In this episode, Jared Judge takes listeners behind the scenes of national and international music agencies. He explains how these agencies operate, from marketing and selling gigs to staffing musicians, and how they manage to provide consistent services across different cities. Jared also challenges musicians to learn from these agencies and apply similar strategies to their own acts, emphasizing the importance of marketing and uniqueness in standing out in the market.
What's up gigging pros! It's Jared Judge. Welcome back to another episode of The Gigging Musician Podcast. Got a lot of energy because I just finished playing my first wedding gig in Colorado. Yeah, that's right, I normally would play a ton of weddings in Wisconsin. But since moving to Colorado almost a year ago, I've played almost exclusively corporate events, which has been a nice refreshing change. But today's wedding prove that I missed playing weddings, and I missed playing with other musicians, you know, my corporate event, my electric violin act is typically just a solo act with backing tracks. And but this was a full string quartet. So what did that take this podcast episode, as an opportunity to reveal to you the underbelly of a an industry that you might not have known about? Or maybe you do, because maybe you play for one of these kinds of acts, which are national contractors. So in case you know, most musicians, when you get started, do you think about playing in a band or playing in a classical group, and you think of the group is just the players that are in that group at the time that they're playing to string quartet, you might have Jason on violin one, Linda on violin to Jared on Viola and Dan on cello. But there that that is like the normal thing that most people think of when you think of a string quartet or even think of a band, there are agencies. And also those are known as contractors in the classical world, where the band is violin, one violin to viola and cello, there are positions that they fill with a large roster of the equivalent of substitutes, which means instead of, you know, Jared, and viola, it could be anybody on Viola, like Rebecca, or Sarah or Kiersten, anybody on Viola. And this has its roots. This is a very typical thing for classical string quartets, and, and cover bands specifically, like wedding slash corporate event style cover bands. And the way that these acts work, and they do work really well, some of you might play for some of these national ones, the way that they work, is first off, they rely on having talented musicians in the given area that they serve. So here in Denver, I just played for one of these, the company I knew was headquartered in New York City. And they rely on the fact that they got talented musicians in cities across the country and possibly across the world in some cases. So here in Denver, they know that a weak baton talented musicians, let's tap into them. And these musicians, we assume that they have a skill in sight reading, doing music, being able to play without rehearsal, and sounding pretty close to perfect on the first time. So that's like how the product gets fulfilled. So, you know, if you can rely on the fact that you have talented musicians in cities across the world, what's to stop you from being in your city and booking gigs in other cities? And my answer is nothing. Except for the fact that maybe you just don't know how to market and act in another city. And that is the secret sauce of these national and international agencies is that they, they've got their marketing down to a science. I say that, thinking like, there are opportunities to slide in and beat them. But that to me, that's why like, I've been getting so many gigs on the extreme strings, electric violins, even I'm competing with this national agency based out of New York, in Denver. So there are ways to slide in and, and stand out in your marketing. But really, the the secret sauce is marketing. So I know for a fact that these agencies market themselves on Google, they spend money to run Google ads. They spend money to run Facebook and Instagram ads. And I'm not sure if any of them are running tick tock ads yet, but they've run ads. And it's a lot easier to run these ads to pet weddings, which you know, we've had some podcast episodes about running Facebook ads. And so they do get a lot of weddings, then they run these ads, the brides of the groom's they reach out to them saying hey, we're interested in booking you. And then after that marketing piece is done, and they raise their hand and become a lead. Then they sell to them. They might sell over email or they might sell with a zoom call, which zoom calls can be done across the country like you know, I'm gonna share that this herb is doing most of their selling from their New York office in Denver. And then they do a zoom call to sell the gig. Write the contract, collect the money and To the gig is booked, then after the gig is booked, and only after, do they start hiring the musicians to play that gig. I know this because you know, I do a similar thing in Milwaukee with PI act, we I've been selling gigs in Milwaukee, despite me being in Denver, marketing the way that I've been marketing, and then hopping on zoom with the clients. They're in Milwaukee, I'm in Denver. And I sell the gig, write the contract, collect the deposit. And then two months before the gig is when I staff that gig. And I know that I can staff at two months in advance, because we've got a pretty large roster of musicians in Milwaukee. And so I know that we can staff and I'm assuming the group based in New York has a similarly large roster. And that's how they could comfortably book gigs, not knowing who's going to play them. And so, the sell the gig, as I mentioned, and then what I've found, in my experience, that the most helpful way of making sure it goes smoothly, when you're not going to be physically there playing the gig is to have a music consultation call with the person who booked to you a couple months out or even like right after they book to start picking off the music planning process. So what works really well, with these gigs were the four of us from today. I think two of the people knew each other. And the other two, me included, had never met any of these people in our lives. Yet we showed up we were able to play because the the people who booked us consulted with the I guess he called the agency. And put, they put together a thorough setlist and detailed plans for how the gig is going to go. For wedding ceremonies, there's a lot more planning involved, you got to know how many people are walking down the