Sat | Dec 3, 2016

European booking agent lays it straight

Published:Sunday | December 7, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Carl Gilchrist, Sunday Gleaner Writer

European booking agent Borjan Tisma, who has on his roster several leading reggae and dancehall acts, including Jah Cure, Lady Saw, and Konshens, is continuing his critique of issues affecting reggae music in Europe.

Tisma, who is from Poland, just completed Jah Cure's European tour and has upcoming projects with Contractor Music Marketing in Europe to bring several top artistes from Jamaica to tour the continent.

According to a release from Tisma, one of the issues affecting reggae music in Europe nowadays is booking agencies and agents who lack the professionalism to do a good job.

"We have here only a few professional agencies; the rest are wannabe agents. When I say professional, I mean that they live from this, paying people who work with them, paying taxes, etc, and they do a proper job," Tisma charged.

Problems begin when people take on booking as a hobby as they try to make some fast money simply because they might know a few promoters, he pointed out.

"So they start to offer artistes (to promoters) all around Europe without having a deal with the artistes. They might book three or four shows and then find out that it is not so easy, that they must secure visas, plan logistics, organise flights, and insurance, so it's a lot of costs and no income, so they cancel tours," Tisma said.

"When they do this, they make a mess in the market. Promoters have to cancel shows, and they then block dates for proper tours and confuse the massive. Also, there are agencies that tour the same artistes non-stop because they have a deal that they must to. There is not much planning upfront, so they 'burn' the artiste in the market and after that, he can't tour for a long time," he added.

Tisma's knowledge of the industry comes from his personal experience in the business, and he admits that his company, Buxna Artist Agency, has made mistakes in the past.

He once had to cancel a tour because he couldn't secure visas on time. He once toured a set of artistes so much that for the next few years, nobody in Europe wanted to see them. He has also double-booked artistes because of poor communication.

LESSONS LEARNED

"But I have learned, and at least an agency like mine can find a replacement fast to cover a loss to a promoter, give him options, or make a deal for the future to cover his loss. Right now, no promoter can say that we owe to anyone anything. Many times, we paid what we didn't have to pay out of respect to promoters. That's why Buxna will never be rich, but we do honestly our job and pay for our mistakes. For sure, people will have something bad to say about us, but we sleep with a clear conscience. We are sure that over the long term, we will start making money."

Tisma listed myriad other issues affecting the industry. He said some of these can be remedied if artistes and promoters work with established agencies that are well-known. They should also work with contracts, make a clear deal before the event, and ensure artistes are paid upfront deposits.

Timsa also want to see greater cooperation among agents.

"Even though we are competitors, we can do this. Buxna worked like this with many partner agencies in Europe. When we do this, we avoid double-bookings and avoid having a lot of artistes on tour at the same time, causing a mess for promoters," he said.