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In today’s newsletter, I want to talk about a failed tour, $367,451 lost in potential revenue, and why despite it all, I didn’t quit.
Working as an artist manager for 20+ years has its fair share of ups and downs, victories and losses. It’s important to me that I represent and highlight both sides.
When you see where you went wrong, it becomes easier to assess and learn from the mistake.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of artist managers out here making costly and damaging mistakes because they haven’t assessed and learned.
There is no such thing in any industry as “fake it to you make it” – especially in the music industry.
It didn’t take me long to realize this clichè can and normally does have disastrous results.
There are 3 things I did that caused this tour not to happen, resulting in $367,451 of lost potential revenue:
1. announced a tour AFTER the album dropped
2. picked venues by names
3. waived deposits from promoters
I am going to show you what I did and what I should have done. I hope they will provide you with a working insight to prevent you from making these mistakes for your client as well.
So let’s compare what I did to what I should’ve done, step by step.
Going on tour is a dream for most artists.
It wasn’t any different for “Ayana”, an independent Canadian R&B artist I was managing. There was a lot of buzz surrounding her upcoming 4th album, “Kaleidoscope”. She had several high-profile features on the album. We tossed around a lot of ideas to support the album – including a tour.
When Kaleidoscope dropped, Ayana decided that she wanted to go on tour in a month to support the album and her catalog.
We took to her socials and her email newsletter to make the announcement that she was going on tour with information to be announced in a week.
The response was tremendous.
According to Ayana’s fans, she was starting a 15-city tour in 30 days.
There is a saying: “Poor Planning = Poor Performance”.
This was indeed the case with Ayana’s “tour”.
We didn’t have any idea of what a 15-city tour looked like or required. Especially with launching it within 30 days of announcing.
As an artist manager, your role requires you to create a business model/system for your client’s creative ideas.
During the album process, marketing and promotional agendas should be discussed. There shouldn’t be any surprises.
Below is the framework using Ayana’s album, Kaleidoscope, as an example for you to consider:
Plan the work. Work the plan.
After the announcement, Ayana talked about performing at notable venues such as the House of Blues, S.O.B.’s, Brooklyn Steel, Bowery Ballroom, etc.
Yes. I really picked tour stops by venue name.
The venues weren’t close in proximity – most of them were 8 hours and more apart.
I brought a list of venues to Ayana. I explained to her the proximity issue to each venue as well as the challenges we’d face with travel.
“Let’s pick the ones that people really know that are close to each other,” Ayana said.
If only it was that easy.
Ayana had never put together a tour, not even her own.
Up to this point, she had always done spot dates to promote her releases.
Unfortunately, she had this glorified idea of what a tour could and would be like.
As an artist manager, your role requires you to be “The Thinker” – the one who thinks through what may sound like a fantastic idea and turn it into a realistic one.
Routing a tour is a skill. Not only does it require time to plan, but it also requires thought and time to execute.
Time management is mind – and business – management.
Ayana and I reached out to 45 venues.
Only 15 were available for the dates we requested.
We then reached out to 10 promoters recommended by the venue managers.
Despite knowing Ayana and her fan base, the promoters expressed their concern about selling a show out in less than 30 days.
We agreed to waive deposits from the promoters in exchange for securing the dates and the venues.
We officially had a tour booked within a few weeks.
Or so we thought.
This was where Ayana and I made our biggest mistake.
Due to our last-minute plans, most of the venues we reached out to were booked.
The 15 available would only deal with us through their recommended promoters. The only way we could work with those promoters was by waiving security deposits.
As an artist manager, your role is to protect your client from situations that are not in your client’s best interest and prevent injury, especially financially.
Security deposits ultimately protect the artist from tour cancellation caused by circumstances outside of their control.
According to calculations, Ayana was slated to net $367,451 from various sources:
– Merch: $116,980
– Sponsorships: $87,735
– Advertising: $82,736
– Bookings: $80,000
Without this paperwork, there wasn’t a booked tour and there wasn’t net revenue, but net loss.
And this was where the reality of the tour not happening, happened.
Without the paperwork, Ayana’s tour became an idea more than a reality.
To say that Ayana was highly upset was an understatement. She had told her fans a tour was scheduled. She had several interviews in which she spoke excitedly about the upcoming tour. She had to tell her fans there wasn’t going to be a tour.
It was at this moment I realized the importance of planning for success rather than planning for contingency.
I acknowledged and accepted the mistake.
I learned from the mistake.
I made a plan for improvement.
I took advantage of the momentum created by the release of her album and secured 8 spot dates.
Of those, we sold out of 5 and added another 3 spot dates and sold out of those.
Real artist management isn’t about being there when things are going great.
It’s how you push through and make things happen when they look bad.
4 important responsibilities of an artist manager:
1. create business models for your client’s creative ideas
2. turn your client’s fantastic ideas into realistic ideas
3. protect your client’s best interests – especially financially
4. plan for success rather than contingency
Hope this helps.
See you next week.