aisle, are there any special moments, it'd be the love the ceremony that usually needs to be accounted for. And so they have done that they've done all the hard work for that, so that we could just show up with a plan and to execute on that plan. Sorry, I'm gonna make this quick turn here. Very nice. And so that's how these agencies work. This works both in the string quartet world and in the cover band world. And the pay out, you know, they I think they split the pay relatively equally among the players. But then they take a profit margin on top of what they pay the players to fund their operations and help them make their money. And so my challenge to you is think about how can you treat your act just like this style of Act. That's a national agency. Because if you were called the thing that I mentioned, that was the secret sauce, and this was the marketing, most musicians fail to market their act. That's kind of the theme of this whole podcast is your music will not market itself. Yet to these national agencies Mark market themselves aggressively using a variety of tried and true marketing tactics, Facebook ads, Google ads, Instagram as Asprey Tiktok ads, and then they treat the rest of it like a business too. They have planning meetings, they come up with a detailed logistical plan and make sure that the gift goes great, then the treat the hiring of musicians as a staffing service where they have a big roster, so that they could comfortably book a gig without having to worry about if anyone's a belt. Now, you might not want to do that, especially if you get satisfaction out of play with the same players all the time. But they still systemize how the hiring is done. So I urge you to do things or insistently. And I also challenge you to create a competing Act. Now, I want you to say I'm not saying that, you know, I want you to take away from any of these acts, and I don't believe that you will. Because within the secret sauce of marketing. First off, you have to start with the belief that there are more than enough opportunities for everybody. Pray, like I believe that there are good opportunities that you can create, by marketing yourself effectively. These you know, the people who book you might not have considered live music until they saw your marketing. So that's the mindset you have to go into this. And if that's the case, then you're not really competing with these national agencies. You're just pushing yourself to compete against yourself. And the second thing is after you have that mindset that abundance is there has to be something unique or different about your act. That to me is I think a weakness again these national agencies is that because they're so systemized and they're so rigid in what they do. It's very difficult to create a unique piece and something unique about the act right the string quartet that I just played it, it was almost exactly like what what Mike the company dream said he strings does it go walk it and played some In classical unmanipulated arrangements of popular music, in fact, there was a there was no Led Zeppelin there wasn't Metallica, we played a Metallica Zodwa on strings when sounded pretty good. But I will argue that there are these kinds of acts are a dime a dozen in most major cities and smaller cities to. And it's because of the fact that it's very hard to create something unique when you're doing it at a large scale. That's not saying that it's impossible, but it is very difficult. Similarly, with my electric violin act, you know, I would say the electric violin act is more unique than a string quartet electric violin, it has not been around the F bomb, it has a classical String Quartet. So that is more unique in the fact that electric violin isn't unique instrument at hearing violin, along with backing tracks, is pretty unique for some people, especially because, well, here's where we're getting into. I personally approach this a little in a unique way. And that I love to play EDM and popular music in a style that feels more true to the recordings that I'm playing a lot. But Plus, I'm also taking lessons from Tracy Silverman learning how to use his strum Boeing method, and play electric pilot a little more in the style of a guitar, which I think is fun. So that makes my act even more unique. Plus, my personality is unique. People seem to enjoy working with me, I love to share with them and help them out and get in the weeds with them. I'm very passionate about what I do, which is another beauty factor. So if you are passionate about what you do, then you also have that going for you as well. So those are ways that I feel like you can carve out your niche. But think about it, how can you treat your act like one of these national agencies? Is there something they're doing particularly in the marketing department that you're not doing? Are you so focused on, you know, practicing learning new songs being good musicians that you're neglecting the marketing side? If that's the case, here's my challenge to you. Go and market your hats. There, I'm going to teach you how, if you've been listening to my podcast for a while, you know that at the end of each podcast, I'd offer you something and I'm gonna offer you it again, I want you to get the Gig Vault. Gig Vault is a totally free treasure trove of over 24,665 high-end venue and event planners. In fact, the funny thing was, this group that I played today was at a venue that I actually emailed as part of my Gig Vault, and I have a meeting scheduled with them next week. It's too bad, it's an hour away. There are venues that are a lot closer than an hour away. But I made the commitment to just blanket all of Decker with me. And maybe that's the commitment you want to make to yourself and in your city. So I'm going to meet with this venue that I just played at when you're on a gig playing for somebody else. It is not your place to market yourself. So I did not do that. But now it's bear damage. It's my opinion now. Oh, it's so good and get the Gig Vault so that you can learn how to do this how to park into your axe and blanket your city wood with your act. And you can do that get it for free at OpenTheGigVault.com. It comes with a free 30 day free trial of Fulltime Music Academy and the amazing BookLive software, which is the same software a lot of these agencies are actually using to do their contracts like Panini, do their staffing, build their set lists, etc. So go to OpenTheGigVault.com and thanks for tuning in to another episode of The Gigging Musician Podcast. Remember, "You are just one gig away!" and remember, "Your music will not market itself!". Bye everybody.