Sunday, March 13, 2011

HOW TO REACH A&R PEOPLE, MANAGERS & AGENTS: Part #3: Making Initial Contact

by Daylle Deanna Schwartz
Nov 11, 2002, 14:48

In my last column, I gave suggestions for targeting people to make them aware of your music. This month my focus is on how to best get their attention and make a good impression when you do.

If you think that getting the attention of labels, managers, and agents is a lot of work, you’re right! Be prepared to work your butt off in pursuit of ways to market your music if you want to attract the pros. Musicians lament all the time that everything should just be about the quality of the music. I agree. It should be - but it’s not. It’s about money.

You’ll need luck to find someone who just cares about your music. Most industry pros prefer your potential to earn money. Good music is often the last part of the equation. A & R people, managers, and agents want acts that are generating a buzz and have the potential to sell large quantities of CDs or fill seats at shows if a bigger machine is to support them. That’s why keeping them informed of what you’re doing can make a difference.

Before approaching pros, create a company, no matter how informal it is. From a business perspective, it’s a good idea to register the name. But at the very least, use it as a front in the beginning. Saying “I’m David Lane from XYZ Productions” sounds better than just identifying yourself as another unsigned artist. A company name shows that you’re taking your music seriously. Since many pros prefer not to deal directly with an artist, a company provides a degree of separation. Use your company name on all mailings and to identify yourself when making calls.

As you have events or successes to announce, color postcards are a good promotional tool to use to get your message out. Currently, offers 5,000 small color postcards for $250, if you provide camera ready art. For a little more you can get larger ones. Or, search the internet for other companies with even better deals. Put a CD or a logo on the front of the card. Great (really great!) photos work well, too. Industry people may get familiar with you as they get those cards regularly. Consistent mailings brand you.

On the back of the card, include relevant info at the top: your web site URL, contact info, quotes if you have any, and info on how to order merchandise. Leave the lower half blank. When you do a mailing to your targeted industry list to announce a gig or something noteworthy, print the announcement on self-stick labels that just fit the space left on the card, and paste them on just the amount you need for a mailing. These can also be handed out at gigs or events that you attend. They’re nicer than homemade fliers. If you only have generic info on the card, they can be used for years.

Press clippings make great calling cards, too. You can say anything in a bio to make yourself sound good. Press clippings give you more legitimacy because it’s assumed that an impartial journalist likes you. Publicist Elaine Schock, owner of Shock Ink, who was instrumental in breaking Christina Aguilera and Tyrese when she worked at RCA, told me she believes that press clippings are the most important part of your press kit because people take them more seriously. If an artist has clips, the best one is always the first thing the recipient sees in any kit she sends out.

A good press clipping is more likely to draw someone in. Send your best one on top of a press release or flier. It might make someone check out whatever else you send. If you’re trying to get industry people to come to a gig, send a good clipping with a personal note written right on it. Artists tell me that a personal touch usually gets better results. Write something like “I’d love for you to come to my show.” You can also add that you’d be happy to put them on your industry list at the door of the venue (so they don't have to pay to get in to see you perform). It can get more mileage than anything else. Put a personal note on your postcards, too. Anything that makes you stand out from everyone else’s mailings gives you an edge.

Another way to make contact at labels is by reading the Billboard Executive Turntable each week. It’s a section that announces people who’ve taken new positions within industry corporations. Take a peek at the column each week in the store and write down appropriate names. Also, the A & R Registry, which I talked about in my last column, lists A & R people who are new to labels. See if anyone just began working for one that would be appropriate for your music.

Drop a note to each new A&R person that scouts talent within your music genre, handwritten, wishing them much success in their new job or whatever makes sense for their situation. My friend, publicist Terrie Williams, who wrote a wonderful book called, The Personal Touch: How to Get Ahead in a Fast-Paced Business World, emphasizes the value of writing personal notes to people you’d like to work with. It can break the ice initially and nurture a more long-lasting relationship.

Just signing your first name to a note can make someone think they know you. Make sure your full name/band is somewhere else. If you contact them later, they may take your call. I create notes on my computer that say “From the desk of Daylle Deanna Schwartz.” They have my phone number and email under my name. I make 4 on a sheet of nice paper and cut them. They’re nice to attach to other things I send. A few handwritten words work well.

Keep your database organized so you can follow up on whatever is necessary. I recently discovered the Indie Band Manager, a software program designed especially for musicians by Charlie Cheney, a self-proclaimed computer geek who’s also a musician. It’s inexpensive and easy to use. If I can figure it out, it has to be simple! It allows you to make notes of the dates you sent things and other pertinent info you want to keep track of.

