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Meet Jacey Bedford

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Professional Folk CV

JaceyJacey Bedford toured as one third of vocal trio Artisan from 1985 to 2005 plus the 2010 and 2015/16 reunion tours; also as one fifth of the Brian Bedford Band in 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.

ArtisanAfter the farewell Artisan gig in 2005 she counted the stamps 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 family car 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 licensed and experienced in the business. With over twelve hundred successful applications and no refusals (ever) she knows how things work.

Her partner Brian Bedford runs a state-of-the-art recording studio, and Jacey has also done the occasional graphic design job for artists recording with Brian (though she hasn't had much time for that lately). 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 started Britfolk, a performers' cooperative development organisation and talking shop.

She's spoken on panels at conferences in the USA, Canada and the UK on a variety of folk business topics; delivered workshops, on the folk music business, on subjects 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 with short stories published on both sides of the Atlantic and five novels published by DAW in the USA (part of the Penguin group) between 2014 and the present. Her writing website is here and her facebook page here.

Jacey blogs occasionally on the business of being an agent at Folk Music 101 or 'Does My Mouth Look Big In This?. 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. and at Wordpress. She tweets agency tweets @folkagent, as Artisan @artisansings, and as herself @jaceybedford. She's the hon. sec. of Milford Writers, running an annual week-long conference for science fiction and fantasy writers in the UK, and manages the Milford blog.

The Philosophy of being a folk agent

Jacey says:
I've got some fantastic artists on my books. With sometimes ten or more artists a week knocking on my door, you can bet that I only take on the best... and then only rarely. I won't say my books are closed (I've tried saying it and I still can't resist the occasional great artist that comes along), however if you're an artist, especially a new one, please don't call me until you've read my article on Why You Don't Need an Agent. If you've got more gigs on the books than you can handle and you're never at home when the phone rings because you're out gigging, then... sure, call me. If you've never toured the UK before or are only just starting out in your career and have no British profile, I'm not likely to take you on. It's very hard work breaking a new act into the British folk scene and I don't have time for it right now even if you're very, very special. But if you are from outside the EU and you get your own UK tour together, and you need someone to process your immigration paperwork, then please feel free to get in touch. (Yes you do need a Certificate of Sponsorship to come into the country and work if you are travelling from outside the EU.)

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 have all that information on my website, too, of course. 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 the second best 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.