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  • A Short Guide to Artist Relations

    A Short Guide to Artist Relations

    01st July 2011, in Highlights, News/Blog ( Comments)

    At my current gig and at my previous Ableton gig, I’ve had the pleasure of doing some Artist Relations work. Some self-taught lessons are below. As you’ll see, this is a guide for getting to Artist Relations, not Artist Relations itself:


    Lesson 1: decide if you’re going to be a fan or a business partner.

    Guess what? If you’ve heard of this person, and if your company wants to know them better, they already have fans. What they don’t have is a relationship with your company. You can absolutely let the artist know you’re a personal fan of their work, but that’s not the main reason you (or they) got in contact.


    Lesson 2: find the real person behind the Artist.

    The following refrain should become common in your work: “Wow, this is a real person that just happens to be an artist!” That real person is the one you want to build a relationship with, not their “persona.”


    Lesson 3: be wary of the Ego.

    If someone consistently maintains the facade of their artist persona in front of you, they are not interested in a serious relationship with you. They’re not interacting with you on a personal level, they are performing for you.

    Problem is, some artists don’t know the difference between their real selves and their “act.” My advice? If you encounter such a person, walk away, slowly at first, then sprint once you’re out of eyesight. They are a ticking time bomb, and the fallout from the eventual Ego Explosion will be massive.


    Lesson 4: be wary of Their Entitlement.

    Ego and Entitlement go hand-in-hand. If someone feels they’re doing you a massive favor by simply getting in touch, or by requesting freebies or a discount, you’re back to Bomb Squad work. Manage expectations early and carefully to prevent an explosion.


    Lesson 5: be wary of Your Entitlement.

    Express your own humility. The product or service you offer should not be dangled in front of someone like a doggie treat. If an artist is making the effort to break down their facade to interact with you, they deserve a real person in return, not your Marketing or Press Persona.


    Lesson 6: your memory for them is better than their memory for you.

    Seriously, it is. Do you remember the exact details of your last trip to the grocery store, when you chatted with the cashier while you entered your PIN? Do you remember that day in 2008 when you were hailing a cab and you accidentally waved at someone instead? These miniature interactions are cute but forgettable.

    Problem is, if someone recognizes your fame, you just seared that interaction into their mind. Famous people create memorable experiences out of mundane occassions. That’s why they’re famous.

    I distinctly remember standing behind a famous actor at Starbucks. I distinctly remember standing at a urinal next to my Baseball idol. But I doubt Jeffrey Dean Morgan or Ryne Sandberg could detail those experiences as vividly as I can.

    Getting back to the point. Don’t expect your every moment with the artist to be as memorable for them as it is for you. Even if your interaction represents the culmination of 20 years of following their career, for them it may just be another business meeting or phone call. Harsh but true.



    Repeating from the beginning. This is a guide for getting to Artist Relations. I would argue “Artist Relations” is the act of removing the quotation marks, the capital letters and the word Artist. It’s turning “Artist Relations” into… relations.

    You want to achieve the kind of contact where they just happen to be famous, and you just happen to represent a service/product they want.

    After you accomplish that, the real work begins, and my advice ends. How you interact with an Artist at this stage is your perogative, to be dictated by your company vision and your own personality.


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    June 11, 2012 12:33 pm

    Cain (@@cain_kong)

    I like the fact that you are removing the artist element from “artist relations”, and seeing them more as people. I believe it is that exact transparent behavior/mentality is what forges genuine relationships and those people will inevitably trust you with anything.

    A couple questions:
    How did you find yourself into artist relations? What excited you about it? Are you a musician yourself? If so, do you feel as if it has put you in positions of opportunity to potentially collaborate, or sell yourself?

    As far as time, how many hours per week do you find yourself working? I’m also assuming you travel a lot.

    I ask because I have just recently become interested in the field and would really appreciate some honest feedback.


    June 14, 2012 2:39 pm

    Dave Cross (@60works)

    1. The Artist Relations work stemmed from my Marketing duties at Ableton in the mid-2000s. The excitement was the typical voyeurism (“What’s this person REALLY like?”) and fanboy-ism (“OMG I can’t believe I met XXX!”).

    2. Not a traditional musician, but some DJing and music Production background. I was careful to NEVER cross that line and try to use my artist relations gig as an avenue for my own gain (slipping a demo to someone, for example). It just felt odd, using that relationship as a means for self-promotion.

    If I were a well-known artist in my own right, I think it’d be a different story. But until that happens, it feels like I’m “using” the relationship to further an agenda unrelated to the reason for the relationship.

    3. Time: I’ve been going pretty much full-time for one year.

    4. Travel: Not much at this early phase. If this becomes successful, I could see quite a bit of benefit in doing the “circuit” of relevant trade shows and music events around the world.

    * I hope to write a summary of the past year’s ups and downs as a blog post for the near future. Hopefully that’ll shed some additional light for you.

    June 19, 2013 12:07 am

    Artist relations dreamer (@Twitter ID)

    How does one get into artist relations?
    For say a venue that has regular industry leading acts?
    Do they use their own database of artists to book them or are they just the representation of the who venue teams decisions

    June 27 2013 20:58 pm

    Dave Cross

    I'm not an expert on this matter, but I do feel that venue-based artist relations are slightly different. There are exceptions, but I believe most venues are merely vessels for acts, instead of being active bookers themselves.