by Joan Hiller: ex-publicist, ex-promoter, ex-label hack, ex-club worker
aWhat, did you think that all those shows, records, and magazine features make themselves? Well, kiddies, it ain't so--there's a tremendous (and growing) community of behind-the-scenes supastahs that have made it their life's work to make sure that the bands they love somehow make it to your town, in your newspaper, or on your stereo. It's common knowledge that most of the bands/DJs/trombone players that are able to gain a following do so with the help of publicists, booking agents, labels and promoters. But, aside from the suits at big-name, multimillion-dollar, corporate outfits, where can peeps like us be found? You know, the kids who just really don't want a "job," so instead they have exercised the most awesome of their punk rock-born DIY rights and have started their own thang? Here's a short (very short) guide to some indie bidness basics, just in case you're curious or want to take your avant noise piano jazz dance band to the next level.
PUBLICISTS--These people act as a liason between bands, their labels and the press. If you see a band covered in the press, it's very likely that a publicist has offered their wares up to people like us here at the Merc, who then decide whether we loooove it or think it's shite--or if it's worth writing about in the first place. Here are a few of the slickest and how to contact them:
Lauren founded her firm three years ago while booking shows, playing in bands, and becoming an accomplished music journalist, and prides herself on her "personable," down-to-earth relations with the bands and labels. Her one drawback? "Being a one-woman company, I don't have the resources to take on that many projects at a time." For Lauren, "It's about spending a few months doing what I can to help out a band that I know is awesome." Her current roster includes the Ancient Greeks, The Race, Viza Noir, Sterling, and The Forms. Contact LV through her website: www.freelancetcetera.com
Owner/Founder, Hopper PR
David Lewis Publicist, Hopper PR
Jessica started her own business in '93 after working at Amphetamine Reptile from the age of 14. Dave's been working with Hopper for nearly two years now, and was previously a club owner in Connecticut. Jessica often fantasizes about "making my living dressed as a T. Rex and reading to kids at the library, like as a hobby," but loves publicity because "everyone has an inchoate skill--talking on the phone about music I like is one of my inchoate skills." Hopper's clientele includes all of Jade Tree records, Tigerbeat6 records, The Gossip, Erase Errata, Blood Brothers, Atom and His Package and 9 million other folks. To get in touch, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com.
Jessie Jane Tappis
Owner/Founder, Outlaw Press
JJT started her own PR firm three-and-a-half years ago after being the publicity machine behind Vagrant Records. Her favorite actor is Michael Pare, and she would love to be a cat if she were to morph into an animal. "There is nothing like working a record you truly love," Tappis says. "It's hard to believe it's a job sometimes." Her clients include Reggie and the Full Effect, Rocket From The Crypt, Hot Snakes, Drive Like Jehu, and Poulain. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Other killer publicity agencies include Tag Team Media (www.tagteammedia.com), Girlie Action
(www.girlieaction.com), Nasty Little Man
BOOKING AGENTS--Anyone who has booked their own tour knows that it's a major bitch. If your band is lucky enough to be able to draw (a crowd, silly, not pictures), it might be time for a booking agent. These folks have their thumbs on the pulse of who's touring where, who is playing where, and what clubs are hosting rock shows versus harp recitals. They're in direct contact with talent buyers at bigger clubs, and those in charge at smaller ones. They can pull strings that you cannot. Sad, but true.
Tim Edwards, Suzanne Bawursk-- Owners, Mahmood Shaikj--Agent
Flower booking's been going strong for nearly 15 years, and it shows. www.flowerbooking.com.
Scott lives and breathes this stuff. He started his own agency after leaving the Billions Corporation, and can pull a tour together quicker than a jackrabbit can fuck. www.fleetteam.com
The Billions Corporation:
Tom Windish, Agent
They sound important because they have been important for a long time. Tom does yoga. The office is a well-oiled machine. www.billions.com
There you have it--a few of the best. Of course, it's not a simple equation. Bands must get their shit together before any of these people will deal with them. If you're interested in getting your band off the ground and want to shop a record around,
www.insound.com offers splendid contacts in their "labels" section. It's also not too hard to self-release records and start your own label, do your own publicity, or book your own show--www.indiecentre.com has great info, too. Good luck, and Godspeed.
An Abbreviated Look at the Gears Behind the Indie Musak Machine