So now you have a basic grasp on production, DJ skills, how to present yourself, what next?
Should you get a manager? An agent? How do you climb that ever elusive ladder to success? All I can tell you is from my own experience, which doesn’t necessarily make me right but I do have a boatload of experience.
You have to follow your own path and listen to your gut, because it’s nearly always spot on.
I have had managers since day one. Some people are lucky, they find the right person early on and never need another one… I have had four. A manager can be a great asset, but, my career is always up to me… Some were great, they were extremely connected and really did a stellar job. However, it’s easy to be great when you have a record deal and the world is knocking on your door, all opportunities come to you. I think a great manager is one that creates opportunity and lights a fire when the wood is damp so to speak.
One thing all managers are great at is taking 15 to 20 percent of ALL your income. So, you have to decide if what that person generates for you financially makes that worthwhile. Bear in mind you will pay that as well as 10 to 15 percent to your agent. Back in the day when I had my Sony record deal with Sony I also had a business manager who took 5 percent, they are vital for keeping the books straight when you’re on tour, paying all your bills when you're not around, they are a godsend. I’ll recommend London & Company who rep all from SLASH,COURTNEY LOVE and tons of the top electronic acts, too many too mention. In the end I ended up making very little profit because I paid so much out, however had I known then what I know now, things would be very different. Hence the reason I write this blog: to help you guys avoid some of the lessons I learned the hard way.
Basically you give away 40 percent, then are also taxed at whatever the current rate is depending on what you earn-your accountant will tell you what that is- you do the math. On paper, you’re loaded but in reality can be different. My solution in many scenarios is to manage myself and use managers when things came my way that were too big to handle-like TV shows, movies, film scores. I have spent 25 years in this business and if I don’t know how it works by now then I’m dumb. So I learned, I asked questions from those around me who knew, like my my publicist-co workers, other successful artistes.
I listened and I hired the best people I could afford and built my own team. Then, I still learned how to do it all myself because it's good to know your business from the ground up, inside out-and you may not have the money to hire anyone….It’s a full time job but I love it, and I take enormous pride and joy in what I do.
Remember, no one is going to care as much as you will about your career. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to finally be the one driving my “car” so to speak, after all, I am the fuel, the engine the whole damn thing is me, ALWAYS stay in control, watch over your books (look what happened to STING, he was stung for 8 million by his accountant who stole the lot!) ask questions, find out what they are doing for you and don’t just wait for them to do it, that’s hard work for most people and most people are lazy. I make my career happen, so don’t sit on your a-- s waiting for your career to come find you, create opportunities, then implement them into your team.
Lets talk about agents. Gosh, where to start? Many people don’t know that I started out as my own agent, I simply wasn’t big enough to get any agent attention so I had to get the work myself. This was no picnic I can tell you, in those days, calling up every promoter, sending mix tapes, getting on pirate radio stations were all options that worked. Nowadays, without an agent, you are in for a hard time.
I have had the best and again the worst agents. Agents that actually stole money from me, another said no one was interested in me (that made me laugh) and finally I am with a great agent now -MYSELF (though this always changes for me depending on where my career is at….right now I am concentrating more on Film and TV so I don’t want to be all over the place DJING) I do work with different agents that I trust for my Abroad touring._… which is great because they see it from the DJ’s perspective as well as the promoters’. I guess it’s like finding the right doctor, takes some time till your comfortable.
I work really hard and I only become difficult when people don’t to their fair share. Constantly messing up simple shit like “should I pick up money at this show or not?” It’s not rocket science!!!!!! My biggest hope for you is to find an agent that cares about and likes you and your music, and is hungry to prove him/herself. When someone is batting for you, you’ll be surprised how many shows you will get. Don’t think that the biggest agent is the best, better to be a big fish in a little pond than a minnow swimming with the great whites.
I found that the big agents look after the big djs and all the other acts don’t get the attention needed, it’s ridiculous to sign to an agent who reps 100 acts, how on earth can they find the time to make things happen for little ol’e you? Think about it. They say they will when you first meet them, but try to get them on the phone when things are tough, it’s not cute at all. To me they are modern day gangsters LOL!
Still, you will need an agent with connections and some leverage so it’s a tough decision you’ll have to make yourself. A great agent is worth their weight in gold, and we need them as much as they need us as well as the promoters who I feel get a raw deal though it their own fault for paying such overblown prices for certain DJS.