Three mindset tips to help you become your own agent

Are you a musician who pitches for their own work? Have you thought about getting an agent, but prefer the idea of managing your own career? What is holding you back? 

As an artist manager and artistic director, I have a deep understanding of the music agent industry, and I want to share my three top tips for becoming your own agent.

When things hold me back in my career, they are almost always to do with mindset. I know from my work with hundreds of musicians how powerful mindset is in the music industry in particular. 

Are you ready to take control of your music career?

Here are three mindset altering tips to help you become your own agent.

Tip 1: Make sure you love what you’re offering

I believe that the most important thing as a musician is to be working on projects that fill you with joy and enthusiasm. Music is so personal. What you’re doing has to feel right to you. 

Tip 2: Tell people, clearly, why you love it

Plan ideas clearly so that you can easily explain to others what is wonderful about it. Write it down so you can send it by email, and talk to friends and family about it – see if you can express the main idea in a sentence. Listen to their feedback – can you make them love it as much as you do?

Tip 3: Send it out with confidence

This is your ideal project – use that experience of explaining it to friends and family to explain it to others. Be warm, confident, and share the love for what you’re doing. Is your inner voice telling you that the person you’re pitching it to might not be interested? Overrule that inner voice! Replace it with the evidence that you’ve gathered from your conversations – this is a project that is inspired and special, and you are the perfect person to be doing it.

Did this resonate with you? Do you want more practical and mindset exercises to help you maximise your music career?

My online course, Become Your Own Agent is available now, as a self-paced online course. It costs £150, and you can spread the cost over three months if you wish. When you sign up, you receive the course materials and exercises, and can work through it at your own pace.

You will also be able to join the Polyphony Arts online course community, where you can develop your network further, and share tips and ideas with like-minded musicians. 

Find out more and sign up here.

Do you have tips to add? We’d love to hear from you on social media!

Perfect Pitch with Polyphony Arts

Are you a musician who pitches for work? 

As artist managers, we pitch for our clients all the time. 

Our performers want concert, oratorio, concerto and chamber work, both on the concert platform and in the recording studio. 

Our composers want commissions, and performances and recordings of their works.

We are also concert promoters, which means we book musicians for work, and therefore receive countless pitches.

We wanted to share our insight into this part of the music industry, having seen it from both sides, so today we reached out with a live discussion on this very topic, full of insights about the ins and outs of pitching for musical work.

You can watch the full video at the bottom of this blog post.

However, if you want a quick round-up of our top tips for pitching, here they are.

What to include

  1. Headline – what is the most interesting thing about your project?
  • What instrument/s you/your ensemble play – unbelievably, I often have to search pitches for this information! A photo can be a great way to make this clear.
  • What we can expect from the performance – a sense of repertoire or theme
  • Why it will be high quality – career highlights / competition success / press quotes / testimonials
  • A link to a recording or video of your work (if you are a composer, a midi file is fine)
  • Links to your website and socials
  • Your contact details
  • Your availability – even if you suggest a date patch and it doesn’t work for the promoter, it still helps them focus on the possibility of booking you if you mention a specific date or time of the year. Bonus points for working out when the promoter usually has events and suggesting something that fits with that pattern, for example…

I notice you usually hold concerts on Thursdays”. Golden.

How does this make you feel?

A note on the above, especially number 4 – this does not mean you have to make it sound as though your career is in a different place from where it is. If you are a frequent visitor to the Wigmore Hall, say so. If you are just finishing education, and making your first steps into your professional career, say this.

Concert promoters don’t only book musicians whose careers are in full flight, and you will always come across better if you are honest and genuine.

So, are you ready? Are you raring to go? 

Do you feel like you could use a second pair of eyes?

We have a special offer for you. 

From 1 June 2020 we are launching a new service: Perfect Pitch with Polyphony Arts. You can send us your pitch and we will perfect it for you.

More details of how this works and how you can get your perfect pitch for only £60 are here. We look forward to hearing how you get on!

Katie Beardsworth and Margaret Pinder

How to build your musical career during lockdown

Are you feeling motivated? If so, I have something you need.

During Covid-19 lockdown everything has changed. In-person music performance has come to a sudden halt, festivals cancelled, and dreams of summer concerts have all but disappeared. The impact of this on our industry is profound. And it’s scary.

