Damaged may be a new agency, but they come packed with years of experience already behind them.
Formed in mid-2017 by tour manager Glenn Stewart – who has gone under the alias of The Drunk Promoter for the past four years, Jakey Martin from JEM Presents and Stevie Williams and Jake Laderman from Melbourne punk band Clowns, Williams and Martin say that they want the agency to grow naturally and they want to work together as a team to get the best outcomes for the bands on their roster.
“We know that our artists are not going to be selling out Margaret Court Arena off their own bat for quite some time, and what they need is a booking agent as part of a booking agency that understands that and where they’re at and cater for them,” says Williams. “Also, understand that it’s actually not about money at all, it’s about the artist progression and the authenticity of the agency and the artist and we’re going to push that.”
The opportunity arose to form the agency after Stewart was looking for a new role with booking tours and decided to ask Williams and Laderman from Clowns, whom he had been booking tours for, to join, before adding Martin as an agent as well. They then divided up the roles to best suit everyone’s strengths and weaknesses.
“I’ve certainly learned over the last few months that I’m not a booking agent and that I’m not cut out for the work, I’m much more cut out for the kind of work that involves pestering the booking agent for information, but what I’ve started doing is looking after the accounts and making worksheets for all the other bands,” says Williams. “I think it is a good idea in any business to have somebody who’s essentially the treasurer and chases the money because it can be pretty easy to get lost.”
“Otherwise, it’s just up to ability,” Martin chimes in. “Glenn has a shitload of bands on his roster and he can keep on top of it and has time for it. I also do a venue, which takes a bit of time, so I can only take on X amount and Jake [Laderman] is working out how many he can take on as well, with his day job and touring.”
Williams and Martin think the best way to get into this business is to make friends with people within the music community, go to lots of gigs to understand how they work, stick with it and opportunities will arise. They also say that you have to have a passion for it and expect to put in a lot of hard work, as it’s definitely not a career path for the faint-hearted or someone wanting to make a quick buck.
“Eventually, you meet somebody at a pub and you become friends and two years down the track, maybe they start playing in a band that becomes quite popular that needs a booking agent,” Williams says. “I feel like there’s a lot to be said about creating organic relationships and being involved within the music community and being a genuine person, because that’s where it all starts from, at a grassroots level. When you lose that authenticity, people see through it.”
“Take risks and be organised,” Martin adds. “You risk a lot of your own money a lot of the time and it doesn’t always pay off, it very often breaks even. It’s not a job for people that aren’t in love with it, and you deal with people that do it as a job and have fallen out of it and they’re not great to deal with, they don’t have that fire which you really need. Start small. Hit up venues, slowly chase Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday nights, and put on shows.”
At the moment, the agency mostly books tours for punk bands around Australia. It’s what they’re used to – they all like the genre, understand how things work and emphasise the point of having fun and not needing to over complicate things.
“It’s pretty easy to work with,” says Martin. “Get wasted, play a gig, have a good time, pack it up, do the next one, no worries.”