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Damian Costin – Agent

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Damian (Damo) Costin has already clocked up over 20 years in the music industry and he’s not even 40 … Having started out as the drummer of seminal Australian rock band Motor Ace in the late 90’s, he performed with bands like the Foo Fighters, Oasis and Blink 182; he also proudly points out that he once met Joe Strummer from The Clash!

After 7 years, 3 albums and countless tours both in Australia and overseas Motor Ace finished up and Damian immediately hit the ground running in the industry – on the business side of the fence this time.

Damian worked at Premier Artists – one of Australia’s largest agencies for booking and touring contemporary recording artists as an artist booker for a bunch of years – learning his craft on the job. Like most creative people I know – there is no better way to become great at what you do other than through experience and actually “doing”.

I’ve always personally been an advocate for just having belief in yourself and your abilities and putting in the hard yards. If you put in the work – the results will come. And just sometimes – and especially in creative pursuits – (and just like Damian points out below) – those results and successes are so close you can almost touch them…

Success is only one song, one artist, one movie, one show, one album, one collection, one script away from making all of that hard work worthwhile … I guess the hope that greatness is indeed tangible is the exact reason we all hang in there and continue to strive for what we believe in and are passionate about in our work.

Over the years, Damian has worked across media, music, commercial content, sponsorship and integration. He is not only highly motivated and a seeker of challenge, he has a natural talent for making the impossible possible through an approach that involves determination, great ideas, teamwork and project management know how.

Being in the music industry on the booking/management side of things not only requires great people skills, it also requires a degree of empathy mixed with creativity and the ability to realize commercial opportunities. Damo has all of these attributes in spades.

Damian is now a Director / Agent of 123 Agency (his own business), booking some of Australia’s most exciting acts including Stonefield, Kingswood, Owl Eyes, BONJAH, Ella Hooper, Calling All Cars, Way Of The Eagle, Stillwater Giants and Sun City.

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To check out the talent that 123Agency looks after in greater detail – visit some of the sites below…

Website: www.123agency.com.au
Facebook: www.facebook.com/123AgencyGroup
Instagram: www.instagram.com/123agencygroup
YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/123AgencyChannel
Twitter: www.twitter.com/123AgencyGroup
SoundCloud: www.soundcloud.com/123agency

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Q&A:

1) You have been in the music biz for quite some time now – starting out as a drummer in your own band – Motor Ace – back in the late 90’s, then working at Premier Artists as a booking agent and more recently setting up your own agency – also as a booking agent. Tell us a bit about your journey and learning’s to date and how you got to this point in your career.

The journey has been varied and an absolute roller coaster. I’ve been consumed by music since day one. It’s been the one thing that has been a constant. Sounds like a cliché buts it’s ultimately true. I’ve learnt to follow my instincts and be surrounded by like-minded people.

It’s a tough business and I’ve been lucky, but I also think I’ve worked hard to get to this point. Opening up the agency has been one of the hardest but ultimately most rewarding experiences ever. I’m also trying to tell myself to enjoy the process, which has been difficult at times.

2) The music industry has changed substantially in recent years with the advent of digital music downloads affecting traditional album sales and the industry as a whole. Do you feel this shift in how we purchase music has provided a greater opportunity for your end of the business re. Live touring, and how has your side of the industry had to change or adapt itself to stay relevant and connected with a younger consumer?

No one is quite sure if the opportunities are greater just yet. The industry is still in a massive state of flux and consumers have changed their behaviors in regards to how they want to listen or buy.

Streaming seems to be the way forward but it still has a very long way to go before artists really get return for their recorded music. Festivals are struggling and tickets are hard to sell for breaking acts but I think generally change is a good thing and the industry is definitely hurting across the board. The old model has certainly gone though, and signing long-term deals aren’t relevant.

In the live touring sector, we need to be able to offer more to the consumer at the point of purchase to get them through the doors. We need to offer something else other than just a ticket. Punters still want great shows in great settings. The cream will always rise to the top and the artists who think outside the square and are innovative always make the most noise in this climate. It is possible for acts to have worldwide success quickly, but the trick is to sustain it. It will be interesting to see if Lorde can sustain a long career with her current success. I’m hoping she can…

We like to think we have acts in this domain and we are happy to work along side them to be able to do that. As we find our feet, we are doing more to enhance this end of our service by working with partners who think similarly.

