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  Industry Profile

Industry Profile: Mary Granata

— By Larry LeBlanc (CelebrityAccess MediaWire)

This week In the Hot Seat with Larry LeBlanc: Mary Granata, The Granata Agency.

Few people are as fiercely determined to introduce business concepts to the folk music sector than Mary Granata.

Based in Oak Ridge, New Jersey, The Granata Agency’s roster includes American and international artists in a wide range of genres; Celtic, Americana, folk, blues and roots. It’s motto is: “The Business of Music with a Personal Touch.”

In the spring of 2001, Granata opened her boutique booking agency in the extra bedroom of her home. Prior to becoming an agent, she was in the restaurant trade. For years, she bartendered, waitressed, cooked and managed. She also operated her own catering firm for a while.

Today, Granata--on her own--handles bookings for such notable acts as Dan Navarro, the Angel Band, Darden Smith, Mad Violet, Jim Boggia, Kieran Goss, Taxi Chain, Treasa Levasseur, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings (including separately for members Stephen Fearing, and Tom Wilson) as well as Wilson’s irresistibly quirky side project, LeE HARVeY OsMOND.

“Mary Granata is a very good agent with a solid grasp of her artists' present and future possibilities within and beyond the 'folk' world,” says Michael Jaworek, VP of The Birchmere, the legendary music hall located in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. “She is also a wonderful person.”

American folk music’s small market size, and cultural distinctiveness have long enabled its artists, agents, managers, and club and festival bookers to develop a scene that truly reflects a unique voice.

However, due in part to evolving new communication technologies, there has been a dramatic shift in the community over the past decade. It started—as with other genres--with the downloading of music via the Internet, and widespread CD-R copying that adversely affected all music sales.

Meanwhile, with fans adopting new media and technology at a brisk pace, video—particularly on YouTube—as well social networking have become key tools in attaining bookings. Still, those tools continue to resisted by some folk music figures.

Granata was one of the first to argue that folk artists needed to work closely with agents and talent buyers on creating strategies that allow them to benefit from the online explosion.

She continues to share her expertise and experiences at numerous folk or root-based conferences as a speaker and panelist.

This year at The Folk Alliance International Conference, you were part of a panel discussing opportunities for women in the music business. Why is that panel so relevant today?

Women are not encouraged in the same way that men are in the business. I can tell you that women agents are encouraged to be nice; and a lot of women agents fail because they are afraid to be tough. Then you are a bitch. If you are man (being tough), you are doing your job. We need to encourage (women) that it is okay to play in the same field as the boys. We are not encouraged to do that. If you do, you are a bitch. And, you have to be thick-skinned about it. We have to encourage them (to think) that it’s okay for women to do something other than to be publicists.

Men will help other men; even their enemies. They utilize the favor bank. There is a perception that many women will not help other women in the business.

I disagree with that. I disagree with that basic premise. I know many women that are helping many other women. Men like to think that women don’t help other women. Don’t get me wrong. There are some women that I wouldn’t turn my back on. But, there are some men that I wouldn’t turn my back on. It’s a business, and you have to know your friends, and know your enemies.

Most of the women I know in the business are pretty nurturing. Myself included. I tend to mentor too much. I spend too much time helping other people in the business, because I was mentored. I think women are really good at (mentoring). I don’t think that women are nastier or worse than men. There are fewer of us so the ones that are out there (being) tougher are easier to spot. How many women agents do you know? How many men agents do you know? So there are a couple that are tough? I work well with men, and I work well with women.

At Folk Alliance every year, we have what I refer to as The Scary Women’s Dinner Club. There’s about 11 of us; publicists and agents and so on, including Ronda Barton (Barton Associates), and Anne Saunders (The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival). When we go through the Folk Alliance conference, people part because we are “the scary women.” We are in different parts of the music business, but we very much encourage each other.

There aren’t many agencies in the U.S. your size—one person.

I am fortunate that I work out of my house. I have a low overhead. My husband (Peter) has a real job (as a project manager for a commercial plumber). I don’t have the pressure of having overhead like Jim Fleming (Fleming Artists) or Tim Drake (The Roots Agency/SMG Artists).

You used to have several agents working with you.

On and off over the years, I have had other people work for me. I hire people that want to be agents, and I think that they are going to do okay, but the pressure gets to them. Before I was an agent, I was in the restaurant business for years. I bartendered. I waitressed. I cooked. I managed. I had my own catering company for awhile. I dealt with brides. booking is easy.

