Nick Hook has the knowledge. More importantly, he's willing to share it. Our resident doctor (not really) and street shaman pops in every Thursday morning to field readers' questions about life, love, music, production, touring, DJing, equipment, and... that's just a partial list. The good doctor is here to help and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tap into his brain—it's stuffed with useful tidbits of information.
Hi. I'm eating veggie dumplings from Prosperity Dumpling. I just got back from Movement in Detroit. I had a great time and saw awesome sets from Benjamin Damage, Cajmere, George FitzGerald, Brodinski, Samo Sound Boy, Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, and Azari & III. Shouts to Chuck and the Paxahau crew for really throwing a special festival and all the people that I had fun with. Extra props to Red Bull Music Academy. I can say I'm gonna miss everyone when they leave NYC in the next few days. It's been an incredible month. I've also still kinda been processing how much I enjoyed Spinn and Rashad's set at Santos last week.
The questions have been good lately, so props to that. Keep them coming. email@example.com.
Hi Doctor Nick,
At what point should a DJ or live artist consider a booking agency? Are there steps you should meet before making the jump onto a roster? As much as I like the self-booked tour benefits of sleeping on a couch in the same room as the promoter's half-dying pets and the promoter's roommate's questionable urban-foraged meal, I feel like I'm on that Danny Glover "I'm getting too old for this shit" tip. (Proof: the age of this reference.)
Hi. Hope you are well.
I'd say the thing to always keep in mind in the music biz is that there's never a set rule. Some people (like me) take forever to get their first booking agent, and some people get a booking agent before they even play their first show. There are so many factors: if you have one giant song and everyone is sweating you, if you have a manager that has connections and can get you an agent, etc.
I could tell stories for days about trashing peoples houses, sleeping on wet blankets, just mad weird things from being on tour. And yeah, I'm getting too old for it too. Haha. But I wouldn't trade those stories for anything.
What I keep learning as I get deeper in this is the value of a team. Your management, your booking agent, your lawyer, your assistant, your intern, and all the people you work with. If you are all on the same page, the synergy of what can happen becomes so much greater. You can do more work, learn together, get better shows, and go through more tracks. So choose wisely as you start building this team. Being self-sufficient is so vital because you don't wanna be that dude that's calling his agent up every day saying, "WHERE ARE MY SHOWS????" You build your own network and demand and then you end up getting that agent and you hit the ground running. It's all good and then you probably end up introducing him to people as well.
I've always tried to analyze things in terms of "Am I an asset or a liability?" It's obvious to say, but you need to bring something to the table here. And remember, these people are going to be speaking on your behalf, so make sure that you trust them carrying your word. Reputation goes far in this game, so keep that in mind.
All that said, having an agent helps. We are meant to be artists, not businessmen, so letting the business guys talk business while we do our art is definitely worth the 15% you pay them, cuz they almost always get you 15% more, and a nice hotel on top of that.
Hi Doctor Nick,
A few months ago I opened for a pretty huge name on part of their European tour. It came about just because we were on the same agency at the time, and I thought it could be fun. I don't usually play the same type of music as this producer, but I realized I needed to at least incorporate some of this style into my set, as I was opening for HIS tour. I did this and the 4-5K strong crowd still booed me on the first night and threw all kinds of shit at me—no matter what I played, they only wanted the main act.
I stayed on and finished while pleading with the promoters to let me get off, as some pretty big things were getting thrown at me. I may have been a dodge-ball champion in high school, but I hadn't signed up for this and frankly was starting to fear for my safety. Looking back, should I have just left and told the promoters to smarten up and put on the main act? Or was staying out there and doing the full 90 minutes they paid me for (even while pissing off the drug-fueled adolescent crowd) the right thing to do? Also, do you like Pokemon? If so, which is your favorite? (From the original 150 obviously.)
Thanks Doctor Nick, you're my only hope.
First off, YOU are your only hope. Not me. Believe in yourself. (Also, if anyone out there needs a motivational speech, you can contact XLR8R editor Shawn Reynaldo for my rates.)
This answer is gonna be really short, but one of the most important things about this game is: make sure you are doing what you believe in and are having fun. One door closes and another door opens. Yeah, maybe you playing on a big tour, but maybe you missed out on 100 opportunities that were exactly what you wanted when people didn't reach out because you were gone. I've learned this the hard way. The older you get, the more you really know that you need to be doing things you believe in and love.
If you wanna cater to other people, there are a million jobs out there, and I can guarantee that they offer great pay, insurance, and stability.
Just communicate well. Even if those promoters had gotten mad at you for quitting, they still would have respected you and got over it at some point.
I never got into Pokemon, but I'm Hookemon. Is that okay?
Alright, I'm off. I'm going to RBMA to finish a track.
Hi, Doctor Nick! appears every Thursday on XLR8R. Do you have a question for Doctor Nick? Please submit your inquires to firstname.lastname@example.org. Nick Hook can help you.