CAA's Emma Banks: 'We love record labels!'

CAA's Emma Banks: 'We love record labels!'

Leading agent Emma Banks has stressed the importance of booking agencies' relationships with record labels when planning tours. 

Banks (pictured) is co-head of CAA's London office and agent for the likes of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Katy Perry, Arcade Fire, Kylie Minogue and Florence + The Machine.

"We love record labels!," she said. "For us, record labels are crucial in the process. We very much see ourselves as part of the team. We are a function to help an artist achieve what they want in the same way as press, marketing and plugging and sales are all part of the team. Surely the best way to achieve the end goal is to work with them?

"Occasionally it might feel like everyone wants to take a little piece, and we don't all necessarily agree. I might think that going on sale at the right time with a tour is not the same as the label, because we're all trying to achieve different things. You have labels that look at tours at a way of helping to market and album but, from my point of view, I might want the album to be out in order to have a bigger first week in ticket sales. We all figure it out in the end - it's a discussion between us, the labels, the managers and everybody else that's involved and has invested in the artists' careers."

Banks has mixed feelings on the value of support slots in building an audience. "Support slots at the right time can be very useful, but I think support slots too early are generally a waste of time," she told Music Week. "They're too often a slightly desperate way to get an artist 'in front' of a crowd - and I put the 'in front of the crowd' in quotation marks because I don't think the crowd are interested, and the crowd might not even be in the room.

"There are so many different types of supporting, if you're going to support an artist in an arena or in a stadium you actually have to have some draw yourself to get any traction from it. It can work incredibly well with some artists [but] you probably need two or three singles or songs in your set that people actually know because otherwise they lose interest.

"At the very bottom level, if you're playing a tiny little club tour, maybe by packaging three artists together and selling it as such, you can really generate some enthusiasm because you’re really getting grassroots music lovers then."

Asked what makes a good agent, Banks said "tenacity, enthusiasm, passion and hard work", along with an understanding for what their clients want to achieve. "Some artists want to be the biggest in the world; others want to present their music in a particular way," she explained. "It’s really being a conduit and being a help to incredibly talented people.

"Some of it does come with time, with practice. I’m a better agent now than I was 10 years ago, because I've done it for an extra 10 years, and sometimes I think you just get a vibe or a feeling of what’s going on, some of it is in your bones."

Banks was interviewed for Music Week's annual special report on live agents.

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