How competitive are the folk and roots agencies? 

Well, Jim Fleming, and Tim Drake have been my friends, and mentors since I got started. Although we are competitive in that we are going to go out for the same gigs, we all share information. I have never had anybody not send me a name of a booker at a club or vice versa. In fact, I was talking to Tim earlier today. He’s got a new (artist) coming down from Canada, and he wanted to talk about a house concert routing for this guy, because that’s what I do more of. So I said, “Absolutely. Let’s go and have cocktails and talk about it.” I can’t tell you how helpful Tim has been to me, and what a good friend. I don’t think that I would still be doing this without him. Sean LaRoche was one of my best friends, certainly my mentor too. Jim Fleming, you can’t find a nicer guy. Susie (Giang) over at Fleming (as VP) is a good buddy.

So, yes we are competitive because there are only so many (booking) slots, and everybody has people to fill those slots. But, certainly more than the rock agencies, we are less stabby in the back.

[Sean LaRoche got his start as a road manager for Roger Miller in the late '60s. In the early '70s, LaRoche joined Frank Barsalona’s Premier Talent, booking acts like Led Zeppelin and The Who. In 1994, LaRoche partnered with Tim Drake to form the booking firm Drake & LaRoche. LaRoche later joined Fleming Tamulevich (now called Fleming Artists) as an agent from 1995 to 1998. Afterward, he served as an independent agent for artists like Cosy Sheridan and David Jacobs-Strain. LaRoche died in 2009 after a battle with esophageal cancer. He was 71.]

But that’s the nature of the folk community.

And that’s what I like about it. I have been offered jobs at some of those other agencies. When I was working with Jesse Colin Young, he (also) had a rock agent, and he offered me a job. I was like, “I don’t want to be you. Ooooh.” Because (major booking agents) are selling widgets. They are selling whatever makes money. They don’t care what it sounds like. I sell what I love. 

You have significantly pared your roster in the past two years.

Every year or a year and half, you have to reassess where you are with people and have a good talk with them. There are people like the Kennedys that I had a long talk with. At this point, they really are not touring. Pete has opened a studio in New York, and Maura is acting. Do they really need an agent? No. Those sort of things evolve. I just had a lot of those types of things that evolved (with acts).

You recently brought in the Angel Band featuring singers Nancy Josephson, (wife of distinguished blues guitarist David Bromberg), Kathleen Weber, and Aly Paige. What attracted you?

One, they have a really good buzz. The new record ("Bless My Sole") is great. They have built a great audience working with David Bromberg who I am a huge fan of. They are veterans. They are smart and they are good business people. They have good management. They are making a decent amount of money. So everything seemed to go into the right place. Then, I went to see them, and they were great. 

What kind of year are you having?

It has been challenging. A lot of people are having difficult times. Some of the things that I am finding is that club exclusionary clauses have gotten bigger. Whereas you saw 30 days/30 miles is now 60 days/60 miles. Some of the clubs are really having issues with house concerts too.

There are more and more house concerts, and they are getting bigger.

There used to be one house concert in an area and four clubs. Now, there are four clubs and seven house concerts. It is certainly pulling away a certain clientele who don’t really want to go to the clubs. They are tired of going out, and spending $8 on a beer and stuff. But, I now have a lot of clubs saying to me, “If your artist wants to do house concerts, fine. But if they want to do house concerts, and they want to play here, there will be no house concerts. Or they have to wait longer (to play this club).”

It used to be you could do a house concert and then three months later do a club, which I always thought of as building an audience. Go to the house concert first, and build an audience. Now clubs are saying that you have to wait a year (for a booking) after you do that house concert.

Clubs see house concerts as hurting their business?

Yes. Doing house concerts used to be (considered) a building thing because it was a building thing. It used to be that a house concert was the only place that artists could play in the area because they didn’t have the audience. Now, there are house concerts with 150 people. 

Some artists consider it demeaning to play a house concert.

It depends on the house concert. Some are well done. It used to be that they were great because in some places there was nothing else in the area. One of my inroads into this business was a house concert with Cliff Eberhardt that was 10 or 15 minutes from our house. We saw it in a local paper, and we went. It was amazing. At that point, Cliff probably couldn’t have played in the club down the road, but he could play this house concert, and do two shows. I think it was $15 (door charge) a show, and there were 40 people for each show. He was making a good amount of money for a Sunday afternoon.