If you do your pre-production of approaching industry pros, you’ll be in a stronger position to make a more direct approach. I’ll talk about ways to do that in my next column.

Keep your passion strong,

About the author

NYC-based Daylle Deanna Schwartz is the author of the best-selling The Real Deal: How to Get Signed to a Record Label (revised edition) and Start & Run Your Own Record Label, both published by Billboard Books, and is a consultant for musicians and indie labels. Known for her mixture of practical music business strategies and an inspirational presentation, Daylle speaks at music industry conferences, colleges, and does full day seminars in NYC: Start & Run Your Own Record Label and How to Get a Record Deal. She’s been a guest on many TV and radio shows, including Oprah, Good Morning America, Maury Povich, and is a regular on Montel Williams. Visit her at

HOW TO REACH A&R PEOPLE, MANAGERS & AGENTS: Part #2: How To Target and Reach Key (Music Business) Players

by Daylle Deanna Schwartz
Sep 23, 2002, 14:21

Hello, and welcome to lesson #2 in my ongoing series at! This month’s topic: How To Target and Reach Key (Music Business) Players.

In last month’s column, I listed the things you needed to have in place when approaching key industry people about your music.

Now, before you approach these industry players, you’ll need to do what I call pre-production. Music ‘biz homework, if you will. Start by focusing your energy on targeting people in the music industry who are managers, booking agents, A&R reps, and solid industry players who will further your music career. Create a target mailing list and put these people on it. Since everyone is getting deluged with email these days—and since it’s so easy to delete e-letters from unknown recipients without even opening them—I much prefer using snail mail lists for all my announcements and solicitations. Snail mail can be really effective at getting the message out about your music. And you don’t have to send material to a zillion people, either, to get maximum impact. A nice number in the vicinity of 10-20 will do just fine, thank you. But of course, more can’t hurt if you find new, reputable contacts to add to your list along your musical journey.

Even if the folks you want to reach don’t read your mail at first, they may at least notice whom it’s from. If people receive something regularly, they may become familiar with the name of your act. When I managed a band, there was a journalist on my list who I was always anxious to reach. I sent mailing after mailing with no luck. But one day I met her at an industry event and told her who I represented, and a light went on in her head! She replied, “I know that band, but I am not sure how. They’re doing well, right?” She didn’t realize that the name recognition was from seeing the band’s name on all those mailings I had sent her. It made my band’s name a known commodity and she took me more seriously when I actively pitched her thereafter.

Name recognition is so important in this business. When someone is familiar with your name, they’re more likely to pay attention when you approach them. It’s never easy but you can give yourself an edge. Here’s a positive thought in what might seem like a hopeless business: A & R people do want to sign new acts to their label. It’s their job—remember that! And managers are almost always looking for new acts to represent. And agents are always open to picking acts with the ability to fill seats at gigs. So there IS hope, if you can get their attention with your accomplishments and a professional approach. Once you have a targeted list to use, send out announcements of your gigs and other noteworthy accomplishments. But be patient, it takes time to get call backs.

So, where do you get the names of the “right” people to target? Well, Networking is the best way to make contacts, in my opinion. I’ll give specific details about doing that successfully in later columns. But for now, you can still get an effective initial list together. A great source of industry knowledge is the people working in record shops--especially the mom & pop stores. Get friendly with them! While many music industry people can be obnoxious, those who work in record stores are more likely to be friendly, accessible, and fountains of knowledge. Often they’re DJs, producers, or fellow musicians who work in record stores because they love music. When I started Revenge Records, my friends in record stores guided me along the way. I got my best education about this business by hanging out with them during off-hours, when they were bored, so I could pick everyone’s brains.

When you’re creating your target list of labels, you first need to figure out which ones are best for you. People who sell music know what labels are doing well with different genres of music. Some may even know the names of local A&R scouts. Get friendly with whomever you can. Play your demo and ask for input. Ask! Ask! Ask! Many people love giving advice. If you go to enough people, you’ll get a good idea of what labels you should start approaching.

Once you have your list of compatible labels to solicit, find the names of the A & R scouts that are responsible for signing the musical acts to these labels. If networking doesn’t do it, don’t despair. There are a few music ‘biz directories out there that publish this kind of information. My favorite is the A & R Registry (800-377-7411 or ), put out by The Music Business Registry, Inc. It lists the A & R staff for all major and independent labels in New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, Toronto and London, with their direct dial numbers (!) and the names of their assistants. This directory is updated every eight weeks, since people change jobs fast in this industry. It’s a great resource to have if you are serious about getting your foot in the music ‘biz door. Definitely check ‘em out.

