For David Priebe, the music business is more of a calling than a career. “[Music is] like an infectious disease—if you got the bug, you got the bug,” he says. And Priebe has the bug. He’s a bass player in Maudlin, a group he launched in high school and has continued with his wife. He’s also a partner in the Green Room Music Source, a Minneapolis-based booking agency that is expanding into management and artist development. Kurt Cobain sparked Priebe’s interest in music, and he began booking bands because he found it fun. Now, he has put his own music career on the back burner and has placed his focus on working with other artists. How has he been able to accomplish all of this? By focusing on what he loves.
David will be speaking at Music University on Oct. 4-5.
What does your work at the Green Room Music Source entail?
Our bread and butter is booking … getting the artist scheduled. We have expanded in the last several years into the scope of management and even artist development. There are some artists where I just handle their calendar; I set up their tours and their local and regional stuff when they’re not on tour or playing festivals. Usually, I plan their routing too. I help them pick out the markets and venues they’ll go to and decide what is the best way and timing to do it.
How do you recommend bands and artists get noticed for their work?
If you want to get signed to a record label, the record label wants to know you’ll sell records. If you want a booking agent to take you seriously, you have to show them you can draw in a number of markets … When you go to Chicago or Los Angeles or whatever, how many people show up? How much are you getting paid? That kind of thing … Agencies and management are always going to wait for new bands to cross that first hump on their own.
Does an event like Music University help artists figure out how to cross that first “hump?”
I honestly think one of the biggest mistakes that people make is not doing things like this. At the very least, you are surrounded by a bunch of people who want to break into the industry … It’s not about finding the right opportunity, it’s about taking any opportunity you can to get out there and meet people. And that’s not just a music-industry thing; it’s an any-industry thing. People always talk about how it’s a who-you-know industry; it’s just a who-you-know world. If you don’t know other people, if you’re not communicating and connecting with people, your chances of being able to get where you want to go lessens dramatically. I think people should go to shows all the time and put themselves out there wherever they can if they really want to be successful in the music industry.
What are you bringing to the Music University?
A small suitcase. I’ll only be there a day. (laughs) As it sits right now, I’ll be sitting on a panel for management where we’ll be discussing what management is, when you need it, and what’s the right point to approach a manager. Then, I’m going to be moderating a panel on booking with my partner [Craig Grossman]… It should be fun conversations. I’m looking forward to it.