Agency helps local bands find that first date

Local promoters get together to support music community

Bands making use of First Date Touring's services include local duo Basic Nature.

Supplied Photo

Community members engaged in the Manitoba music community are finding new ways to provide for musicians, and one new music resource is shaping up to offer something different. 

First Date Touring (FDT), a booking agency created in January 2016, came to fruition with hopes of fostering support for the community of DIY bookers and the bands they love. 

“(FDT provides) the opportunity to share your music outside of Winnipeg and create connections and access to music communities around the world,” Gil Carroll, FDT booking agent, says. 

“We’ve all played in touring bands and have made a strong effort to connect with promoters, talent buyers and venues across North America and in Europe,” Carroll says. “We have the connections that a lot of bands starting out do not have. Talent buyers generally take the band more seriously if they have someone reaching out for them.”

The agents, including Carroll, Adam Soloway, Bucky Driedger, David Schellenberg and Mischa Decter, are all local bookers and promoters who came together with a like-minded vision and first-hand experience.

Carroll explains that there aren’t many companies in Canada that provide the kind of consultation and background that FDT does and that they have something unique to offer the bands they work with.

“We discuss with the band what cities they want to target or help identify the markets that these bands could find success (in),” Carroll says. “Then we connect with local concert promoters and talent buyers in these areas to try to book the best shows possible. On average, our bands go on tour between two to four weeks at a time.”

The agency’s hope is to grow both in roster size and in visibility. They aim to be a go-to agency for promoters when they need to provide resources for a band.

“Often artists spend the first part of their career … making music, figuring out what they want to do musically, honing their craft as musicians, making themselves great songwriters,” Sean McManus, executive director of Manitoba Music, says. “But that means when it comes time to professionalize … there’s a huge skill set, a huge knowledge base that’s needed for artists.” 

McManus explains that musicians are entrepreneurs and that their band is a business with a specific brand that needs promoting. Though he believes it is important for bands to learn these skills themselves, it’s also important to know there are resources to help. 

“I wouldn’t say that it’s ever too early to think about how you’re going to market yourself and how your business is going to be run,” McManus says. “It’s become more and more important for artists to think at earlier stages about what their audience might be in certain markets and how to connect with them.” 

Each artist is at a different point in their individual trajectories. McManus emphasizes the need for artists to be supported throughout these diverse points in time, and calls upon community members and resources alike to be a part of this growth.

“I think a big part about how people get into this business is by helping out their friends, you know?” McManus says. “We always encourage artists to think about that. There are a lot of folks out there to help you out.”

Published in Volume 71, Number 16 of The Uniter (January 19, 2017)

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