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Inside the mind of a music agent – we talk to TALENTBANQ about the magic of representing incredible talent

We chat with Ray about all things musical talent, and the realities of representing a roster of seriously outstanding live artists.

a person smiling and welcoming the audience

Most of us will have seen a version of that archetypal movie scene: the one where an undiscovered singer finally gets their big break after performing in the right place at the right time. Cue: stealth music agent emerging from the shadows – grabbing aforementioned musical talent by the elbow as they leave through the backstage door.

a person smiling and welcoming the audience

TALENTBANQ FOUNDER RAY WELCOMING THE AUDIENCE

Meet Ray Jones – real-life music agent and talent scout, although perhaps not as cloak-and-daggers as Hollywood would have us assume. 

For Ray, who is the CEO of live music agency TALENTBANQ, discovering and nurturing exceptional talent is all about breaking down barriers and giving musicians the tools and platform they need to get on that first rung of the ladder. It’s less take my card, kid – more let’s get you performing (and being paid) as soon as possible.

Usually, that first performance will take place at TALENTBANQ’s own grassroots venue in The Camden Chapel. This highly intimate spot sees audiences of around 40 delight in up-close-and-personal performances that shake the soul. 

Don’t be fooled by the cosy charm of the Chapel, though. While there’s no denying magic takes place behind its doors, TALENTBANQ doesn’t shy away from booking slots at major music festivals, too. From the heady, sun-drenched fields of the Isle of Wight Festival to the moody backdrop of Camden’s famous Jazz Cafe, the agency is dedicated to booking the most appropriate gigs for its artists, depending on their very own, very unique style. 

Here, we chat with Ray about all things musical talent, and the realities of representing a roster of seriously outstanding live artists. But first, watch episode two of Our Event Creators, featuring Ray.

Ticket Tailor: Take us back to the beginning… How was TALENTBANQ born?

Ray: TALENTBANQ was born when Lord Mervyn Davies, Pablo Ettinger (of Caffe Nero) and myself met and discovered we had a passion for live music as well as an appetite to help young musicians. 

We decided to found a business to discover, nurture and promote great unsigned / independent talent, getting paid where possible for playing their own music.

It was a bit nuts really. Like deciding to climb a mountain by its hardest route.

That was back in 2018 and, despite two destructive Covid years, we are still here. 

a group of people sitting in a row and laughing

THE AUDIENCE ENJOYING THE LIVE PERFORMANCE AT CAMDEN CHAPEL

Ticket Tailor: You say on your website that the artists you work with are “chosen for their ability to deliver exceptional live performances” – how do you go about finding them?

Ray: We try to see as many as possible live before inviting them either to join our roster, or perform at one of our shows.

As you know, we run an intimate venue in Camden – perfect for artists to stage their first London headline show. This is a great place for us to meet, see and get to know incredibly talented musicians. 

We also have a trusted referral network, and are often delighted by the recommendations we receive.

a person looking at performance

THE WEEKLY PERFORMANCES ARE CAPTIVATING

Ticket Tailor: What would you say to those talented artists out there who are currently trying to get their foot on the first rung of the ladder?

Ray: It’s hard, but if you believe in yourself, and you feel you have the talent and determination to make it, don’t give up. Earnings in the early days are meagre; keep your expectations realistic, but don’t get abused. Sadly there are sharks out there. Often there are more people seeking to take your money, than seeking to help you make money.

But when it works – when you find your audience, live or via your recordings – it's deeply rewarding. 

a group of people sitting in chairs in front of a stage where singer is singing and playing guitar

YOUNG TALENT PATRICK RALPHSON PERFORMING AT CAMDEN CHAPEL

Ticket Tailor: Now let’s talk about The Camden Chapel – it sounds pretty special! Give a glimpse into a live performance at your unique grassroots venue…

Ray: The Camden Chapel is indeed unique. It has a capacity of just 40 people, yet artists can play there and make money from a first London headline show. It's a room with no distractions – there’s no bar, no talking. It's all about the music. Artists and audiences have intense shared experiences. It's a special place. 

Ticket Tailor: Tell us about the types of gigs you book – how does it feel when it all comes together into a great performance at the perfect venue?

Ray: We book a very diverse range of gigs ranging from rock bands at The Hard Rock Hotel, big band jazz at The Crypt to acoustic nights at The Green Note in Camden. On top of this, we arrange original music nights as well as ‘covers gigs’ for corporate events and private parties.

It’s such a mix. Our job is to listen hard to the brief that we receive and match musicians to suit. When it all comes together it’s a joy – and that’s exactly what we strive to achieve.

a hand holding a pen on a sound board

SETUP TAKES PLACE EVERY WEEK, BUILDING THE VENUE FROM SCRATCH. SOUNDCHECK IS A VERY IMPORTANT PART OF THAT!

Ticket Tailor: What’s one of the biggest milestones you’ve had since founding TALENTBANQ?

Ray: One milestone we’re very proud of is running The Camden Chapel for five years. Despite Covid and economic challenges the venue truly goes from strength to strength. It’s ever-more popular with artists – and audiences simply love it. 

We’re about to announce a HUGE Milestone in October – but more of that to follow …

Ticket Tailor: Intriguing! On the flipside, what are some of the challenges you face?

Ray: As in all businesses, there are layers of challenges. Thanks to you, ticketing is NOT one of them (we love Ticket Tailor).

In music it can be dealing with clients who have no idea of the complexity of arranging events. It's our job to make it look easy – but there are a lot of moving parts along the way.

Another challenge can be dealing with creatives. Wildly talented people are not always organised. So we go to great lengths to triple-confirm all arrangements.

a person building the lighting rig

BUILDING THE LIGHTING RIG

Ticket Tailor: Thanks for your kind words! On that note, what exactly is it that you love about Ticket Tailor?

Ray: Ticket Tailor offers simplicity and control. It’s easy to set up events and then easy to track sales and it’s also easy to communicate with bookers if required.

We work at many venues – most using major ticketing platforms. With those, we may receive a weekly report but we’re not in control of design, sales tracking or client communications. Ticket Tailor puts us in the driving seat.

a person holding a phone with a qr code on it

RAY LOVES OUR CHECK-IN APP AND THE LEVEL OF CONTROL HE HAS OVER HIS TICKETING WITH TICKET TAILOR

Ticket Tailor: Happy to be of service! Finally, what does the future hold for TALENTBANQ?

Ray: The future is wickedly exciting. This summer we are booking acts into many major festivals

We’re running a stage for Caffe Nero at The Black Deer Festival. And we’re curating The Summer Festival at St Martin-in-the-Fields just off Trafalgar Square
2023 is looking to be our biggest and best year ever.

And 2024 looks even brighter.

Ticket Tailor: Sounds very exciting, indeed. Thanks for your time Ray! We can’t wait to see what TALENTBANQ has in store.

To find out more about more about TALENTBANQ, head here >

And to find out how Ticket Tailor can help you with seamless, stress-free ticketing that puts you in the driver’s seat, head here >

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