Even a decade ago, clubs would try to build a new artist into a bigger act. The same with folk festivals. Having more choices today, clubs and festivals don’t have to take a chance on a new act.

No they don’t. A lot of clubs are unwilling to. If they are, there has to be a good solid reason. There is still a lot of (from agents), “I will give you my bigger act if you take this.” Or, “If you put this in as an opener, I will do this.” There’s a lot of that going on. Or (you get a booking) if you show a certain amount of loyalty to one club over another.

Anya Siglin, the program director at The Ark in Ann Arbor, is known for taking chances.

She’s wonderful that way, but I think that’s she taking her father’s vision (Dave Siglin) on that. But then, you’d better be loyal to The Ark. The first person you call when you come to that market better be The Ark.

I was just talking to somebody at a club in Pennsylvania, and a church thing (with live music) had opened five minutes down the road from them. They said to me, “If you are playing there, you are not going to play here.” And, I thought, “I book 10 shows a year at this club. I may book one show a year at this church down the road. So, I’m not going to do that. I don’t have to do it." You can look at it as just as being a momentarily money thing, but I know that in two years that I will still be booking at the club. I don’t know what this church thing will be doing.

Many venues now don’t want to offer a guarantee or the guarantee is lower.

More venues want the artists to take more of the risk. That’s part of the issue. Most of my artists have been around for a little while. They are going, “What do you mean no guarantee? What do you mean that they want us to take more risks?” I also do hear (from venues) “We want you to take a lower guarantee.” That’s why I say that they want (artists) to take more of the risk. But they are willing to give back more; a little more on the back end than they used to give. If you are confident on what you can draw, it’s a great thing. It’s a great year. If you are not confident or if you are new in the market, it’s tough.

It’s been a tough year for new artists.

Oh, that’s where it’s been the hardest. The venues are not willing to take a chance on new artists. It seems that more established artists are not being as generous as far as opening spots either. It used to be, “We don’t care if you bring in anyone.” Now, acts at all levels are being very careful. I was pitching someone to Rodney Crowell’s people the other day. They were like, “How many seats can they sell?” I was thinking, “Well, Rodney should be able to sell out this room.”

Managers with several acts want to front load their own acts onto bills.

I am as guilty of that as anybody. You are either giving (an opening spot) to friends or to your own acts. It’s a trading piece now. “I will give you this if you give me that.” It seems to me that there are more people at that opening act level that are good. There’s a lot of people to choose from in every market. And, the venue people have their own favorites too.

It can be difficult to get a major folk festival to book a new act. How receptive, for example, are the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival or the Philadelphia Folk Festival to new acts?

Falcon Ridge I can speak to, because I’ve been going to Falcon Ridge (near Hillsdale, New York) for 20 years. I know that Anne Saunders is dedicated to building artists. She always has The Emerging Artist Showcase and will have people come back and play on the main stage the next year. She is dedicated to doing that. Philly is one of those (festivals) which will build local artists but not necessarily from anywhere else. They are not as experimental as Falcon Ridge.

But Falcon Ridge is a privately owned festival.

Anne owns it. She is the AD (Artistic Director). She does whatever she wants and she does it well. Philly has a committee. You see that at Canadian festivals as well. The ones that have one AD who does the job, and does it well, you can tell that they put their stamp on (their festival). And they are often able to experiment a little more than if they are booking by committee. You can tell the difference. That’s good and bad. Sometimes, having three people on a committee on your side is great. It is harder for me as a agent to build that relationship with a committee than to build a relationship with one person.

Everybody says “You and Anne Saunders have a great relationship; that’s why you get acts in (at Falcon Ridge).” But, I also know her tastes. So I don’t pitch her stuff that she is not going to like. If I see her at Folk Alliance, even if it’s not one of my acts, I will say, “You have to go and see these people” because I know she’s going to like them. I know her tastes. We have similar tastes. (Festival programmer) Jesse Lundy at Philly is the same. I know what he likes. It’s so funny, because you often get people who are pitching things to festivals. I will ask, “Did you look at the lineup? They don’t want that. That’s a hip hop artist. Do you really think that Falcon Ridge is going to have a hip hop artist?”

Everybody gets those pitches.

I get pitches from hip hop artists all of the time. “Did you look at my roster?”