But anyone who works in music or the arts knows that we always have to adapt, look after ourselves and embrace those challenges that come our way.

We are seeing so many different reactions from people in our community. Some have set up online concert series, some are furiously practising and expanding their repertoire, some are teaching online. Others are looking after their families, or taking a well-earned break, learning new skills/hobbies. There are no right or wrong answers here. 

There are a lot of messages circulating about all the wonderful ways you use this time in lockdown. You can learn seven new languages, become a master baker, start a business, volunteer to support those in need… 

How do I feel? I run my own business and juggle a young family. There’s been lots of disruption, adapting to the new situation and the changes it brings in time and space available, and creating a good working relationship with my new toddler colleague.

I know that at any time, you may feel motivated, or you may not – either way it’s totally understandable. If you want to sit on your sofa consuming the entire back catalogue of Netflix and the entire range of Ben and Jerry’s, then that makes perfect sense to me! 


However, I do feel that everyone has the opportunity to use this time to learn new skills to futher their careers, and build a launchpad for when things (slowly) get up and running again.

Those uncertainties of the post-lockdown music industry… Here’s where I think I can help. No matter about the stage of your career in music, by becoming your own agent, you’ll be able to unlock lots of opportunities, possibilities and efficiencies in the new artistic world.

When we come out of lockdown and the industry starts to recover, imagine if you had your network all mapped out, your publicity materials all up to date, your projects articulated, and a system for getting your own gigs in the diary. 

With my online course, this is what you end up with. 

The course will teach you to:

  • Get more performances/commissions
  • Achieve your ideal fees
  • Attract work offers from higher profile venues and artists
  • Boost your profile in the industry
  • Build a list of useful contacts
  • Get the best out of your network
  • Tackle imposter syndrome and other barriers to promoting yourself

At the end of the course, you will have:

  • Written and/or fine-tuned your ideal marketing material
  • Planned how you will distribute it
  • Planned how to get the most out of your existing network and any upcoming performances
  • Considered how you feel about selling your work and any practical or emotional barriers that you face when promoting yourself.
  • Access to a closed Facebook group especially for course participants to network, share their work and discuss their marketing challenges and successes.

The course is self-paced and you can start whenever you like. It costs £150 – you’ll make this back in your first booking. I know money is tight for a lot of people right now, so I’m offering a payment plan – £50 per month payable over three months, and the course is available once you’ve made your first payment. 

Use lockdown to Become Your Own Agent. You’d normally be making bookings around a year in advance anyway, so it’s the perfect time to get your system and resources perfected. It is also do-able alongside a serious Netflix schedule.

Find out more and sign up here: https://polyphonyarts.com/online-course-become-your-own-agent-self-paced/

Deadlines – love them or loathe them?

Katie Beardsworth, Director and Founder of Polyphony Arts

Do you work well with deadlines? Do they motivate you, or fill you with dread?

Personally, I need deadlines – I need the pressure and motivation to get things done, especially when they aren’t my favourite tasks. I often set timers on my phone while I’m working, giving myself 20 minutes to complete tasks and move on to the next. I set imaginary deadlines for work that doesn’t have an in-built deadline to make sure it doesn’t languish on my to-do list. I love deadlines!

I started doing online courses last year. When I first signed up I was unsure; would I learn anything? Would it be worth the cost?

However, when I started doing them, I discovered that they are a fantastic way to learn new skills, for a fraction of the cost of more formal learning options. As a freelancer, I am responsible for developing my own career, and with the online course market booming, I soon found I could offer myself career development in a really rewarding way that is really effective in both cost and time.

I have experienced courses that are ‘self-paced’ – i.e. you buy the course and do it in your own time, with little or no further contact from the course creator – and that have deadlines and feedback. There are pros and cons to both, but for me personally, I got more out of the courses with deadlines and feedback. Being accountable for doing the course in a timely manner really helped me to learn a lot in a short space of time, and I came out of it fully prepared to use my new skill.

When I was planning my online course, Become Your Own Agent, I gave a lot of thought to whether to set deadlines on the tasks, or keep it self-paced – open and flexible. The course is aimed at professional musicians, and that means that my own experiences weren’t necessarily the best gauge – the working week of a professional musician is very different from mine, often with minimal computer-based time available. However, I wanted people to get the best of the content I had to offer, so I launched the course with deadlines and weekly feedback available from me.

