- Introduce yourself and give some background on your job at Drive-Thru Records.
I'm Jimmy Cantillon and I run the touring dept. for Drive-Thru Records. I was also hired to work in artist management for the label. Basically it's my responsibility to know about all the tours that other bands, managers, and booking agents in the industry are planning, and make the necessary steps to try and get our bands on those tours. I have to stay in constant contact with booking agencies and management companies to make sure we don't miss the boat on upcoming tours. I spend the entire day on the phone and on email!
-What are the main differences between tour managers, booking agents and business managers?... Being that you have some experience in all three fields.
Well, a manager is responsible for the overall, day to day operations of a band. The manager's job is to direct the band's career down the right path. A good manager is one that presents a band with a few strong options and talks out what decision should be made with the band members. A manager's job is very hard. They often have to be the bad guy... especially if they want to get things done. The most ideal manager for a band that is just starting out would be a friend or family member who REALLY believes in the band. Someone who is willing to hear "no" a million times, but can just keep going. A booking agents job is to coordinate tours, submit a band for tours, and understand the difference between hitting an area "the right amount of
times" and "too many times". There is definitely a formula involved when it comes to booking. You always want to make sure that your fans are left wanting more. Eva over at FATA Booking is a good example of an agent who understands that balance. A tour manager has to be the authority on the road. This has to be a person who doesn't back down to anybody in a situation where their band could get screwed. They are responsible for getting a band to sound check on time, interviews on time, getting them fed, places to stay, and running the finances on the road. The tour manager keeps in close contact with the booking agent as well as the band's manager. Each of these 3 jobs are very important in making a band run smoothly, but obviously in different ways. The most important thing that they have to have in common is that they LOVE the band's music. It makes life so much easier, and way more fun!
-What do you feel is some of the biggest mistakes and false mindsets of younger artists today?
I think the BIGGEST mistake a new band can make is thinking that they will write some songs and a record label will discover them. Sorry... but those days are over. One thing I tell every unsigned band that I manage outside of Drive-Thru is: Every time you feel like hanging out with your friends or your girlfriends... Every time you say that you will practice later... Every time you decide to make anything else more important than your band, is one day closer to not "making it" that you become. Don't any of you take this the wrong way... but there are literally thousands of bands out there that would kill for the chance to see success. If you really want it, you have to be willing to do anything to get it. Don't sit on your butt, because nobody else is going to care about your band if you don't. New bands have to tour. I can't stress that enough. Get on the road. Stay on the road. Set up any kind of show you can. Don't worry about playing clubs like the Whisky or the Roxy... that means nothing when nobody is there. Go play your cousin's graduation party. You'll be playing in front of people, and that kind of personal interaction is what will win you fans. Grow your fan base. The key is to be patient. Don't expect something to happen next week or even next year... stick with it. It's a waiting game. Writing great songs doesn't hurt either. Allow yourself time to develop. I have seen bands that started at the age of 15 as a pop-punk band develop into some of the best blues, rock, and rhythm and blues bands around. Write what you know... don't follow the trend. Trends die hard.
-Just an example: Hidden In Plain View work with Eva at FATA Booking, does that mean you don't handle or work with them being that Eva does?
I definitely don't work with them as much as our bands that don't have agents... but I do get emails and phone calls about HIPV a lot. I usually will just decide which ones are legitimate and which are not, and send her all the real booking inquiries. When the label is doing a tour (Like the Drive-Thru Invasion Tour), then the agents and label will work together to make sure that everything is running smoothly. The hope at a label is to find a home for all of your bands with
managers and booking agents. Then you know they are being taken care of the way they should.
-What factors go into forming a tour and how do you go decide on what bands to send out on the road together?
You always have to look at the musical styles. You wouldn't put U2 on the road with Good Charlotte obviously. So, you look at what bands would work well together musically... you factor in whether or not a band has a record coming out, or if one just did. You always hope that your newer bands can get on the road opening for larger bands who you know will help get them exposure. One thing I am really focusing on at Drive-Thru is working with other indie labels to get our bands on tour together. I think that it's a huge advantage to all the bands involved when you can have multiple labels promoting and supporting a tour. I have had a great response from the people at other indies too. So, I'm encouraged at what we can start getting done if we work together. Touring is so important to the longevity of a band.
-When do you feel a band is ready to hire a manager, booking agent, tour manager, etc?
Well... I think finding someone to manage your band is really important. If you are a musician, and know that you don't really have a business sense then you should find someone who is willing to make those moves for you. That won't always be possible with a new band, so I would
say again, the ball's in your court. If you want to be successful... make it happen. Get on the phone and do it yourself. Learn as you go. As far as a booking agent... they are the most important people in music right now. There are far more bands than there are agents... so choosing to hire one is not really the band's decision. You have to create a fan base because that creates ticket sales. The agents will find you if you're selling lots of tickets. As far as a tour manager... for a young band I would encourage you to bring a friend or brother or sister on the road. They can sell your t-shirts and cd's while you are playing to make sure you're making as much money for gas and food as you can (and they usually work for free food!) Just don't bring a
sister if she's cute and one of your band members might want to hook up with her. That will be a quick end to your band.
