mean not not avoiding the question just depends any other questions? I have a question kind of a big picture question if you will so it is it's, an extroverted world that we live in, and I know a lot of musicians that are just introverted, sometimes extremely introverted people, and I know there's not like a like, absolute answer for this question, but milk lava lamp said, I have pretty bad social anxiety, so how can I overcome limitations like that? And and also get better with communicating. So how do you communicate in this world when you are so in your music? Like, you have a hard time talking to people? That's a great question. I mean, I'll take a stab at that. First, I think, like I said, you just have to slowly start practicing how to communicate. So I actually have a student of mine who, when I first met, was suffering from social anxiety and just him coming out a talking when I was overseas at a venue through through ban happy he came out just going out of his house and get into the venue, and going into our lesson was a struggle for him, but he did it that was huge and it's little steps like that that you can take to just start getting better, you're not going to overcome a mountain by jumping over it with one jump, you have to slowly start climbing, so practice doing things like that go in tow, one place one day and get out and be social even if it's just going to, like I said, a store and buying something in asking the clerk, how are you having a conversation like that or calling a friend? Little steps like that will help you improve because communication isn't something that just applies to music. It applies to everything so if you have an issue like social anxiety or challenge like social anxiety, then like any other anxiety or challenge or fear, the on li wei to get over it is to face it and tio start tackling it but don't feel like you have to tackle everything in once, start small little things and and think about your needs in daily life. If I need a bottle of water and I don't have one at my place, I have to go get one. So have a conversation somewhere in that process. Say hi to someone on the street. Just little things. I mean, was you agree? Nick? Is that like if someone of a band or an artist had social anxiety but they want to make it? How did they get over that? You know, to me I was saying that that's, just a daily practice, you know, you have to practice every day. Absolutely everything takes time you know the holdup corny saying you know rome wasn't built in a day wasn't so it takes time you know you build you work up to everything you know I can't think of a million different things in my head but just take take the time the more you invest in in a way dealing with a ce fan interaction or building your bends, the whole image and your music all that's going to take time and you know, I feel that anything worth having takes hard work so it's hard to go and deal with people just taking and walk away take time we don't we don't have that you don't have to hear it give them your life story or hear their life story right on yeah the question yeah nick, I have a question for you when you mentioned that it was better for bands to focus on their craft and focus on like pursuing relationships with guys like you to book on at what point do actually should've been actually reach out and sort of initiate with you are I mean, how do you decide between that and just writing songs and practicing? Could you hear the question that's that's actually a really good question matt, I don't know if you were cutting out or not, but I'll answer the question um I think that uh you should know when you're fully ready for you know, for criticism for something come back and say this is absolutely horrendous some professionals have no tact and are goingto saint really bad things and others are just going to say a polite hate thanks for sending this just isn't for me you need to be ready for that if you're not ready for someone to tell you know do not reach out to them but if you're ready for some constructive criticism uh or so just a crass response then sure go for it but be prepared to be ignored be prepared to you get nothing I don't know I find it really you know I looked for a reason to not respond actually when someone doesn't get my name right calls me by a completely different name doesn't even put my name in the green justice hi comma well you're not addressing me clearly you're just sending a stock you know where is the band that write to me and it doesn't work on me not again back to spending time investing in the people you would like to invest in you on say I watch with you john with bands x y and z really impressed her you know, kind of interesting could you please take a listen? I will I'm more inclined to respond and give you some of my time on not that valuable but look, every minute counts as you get older, so I think be prepared to be told excuse my language or be prepared for no are you? Hey, you never know if I've heard bands once around like, wow, this is actually very good on the worst thing please never do this and you just like a no brainer, but never send out a mass e mail two people and expect a response as the rudest and the laziest thing you could do pinpoint who you want, and I have had a band who I won't name that that band chased me for four years, and I finally took them on because first and foremost, I fell in love with them people and was that they're shelling was like, I just want to work with you, an associate with you, and still to this day, I send them two months ago, I'm still actually very excited to work with them because they're good people. So be a good person when you reach out don't write a paragraph, don't I don't need to know a million things to say, hey here's, a brief three sentence synopsis what do you think? Thanks a lot, by the way, nick, for coming and this is really informative eso would you recommend for a band who maybe they think they're at a level where they can like show people what they're doing who they are like their images good their live shows good would you think you'd recommend them sending like what do you think of this to certain industry representatives like yourself like a successful maxine you paraphrase ums you cut out every all that really cut out lost it sure the question is for a band that's that's doing a lot of stuff that that has shows that are going on has music? Would you recommend that that they do send out a knee email or attract that says hey, what do you think of this like yeah, sure, I may be having a promoter that you work with call the post human who's um agent that you are what you think might actually like this don't email the country agent about your metal band don't email the medal agent about your hip hop you know you be be discerning and discriminatory about what you're doing and sometimes the best way in the door is not directed its through the back door through the promoter or another band you're friends with, sometimes I will sign bands because of other bands. You know, if matt called mars and my god you got to hear this band, I can't stop listening to it I'm going to take that very seriously versus a cold call this is a relationship comfort business and more so because we're dealing with something you were doing with music. We're not saving lives were dealing with this intangible. So we want to be around people we like. This business is punishing. So if matt