It went really well – those that signed up were totally engaged and I read some great work! It was fantastic to get to know those people and their work. They said some lovely things about the course, too – I was so thrilled to hear this!

“Incredibly insightful to see things from the point of view of the promoter”

You inspire confidence and your approach is encouraging”

However, I also had a great deal of feedback from people who didn’t sign up, saying that the challenges of doing tasks to a deadline in the midst of freelance life was too difficult, and asking for a version that they could access and complete in their own time. I also heard that the cost of the course was difficult for freelancers to manage as an up-front cost, and was asked if I could offer payment plans.

So, I am delighted to say that all of this is possible! I now have two versions of the course available from 3 March 2020. Both have the same content, but one has deadlines and the option of feedback from me if you meet those deadlines; and the other is self-paced, with a price that reflects that, and a monthly payment plan available.

Check out the full details here, and sign up to take your career to the next level! https://polyphonyarts.com/services-and-courses/

Do you work well with deadlines?

I need deadlines – I need the pressure and motivation to get things done, especially when they aren’t my favourite tasks. I often set timers on my phone while I’m working, giving myself 20 minutes to complete tasks and move on to the next. I set imaginary deadlines for work that doesn’t have an in-built deadline to make sure it doesn’t languish on my to-do list. I love deadlines!

I started doing online courses last year. When I first signed up I was unsure; would I learn anything? Would it be worth the cost?

However, when I started doing them, I discovered that they are a fantastic way to learn new skills, for a fraction of the cost of more formal learning options. As a freelancer, I am responsible for developing my own career, and with the online course market booming, I soon found I could offer myself career development in a really rewarding way that is really effective in both cost and time.

I have experienced courses that are ‘self-paced’ – i.e. you buy the course and do it in your own time, with little or no further contact from the course creator – and that have deadlines and feedback. There are pros and cons to both, but for me personally, I got more out of the courses with deadlines and feedback. Being accountable for doing the course in a timely manner really helped me to learn a lot in a short space of time, and I came out of it fully prepared to use my new skill.

When I was planning my online course, Become Your Own Agent, I gave a lot of thought to whether to set deadlines on the tasks, or keep it self-paced – open and flexible. The course is aimed at professional musicians, and that means that my own experiences weren’t necessarily the best gauge – the working week of a professional musician is very different from mine, often with minimal computer-based time available. However, I wanted people to get the best of the content I had to offer, so I launched the course with deadlines and weekly feedback available from me.

It went really well – those that signed up were totally engaged and I read some great work! It was fantastic to get to know those people and their work. They said some lovely things about the course, too – I was so thrilled to hear this!

“Incredibly insightful to see things from the point of view of the promoter”

You inspire confidence and your approach is encouraging”

However, I also had a great deal of feedback from people who didn’t sign up, saying that the challenges of doing tasks to a deadline in the midst of freelance life was too difficult, and asking for a version that they could access and complete in their own time. I also heard that the cost of the course was difficult for freelancers to manage as an up-front cost, and was asked if I could offer payment plans.

So, I am delighted to say that all of this is possible! I now have two versions of the course available from 3 March 2020. Both have the same content, but one has deadlines and the option of feedback from me if you meet those deadlines; and the other is self-paced, with a price that reflects that, and a monthly payment plan available.

Check out the full details here, and sign up to take your career to the next level! https://polyphonyarts.com/services-and-courses/

Do you work well with deadlines?

I need deadlines – I need the pressure and motivation to get things done, especially when they aren’t my favourite tasks. I often set timers on my phone while I’m working, giving myself 20 minutes to complete tasks and move on to the next. I set imaginary deadlines for work that doesn’t have an in-built deadline to make sure it doesn’t languish on my to-do list. I love deadlines!

I started doing online courses last year. When I first signed up I was unsure; would I learn anything? Would it be worth the cost?

However, when I started doing them, I discovered that they are a fantastic way to learn new skills, for a fraction of the cost of more formal learning options. As a freelancer, I am responsible for developing my own career, and with the online course market booming, I soon found I could offer myself career development in a really rewarding way that is really effective in both cost and time.

I have experienced courses that are ‘self-paced’ – i.e. you buy the course and do it in your own time, with little or no further contact from the course creator – and that have deadlines and feedback. There are pros and cons to both, but for me personally, I got more out of the courses with deadlines and feedback. Being accountable for doing the course in a timely manner really helped me to learn a lot in a short space of time, and I came out of it fully prepared to use my new skill.