In the folk world, veteran artists have stayed on; and there’s always a crop of new artists.

I think there’s also a lot more talent because there are schools for (being in the music industry). There’s The School of Rock (the performance-based music program for kids ages 7-18). Colleges have more music and music business courses. So there are a lot more people who think of performing as something that they can do for a living.

At the same time, artists can now discover other musicians from around the world today.

I had the local record store guy. I remember him giving me Hot Tuna and saying, “You really need to buy this. This, you are going to love.” He knew my tastes. You walked in, and you spent two hours in the record store going through everything. Those were your tastemakers then. Now, people just go on YouTube.

I think that’s good because there’s more music to pick and choose from.

It’s good, but sometimes there’s so much noise. Because there’s so much to pick and choose, artists get lost in that YouTube world that are really talented. The people who just make a great video are the ones getting the hits. It is not necessarily because they have any talent.

How involved is the folk community with the internet and social networking?

The young people are really good at it. If you are under 40, you’re really good at it and you are using it well. The same people who went, “Oh, I’m not going to buy a computer,” 10 years ago or, “I don’t need a computer,” say, “I’ll get a computer but I’m not going to do that YouTube thing.” I talk to a lot of artists. I tell them, “You do need a video. I don’t care if it’s good or not. I don’t care if you are sitting in your room playing a song. You need something out there because a lot of people listen to their music on YouTube.

Myself, I am on all of the major social networks, and a lot of my friends are. But I know that there are a lot of musicians who just do not want to be part of all that.

Some artists figure it takes away from the purity of their craft.

Well, that’s the old argument, the folk music argument. Like, “If you are playing for money, it’s a bad thing. You are not really a folk musician.” However, you can go out and make a good living and it’s okay. You can still be called folk music. Pete Seeger did it very successfully.

I did a workshop at Folk Alliance called “Traditional Music In a Modern World.” My reason for being there was to say, “You can get out there if people want to hear you, but you have to really work at it. It’s a business,” and so forth. One guy stood up and said, “I just like to play on my porch. That’s when it’s really folk music.” So I said, “So what are you doing here? Go back to your porch then. If you are at Folk Alliance, you obviously want to get out and play.”

If an artist plays outside their house, they are in the music business in one form or another.

It is the music business. I have this discussion with artists (saying) that a great part of their job is that they get to play for someone; and when they do it right, people stand up and applaud. But, everybody’s job has a downside. There’s stuff that we don’t like to do at our jobs. Spending my day writing contracts is not my favorite thing. It is part of the job that I need to do. And part of the job that artists need to do is to be part of the music business. Getting themselves out there, getting online, doing the business part of their job. Or hiring somebody to do it, whatever they want to do. But they need to do all of that.

Why do artists need a video?

Fans now expect it. They want to see the artist play before they go out and put their money down on a ticket. I think that they feel more connected when they can see you. From a booking perspective, I don’t know anybody anymore who doesn’t want to see a video of an act before they book them. They want to see what they do on stage. And they can (with a video).

Has YouTube made your job easier? Talking to a promoter in Idaho, you can refer them to the video.

Absolutely. The perfect example that I have is LeE HARVeY OsMOND. (Frontman) Tom (Wilson) is a sweetheart. But the first poster, and the first picture he had for LeE HARVeY OsMOND was just his face, and (the photo) was kind of scary. The videos he did for that first record (“A Quiet Evil”) were incredible. And, he also had some performance videos up (on YouTube).

So a mid-sized club in Montana? I could show Tom performing in a club that size in front of an audience, exactly what they were going to get, and people love it. Tom is a great musician. Look at how much fun he is on stage, that whole persona that he puts on. I think that videos sell him. I say LeE HARVeY OsMOND and some people just won’t even return my phone calls. But, certainly, once they get to see (a video) they understand how dynamic and how good it is. It’s not scary at all.

Is it possible to have video clip clutter on YouTube? Where bad clips overshadow the good clips? Fans put up clips and they are often of poor quality.

A group should have their own channel on YouTube. I can also send people to “My Favorites” channel on YouTube and those are the videos that I want them to see. I think a band can do that also. I’m changing mine, however. I got hacked. Someone added in a little porn. Suddenly, I got a lot of funny comments like, “So is that who you are bringing to Folk Alliance this year?” It got caught really quickly.

Folk music and strippers.