calls me and suggest something that gets a lot further than a gold email from someone I don't know I've never heard of will do. Thank you very much for your time. And I won't keep you much longer. But your your contribution here was fantastic, I think it's really helpful and I just really appreciate your time today. Man. Thank you, it's. Great. I love doing it. Let's. Do it again sometime. Cool. Great. Thanks, nick. Have a great afternoon. W talk soon. See you soon, my man. That's nick he's. Awesome. Is he not alright, he's? Great he's. Great guy. You know, when I met him, I think the band and me and him just really hit it off, you know? Because I think as your hearing from him I didn't prep him for any of this. But he's repeating things that I've said and like I said, it's, I don't know this stuff just because I like thought of it seen amazing professionals like nick at work and other people that I've worked with. And there's a there's these common threads if you will do as he's calm and sort of things you need to know in this business that work a lot better than other things and it's not about always how important you think you are, how good your music is a lot of times like nick said it's just about communicating the right way and being a good person and like he said it's a simple is calling your local promoter saying, can I buy a cup of coffee and just ask you your opinion? And with that in mind it is important to realize that you're going to get rejection rejected sometimes you have to deal with rejection you have to deal with criticism, as nick said and that's something that I've dealt with a ton in my career I mean don't think that this has been peachy it's been hard and you get told you suck get better even fans what we were talking about before the segment fans can be brutal internet trolls if you will can be brutal and you know what? Some of that stuff is very unproductive and it's not even constructive, so you should even pay attention to it, but when you get criticism from gentlemen like nick or respectable people in the industry that have gotten to where they've gotten through hard work and you know because they're passionate about it even if it doesn't come across in the nicest way it's important for you to not take it personally and to say okay, is this person right? Do they have a point? Should I think about this? Can I improve if you can do it? You know you you want to make sure that you stand by your morals and your values and don't let people push you around. Um and if you truly believe that someone's wrong, don't tell them that but just know for yourself that maybe that was the wrong way to present it that's fine like stand by your convictions but it's good to get real criticism from people who do this every day that's what he does, he gets banned submitting music to him all the time, you know, bands, as he said, hit him up with mass emails, you're not going to get a response it's like fans will hit up guys in my band other bandmates with different messages on facebook hey, come listen to my bed and by the way, like our page and share it why I'm to say like, why it with all the things that we all are doing with our own lives? Why am I going to do that with someone who feels entitled? But if you say to me as nick said, hey, I I really appreciate what you're doing thank you, that's a great way to open a conversation that's how I would do it if I needed advice from someone. If I had a goal with someone, I wouldn't start by saying, hey, man, oh, by the way, here's what I do and I need this that doesn't work it's steps it's, baby steps, it's just you're not gonna build rome in a day as an excited start with one conversation or one little teeny thing that you actually do respect about someone don't just make up a compliment because you think it's going to get you somewhere, do your research and if you really respect the per who's that you're talking to, let them know and don't ask for anything I don't need to ask or it's a simple is like opening a door for someone, and I'll talk about the importance of helping others in this world. But that's, what next? Talking about like, buying someone? Dinner is a great gesture, but don't expect them to just say, okay, if you go to them and say, hey, my band's awesome! Can I buy you dinner? No, you have to build that relationship first, show up at the venue, pass out flyers for the promoter show but the venue and help him clean up. Just get to know him say hey is there anything I can do to help today no cool man will be here watching the show if you need anything please come find me don't just ask for things you know you need to you need to ask to help other people and see if you can convey valuable to them and then it's like well, you know what? This person is actually a good person and they're willing to help they're going to put themselves out there that handle themselves right way I can't tell you how many even young people that I've met that aaron amazing positions like I've a friend of mine who's a guitar tech it's like nineteen goes on all these crazy tours do you know what is most his most valuable characteristics characteristic is just that he's an awesome dude he's just helpful he doesn't step on anyone's toes he's never talking about himself and how great he is at his job he's amazing he's an amazing guitar tech it's amazing guitar player but that's not what he talks about doesn't matter his role is to be a good guitar attack and that's what he does and past that he's just a helpful guy he goes above and beyond so in anything you do go above and beyond to build the relationships with people that are going to give you that same respect thatyou're giving them but don't expect respect if you don't give it first, okay and that's how you need to that's how we do it that's how we grow, you know, sure, adage on that something that my grandfather told my dad and he told me and actually I just picked it up in a little daily calendar of awesome things to learn about was that it's really good in any sort of business situation to deliver way more than the customer would expect for the money that you're charging and you can do that in personal relationships? You know, if somebody expects you to do this and you actually give him this but charge him that ah, you always will have returned business and that's that's something that's kept me gainfully employed as a musician, people expect me to come in as a solo artist and play in their bar or something for a couple hours and I'll play for four hours and I bring in maurico quip mint than bands and put on the most amazing show that I possibly can and there were blown away and so they end up booking me like we want you back every three months for like, the next two years, I'll get like commitments like that because I've gone above and beyond what somebody would expect for and you know, you don't you don't have to put yourself out to the point where you're losing just, you know, give, give people more than they would expect from you. And they always ask for more if you can do more. And you're not hurting anybody in the process, and you're helping in the process and do as much as you can on a lot of that boils down and just being cool. You're a cool person. Yeah, be helpful. There's there's. No reward in giving somebody, certainly more than they would expect. Absolutely, absolutely. If you can, if you can give back more than you're taking that's. Always fantastic.