Front_Man wrote: Your example is an eye-opener, but IMHO that's a huge exception to the rule. Plus, I'll guarantee you that the market for Celtic bands is nowhere near as saturated and competitive as it is for rock, pop or blues bands. You're correct in saying there's a whole world of gigs to be had outside of clubs, but it's been my experience that most Bands have to work there way up the ranks of the club circuit to get recognized and approached about the festivals, private parties, etc. Why, you ask, would someone not want to get into this business? Again, I think fisherman bob said it best with "if it could be done profitably it would already have been done". With the emergence of the internet and related technologies, Bands no longer need someone to introduce them to the market. And lest we forget, the "product" needs to be marketable as well. All the PR and advertising and representation in the world won't help much if the artist or band is, well, crappy.
All it takes is one exception - and you have no rule anymore.
When I spoke to Nina Black from Golden Bough, the first comment out of my mouth after hearing her story was something to the effect of "well yeah but you're one of a kind." She quickly shot it down and said that there are more agents like her than you think....because, quite frankly, how many agents get famous? They work in the background and help make things happen so the artist can grab the ring. If the artist does that, the agent gets a piece of that ring too. And lets make sure we are on the same page here: I am not talking about agents that make people megastars, but ones that make it possible for working musicians to make an adequate to good living. This is a profession to many of us, no less requiring of agents or "head hunters" than the rest of the working world.
Additionally, I have found that it is a fallacy to think that solo musicians or bands have to "work their way up" to these more creative gigs. That may have been true back in the post-60s AOR days, but not anymore. I have been to more than one event with a zillion people there, which showcased an unknown or first time performer. The truth is bands and soloists from all up and down the talent ladder can land the most amazing gigs. I'd give you more anecdotes from my own experience but I dont want to write a novel here. Point is- it happens. What makes the difference is; luck if you are out there beating the pavement yourself, or a good agent.
I got a big laugh out of the sage observation "if it could be done profitably it would already have been done". Such backwards philosophy reminds me of the rural citizens of my state who, who when asks why they keep voting for the same senator decade after decade, respond with "Well,'cause we always have!"
Look, every market starts with someone taking the plunge. Hell, not just market, but any kind of innovation you can think of. Many years ago, someone said to a young, pimpled pizza stained t-shirted Bill Gates that 'computers will never be a household item". Thank the Gods he didnt say to himself "yeah, he's right...if it could have been done, it would already have been done."
But back to the topic and one final point, regarding the necessity of bands "needing to be introduced into the market". And you have a good point that there are many facets of the band business which can be done DIY thanks to new technology and the internet. But some things don't change - and one of them is that a good promoter or booking agent can only HELP you. Why wouldnt you take advantage of all the arrows in your quiver? An agent/promoter is part of the scheme living in a more or less free market world. If this were still the golden age of patronage for musicians, we wouldnt be having this conversation.
So why not spread the wealth around? With some brains and ambition its not only doable, its practically laying at your feet already.