There used to be a folk club in Denver that did have folk music and strippers. I also saw David Bromberg in a strip club once, and it was not a nice strip club. I remember that place fondly.

While your husband Peter is currently working as a project manager for a commercial plumber, he’s certainly well known as a luthier.

He does still make a few guitars a year, but the bottom really fell out of that market. Everyone and his brother are making guitars these days. Now that he has a real job, he is out of doing that. Even worse, he’s building a recording studio in the upstairs (of the barn). When I met him he was a recording engineer at the Caribou Ranch studio (near Nederland, Colorado). The studio closed. So he said we can either go back to New York, or Nashville, or LA. I didn’t want to go to LA, and we didn’t know anyone in Nashville. He’s from New Jersey so we moved here. By that time, I was just getting out of college.

[Peter Granata was a carpenter when he saw a Minnesota man, Jim Olson, build a guitar, and he was fascinated. When Peter and Mary moved to New Jersey, Peter visited every guitar shop he could find. He also went to the C.F. Martin & Company in Nazareth, Pennsylvania to watch them manufacture their instruments. It took a year and a half for him to make his first guitar.

Today, small-body, wide-neck Granata Guitars--with wood binding, a high gloss finish, an arched top, and often ebony knobs and fingerboard on their hand-carved necks--are owned by such leading folk artists as Cliff Eberhardt and Cheryl Wheeler.]

Where did you attend college?

I went to Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. A very small private college. I was the only political science major. Yes, I was the first, and the only. They had hired a political science teacher because they wanted to start a political science department. I was there on full scholarship as the first political science major. I had to sit in the front of the (political science) class every day. I never got to sluff off at all because my professor was my advisor. I got picked on the most. I was supposed to know the most about politics.

Your mother was head of the local Republican committee. When did you become a liberal?

Pretty early on, even though my mother was a die-hard Conservative. There’s a picture of me somewhere sitting on Barry Goldwater’s knee. My mother thought you could have any opinion you wanted as long as you could argue your way out of it. She respected your opinion if it was your opinion, and you just weren’t saying somebody else’s words. So, if you knew what you were talking about and truly believed it, she would respect that. She didn’t take it personally. So, we learned to discuss (politics). There was a lot of pounding at the dinner table.

I have been political my whole life. I find politics interesting. It’s the same thing in the music business; it’s all politics.

You worked at Feyline Productions in the summer.

I worked in security for the company for a couple of years. I had the t-shirt, and jeans. I stood at the front gate and took things out of peoples’ backpacks and threw them into a big pile. If a girl needed to be patted down, I was there. There had to be a couple of women there for that. I got to see some really cool concerts. I got to meet Mick Jagger, which I thought was amazing. I was 17 and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I was working at Red Rocks most of the time, which was great.

I missed a lot of my youth at Red Rocks, I have to say. It was close to where I grew up. Every summer we went up there once or twice a week because it was cheap. You’d go up there for $5 or $6 a concert. It is stunningly beautiful, and the acoustics are perfect.

You weren’t tempted to get into the music business?

When I was in college, I was on the committee to book some concerts. That’s probably what turned me off (of the music industry) because (booking) was just so hard to do with a committee. I’m opinionated, and with a committee like that, there were too many people saying we should do this or do that. I got frustrated.

While in the restaurant business, you began booking acts in 2001.

When we went to our first house concert, we met Cliff Eberhardt. He fell in love with my husband’s guitars, and he became a really good friend. He talked me into booking). Yes, he did. I blame him, and I curse him, and praise him on-and-off, depending on the day. He just talked me into it. He kept coming over saying, “You can do this.”

Did you have any connections in the music business?

None at all. I went in blind thinking, “How hard can it be?” I found out that I was good at it. 

What made you good?

“No” doesn’t bother me. I have a pretty thick skin. I’m pretty good at being on a team. I am persistent. I love to talk and communicate with people. I am really good at building relationships.

How long before you made a decent living?

I worked my other jobs for two years. I was an assistant manager at a restaurant and I was bartending. Then, I sort of eased out of my other job (as assistant manager). I kept the one-day bartending (job) just to get me out of the house. A couple of years ago, I found I couldn’t do that anymore. I was making enough money, and I was too stressed out to be at the bar.

After you began, you started to book Lowen & Navarro.

Yes. I took them on right before Eric (Lowen) was diagnosed (with Lou Gehrig's disease in 2004).

The duo performed together for 5 years following the diagnosis.

Yes. It was the longest “Goodbye Tour” ever. We kept saying that it was longer than Cher’s. We had a lot of silly jokes about it. You just have to in those situations. Eric, his spirit is amazing. There were times that I just don’t know how he dealt with stuff. And, he still does. But, he’s still on Facebook every day.

A very difficult passage for everyone.

It is still very difficult. It’s been a huge transition for all of us, it was interesting. It taught me about working with someone who is disabled. I know how to yell at hotels now about things that I would never have known before, the challenges of doing that. But, it has been a great joy to be part of their lives.

How difficult was the transition for Dan to perform solo?

I think that emotionally it has been horrible. It is hard. He’s better now, but it’s been a year since the last show (together), and it was a year before that when Eric wasn’t doing a lot of performances, just because he couldn’t travel. It seems that Dan is now starting to really catch his stride and feel comfortable just being Dan Navarro onstage.

Hard to do after being 25 years with a partner.

That’s it. And all of the songs were written for those harmonies. Dan usually has another guitar player, but it’s not a duo by any stretch. We are very careful to make sure that people know that Eric hasn’t been replaced. He’s not. It’s definitely the Dan Navarro show with a back-up guy.

When you started in 2001, did your phone start ringing with artists seeking representation?

It was crazy. I didn’t know who a lot of these people were. They were just sending me records and CDs. I went to Folk Alliance a month after I started my agency. I was like a deer in the headlights. People were just coming out of nowhere. I got into an elevator with (singer/songwriter) Eric Taylor, and (booking agent) Sean LaRoche. This woman had been chasing me down the hall, saying, “Take my CD. Take my CD.” I was like, “No. It’s alright. I really don’t want your CD.” I got in the elevator, and Eric said, “Stand here. I will protect you.” And this woman threw her CD at me. It hit me in the chest, and bounced onto the floor. Eric scooted it to the back of the elevator, and said, “We’ll just keep it there.” It was frightening. After that, I was fine. I had met Tim (Drake) before but I got together with him there. People then (taught me) how to pick an artist, that you have hits and misses.

How do you turn artists down?

If it is someone I think that is really talented, and I might want to work with at some point—but I don’t have room on the roster which is often—it is difficult. But you only have so much time in the day. Or, I will try to be very nice about it, and say, “I’m not really looking for this type of music. This isn’t something I’m interested in right now. So I can’t help you.” Everybody has a dream; I don’t want to be nasty. I want to show people the same courtesy that I would hope that other people would show me.

I have to love the music (to work with an artist). I know with other agencies it starts with the money but with me it really starts with the music. If I am not whistling that song for days after I hear it I may not pick them up. I have a lot to choose from. I just took on Madison Violet. Part of it was that their music got stuck in my head. They are smart. I don’t want to work with anybody that I don’t want to have dinner with.

How have you ended up representing so many Canadians?

Well, my second client ever was Lynn Miles. That started it. What I like about the Canadian folk scene is that they encourage experimentation. I’ve been told that the less commercial you are, the more money the Canadian government gives you (through loans and grants). I like that. I think you get a great sound, and sometimes there’s something more interesting that comes out. Not that there isn’t anything interesting in the United States, but it seems like they pay you here to sound like everybody else. There are a lot of Erin McKeown wannabes in the States. In Canada, they really look for you to be different. Also, I think that they have held onto the folk tradition a lot more in Canada than in the U.S. It has kind of gotten lost a little bit here.

How many conferences do you go to in a year?

I sort of tailor my conferences to who I have on the roster. I go to Folk Alliance. If I have a lot of twang on my roster, the Americana Music Conference can be very big for me. Most years I do go to The Association of Performing Arts Presenters Conference (APAP Conference NYC) because I am here (in New Jersey). I can drive in an hour. For certain artists, the performing arts is the only place that they are going to get booked in the States. They are not necessarily hard ticket acts. There’s just a different buyer there. I just started working with Kieran Goss, the Irish singer. He is certainly more of a soft seater kind of artist than Darden Smith who is out on the road playing clubs.

Larry LeBlanc was the Canadian bureau chief of Billboard from 1991-2007 and Canadian editor of Record World from 1970-89. He was also a co-founder of the late Canadian music trade, The Record. He has been quoted on music industry issues in hundreds of publications including Time, Forbes, the London Times and the New York Times.

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