-With internet pirating hurting record labels, where do you see the music industry in 10 years and how big of a role will new media play?
Well, everybody has their own prediction on this. There is no way to say for sure what will be going on in 10 years. The industry may have a handle of pirating.. or CD sales may no longer be a source of income. I think that because of the circumstances in the music industry right now, bands need to work on their live show. They have to create a very entertaining live show. They need to sound awesome. They have to give people a reason to want to see them again. I feel like this is the most realistic way a band will survive. You obviously need money to survive. Bands make money when they tour. As they get bigger, they start getting paid to play shows, and also have the opportunity to make money in merchandise sales. I feel like the music industry is going to be made up of thousands of small labels...thousands of individual managers... and hundreds of small booking agencies. I think the days of the "powerhouse" labels are behind us. The success of a band has never relied more on new media and the internet than it does now. Websites like Absolutepunk are the ways that bands are being discovered, and that's a great thing. It evens out the playing field much more. Fall Out Boy is a perfect example of this. That band blew up because of their online buzz. Without it, they would be another very good band that is trying to make their name known. Embrace these outlets... don't hate on them.
-Describe a normal days work for you, from the second you walk in the door to the second you leave.
Hmmm... I arrive around 10am every day (a perk of working in the music industry!). I honestly spend the first hour or two just going through my emails and checking voicemails. I always make myself a "To Do" list. Those are my savior! I start checking into tours. I make sure I follow up on bookings that are still up in the air for our bands. I instant message our video guy Scott Culver something off the wall to try and hear him laugh from his office. Lately I have been working a lot on this AMP Energy Drink/Mountain Dew College tour that I'm setting up for the fall. It honestly depends on the day. Just last week I spent most of my day in Beverly Hills at the William Morris Agency (a large booking agency). I met with a few of their agents, and was introduced to ones I had never met before. It's so important to get out there and meet as many different people as you can. Because it truly is about "WHO" you know and not "WHAT" you know. I email managers, I email bands, I email booking agents. I make sure my name and the names of our bands are constantly in people's faces. We make sure that we have all the updated tour dates for all of our bands and keep them current on all the websites. Then... I GO TO LUNCH! This is a very nice hour of the day for me. I can always be found out to lunch with our art department guys, Kelly and Rob, and our Video guy (and my roommate) Scott. We attempt to get into as much trouble in one hour as we possibly can. We also honestly talk about the projects we each have going on... and try to give each other ideas whenever we can. I usually don't get out of work until after 7pm every night. I have found that no matter what I have planned, there is always more work that finds me. But, I love what I'm doing, and I definitely have a plan for myself in this industry.
-What are some of the biggest lessons you've learned about the music industry and what advice could you give to someone looking to pursue a career in it?
Run. Just kidding. To be totally honest, I have learned that you have to have confidence in yourself and your abilities. You are going to find a thousand different people who are going to try and cut you down. They are going to look at you as their competition. Don't take their negativity personally. They are just trying to get rid of you to make more room for themselves. You have to use your judgment and only trust a select group of people. Also... don't burn bridges! That is so
huge in my opinion. You NEVER know when someone might hold the key to your future success. Be nice to everyone. Be extra nice to the people you don't get along with. That old saying, "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer" is such good advice. If you want to have a career in the music industry you have to be driven and motivated. Make your own opportunities, and so many more doors will open up for you. Also... sign contracts. There is nothing insulting about asking someone for a contract. They help keep friendships and working relationships. Don't be intimidated by anyone. They were in your position once upon a time. Nobody starts at the top.
-Any last words, shout outs, thank yous, advice, etc?
NOW... I have to shamelessly plug my favorite band on the planet, HOLDEN. They are honestly one of the hardest working bands I have ever had the opportunity to know... plus their new music is amazing! This band deserves everything good that comes their way. They are up in the Bay Area of California working on a new independent record that will be out in September 2005! I seriously suggest that you all keep your eyes on these guys! Check them out at www.purevolume.com/holden or www.myspace.com/holdenrock
I have to thank Richard and Stefanie for giving me the opportunity to head up the touring dept. at Drive-Thru. It is a huge opportunity for me, and I am very thankful for that. I also have to recommend that ANY band looking to make a music video should contact my buddy Scott
Culver. He can be reached through his website: www.scottculver.com
And for those of you who are fans of a SUPER fun live show... check out my friends LUDO from St. Louis. They're great guys, and I can't wait to see what happens with them. You can find them at: www.ludorock.com
Thank you Frank and Absolutepunk for taking time to talk with me. I hope my answers were of some help to those of you reading this! Good luck!
Great Interview. This kid Jimmy really knows what he's talking about. What a straight foward look at what touring is to the industry. An insightful glance on how big labels are what's out and indie's what's in. And Holden...that band is amazing. If I were in a band, I would want this dude watching my back.