GOING GLOBAL MUSIC SUMMIT 2017: Marshall Betts
An interview by Sarah Kidd.
This year’s Going Global Music Summit held recently in Auckland’s iconic Roundhead Studios was a roaring success; the sold out summit placing several brilliant and well experienced music industry minds in front of attendees through a series of topical panels. If you weren’t able to make it to the summit, don’t fret! Ambient Light has your back with the last of three Going Global feature interviews; this one posing some quick-fire questions to Marshall Betts – Booking Agent with Paradigm Talent Agency (USA).
Marshall Betts has spent over ten years in the music industry and has worked – in several different capacities – with some of the biggest artists around including Mastodon, Yoko Ono, Veruca Salt and Henry Rollins. After joining The Windish Agency approximately four years ago Betts remained with the company as it transitioned into Paradigm Talent Agency. His current client roster includes Courtney Barnett, Julia Jacklin, Preoccupations, Middle Kids and more.
What originally prompted you to become a booking agent?
“I was in a band, which I booked. We did some regional touring across the U.S. and then when I went to college I started booking my friends bands and eventually needed some help – so I joined a larger agency called Fata Booking”
Once you decided to become a booking agent, how did you go about making this happen (Internship, etc.)?
“I was pretty much working full time by the time I was in my last few years at College, and eventually convinced my professors to let me earn college credit in order to graduate early!
Once I finished school, I left the agency that I was working at in Philadelphia and moved to New York. There I started working at various other agencies large and small, like CAA, APA, and Pinnacle and eventually grew my roster until I landed at The Windish Agency (which later sold to Paradigm)”
Did you find the path difficult when you were first starting out?
“Any path in the Music Industry is hard, but it’s also whatever you make of it. Working in the arts is very rewarding because you get to help see your artistic vision grow – whether you’re the one making the art – or the one helping the artist grow their career”
As a Booking Agent what do you personally look for in an artist?
“It’s a myriad of things, a good team, a great song, a look”
For any artist looking for a booking agent what would be the one piece of advice that you would give them?
“Hone your craft, and make sure that your first introduction is the best possible first impression you can make”
And to the person wanting to follow in your footsteps (taking into account how much the industry has changed in the last ten years)?
“Start working early. Get an idea of the job, and then make sure you’re really invested in it. Ultimately you’re going to be an entrepreneur as an agent; so you should have the same mentality as a small business owner”
Do you have any formal/tertiary qualifications related to your current work position and do you believe that formal qualifications are a necessity?
“I personally have a degree in Music Industry. Do I think that you can read a textbook on how to become a booking agent, and then become successful? No.
But you can find connections and the path towards success through others that have done it before and learn from them in a higher education”
Just how important is networking both as an artist and as a music industry member?
“Your relationships are the single most integral and important things you can develop in any career!”
Do you have a family; if so do you believe it is possible to juggle the two or does something have to give?
“I don’t have a family, but I am getting married at the end of the year. My future bride is very encouraging of me, and I couldn’t do it without her”
What is the one thing about your job that you enjoy the most?
“I pay the bills working in music; can’t ask for much for then that!”
When working with an artist and booking shows for them, do you personally prefer headliner tours or the festival circuit?
“Each artist is different, but I try and have an artist grow their headline value as much as possible without relying on festivals”
As an emerging artist, are small headliner tours or festival appearances more valuable exposure wise?
“They’re both valuable, it’s just a matter of making sure you play the right option at the right time during the artist’s album cycle”
On a more personal note to finish, what artists in the scene excite you currently?
“The new War on Drugs album is great I think; I personally love the new Alvvays record which hasn’t been released yet – but I think will be amongst the best of the year. I think guitars are going to make a bit of a comeback soon!”