Videos, links and resources for young artists, based on topics from Sounding Board seminars
How to approach an agent
Top tips for approaching an agent:
Agents receive a huge amount of requests from emerging artists. How can you make yours stand out?
Make it as easy as possible for the agent to learn about you. Write a short email that introduces yourself, with a link to a performance clip they can watch or listen to online.
Don’t send a bulky press pack in the post with CDs. When did you last use a CD player?
Show that you’ve thought about who you’re communicating with. Make sure each email is personalised (never start with ‘Dear Agent’!). Have you thought about how you might fit into this particular agency’s roster? Show them you’ve done some research.
What makes you different from other young artists? For example, tell them about your unique and thoughtful programming, or other distinctive artistic feature.
Show that you have scope for development – as all artists, at every stage, do!
Finally, remember that agents are often tipped off about exciting new artists by their existing contacts, whether that’s a conductor, friend or conservatoire personnel. Remember to always present yourself at your best – you never know who may be listening!
What is the key role of an artist manager?
Artist manager vs booking agent
Do I want an artist manager or a booking agent?
Artist managers and booking agents offer very different services. It’s about more than getting a busy contact diary!
|Booking agency||Artist manager|
|Provides artists with a diary service||Provides advice for its artists and offers strategic career development|
|Seeks to engage artists in any concert bookings||Has strong relationships with concert promoters who rely on the agent’s artistic credibility|
|Purely commercial basis||Interested in the longevity of its artists’ careers|
How to approach small promoters
Top tips for approaching small promoters
Make sure you personalise your emails. No one likes feeling like another name in a list.
Research the promoter before you get in touch. Have a look at their current or previous seasons – do you think you fit into their artistic ethos? If so, prove it!
Unfortunately, just having a great CV and a nice recording often isn’t enough to grab a promoter’s attention. Go into the communication with the assumption that you need to do a lot to stand out. What might the promoter want from you that other artists can’t offer?
Success and fulfilment
What an artist manager looks for
For more information on our 3 panellists, visit:
Why do we need to promote ourselves?
How you are presented online is critical to your success as an artist. All your online material should be of the same high standard as your artistry.
Search for yourself on Google and social media. Think: Is this how I want to be known as an artist? Am I proud of all the media out there about me? Is everything up to date?
If the answer to any of these is “no”, then do something about it, before someone else sees it and you lose an opportunity…
How to find what works for you
One of the most effective ways to promote yourself is to carve out an artistic niche. What are you particularly passionate about that can set you out from the crowd?
Create an artistic output and a personal brand that focuses on what makes you unique as an artist.
Only you can find out what makes you unique. This takes time.
Trust your intuition: if you think “this isn’t me”, don’t do it!
Once you become known for a specific niche, you can branch out to other areas
Create valuable content
Building networks in classical music
Find out more about our 4 panellists:
Highlights from YCAT Sounding Board’s panel discussion on making your mark as a performer (October 2018).
Jess Gillam (saxophonist), Ashutosh Khandekar (Editor-in-Chief, Opera Now) Ben Rayfield (Managing Director, Rayfield Allied), Tamsin Waley-Cohen (violinist) and Alasdair Tait (Chief Executive, YCAT) discuss topics including:
Standing out in a competitive market place 00.06
Giving interviews 02.26
Starting out 03.33
Online presence 07.51
Making your own opportunities 12.26
Five takeaway tips for building a successful performing career
Maintain connections and develop a network. Keep in touch with former teachers, supporters and colleagues, and note down the new people you meet – you never know where connections might lead. If you have given a performance at a music society, club, venue or festival, write to the organiser and thank them straight afterwards. It won’t take you long, but it can often go a long way in keeping you positively in their mind for the future.
Look around you for inspiration and guidance. Whose footsteps would you like to follow in? Which of your contemporaries are involved with events or projects that you would like to be part of, and how did that happen? Go to concerts and read the performers’ biographies with an enquiring mind. Seeing the steps and connections that other musicians have made can help you plot your own journey.
Plan ahead with your repertoire. Many classical venues book years in advance. Try and block your programmes so that you offer people the same repertoire for a patch of time, and then build in new works gradually. Of course you won’t always be able to stick to this rigidly, but you don’t want to suddenly find that you have over committed yourself without time to prepare properly or learn new repertoire.
Look after your online presence. Keep your website and social media channels up to date. If someone looks you up on Google or Facebook, what is the first thing they discover about you? It’s better to have less content than bad content; if they find a website with an old biography or an empty list of upcoming concerts, it won’t convey a strong professional image.
Be honest with yourself. What kind of career do you really want, and what do you need to do to achieve this? It is important to constantly re-evaluate what you are doing and why. Priorities can change, and that’s ok!
Key points from YCAT Sounding Board’s seminar on fundraising (May 2019) – and removing some of the worry! Discussion points included preparing to find funding, making a funding application and how and when to approach private donors. Attendees heard from the following panel of experts:
A summary – ten points of advice
1) Crowd-funding: is never a bad idea, make use of your social media outlets.
2) Networks: Look at your network of connections, not just in the music arena – family, friends, school and ask about their networks – you never know who this will lead you to.
3) Budget preparation: Ask for advice – especially on budgets. Being accurate demonstrates you have researched properly and are realistic. If you consult with a professional on your draft budget that is also an opportunity to get a draft of your letter/application read.
4) Be strategic: People give to people – take out the middle aspect (you!) – it’s not about you. You are the conduit for the end result and that is what you want to engage potential funders in.
5) Ask at the start: state at the very beginning of your letter what you are asking for.
6) Be authentic, be original: Think about your story – get people to buy in to your story. Make your application stand out.
7)Think before you ask: Ask for advice and you get money, ask for money and you get advice.
8) Managing your request: Underpromise and overdeliver, but know your limits.
9) A thank you note: Remember to write a thank you – make it genuine. Keep your donors and interested parties involved in your ongoing story. Give them updates – it can be snippets, doesn’t have to be an essay.
10) It’s a people thing! People are so important – and enjoy the contact with them. They will respond to an energised and authentic approach. They might at one time have wished to do what you are doing so they would love that insight. Keep people on your mailing list. You never know when someone might choose to offer financial support. It’s hard work, but that’s when the rewards come.