WHAT IS ENSEMBLE?
Ensemble is a music company. Our aim is to support artists who take musical risks, while providing them with good business, marketing, and production support. Currently we promote concerts and manage artists who try to do something different and unexpected. Who take risks. In future, when the time is right we will also begin to release music as a record label. At that point we will serve as a one stop shop for an artist’s organisational needs, reducing the amount of middlemen they have deal with and hence the amount of people taking a cut. A simpler, more efficient system.
WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?
We’ve set up Ensemble based on the belief that the music industry is fairly outdated and in many ways broken. It’s a grossly inefficient system that’s dominated by a core group of gatekeepers who serve their own interests rather than that of artists or audiences. Moreover, with different entities looking after different aspects of music organisation – managers, booking agents, promoters, labels, publishers, production companies, etc. – they each take a slice of the pie away from musicians, while creating an unnecessary amount of bureaucracy as 5+ different organisations play tug of war over every release, gig, contract, and what have you – leaving artists with little control over what they do and a much smaller cut of the money they’ve earned than they deserve. Quite simply, it doesn’t make sense. If the music industry were to start from scratch right now, it would look nothing like it currently does, especially given the seismic changes the internet as brought to how people discover and consume music and other art. We think that the internet’s effect on how the music industry works is still at its very early stages – essentially the “old guard” haven’t embraced how the internet could and should really be used to promote music, and are simply applying their old business and marketing techniques to new technology.
WHAT WE’LL DO
What the Internet makes possible is for artists to communicate directly to audiences, and what we propose is that at least at an early stage, an artist just needs one entity that looks after all organisational aspects of their music career, and rather than acting as a gatekeeper, merely facilitates artists’ desire to get their music heard. So that’s what we intend to do. We take on a roster of artists we think have a lot of potential, and step by step act as their concert promoter, manager, booking agent, and eventually record label and publisher. The works. We combine the business, marketing, and production expertise of the established players in the music industry with supporting interesting, up-and-coming artists who we let make their own musical decisions while we simply work to help realise them.
1. To combine supporting music acts who take risks with good business, marketing, and production
The music industry’s big labels, promoters and other decision makers who have good business skills have become increasingly reluctant to support risky acts, barring some rare exceptions. On the flipside, the smaller labels who do support more unusual acts often tend to be a side project run by musicians themselves, and while they provide a hugely valuable service, don’t necessarily have the means or knowhow to get their acts’ music out there in a major way. We hope to combine the business and production skills from our previous experience, with supporting unusual and left field artists who don’t usually get proper management in Ireland but we still think have potential.
2. To reduce the amount of middlemen needed for an artist to be successful to just one
30 years ago, it made sense to have different entities playing the role of manager, booking agent, promoter, label, and more. 30 years ago, the internet was barely a thing. In this day and age when communication is so streamlined between artist, middlemen, and audience, there really is no need to divide an artist’s organisational workload between multiple different entities, at least on a domestic level. By combining the different traditional middlemen into one, we create much greater efficiencies and reduce the amount of people taking a cut from an artist’s earnings. While the amount of money people spend on music is unfortunately getting smaller, under our model a larger slice of the pie is left over for the artist.
3. To expand certain genres of music’s reach beyond their usual core audience
It is an unfortunate fact that certain music scenes tend to be quite insular. This is rarely due to the audiences or musicians themselves, but the structures behind them. The result is often that these types of music seem impenetrable to music fans who don’t feel like they’re part of that clique. We aim to break through these barriers by presenting the genres who are most culpable – particularly classical and jazz – in a nontraditional way, e.g. in DIY studio spaces, with visuals, etc., without dumbing down the music itself.
4. To use and stay ahead of the curve on the latest in technology that benefits musicians and audiences
It’s not particularly controversial to say that the music industry has been quite slow to adapt to the internet. The old guard is still trying to figure out how to adapt to the seismic shift in how people consume and listen to music that was first brought about by Napster 15 years ago. Rather than embrace the full potential of how the internet could be used to spread music, the establishment has done its best to cling on to how things use to work, strangling innovation. What the internet actually makes possible is for a small label, promoter, or artist to spend small amounts of money on marketing and get a good return from it. Most of the music industry players haven’t figured out how to do that. We have. And we’ll continue trying to stay ahead of the curve indefinitely.