3) Do you feel that being a musician yourself has given you a greater insight and understanding into being a better booking agent than someone not necessarily from a musical background? / What do you feel makes a great booking agent?

Yes definitely. It helps to be able to relate to how hard it can be as an artist and understand on that musical level; and there is an affinity there. I’ve been very lucky to be surrounded by some great people and I’ve studied them to take away the best elements in terms of ‘agenting’. Great agents make careers, know how to create a vibe and will work tirelessly. It’s a key role in an artist’s career and I’m very proud to represent my acts and I will walk over hot coals for them. If we are on the same level, we can relate and have a partnership and do great things.

I’ve lost some acts along the way and it’s been for the best. Sometimes it’s a thankless role, but great artists know how we much we do, if they don’t, then we aren’t meant to be together! Great artists make great agents too btw!

4) What do you feel has been your biggest career achievement or highlight to date?

There’s been many…. Building 123 Agency for sure. To make it successful will hopefully be another as we move into our first 12 months of operation.

Representing all our acts and working hard to bring them as many opportunities as possible is another ongoing achievement.

Playing in Motor Ace and touring internationally, having a No. 1 record was just crazy in hindsight to achieve. I’m extremely proud of those records we made as well.

5) Who or what are your favorite bands or acts at the moment and what is the best gig you’ve ever been to?

Arcade Fire, Ngaiire, Kingswood…. So many! How long have you got? I recently got to see Bruce Springsteen at Hanging Rock and that was simply incredible. Motor Ace once supported Foo Fighters at the Hi Fi in Melbourne and I got to sit on the back of the PA during the show. Words don’t come close… I had Calling All Cars on the ACDC Australian tour which was great as well, and getting to see ACDC at arms length was really something special.

6) As a creative person – who and what inspire or motivate you? / What are you creatively passionate about? / What do you love most about your work?

People around me inspire me. My partner, my colleagues and our artists, they are what motivates me. I love marketing and ideas – looking for innovation… Crazy but tangible objectives.

I love that we have no rules and we can be the masters of our own destinies. I love knowing that we are only one song, one artist or one second away from greatness. I do believe if you work hard enough you will get your just deserves. Success is motivating as well and I want that for everyone we work with.

7) Working at Premier Artists over the years, you would have met and dealt with some pretty interesting acts over the years. What has been the biggest / wackiest or more interesting tour or artist you have been involved with? / Is it at your end of the game that you deal with band riders? And if so – can you give us a sneak peak into some of the more interesting requests that you’ve had?!

The biggest tour was ACDC by far. It was the biggest/largest grossing tour in Australia ever, and was presented by Garry Van Egmond. To be part of that was incredible…
The scale is just enormous. To see so many fans singing those tunes from the top of the stadium was mental.

We’ve had some crazy rider requests from garden gnomes to the positioning of toilets being requested to be no more than 5 meters from the dressing rooms. I’m not going to name names…

8) What do you enjoy doing in your time off? Do you ever still get on the kit at all, and could you ever be tempted to join a band again?!

I love hanging out with my girl, my dog Eddie ‘Teddy’ Vedder, driving to the coast in my car and listening to loud music at festivals. I love hanging out with friends and family and enjoying our lives journeys. Dumplings and pizza and margaritas! Who doesn’t?

I’m not tempted to play ATM… But never say never. I’d like to record again sometime and make a great record with some great tunes. Maybe … One day!

9) If you could work on any creative project or with any band/act in the world – what would this look like or whom would it be with?

I would give my left nut to play with Pearl Jam one day. Maybe play with Tom Petty or make a record and just be in a studio with Radiohead. Maybe produce a record for David Bowie… You can dream! I’d like to record in LA back in the 80′s when everything was big and over the top and witness the hedonism first hand!

10) What’s next for you? Any other interesting projects on the horizon/collaborations or future goals you are yet to achieve?

The future is bright and there is a lot on the agenda. To have the chance at creating something like 123 Agency and being able to drive it is mighty exciting. We have some announcements and partnerships we’ll be launching next year and we are excited to be bringing them into the spotlight. We’ve built our team and now we need to focus and start kicking into our plans into gear. We’ve got some world-class talent and we intend on bringing them to the world. We wanna be the best so we are working with the best! See you at the top for bubbles!