Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I rarely go out. Truth is, I don't enjoy it. I'd much rather be in front of my computer working!!! But last night, I decided to go out and support my friend Khao (producer) who was judging the final competition for artists at TI's club, Crucial. So off we went to Bankhead, me, Khao, and Ruben Studdard. Now, I have to tell you that I am not a fan of American Idol at all (I think it's a gimmick that's rips off artists' dreams) so I didn't know shit about Ruben except that he was a winner a few years back, and that he is friends with my friend Khao. They are both from AL.

What a cool muthaphukka Ruben is (for the record, so is Khao).

I've met a grip of artists, as you can imagine. I've spent time with the famous, the not-so-famous, the used-to-be famous, and the wanna-be famous. Ruben stood out. He was warm, kind, friendly, and smart as hell. He was giving Khao advice that was incredibly on point.

I have to admit that, as someone who pulls artists out of bad deals, I fantasize about breaking those bullshit Idol contracts that those slavemasters fight so hard to keep secret. Ruben informs me that his deal is done. This makes me happy for him, but too late to really help him. He's signed to Clive Davis, a man who either has a great ear for talent (voices especially), or a great ear for hearing people who know talent (this is what I believe I have).

What a great guy Ruben is. I had so much fun at Crucial last night. At one point, I had Ruben standing on one side of me, and Scorpio and Dynamite from The Furious 5 on my other side. How cool is that?! Two generations apart, both of whom have influenced and affected me.

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5 were my intro into rap music in 1980 or 1981. I saw them perform live in Philadelphia and fell in love with rap. That's what started it all for me (if not for them, there may not be a me). And then the Idol show at the other extreme. A way for kids to get jerked by folks who want to exploit their talent yet make the lion's share of the money. The reason I exist is to stop that. And it all came full circle last night as I was watching a bunch of rappers competing at TI's club in Bankhead-- Atlanta. Ruben on my left and and Scorpio on my right. WoW! What a night!

Sunday, April 08, 2007


When trying to find an agent, you have every right to question and interview them. Unfortunately, most writers don't interview agents and simply sign with whoever agrees to represent them. While agents are qualifying you as a prospective client, qualify them as potential agents. When interviewing with an agent:

Keep a balance. Answer their questions, but also listen.
Don't dominate the conversation and put all your focus on selling yourself. Agents will be looking for specific answers from you and if you don't let them ask them, they may decide not to represent you.
After you respond to agents' inquiries, question them. Get answers and obtain information so that you can make the best possible decision.

Questions to Ask

The questions that you should ask prospective agents will vary project to project. However, the following basic questions are appropriate in most situations:

Do you specialize in a particular genre of books?
What have you recently sold that you are most excited about?
May I have a list of your current and past clients? May I contact your clients?
May I have a list of the books you sold in the past year?
What books that are similar to mine have you sold?
How much should I expect my book to sell for to a publisher?
Who will lead my account? What is his/her experience? How much time will he/she spend on my account?
What is your plan for selling my book and How long do you expect it to take?
What more can I do to increase my book's chances of selling?
How much input will I have in my campaign?
What are your advantages over other agencies?
Do you have an author/agent agreement?

Attracting the interest of the right agent can be as mystifying and elusive as interesting the man or woman of your dreams. How to do it depends on many factors, including chemistry, timing, luck, and so many unknowns. Often, the agents who will intrigue you the most will also find you and your project interesting. Trust your instincts; often links or connections can be based on reasons that we can't identify or articulate, but we just feel that they exist. So if you find yourself liking or being drawn to a particular agent, trust your feelings.

An excerpt from Author 101: Bestselling Secrets From Top Agents

by Rick Frishman and Robyn Freedman Spizman

Perspective: Where did the music industry go so wrong?
By Patrick Faucher
Wasn't it all so gloriously simple back when people listened to top 40 radio and obediently paid $20 for discs at record store chains?

Labels set the deal terms for artists. Managers handled the "biz." The touring circuits were maintained by well-mannered warlords that politely divvied up the venues. And everyone had their place in the pond.

So where did it all go wrong with the music business? Somehow, the pond became stagnant over time, mucked up with greed, laziness, contempt and excess. People got bored with music. Then, someone threw a rock into the middle of it called the Internet, and nothing will ever be the same. Today, anyone can hum a tune, mix it with a rhythm track and some samples on their Mac at home, put it up on MySpace.com, and end up with a publishing deal from Moby, which will then sell it to the next Super Bowl sponsor.


Sound Off: Is the music industry obsolete?


The industry has become decentralized. Major labels no longer have the market muscle or control over the distribution channels as they once did. Technology and consumer choice have caused a shift from the traditional music business model of major labels throwing copious amounts of money behind a few big hits to that of a vast collection of individual artists creating pockets of more moderate success among passionate fan bases.

This shift requires a different approach to the development and monetization of music by the producers and promoters--one that more directly resembles that of more traditional venture-backed business. The entrepreneurs (artists) create new intellectual property (music, artistic brand) that has a demonstrated market (fans) that is robust enough to attract investors (for example, a label) that wants to own some equity in that IP and wishes to put money into the asset to enable it to engage in value-building activities (distribution, merchandising, licensing, and so on). Oddly enough, this "new" model is, in fact, not new.

We've all heard of The Grateful Dead, Phish, Ani DiFranco, Aimee Mann and the Barenaked Ladies. These great artists have grassroots beginnings. They all employed clever uses of the technology available to them at the time to find fans and create direct distribution channels (from bootleg cassettes and toll-free phone orders to MP3s and e-mail distributions). Using these methods, these "artist-entrepreneurs" have circumvented the traditional channel gatekeepers and have blazed a trail for the rank-and-file working artists and the weekend warriors to follow.

Now all serious artists need to conduct themselves as entrepreneurs engaged in building a business, not just playing and selling music. There are many tools and services out there that artists can use to help them sell. Still, it's not enough to put up a MySpace page and get a song on iTunes. They need to build a brand that has long-term value. They need to own that brand and their customers outright. There is a need for artist platforms that make this process more efficient so the economics make sense. Those solutions increasingly are becoming available.

Investors--including the major labels--need to understand the intricate partnership role they play in development. It's no longer about throwing money into the ether, marketing to no one in particular, and seeking only mega-hit payouts. It's about patience and commitment and focus. The labels--or their successors--need to get down to sea level, pick up an oar, and help row with the artist into this new ocean of opportunity.

Patrick Faucher is the CEO of Nimbit.