5. To create a more open music society where who you know doesn’t make a difference to how successful you are
Having good contacts is an unfortunate necessity in the music industry (and pretty much any industry for that matter), but we believe it shouldn’t be. That’s why we have a completely open policy to demos and submissions for ideas, and will completely disregard any personal connections when reviewing them. In the meantime, we’ll make the right contacts in the music industry so our artists don’t have to.
When we work an artist, we will generally start by working on one or more individual headline gigs. Our role here is the following:
- Venue booking + liaison
- Provide and source equipment
- Provide live sound engineer
- Live recording (where possible)
- Stage lighting
- Organise Transport + Logistics
- Help find extra musicians
- Stage Management + Stage plans
- Venue Layout
- Write promotional copy
- Social media – a mix of from our own pages and the artist’s in conjunction with them
- Email marketing
- Press Release
- Enter into gig listings
- Online advertising – mainly facebook ads which we’re highly skilled at
- Organise artwork
- Ticketing admin
- Help organise promo or live video
After working on one or two individual gigs with an artist, if both us and they are interested, we’ll enter a “trial period” where we semi-manage the artist for a period of a few months, ultimately leading to full on management if both parties are happy.
- Medium to long term planning
- Headline gig timing and frequency
- Support/festival slot decisions
- Recording timing
- Release timing
- General info copy (e.g. bio)
Online profile building
- Build and maintain social media profiles – Facebook / Twitter
- Manage music/video profiles – YouTube / SoundCloud / Bandcamp / Breaking Tunes
- Artists still controls their own profiles so they retain their own personality – we advise and ensure everything is done to a high quality
- Eventually each artist gets their own website when there’s enough content for it
- Answer correspondence (optional)
- Representation at meetings (optional)
Recording organisation (optional)
- Supplemental musicians
- Maintain archive
- Booking request negotiation: Negotiate higher fees where appropriate
- Festival slots
- Support slots
You retain complete creative control
Our guiding principle is that musicians know best what they should do musically, and shouldn’t be told what to do by their manger/label/whatever. We’ll offer guidance if you want it, but all musical decisions are your own.
You decide on or retain your own image
We don’t try to manufacture an image for you that we think would work – you retain your own personality and we just help get it out there. Again, we’ll offer guidance if you want it, but we want to portray your own musical personality as accurately as possible.
We do the organisational work for you so you can focus on the music
When you work with us we do a “handover” of pretty much all the admin and promotional tasks from you to us, and from then on those are our responsibility. That allows you to focus purely on making music which you’re good at, while we organise and promote you which we’re good at.
We produce and promote your concerts
Basically, we’ll put on your concerts for you. We’ll source your sound equipment and lighting (at a cheaper cost than others, or even for free) if you need it. Rob Kearns will act as a sound engineer, and/or recording engineer. We’ll organise any transport that you need. We can even provide projections and visuals where possible. Plus any other bits you might need, such as chairs, drinks, security, as well as booking and dealing with the venue. Meanwhile Rob Farhat will promote the concert – looking after social media, press, postering, ticketing, advertising, the works – it’s up to him to make sure tickets sell. All in all, we hope you can just show up on the day and perform your music, without having to worry about anything else.
They’re “your gigs” – not ours
Any headline gig you do is very much your own – it won’t be billed as “Ensemble presents X”. We simply work away in the background to produce and promote it but the artist is the main focus and we’ll just stick our logo somewhere on the artwork.
We don’t charge set fees, only a percentage of earnings
We don’t charge any set fees for what we do, and all the ongoing long-term work we do is completely out of the goodness of our hearts. We only take a percentage of the money you make as a result of work we do for you, which for now just means when you do a gig. For now as we’re just starting off that percentage is just 20% of the profit you make from a gig for our first gig together, 30% subsequently. We justify that percentage by a) promoting the gig well and hence making it sell more than it would otherwise, b) reducing production costs through our connections and c) doing your live sound and recording it (where possible). And given that we look after every aspect of the gig, we’re the only ones who take a cut from it. So basically, we only make money when you make money, and even then you’ll be making more as a result of the work we do anyway.
Ongoing Production (management only)
We’ll also look after on-going production, such as sourcing extra equipment, finding a rehearsal space, extra musicians you might need, stage plans and channel lists, and anything in-between.
