5 things we learned about building a team in dance music

DJ Mag - Building Your Team panel

DJ Mag and PRS for Music have teamed up for a series of six events covering all you need to know about breaking into the electronic music world.

Involving speakers from across the industry, the second INSIGHT instalment – called Building Your Team –took place last night (Tuesday).

Speakers on hand to discuss the ins and outs of landing a manager, booking agent and a label were Adrienne Bookbinder (Defected Records), Steven Braines (The Weird & Wonderful), Ridney (Mambo Ibiza resident) and moderator Ash Howard (PRS for Music).

Here’s five things we learned from the session…

Start with management before anything else…

Steven: In terms of management and why I think you should have it first, managers are good conduits to get you a really good booking agent or to get you the right lawyer to navigate a publishing deal or a label deal. They are legally binding contracts, you should have good advice.

Adrienne: Music really drives your bookings and your career. If you have a record that has popped off and you’re getting a lot of attention, at that point in time it’s probably a good idea to get a manager if you don’t already have one, because then you can focus on making music. Let’s say you’re signing an EP and you really have no idea about the terms and you’re really lost on that side of things, then having a manager could be very helpful.

…But know your stuff if you decide management isn’t for you

Ridney: I don’t have management and I never have. I felt quite liberated to do it myself. I’m not gonna lie, I’m a geeky person and I’m the person who has an interest in every aspect of it [the industry]. I feel that in my career, it’s allowed me to work with the labels I’ve wanted to work with because I haven’t had a manager.

Label and publishing crossover can be a good thing for syncs

Adrienne: I think there are some positives with having your publishing and your recordings reside in the same place. If it’s a single or an EP that we’re signing to Defected and we pick it up as well on the publishing side, we’ll pitch those songs [for sync] that we control both sides for.

A lot of the time they’re [sync agencies] looking for one-stop-shop clearances which means they want to go to one rights holder and be able to clear the entire record for both sides of the recording.

Ash: So you’re saying if you did put your copyright for recording and publishing in the same place, there could be some licensing benefits in terms of getting your music to film and games?

Adrienne: Definitely.

Money talk: the standard percentages booking agents and management will take

Steven: Booking agents typically take 10 percent if they don’t do your itineraries and it’s normally between 15 and 20 percent if they do.

From a management perspective, there’s a lot of variation. Ours is always a 20 percent net model so that means if a booking comes through for £10,000, then the booking agent would take 10 percent of that. Assuming travel is included, there’s £9,000 of profit pre-tax. Then the management company would take 20 percent of that £9,000.

For us, why I think that’s a great model is if you’re not making money, then we’re not making money. And we’re never making more money than you. So net’s always the safer thing with a manager but booking agents will always do a gross fee.

Network online and in real life

Adrienne: If I’m getting an email from a producer and they’re sending it to 30 other labels, off the bat I’m just not that interested in it. It’s nothing personal, you’re sending it to all these people. I don’t feel like you wanna work with us. So if you’re sending an email, personalise it and focus your attention on that email.

Also if you’re sending demos in, don’t send 20 unfinished tracks. There might be two good tracks in that folder but if you’re sending it with 18 beats, then it’s distracting.

And really, you have to get out there. If I meet someone in person and they’re like ‘oh I really wanna send you something’ then I’ll remember them and they’ll have my email. Go to clubs and network.

Ridney: I’ve been that guy, going to Mambo in the summer – handing out a vinyl, a CD, a USB. I’ve done it this year, handed USBs to other DJs who have played at Mambo because I love what they do. Equally when I play, people give me USB’s. For me, meeting people face-to-face is way better than trying to email a load of labels.