How to Win Friends and Influence People

I know that agents are not well liked in some circles, but why would someone who wants a favour start an email like this?

I’ll start out by stating that I hate agents. So out-of-place in the folk world. Taking a cut for what artists can do for themselves. I take great delight in remembering that I once got Cyril Tawney’s agent sacked by him for trying to charge too much.

Do I know you/? I used to present [radio shows redacted] back in the 80s and early 90s?

Now that is out of the way, would you please convey to… He then goes on to ask me to get one of my acts to appear on his radio show and to perform as a mystery guest at a charity event for no pay and no publicity and then he finishes with:

If I don’t hear via you I will just approach them personally as we all live near [town redacted]

I won’t embarrass the man by saying who he is, though perhaps I should. I will however, say that there is no substitute for common courtesy. And THIS is no substitute for common courtesy.

My response:

Well, [name], what a charmer you are!
‘I hate agents’ is a great opening to an agent you want a favour from.
What were you thinking?
Have you taken a course in how to win friends and influence people?
And boasting about getting Cyril Tawney’s agent sacked? Well, whatever floats your (chicken on a) raft.

I’ll follow on by saying that I’m not so keen (hate would be way too strong a word) on people who categorically state that they hate agents without actually knowing much about what we do for our money. If an artist could do the bookings for themselves, that’s what they would be doing. Many do. I did our own when Artisan was a full time entity for 20 years. (How do you think I learned the business?)

Some can’t.

Either because they don’t have the contacts, or they are pathalogically afraid of rejection and of making cold calls and therefore find hundreds of excuses not to, or they are based outside of the country and don’t know where to start, or they are just too disorganised to look after the paperwork, or they prefer to play the spots off their instrument all day and think the mundane stuff is beneath them, or they are just too damn busy doing gigs to be at home to pick up the phone, or they think that having an agent will give them a step up the ladder.

I remind you that no one forces an artist to seek out an agent. Just FYI I do advise artists that if they CAN do it for themselves then that’s their best option. See my article on why you don’t need an agent on my help-pages.

Having said all that, I’m forwarding this (complete) to [artist]. [Artist] can decide whther to take you up on your kind offer of working for no pay and not even any advance publicity since [artist] would be appearing without the benefit of anyone knowing they were there.

I look forward to his reply. Though I probably shouldn’t hold my breath.

About Jacey Bedford

Jacey Bedford maintains this blog. She is a writer of science fiction and fantasy (, the secretary of Milford SF Writers (, a singer ( and a music agent booking UK tours and concerts for folk performers (
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