Ongoing promotion (management only)
We’ll make sure your online and offline presenceBe it through social media, video, press, etc. – is up to scratch and constantly building even when you’re not gigging, so that when you do put on a gig you’ll have built a much bigger following running up to it.
You only have to deal with us (management only)
We act as every middle man that an artist would usually deal with – manager, booking agent, promoter, production company… and eventually label and publisher. We’ll look after all dealings with other music industry guys so you don’t have to deal with those shits. We’re sound, they’re not.
You’re tied to us exclusively (management only)
The only “catch”, and it’s not much of a catch but we want to be fully up front with you. Our model of doing things only works for both you and us if you work exclusively with us for all your activity in Ireland. That means we will be your concert promoters in Ireland, and when we start releasing music as a label, we’ll be your label within Ireland too. This doesn’t rule out working with others entirely – we’ll obviously still work with other promoters for festival and support slots, and if another promoter makes a very good offer for a headline gig we’ll go along with that too (though we would still take a percentage of your fee, but a lower one than usual). Until we start releasing music as a label you’re free to release stuff yourself (which we’ll help you with) or with another Irish label, but with the understanding that you’ll release music with us once we do become a label. This may seem like a dickhead way of doing things but it’s not, there are good reasons for it – we’ll be doing a lot of ongoing work for you without charging a dime, that will greatly benefit your gigs and releases which will make money. So if we’re doing a load of ongoing work for free, while another promoter or label looks after the part that actually makes money, then they’ll essentially be freeriding on and benefiting from our free work. Promoting your gigs and eventually releasing your music is essentially the “reward” for all the free ongoing work we’ll do. It’s also just one of the main points behind setting this company up – an artist should only have to work with one “facilitator”, and that’ll be us. For concerts and releases outside of Ireland, you are of course free to work with other promoters and labels. We’ll in fact encourage it and over time try and help you establish those relationships.
We help you punch above your weight
We have a pretty damn good track record of bringing music (and other) events way beyond people’s expectations and maximising their potential, from Trinity Orchestra to 10 Days In Dublin, Riverdance to the Web Summit. To be quite blunt, we know how to use the Internet better than anyone in music or the arts in Ireland, and we know how to put on large scale productions as well as the biggest event companies in Ireland. By joining us we’ll multiply your following and help you put on ambitious, sold out events that you won’t get with anyone else.
We help you reach beyond your usual audience
One aspect of the way the music scene works here that we want to tackle is that certain genres or “scenes” have a set audience and struggle to reach beyond that – particularly classical, jazz, and trad. We have an excellent track record of getting people interested in types of music they wouldn’t usually bother with, and our main goal in expanding our artists’ following is reaching beyond the audience that’s usually associated with their genre and capturing the attention of people who just like good music in general.
We’ve got and are constantly making contacts you’ll benefit from
We’re already pretty well connected with the music and arts world in Ireland, having good relationships with most Irish promoters, the Irish music press, and other important members of the music and arts communities here. But we’re not going to rest there – we’ve been to SXSW, the Great Escape, and other music industry events in order to make contacts that our artists can benefit from.
Further down the line we’ll have our own rehearsal/recording space
By early 2015 we hope to have our own dedicated rehearsal and recording space (we’ve already got a couple of options in the pipeline). Our artists will have priority access to it and at a super cheap rate. For now we’ll help you find and book other ones that already exist in Dublin.
Even further down the line we’ll put money towards your records, and look after their promotion and distribution (management only)
If we did everything at once we’d fall flat on our face, so we’re not venturing into being a record label just yet. That’ll come in late 2015, once we’ve built up a good following and reputation and have more money to play with. At that point we’ll hopefully be able to put money towards recording, producing, promoting, and distributing your releases. You’ll retain complete control over the rights to them and we’ll simply take a percentage of the money you make. Initially we’ll just look after releasing in Ireland while doing our best to secure you a record deal with an indie label abroad.
You’ve nothing to lose, and potentially a lot to gain
As you’ve hopefully realised from the above, there’s really nothing to lose by joining us since we don’t charge any fees, while you potentially have a lot to gain if things go well for you and us. We realise we’re just starting something here and to a certain extent we’re asking artists to take a leap of faith, but we’re very confident we can turn this into a successful business that does a lot to help artists, so you may as well get on board now and make the most of the work we’d do for you, rather than wait a while until we are clearly doing a good job and have missed out on the work we would’ve done for you. Nice one.