Also, be sure to check out these other industry contact sources:
Pollstar (800-344-7383, in California 209-271-7900 or ) puts out a ‘biz directory called Record Company Rosters. This publication contains a roster of artists signed to their respective labels and lists executive contacts for many indie and major labels.

If you use a directory, look up each label and write down the appropriate A&R person that you need to get in contact with. If you’re not sure, call the label and ask them which rep handles your particular musical genre. See, most A&R are assigned genres. At the majors and larger indies, there are A&R scouts for Rock, scouts for nu-metal, scouts for Rap, scouts for Pop, scouts for EMO and scouts for Country, etc. When you call up the label, sound professional and confident and someone will probably tell you who you need to speak with about getting permission to send your demo.

Now, if getting signed is not a priority for you, but getting good gigs is, you might want to find a manager and/or booking agent. Begin your search for managers and agents by asking around at clubs where your genre of original music is performed. Talk to promoters, bartenders, and other musicians and who might know of someone who is willing to represent new talent (that would be you!). Ask what agents book acts in their clubs. All you need are names at this point. But, don’t fret if you come up empty-handed at the local level! There are even directories that can assist you in compiling these names, as well. Performance ( ) puts out a directory called Talent Management - a complete guide to personal management firms and their rosters worldwide, including a cross-reference from artist to management, agency and record label affiliations. This directory is a few years old but it is still a good source of information. Pollstar’s series of Contact Directories includes Agency Rosters directory--which lists almost every musical act that tours. It also has contact information on their booking agencies--including address, phone and fax numbers.

If you use either the management or agency directory, look up acts that are similar to yours. Put their reps on your target list. If you don’t want to buy a directory, call the label of these artists and ask them who manages or books them--or just search online. Other directories, such as the Musician's Atlas, ( ) have the contact names of smaller management companies and agents.

One important rule in doing all of this: If someone asks to be taken off your mail list, it’s a common courtesy to take them off immediately, otherwise, whether its online or offline mail, your announcements become SPAM, and that could land you and your band in hot water.

So, once you’ve created your target list, you can use the info in my next column to begin notifying them of your important announcements. Now that’s where the real fun begins!

Meantime, keep your passion strong. I'll see you next month.

About the author

NYC-based Daylle Deanna Schwartz is the author of the best-selling The Real Deal: How to Get Signed to a Record Label (revised edition) and Start & Run Your Own Record Label, both published by Billboard Books, and is a consultant for musicians and indie labels. Known for her mixture of practical music business strategies and an inspirational presentation, Daylle speaks at music industry conferences, colleges, and does full day seminars in NYC: Start & Run Your Own Record Label and How to Get a Record Deal. She’s been a guest on many TV and radio shows, including Oprah, Good Morning America, Maury Povich, and is a regular on Montel Williams. Visit her at

How To Reach A&R Scouts, Managers & Agents

How To Reach A&R Scouts, Managers & Agents
by Daylle Deanna Schwartz
Aug 31, 2002, 16:51

Hello, everyone!

My name is Daylle Deanna Schwartz and I am thrilled to begin a monthly column for this terrific online resource! Each month, I will share lessons learned on my journey from being a NYC schoolteacher to running a self-sufficient indie record label. If I can succeed in the music industry, anyone can!

When I started out in this business, I knew NOTHING. My students laughed when I decided to make a rap record. They said, “A white woman can’t rap.” I learned through hard experience, got nicknamed the “rappin’ teach,” opened Revenge Productions, then Revenge Records (my positive revenge against those ripping me off), wrote two successful music 'biz books, and the rest is history. I got into the industry to prove a point to my students about not letting stereotypes stop you. It’s been sweet revenge ever since!

In my first few columns for, I will give you concrete suggestions that answer a question musicians ask often: “How do I make contact with ___________(fill in the blank)?” You may be trying to shop a deal to labels, find a good manager to represent you, hook up with a booking agent to expand touring, etc. It’s not easy, but if you understand what you’re up against and develop a professional approach, it’s possible to at least reach whomever you choose. You may not get what you want from them immediately, but you will make contact, and that's half the battle.

Here’s the Real Deal: Labels don't like dealing directly with artists. Many managers won’t represent you unless they see a potential to make money, since they only make a percentage of your earnings. Agents want musicians with at least some regional success. But, you can get to people that can advance your career, IF you work within the reality of the industry. First, develop patience, which is tough for most of us.

When I began Revenge Records, people laughed at me. Here I was, a rapping schoolteacher, with no industry experience, running an indie label. AND, I was a woman - uncommon in the late eighties. They’d pat my head and call me “teach.” Everyone liked me but no one took me seriously - except me. My sense of humor deflected the comments and attitudes I hated. My strong belief in myself fueled my determination. I slowly gathered the tools for success in this industry, and I succeeded.

