Expert Highlight

Ben Sheffield

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Founder / CEO, Montane Booking
Business Founded: 2017
Phone: (904) 770-5416

125 Brooklyn Rd.
Athens, Georgia 30606

How long have you been in your industry?I’ve been in this industry since 2010, so 14 years at this point.
Why did you choose your industry?I love music and I was a touring musician for 6 years, and during this time I assisted with the booking of our tours. During this time, I compiled a digital rolodex for thousands of venues and their agents/buyers across the United States. After I stopped touring, I would get contacted by various artists I knew to help them book tours using my venue contacts, and I eventually got hired by several booking agencies to be the Responsible Agent for select artists of theirs. After doing this for a few years, I decided to open my own booking agency that was more artist-focused, since I experienced the struggles of touring artists first-hand as an artist myself.
Who are your typical clients?Our typical clients are independent musicians.
What do you like best about being in this industry?I most like helping independent artists find their footing in this industry and giving them the opportunity to perform more and attract more fans.
What are common problems you see?The most common problems I see in this industry are that independent artists are not given enough opportunities to grow and attract professional support. There is a catch-22 demanded of artists where they are expected to already have fans before industry professionals will give them the opportunity to make more fans and artists are expected to already be making money in order to be given the opportunities to make more money. It’s obviously not quite that simple, but there isn’t a clear path forward for artists without expecting them to ‘simply’ do the impossible.
What advice/tips do you have for clients?The best advice I would give to clients is to gain a solid understanding of both the music industries’ and the booking industries' inner workings before trying to advance their careers in this industry. Many newcomers approach us with misconceptions and unrealistic expectations, echoing common industry myths. While there's no shame in being inexperienced, it's crucial to recognize one's own knowledge gaps and avoid insisting on atypical or unjustified privileges. The prevalence of the Dunning-Krueger effect can impede the ability for professionals to support artists effectively, as unrealistic demands and an unwillingness to build collaborative relationships when their expectations aren’t met can hinder progress.
When is your busy season?Our busy season is typically year-long, but some years, Spring picks up a bit more for us as artists begin preparing for Summer tours.
What keeps you up at night?The most prevalent thing that keeps me up at night is the concern to be the best at what we do and to offer the best services available. We’re constantly trying to refine our approach to everything we do in order to offer the best possible solutions to both artists as well as to venues, and we want to stand out in such a way where our artists know that they are getting the best.
How do you market yourself to grow/expand your business?Instagram and LinkedIn have been our best solutions for marketing towards growth. Instagram is already a staple for sharing live performances of artists, and LinkedIn is already a staple for the behind-the-scenes professionals in the music industry to connect with other music professionals, so these have been really powerful for us to showcase what we do both to artists and to venues.
How involved are you in the community?I work with several local churches in Jacksonville and with a church in Nashville in various charitable events, as well as in helping align the right artists with the right churches and the right events through various worship services.
What is your favorite not for profit or charity?St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of getting into this business?I would ask someone if they really love this industry and the art it creates. There are slow seasons, especially in the early days, where there is little, if any, money to show for your efforts. If you don’t truly love what you do for the sake of doing it, then your journey will be a lot more difficult than it needs to be and you won’t enjoy the ride when you’re going through tough times—and there will be many. As cliché as it may sound, doing what you love for the sake of contributing to something that’s important to you, is sometimes the only reward or fulfillment you’ll get for a while.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?I enjoy going to church, playing guitar & piano, and writing & recording my own music. I also enjoy cardistry and sleight of hand.

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