Chuggy & Warnock

One’s a promoter and one’s an agent. And I figured I wouldn’t learn a single thing from either of them.

But I did.

What I liked most was Neil Warnock saying they were in it for the long haul, unlike the labels. We’ve known for two decades the labels don’t care about longevity, but what about the agents? Well, the difference is the people working at the label don’t own it. They’re working for a salary. On a relatively short term contract. Their loyalty is to themselves, not the act. At most their loyalty is to the company. But that’s not how it works in the agency world. If you can construct a roster, you don’t want to give it up. People wash out of the agency business, but if you make it, you’re in it forever. And if you jump agencies, usually most of your clients come with you. This is so different from the labels.

And Chuggy kept on saying that the labels had no money. And if something worked, they took all the credit…BUT HE TOOK ALL THE MONEY!

This is the world the agents and promoters are working in. The new world. The revolution already happened in their sphere. Napster, piracy…they’re all in the rearview mirror. Agents and promoters are the A&R guys now.

Yup, it’s agents who are out in the clubs til all hours. And they sign a few bands and they use their leverage to get opening slots and if there’s no reaction…they’re dropped. You don’t want a label, you want an AGENT! Hell, sometimes the Agency Group signs acts that not only don’t have a label, they don’t even have a manager! The Agency Group helps them get one.

And Neil said the label’s priorities are different. And they’re more about no than yes. Neil will get word that promoters are willing to book an act in a territory, but the label will say no, they’ll utter something about not having a release date, or being between singles. Neil talks to the acts and they go anyway. You see you want to put in your time, you want to build something.

Chuggy said acts oftentimes lose money on their first three tours. It’s not only the promoter who’s operating in the red. They come without their favorite amps, their cherished roadies, they humbly appear Down Under with something to prove. And if they’ve got it, they make it.

And there was a lot of language about loyalty. To not only the act, but each other.

You see there’s no time limit on the relationship between act and agent. No intellectual property that keeps the act there. You’ve not only got to be honest, you’ve got to produce. But sometimes it does end. Usually, you know, at least that’s what Neil said…someone else can do a better job. And Chuggy said the same thing. That he did five tours with Chris Isaak, the last was a loser, he passed on the next one and someone else took it and it was Chris’s biggest tour in Australia ever. But that’s o.k., Chuggy had lost the passion.

And it is all about passion. Chuggy was loath to do Pearl Jam in stadiums. But he took on the job, made it an event and sold a boatload of tickets. Then again, Chuggy is a promoter. That’s what a promoter does, promote. He’s not just a bank.

And Chuggy was incredibly knowledgeable about the new world. He said he didn’t know sixty percent of the acts he promoted, he listened to the young ‘uns in his employ, but he saw the formation of new entities, run by artists, with those providing label-like functions doing it for very little money. Just like Zeppelin flipped the deal to 90/10, with the act getting the lion’s share of the money, expect the same to happen with recorded music.

And Warnock said the recorded music was a souvenir. Whether you bought it at the show or at home thereafter. It was to help you remember.

This is where the rubber meets the road. Onstage.

And there you can’t do it alone. You do need a team. Both agent and promoter. It’s a dirty business, but you’ve got to trust those you work with. They’ve got to have relationships. And when you start out, everyone’s taking a risk.

Remember who did you a solid, who invested in you, who lost money.

Because they certainly do.

Comments are closed