And I will show you, too, how to succeed.

ANYONE can do it! I knew NO ONE in the music industry and nothing about the music business. But I quickly learned how to network and approach people in ways that got results. Way before I was known for my books, I could get to anyone I wanted in this business with a couple of phone calls. You can, too, if you don’t get jaded into thinking you know it all.

But don’t rush out and follow my advice until you’re prepared. Most musicians who love their music and have even a small following think they’re IT, and ready for the big leagues. Put your ego in your back pocket and fine tune yourself. For the revised edition of my book, I interviewed dozens of top A&R people, managers, agents and successful musicians.

From my research, I consider the following essential before approaching industry people...

*THE GOODS: A&R people insist that if you have THE GOODS and work your butt off, someone will recognize it. I don’t mean the goods. My editor at Billboard Books changed my capital letters to lower case but I insisted on keeping them, because it’s critical. Everyone thinks they have THE GOODS, but few do. I’ve heard hundreds of musicians with talent. But it’s rare that that one grabs me by the, um, balls and holds on! Hone your craft first! Get critiqued by pros, practice like crazy, take songwriting workshops, master craft sessions and vocal lessons. Never think you’re good enough now! You can’t be too good! If you polish your talent to perfection, you can get a deal.

*Foundation: Be ready to impress. Wait until you have ammo (press, fans, a good recording, airplay, etc.) before contacting anyone. Good music alone rarely gets deals. Industry pros want musicians who developed themselves, with material illustrating why they should sign you. Why work to get someone’s attention and quickly throw materials together when they request it? Wait until you can put your best foot forward. Since few labels do artist development any more, put your energy into proving your music can attract lots of attention.

*Professional attitude: People prefer working with artists who have a professional manner. If a label, manager, or agent has a choice of talented artists, they’ll choose the ones who show responsibility. They don't want to work with divas or head trips. on time. Return calls promptly. Act confident, not cocky. People in my workshops laugh when I emphasize using a firm handshake. It shows confidence, even if you’re faking! A professional attitude makes folks take you more seriously.

*BALLS: Talented musicians with balls progress faster! Musicians ask me all the time why industry people would take them seriously. Hello! If you think you’re nobody, then they won’t take you seriously. You’re a somebody, whether people know you or not, as long as YOU know it. Rene Decartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” Live by that! I know who I am so others have no choice! Achievement requires risk and risk requires balls. It takes balls not to quit when you get turned down. It takes balls to say “yes” to an opportunity when you’re scared to death.

A great ballsy technique for reaching people is to speak with authority. I once called Quincy Jones’ publicist to request a quote. I said to tell him Daylle Deanna Schwartz was on the phone in a confident voice, as if they should know who I was. I got through! The publicist was flustered, and asked how I did it. I told him I used a technique in my book. We laughed and he still takes my calls! If you respect yourself, it reflects in your attitude. “I think, therefore I am.”

In my next column, I’ll tell you how to find the appropriate music 'biz players to approach, and how to get them familiar with your name and your music.

See you all next time,

About the author

NYC-based Daylle Deanna Schwartz is the author of the best-selling The Real Deal: How to Get Signed to a Record Label (revised edition) and Start & Run Your Own Record Label, both published by Billboard Books, and is a consultant for musicians and indie labels. Known for her mixture of practical music business strategies and an inspirational presentation, Daylle speaks at music industry conferences, colleges, and does full day seminars in NYC: Start & Run Your Own Record Label and How to Get a Record Deal. She’s been a guest on many TV and radio shows, including Oprah, Good Morning America, Maury Povich, and is a regular on Montel Williams. Visit her at

How to Pick the Right Manager For Your Music Career

How to Pick the Right Manager For Your Music Career
by Bobby Borg
Nov 10, 2003, 00:02

IN THE CLASSIC CONCERT FILM The Song Remains The Same, there’s a famous scene where Led Zeppelin’s manager Peter Grant, a 270 pound former wrestler from East London, is backstage screaming at one of the promoters at Madison Square Garden. Needless to say, the promoter is backed in a corner and shaking in his boots! Many artists may think that an intimidating personal manager is exactly what they need. But Jeffrey Jampol, who has managed artists such as Tal Bachman says, “The days of the Peter Grants in this business are over.” People in the music industry prefer to do business with nice guys.

A manager must be able to nurture and maintain numerous relationships while at the same time standing firm, being sensible, and demonstrating a strong knowledge of the business. (It’s a fine balance between ticking people off and not being a push-over.) If a manager walks into the record label and starts pounding desks, insisting that things get done his way, HE’S BOUND TO GET ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE!

