The electronic music scene has taken over the world in the last decade or so. DJs and musician are living the life of the modern rockstars but that wouldn't be possible without a job that most of us related to this scene forget about.
A booking agent is an extremely important profession within the music industry, a job that often falls out of the spotlight. Some may say that their job is to simply get a gig for a DJ or musician but in reality, booking agents are highly responsible for the success of the DJ. He does the "dirty job" which every artist out there hates. As we've always wanted to present all aspects of the music industry, we've invited Slovenian booking agent Marjan Lopuh to a lovely chat.
Marjan has been working as a booking agent for more than a decade now. After running his own Flow Management, he's been working as a part of Analog Agency, one of the biggest electronic music agencies around, for the last couple of years. We asked him some question about his profession prior to his second instalment of Lopuh Music Camp which he organises from 10th till 11th May in Slovenia.
Hi, Marjan. How are you spending your days lately? What keeps you occupied?
Hey guys! Well,... if I answer the second part of the question, without mentioning daily work, then I would say my 5 cats and my girlfriend. But if I answer the question as a whole, then it's the office where I spend most of my days. How? In front of a Dell monitor actually.
Could you tell us how did you end up being a booking agent? Normally, youngsters (at least for the last few years) are dreaming of being a superstar DJ. Did you have these dreams as well?
It all really happened without a plan, to be honest, but it took me years of dedication, self-control, self-motivation and personal belief that I can do this in a professional way. I’ve been active in various fields (promotor, label manager, artist manager, A&R, music manager, press/PR,...) before bookings really “sucked” me in. The only thing I never tried and never wondered how it would be was actually to be a DJ. So no, I never dreamt about a DJ career.
We’re pretty sure that lots of our reads don’t know what a booking agent does. Can you maybe tell us what does this job requires and how does your regular day in the office look like?
You’ve probably seen at least once in your lifetime, a boy or a girl, selling books, door to door, right? This is me, selling artists door to door… haha :) Jokes aside.
Let’s start in the morning, while still in bed, checking emails, breakfast, replying emails, arriving in the office, checking more emails,... It might look entertaining, but the majority of the “regular” people don’t receive more than a few emails a day, from which are mostly commercials if you are signed up to some newsletters. Meanwhile, a booking agent can deal with 60+ emails before lunch (not commercial emails) and the amount increases fast throughout the day, depends on how many artists you represent, which territories you cover, which period of the year we are discussing, etc...
Emails are my daily routine, the main communication channel for everything related to bookings. The job itself requires full motivation, exceptional communication skills, a constant presence on the market, ability to discover new locations, ability to speak few languages, ability to understand the economic differences between the markets and a whole lot more.
Being a booking agent, what are some of the biggest challenges that you have? What would you say is the hardest part of your job?
Oh... If I can point out one challenge, then imagine, you are badly trying to get in touch with a promoter, a club, a festival for years, like literally sending emails for 5 years straight and you never get an answer, never ever. Then, suddenly doors open, you’re IN, happy as a disco ball, mission accomplished, five years, gone :) It’s always a challenge big time!
The hardest part of my job?... not being able to fulfil an artist's expectations.
You used to have your own Flow Management but you’ve been working for Analog agency for the last few years. How did you decide to end one chapter and start another one? Was this a hard decision for you?
Flow Management is something I will always be proud of. It came to life with two other friends (Ian F. and Matthew Hoag) in 2004. It was a music-driven project, kind of artist management and booking agency, which was very rare at that time especially in Slovenia. We represented 15 or maybe even more artists on our peak.
It was a community full of ideas, learning experiences, creative moments, failures, tears, joy and everything you can imagine. I miss it from time to time, but everyone involved had to make a decision. What we’ve learned together, also made us become individual professionals, each on its own field. Matthew is today commercial director at El Row, Ian F. is a successful travelling DJ, I’m a booking agent at Analog and few other friends, like Alex who is selling luxury experiences in Ibiza, Tomy who remains a mastermind behind DJ gears and I’m sure also Ales and Andrew are super happy driving their motocross bikes on a sunny Sunday. :) I still use Flow Management email address tho.
How does a booking agent decide which artist to represent? Do you always contact artists that you’re interested in or do they sometimes find you?
It depends on the agency rules actually. I'm happy and grateful to have this chance, to decide on my own which artists I’d like to represent, of course, it needs to be a mutual interest (artist vs agent). I do get requests quite often, but I’m also probably one of the most realistic when it comes to this point. I stand behind the fact that each represented artist need to be booked, need to play and need to be heard. That being said, if I just add more names on the roster to sit there and don’t get bookings, it doesn’t bring anything good, except bad mood and extra stress. It’s wrong to think, having a booking agent is enough.
I also keep an eye on many talents, which I believe they have a bright future, in fact, I represent at least one or two of these “youngsters”.
We always ask DJ and artists about their thoughts on the current electronic music scene but what’s your point of view? Do you think that we already reached a peak when speaking about the electronic music industry?
Electronic music was never as popular as today and I think it will become even more involved into an average person’s daily life. Of course, not all things are nice, not all people are fair. I do hear and read lately lots of stuff about greed, which is something we should all be worried about. The thing that makes me sad is the fact that there are individuals in the industry, happily using the phrase “I do this for the love of music” while on the other side are smiling only to purple euro banknotes. Lots of banknotes. Love for the music exists, but it’s not honest as it should be. And about reaching the peak, it depends on what sort of “peak” are we trying to reach.
Tell us a bit about your Lopuh Music Camp project. What’s the idea behind it? What could attendees expect and who do you recommend it too?
Lopuh Music Camp is a project for everyone who is seeking for a professional and international music career, long term, no shortcuts. It’s not for DJs/Producers only and that’s why I strongly encourage every individual, who has a wish to know more about the industry background, more about specific career opportunities, to actually attend.
It’s more of a 2-day gathering as I can’t say it’s a conference yet, even I know has all qualities on a smaller scale. The first episode was held in November 2018 and I knew immediately that it has to move forward into a second episode. This year, I invited industry professionals and random guests, who will bring freshness and even more knowledge to the table. It’s not the same if I speak alone for 2 days, 8 hours a day. Attendees need to hear it from others, they need to get inspired, motivated and most of all, they need to be hungry for knowledge.
I’m dealing with lots of issues, coming from non-professionals, mainly the young generation who are trying to become “someone” in the industry. I try to make their way easier, fuller, not faster, but properly explained and well presented. There is no fast way, but yes, there is a wrong way, full of mistakes, full of “I know everything”... I felt for a long time that I needed to teach people some manners, especially in my home country.
If you’d give out a piece of advice to all music enthusiasts who’re just starting out, what it would be?
Don’t be an asshole! Patience and dedication is the key. If you need better advice, read my 4th answer and if still not enough, come to my Music Camp on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th May, I’ll give you more valuable bits of advice. ;)
Last but not least. If Marjan Lopuh was a DJ, what kind of music would he be playing?
Hahaha… how about we go for a beer next time we see each other, ha? But ok, if you insist, Marjan grew up with Metallica, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Manowar, Motorhead,... picture this!
*Check more about Lopuh Music Camp HERE.*