I recently had an email from a band thanking me for my help files and asking me to listen to their live demo (in my spare time) so that I could tell them where I thought they may fit in the folk roots scene.
This is why I said, ‘No.’
I’m very sorry to disappoint, but really-truly-sincerely I don’t have spare time. My days are accounted for 24/7. I have some great artists on my agency roster, but I’m not considering adding to my list right now, because if I did I would be less effective for the people I currently work for. When I’m not working on the agency bookings or processing Certificates of Sponsorship for performers from outside the EU, I’m writing. (Yes I’m also an author. I write science fiction and fantasy novels and my books are published by DAW, part of the Penguin Group in the USA.)
Asking for an opinion from anyone in the music industry is not really appropriate unless we (as agents) put out a call for new artists. We are music professionals. Listening to your CD and typing up an assessment is, at best, asking for a half a working day (if not longer). Listening critically is hard.
Besides, what if I don’t like your music? It may be very good and I may still not like it (because tastes vary and ‘like’ is very subjective). Your music may be brilliant; it may actually be awful. Believe me, over the years I’ve heard some demos that were winceworthy, and a lot that were average, as well as some that were utterly fantastic. It’s hard to tell people what they don’t want to hear. So by asking you are potentially putting me in the position of either upsetting you with my honesty, or telling you a downright lie just to send you away happy. While ever I have not heard your music, it remains potentially good or potentially bad; potentially liked or potentially disliked, but I’ll (happily) never know which. (The Schrodinger’s Cat principle. Look it up if you don’t know what I’m talking about.) If that seems a little jaded, I promise that when I hear you’ve won a folk award I will humbly kick myself.
And what use is my opinion anyway? Yes I work in the music industry, but that doesn’t make me infallible, or even competent to pass judgement on something that you’ve sweated blood over. I don’t pretend to be able to have my finger on the pulse, or to be able to second-guess what promoters will pay to present, or what audiences will pay to hear. If I could do that I wouldn’t be working sixteen hours a day and driving a ten year old Ford KA, I’d be living in a mansion and being driven in my Rolls.
I offer my help files to pay something forward to the music industry. You are welcome to whatever knowledge I possess via the helpfiles. Right now, it’s the best I can do. I wish you all the best in your music career.