So what are the most important qualities to look for in a manager? In addition to being powerful, well-connected, a good negotiator, enthusiastic, committed, and accessible, a good manager should be one who over-all inspires your TRUST AND RESPECT.

Trustworthiness is an incredibly important attribute to look for in a manager. Think about it, you’ve worked for so many years learning how to play your instrument and write your songs, and your band has been rehearsing and promoting its shows for years—AND NOW YOU’RE GOING TO TURN OVER A GREAT DEAL OF RESPONSIBILITY TO SOMEONE YOU BARELY KNOW! Sounds scary doesn’t it? Trust must be earned over time, but if a manager doesn’t at least show an initial caring, enthusiasm, and commitment for your dreams and passions, you may not have the right guy. Is your manager just interested in making a quick buck off of you—or perhaps just interested in having a romantic relationship? Seriously! You really need to follow your gut instinct on both these issues from day one.

I remember one very famous manager firmly saying to a group that he didn’t need to like or be passionate about their music in order to do business with them. Sounds rather insensitive, but because of his power and clout, the band decided to go ahead and work with him. As it turns out, the relationship ended in disaster. The band drove all the way across country in a van to perform a showcase, and the manager didn’t even show up—nor did any industry people! True story. Coincidently, after that, the manager didn’t even return the band’s phone calls. Nice! Perhaps he realized there was no quick buck to be made from the relationship? Who knows?

In similar situations, so many bands are promised that there’s a big tour or record contract right around the corner and that the labels are ready to ink the deal. One or two years later, the band is still playing the same dive clubs and are unsigned.

A manager can’t lie to his artists as some ploy to keep them under control, feel powerful, or to perhaps manipulate into a romantic relationship. Again, an initial feeling of genuine caring, enthusiasm, commitment, and over all trust is a major quality to look for in a personal manager. Without these traits, no matter how powerful and well connected the manager may be, you may end up with nothing more than a lot of broken promises.

A manager must also be someone that you can respect. We’re not just talking about the number of successful bands this individual has managed or how many gold and platinum records he has on the wall, we’re talking about morality and ethics. What does your manager really stand for? Is he/she well educated? Well groomed? Does he show a genuine loyalty to other business partners and associates? Does he show an interest in win-win relationships in other business ventures? Is he family-oriented? Does he do anything to give back to the community? Or is your manager all about making money and flash—big houses, expensive cars, and arm-piece girl friends at any expense? Is he a spoiled rich-kid or businessman who got into management to fulfill some show-biz fantasy? Is he a former drug dealer or dubious business person? Does he hang out and party twice as hard as you? Is he a bully? Hey, I’m not making these examples up! Surely, it’s not like you’re an angel looking for a saint, but overall a manager must maintain a level of authority and respect and perhaps even be somewhat of a father figure to you. Many bands, not that they’ll always admit it, want someone they know they can look up to and feel protected by. They want both someone who’s going to take them under their wing and keep everything under control—a super hero who can do no wrong, and someone who knows how to be down to earth and admit that they don’t have an answer to a particular situation.

Of course, you may initially be impressed with someone who makes a lot of noise, blows a lot of smoke, wines and dines you, and flexes a lot of muscle—but are you really going to trust your whole career to guy like this?

A manager must be secure, grounded, firm, confident, educated, and well respected—far above all the bells and whistles and shallow surface stuff discussed above. Without these positive and respectful attributes, your only building a relationship in a personal manager that is doomed to eventually fail!

Keep that in mind as you pursue your dreams.


The Musician's Handbook
If you found these music 'biz tips by Bobby helpful, you will love his book, "The Musician's Handbook", filled with hundreds of real-world examples and strategies (not found in his columns) that a band can use to survive and prosper in the music business. Every musician, regardless of their skill level, should have this book! BUY IT NOW at

About the author

Bobby Borg is the author of “The Musician’s Handbook: A Practical Guide To Understanding The Music Business,” published by Billboard Books. A graduate of the world-famous Berklee College of Music, Bobby has more than 25 years of music business experience. Borg is a composer, artist, and performer and has performed extensively throughout the United States, Japan and Europe with a variety of artists ranging from pop to R & B to rock. He was part of the major label rock group Beggars Thieves (1991-Atlantic Records), Warrant (1996/1997-BMG/CMC Records), and his own group, Left For Dead (1997-Alpha Music), which Borg managed and licensed in the U.S. and Japan. With these groups, Borg has worked alongside some of the world's best personal managers, attorneys, producers and agents in the music 'biz. The author of six instructional method books, he lives in Los Angeles.