All About Being a Folk Music Booking Agent in the UK

Jacey at Winnipeg Folk Festival

Jacey – Winnipeg Folk Festival

Before opening the music agency I  toured as one third of vocal trio Artisan from 1985 to 2005 plus the 2010 and 2015 reunion tours; also as one fifth of the Brian Bedford Band through to the summer of 2006. I’ve played thousands of gigs and hundreds of festivals across the UK, Germany, Belgium, the USA, Canada, Australia and even (once) Hong Kong, so I reckon I know the business from both sides.

After the farewell Artisan gig in 2005 I counted the stamps in my passport and realised I’d notched up thirty one North American tours in a decade and decided I must be bonkers! I now sit at home and drive a desk for a living – sending out other performers to do the hard work. Instead of thirty thousand miles a year the Bedford motor now does less than three. Probably just as well since it’s not getting any younger! I can absolutely confirm that folk agents don’t drive around in sleek BMWs – well – this one doesn’t anyway.

I know a thing or two about clubs, festivals and venues. I even ran my own, putting on concerts at Birdsedge Village Hall for thirty years and booking the acts for Birdsedge Village Festival for ten as well as running the occasional bigger gig at the Paramount Cinema in Penistone, Nr Sheffield.

Band on stage

Tanglefoot at Penistone Paramount

I’ve got some fantastic artists on my books from all over the world.
Vin Garbutt, Zulu Tradition, Ritchie Parrish Ritchie, Cloudstreet, Union Jill, Dan McKinnon, Tania Opland and Mike Freeman, Eileen McGann, Artisan, The Salts, Lee Collinson and Al Parrish, and I’m currently talking to another well established artist, but I can’t tell you who that is yet, or I would have to shoot you.

It’s my job as an agent, to match-make artists and events. I’m not looking for ‘gigs at any price’. Making the right connections helps both artists and bookers to get the best deal and build up ongoing relationships. A lot of the people I deal with are friends, or become friends in the course of our business relationship.

Obviously if I never call or email a venue I’m not doing my job properly, so if you’re a booker in the UK, expect to hear from me at least once or twice a year, possibly with a few emails in between. If you want to be added to my mailing list please email me. My email is above in the header. Ditto if you want to be removed from it. I’d appreciate it mightily if you could let me know of any email address changes, of if you hand over the job of booking-contact to someone else.

To all bookers and festival organisers: When I call you or email I want you to know that I will always take no for an answer. In fact, next to yes, no is the second best answer because it enables me to move on and call the next venue or festival. Those maybes and call-me-back-in-a-month answers are killers… unless of course, you really mean it. Unfortunately some bookers are dear sweet people who don’t like to disappoint and who don’t know how to say no. I hope no one ever feels they can’t say no to me. Of course I like it best when you say yes, but to go round full circle… I really am not looking for gigs at any price. It’s got to be the right gig at the right price so that everybody wins.

That’s what my job is about, creating a win-win situation for the venue, the artist and, oh, yes, for me too.

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About Jacey Bedford

Jacey Bedford maintains this blog. She is a writer of science fiction and fantasy (www.jaceybedford.co.uk), the secretary of Milford SF Writers (www.milfordSF.co.uk), a singer (www.artisan-harmony.com) and a music agent booking UK tours and concerts for folk performers (www.jacey-bedford.com). She's also a Home Office / Border Agency licensed sponsor processing UK work permits (Certificate of Sponsorship).
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