When I was planning my online course, Become Your Own Agent, I gave a lot of thought to whether to set deadlines on the tasks, or keep it self-paced – open and flexible. The course is aimed at professional musicians, and that means that my own experiences weren’t necessarily the best gauge – the working week of a professional musician is very different from mine, often with minimal computer-based time available. However, I wanted people to get the best of the content I had to offer, so I launched the course with deadlines and weekly feedback available from me.

It went really well – those that signed up were totally engaged and I read some great work! It was fantastic to get to know those people and their work. They said some lovely things about the course, too – I was so thrilled to hear this!

“Incredibly insightful to see things from the point of view of the promoter”

You inspire confidence and your approach is encouraging”

However, I also had a great deal of feedback from people who didn’t sign up, saying that the challenges of doing tasks to a deadline in the midst of freelance life was too difficult, and asking for a version that they could access and complete in their own time. I also heard that the cost of the course was difficult for freelancers to manage as an up-front cost, and was asked if I could offer payment plans.

So, I am delighted to say that all of this is possible! I now have two versions of the course available from 3 March 2020. Both have the same content, but one has deadlines and the option of feedback from me if you meet those deadlines; and the other is self-paced, with a price that reflects that, and a monthly payment plan available.

Check out the full details here, and sign up to take your career to the next level! https://polyphonyarts.com/services-and-courses/

How do you decide what to charge for music performance?

“As long as I come out of it with £100 after expenses, that’s OK”

I’ve heard this said so many times. And who by? Talented, trained professional musicians, with innovative, interesting programmes. Heading for the heights of their careers. Talking about giving a full-length professional concert as a soloist or part of a small group of musicians.

Pay in music performance is, like in many other professions, totally baffling for a lot of people. The more musicians I talk to, the more I think people are, on the whole, basically being paid what they ask for.

This is very troubling indeed. What we feel comfortable asking for is totally different, depending on our backgrounds. There is a lot written on this subject – just google “imposter syndrome” or “gender pay gap” (for example) and you’ll find a whole wealth of reading about how various minority groups have always accepted less for doing the same as those who are exactly as qualified and experienced, but don’t calculate their own worth in the same way as those who have been lucky enough to come from a background where they feel confident enough to ask for exactly what they want.

I’m deliberately using vague terminology here, as those who we generally associate with privilege and good self-confidence have been amongst those who I’ve heard saying they’ll gig for £100. Whilst there are definitely demographics that are more prone to this (and I may write more about this another time), lack of confidence in self-worth and imposter syndrome can be felt by anyone.

Often, people feel they need an agent to negotiate on their behalf. There’s no doubt that it’s easier to negotiate for someone other than yourself – I find negotiating for my clients much easier than negotiating for myself! – but this is not the only option.

It is possible to learn to do this for yourself, and it feels great, too!

In my new online course, Become Your Own Agent, I will help you work through any doubts, concerns or barriers that prevent you from charging the fees you want. (For those of you thinking this isn’t as simple as just asking for more, you’re right – I provide information on reasonable price points for different career stages, different occasions, and more.)

By the way, for anyone thinking £100 sounds OK for one concert, just have a think about the time spent rehearsing for said concert – does it still sound OK? Then think about the cost of all those music lessons. £100 might cover two lessons, maybe. Hmm.

Good news – I’m offering MORE than £100 off my Become Your Own Agent if you book in October! I’d love to see you there.

Musicians: how does marketing yourself make you feel?

Do you know how to get the work you deserve? Are you confident finding performance opportunities, commissions, appropriate fees, good venues, recording contracts?

I’m Katie Beardsworth, director and founder of the Polyphony Arts agency representing a diverse client base of classical musicians, and I’m offering a bespoke online course – Become Your Own Agent – to help musicians like you acquire the skills and confidence to build a professional portfolio.

In four weeks, I will show you how the music industry works, teach you the best ways to promote yourself and your work, and provide advice on how to tackle the kind of challenges you will face such as fee discrepancies and imposter syndrome.

Whether you are just starting out or have years of experience as a professional musician, this is the course to help you achieve the career you aspire to and deserve.

The first course starts on 4 November, and there is a discount! Read more, and sign up: