JMA Talentis a full service booking and consulting agency for artists, purchasers and exclusively represent a vari- ety of Juno award winning artists in genres ranging from Rock, Blues, Family, Folk and be- yond. With an extensive network of contacts across North America, it is their highest pri- ority to ensure that their clients are handled with the utmost of care and professionalism, and promise that their individual needs will be met.
Jeff Andrusyk, president and founder of JMA Talent carries his vision and shares with his staff the same passion to excel for each and every one of his clients. With over 10 years combined experience in the music industry, Jeff and his staff continue to work with Can- ada’s leading independent artists and musi- cians.
TVM: Can you talk about your company a little?
JA: We represent all genres; everything from family entertainment, Juno-Award winning family entertainers, blues artists, country, rock. It’s a very diverse company with about 15-17 artists and growing daily. We book a lot of casinos, corporate events, festivals, the- aters; that’s mainly our forte.
TVM: How long have you been working in the music industry?
JA: I’ve been in the music industry now for almost eight years and I used to work at an- other company called Live Tour Artists for a few years, and JMA is a relatively new com- pany that’s been around for two years. So it hasn’t been a long going but it’s been good. I started out as an assistant at Live Tour Art- ists and eventually worked my way up to be- coming director of touring, and then there were some changes to that company.
TVM: Can you name some of the biggest names you’ve worked with?
JA: Absolutely, yeah. In the past I’ve done touring for the cast of Trailer Park Boys, Su- san Aglukark, Honeymoon Suite, Rick Em- mett of Triumph; those would definitely be the biggest ones, also Sharon Lewis and Bram. Those would be the biggest; the rest would be kind of provincial.
TVM: Can you talk about the responsibili- ties, goals as well as just day-to-day tasks of your job?
JA: Basically our main job is to build tours for the artists, so in terms of daily goals and responsibilities, it’s just a matter of getting on the phone and making as many calls and emails as you can. But really, every day is different; I’m just thinking how to word my day. You can start out your day with tours or goals in mind, and then three phone calls in your day is completely thrown off and going
in a completely different direction. So every day really has its own feel to it.
TVM: What are some of the lengths you have to go to book someone, or the most you’ve had to?
JA: Well, our main job is to simply negoti- ate on the behalf of the artists and obtain the deposits; but going above and beyond that we’ve seen situations where the tour has gone awry and we often have to re-con- tract, re-negotiate. Sometimes you have to go above and beyond just making the phone calls. I know that’s a very scattered answer, but that’s just how our lives go. it’s a very scattered day.
TVM: What tips can you give an artist in at- tracting a booking agent?
JA: The best thing to do first and foremost with me and other agents, or at least the first thing we do, is to go on an artist’s website to kind of determine where they’re at; are they just a local artist just playing the local bars or are they doing cross-Canada tours or are they just in the province? A lot of artists have this misconception that agents will open doors for them, but a lot of them need to realize that the buzz and everything starts with them; they need to create their own fan-base first and then that’s what essential- ly will attract more people to come on their team.
TVM: How does an artist know when an agent is right for them?
JA: I guess really if they can find similar art- ists that match their own current roster; like if you’re a metal artist then you wouldn’t ap- proach someone who just does schools or family programming so it’s a matter of find- ing like artists that fit their circuit. You just know when it’s a symbiotic relationship that you can work off each other.
TVM: What do you look for in an artist?
JA: I always look for something that’s out- side the norm; something that’s different, that’s just not run-of-the-mill.
TVM: Could you name any particular exam- ples? Of past clients that showed you some- thing new?
JA: One would be Valdy; that’s another one you should add to the list. He’s a legendary fold singer who’s done it for more than 40 years now but with him in particular, since he started as a young folk singer in his 20s, now in his late 60s, we’re repacking him with oth- er artists because he’s played a lot of these circuits and he’s done it solo. For example right now, we’re working on a tour for west- ern Canada, and we’re pairing him with a bassoon player, which is a very eclectic mix, having a folk singer/songwriter on acoustic guitar paired with a bassoon player, but it’s just a matter of repackaging and trying to cross different genres so that each artist can open up to new audiences.
TVM: To be booked, is it necessary to have a recording contract?
JA: No, not necessarily. There have been dif- ferent cases where I’ve taken on independent artists that simply created a buzz in their own town and just made it from there. But really, if you have that passion and drive and the creativity and can display it on stage and connect with your fans, then recording con- tracts are irrelevant. It’s your talent and inner passion at the end of the day that’s going to drive you and your career.
TVM: How important is it for today’s artists to seek professional help when it comes to booking gigs?
JA: A lot of the time when bands first start out, people in the band are usually just book- ing themselves. But to take that to the next level and be taken more seriously, it never hurts to have someone, like an experienced agent, to do your negotiating on your behalf.
TVM: Is there too much of a reliance on scial media for promotion for artists?
JA: Right now we live in a day and age where people are connected through Facebook and Twitter and other various social media outlets, and I find right now that it’s actually saturating a lot of the bands that are out there, because it seems like a lot of people find that’s an easy way out to promote your- self. But there are other mediums that should be explored, like the electronic press kit. And there are certainly some concert promoters that do still-take, hard copy press kits, and at the end of the day those are still very effec- tive to have, something to hold in your hand. If you were to ask me about one specific artist to the next, I would have different an- swers, you know what I mean?
TVM: What do you think about ”do it your- self booking”?
JA: To a point, because you can only get so far with it. If you’re starting to pick up steam or build an audience very quickly, you’re not going to have time to continue booking your- self at that same rate. I believe artists should be artists and business should be left to the business people.
TVM: Last off, where do you see yourself in five years?
JA: Well we’ve been expanding greatly in the last two years, with a staff of five people right now. In the next five years we’re going to expand into promoting our own events, like renting theatres. We’re also looking into expanding into casting and modeling and acting. But at the same time, our core busi- ness is booking, that’s something that we’re always going to pay a lot of attention to.