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Meet Jacey Bedford
Professional Folk CV
Jacey Bedford toured as one third of vocal trio Artisan from 1985 to 2005 plus the 2010 reunion tour; also as one fifth of the Brian Bedford Band through to the summer of 2006. She's played thousands of gigs and hundreds of festivals across the UK, Germany, Belgium, the USA, Canada, Australia and even (once) Hong Kong, so she knows the business from both sides
After the farewell Artisan gig in 2005 she counted the stanps in her passport and realised she'd notched up thirty one North American tours in a decade and decided she must be bonkers! She now sits at home and drives a desk for a living - sending out other performers to do the hard work. Instead of thirty thousand miles a year the Bedford motor now does less than three. Probably just as well since it's not getting any younger! She can absolutely confirm that folk agents don't drive around in sleek BMWs - well - this one doesn't anyway.
She knows a thing or two about clubs, festivals and venues. She even ran her own, putting on concerts at Birdsedge Village Hall for thirty years and booking the acts for Birdsedge Village Festival for ten as well as running the occasional bigger gig at the Paramount Cinema in Penistone, Nr Sheffield.
Jacey's been doing work permit applications since 1998, but since the government changes in work permit regulations in 2008, requiring that all performers from outside the UK have a Certificate of Sponsorship from a Home Office licenced sponsor, (effectively an electronic work permit), she's fully licensed and able to process Certificates of Sponsorship, not only for her own artists, but also for other legitimate artists wishing to tour the UK from outside the EU. This is sometimes on behalf of individual artists, and sometimes on behalf of UK festivals or event organisers who find it more expedient to farm this task out to someone already experienced in the business. With 128 successful applications in the last complete year, and no refusals (ever) she knows how things work.
Her partner Brian Bedford runs a state-of-the-art recording studio, and Jacey also does the occasional graphic design job for artists recording with Brian. There aren't many hats on the folk scene that she hasn't worn. She's even been an arts development officer for Yorkshire Folk Arts and she's currently on the committee of Folk21, an organisation promoting the development of guest-booking clubs and small folk venues in the UK, and Britfolk, a performers'cooperative development organisation which started up Radio Britfolk, an internet folk radio station now continuing as The Music Well.
She's spoken on panels at conferences in the USA, Canada and the UK on a variety of folk business topics; delivered workshop, on the folk music business, on topics as diverse as how to get gigs, touring the UK for foreign performers, work permit applications, promoting folk music via the internet, use of databases to manage gigs and shameless self-promotion. She's mentored new agents and new performers on a one-to-one basis both as part of government funded schemes and privately (ask for rates if you're interested in anything from an afternoon 'get-started' session to a full course). And pre-folk days she worked as a trainer, a librarian and a postmistress... always with the public... always in jobs where communication matters. Outside the music world she's a published author of science fiction and fantasy.
Folk Music 101 or 'Does My Mouth Look Big In This?' Jacey blogs occasionally on the business of being an agent. Some of it would be funny if it wasn't true. She also blogs more generally (and often about writing, books and cinema) at Live Journal.
The Philosophy of being a folk agent
It's my job as an agent, to match-make artists and events. I'm not looking for 'gigs at any price'. Making the right connections helps both artists and bookers to get the best deal and build up ongoing relationships. A lot of the people I deal with are friends, or become friends in the course of our business relationship.
Obviously if I never call or email a venue I'm not doing my job properly, so if you're a booker in the UK, expect to hear from me at least once or twice a year, possibly with a few emails in between. I still believe in print mailshots because I know bookers and festival organisers get inundated by email and - come on you know you do it - it's so easy to hit delete when your mailbox is overflowing. Besides, there's nothing nicer than a well designed leaflet with all the information at a glance and a demo CD you can listen to immediately... though I do have all that information on my website, too, of course for people who like to stay paperless. Call me if you want CDs and paper leaflets to consider.
To all bookers and festival organisers: When I call you I want you to know that I will always take no for an answer. In fact, next to yes, no is a very good answer because it enables me to move on and call the next venue or festival. Those maybes and call-me-back-in-a-month answers are killers... unless of course, you really mean it. Unfortunately some bookers are dear sweet people who don't like to disappoint and who don't know how to say no. I hope no one ever feels they can't say no to me. Of course I like it best when you say yes, but to go round full circle... I really am not looking for gigs at any price. It's got to be the right gig at the right price so that everybody wins.
That's what my job is about, creating a win-win situation for the venue, the artist and, oh, yes, for me too.