Katie Rynne, agent and booker, on breaking and building a sustainable career in music

Katie Rynne is an agent with Select Music, one of Australia’s most popular and successful booking and touring companies. Select represent artists like TKay Maidza, The Preatures and Confidence Man, to name but a few.

Katie is a motivated, professional and powerful booker, and I’m pleased to say she’s also a guest panelist at my upcoming New Directions at The Con: Building A Team seminar on October 27th.

I asked her a few questions about how a young band or artist might get noticed, and then how they might make a sustainable career for themselves.

katie rynn jake stone jacob stone new directions at the con seminar

Want your act to get noticed by a manager or booking agent? Katie Rynne of Select Music shares her industry knowledge.

JAKE: You’ve been working at Select for some time now, having moved to Sydney 10 years ago. What drove you to be a part of the music industry?

KATIE: I grew up in a small QLD town with rugby league, The Gambler and Khe Sahn blasting at every party, and no opportunities to see live music, so straight out of high-school I had no real musical knowledge.

My sister gave me Josh Pyke’s Memories & Dust and I became obsessed. I went to a bunch of his shows and everything changed from there. I’ve been working with him for almost seven years, and he still remembers me coming to the shows and waiting around afterwards. Completely mortifying.

After a full rundown of my sister’s musical knowledge, I joined a street team for a Brisbane record label, which led to an internship. That was all I needed to make the move to Sydney. I was lucky to have internships and jobs in a number of different fields until I was given the job at Select Music and realised that being a booking agent and working on live music was where I wanted to stay.

JAKE: A big part of your job is dealing with artists, and predicting which artists are likely to turn into stars. What kind of personalities become great performing artists and songwriters, and how do you manage them?

KATIE: I don’t think there’s any type of personality that defines a great performing artist or songwriter. I work with people who are shy and introverted, who are positive and outgoing, some are thinkers, some are feelers – everyone is different.

We actually have little day to day contact with our artists, we deal directly with the manager on everything. At the end of the day, my job and the manager’s job is to tackle all of the paperwork so that the artist can focus on their songwriting and live shows.

I have a great relationship with most of my artists, and it’s important that they talk if things are stressful, or they’re are feeling unwell or run down, and they are able to share that information with the team. It’s a collaborative effort, and we all have the artist’s best interests at heart, so open communication and a good relationship is really important. We can reassess the plan if needed.

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WAAX shot by Brooke Tunbridge

JAKE: What are your day to day tasks, re: social media and booking?

KATIE: Every day is completely different. Generally speaking though, it’s chasing up enquiries that come in asking about an artist, following up on festival pitches, listening to new music, getting tours ready (including routing the run, sending through all venue costs, contracting all venues, putting tickets on sale and booking support acts), and then speaking to managers about long term plans and upcoming releases for our artists so that we can put together a live plot around it.

JAKE: How would an aspiring performer, songwriter or producer be noticed by you? What should they do?

KATIE: I do a lot of research on triple j Unearthed, FBi Radio, HypeMachine, and on blogs and music publications like Happy Mag, Purple Sneakers, The AU Review, Tonedeaf and TheMusic, so making sure that your music is up online and easy to access is the most important way to get started.

Once I find a song that I like, I’ll almost always go straight to their Facebook, and the thing that will catch my attention is good stats, lots of content available and a good social media presence, and/or an obvious care for how everything is displayed – good press pics, updated banner etc (just shows that you care about the little things).

The other thing sure to get an agent’s attention is to sell out a big hometown show – it’s the most obvious way to know that your music is connecting with people, and that’s the type of momentum that we can work with to grow an artist to the next level.

Lastly, a unique and engaging live show. We are out at gigs 3-4 nights a week, see a lot of support bands playing, and every now and then you are just blown away by someone and know that you need to work with them.

JAKE: What does Select offer a young, ambitious artist?

KATIE: Our main motto at Select is “we build careers”. That’s our long term goal, building an artist to a stage where they will be maintaining a solid career for 10, 20, 30 years.

The music industry is a very fast moving train, and it’s easy to feel you should be playing the biggest festivals and rooms, but the Australian market is so small that there’s just no longevity in doing that. If you play the Hordern on your first EP, where do you go next? Do you keep playing the Hordern for 10 more years until your fans are bored silly?

We work with our artists and managers on a long term strategy, often working 18 months in advance, to build their audience up little by little until they are playing those big rooms, and have a fanbase that will stay with them for their whole careers.

JAKE: Where would you like your career to go, and who are you enjoying developing and booking for at the moment?

KATIE: There’s not really anywhere to go in the agency spectrum once you’re an agent! But I would like to one day work with some international artists, and potentially put on some events or small festivals. I absolutely love being an agent, it’s very fast paced and incredibly stressful, but when you’re side stage at The Metro or Enmore watching your artist command the room and remembering when you saw them at OAF Gallery or Brighton Up Bar years before, it’s extremely rewarding.

I’m developing some incredible artists at the moment, LANKS is working on his debut album which I’m insanely excited about, WAAX have had a huge year of touring and it’s only getting bigger for them, and Muki is a new artist I just started working with who has released two of the most fun tracks of the year for me.

I’m incredibly proud of a few of my artists who are making HUGE strides without being “triple j” acts, proving that it’s not the end of the world if your single doesn’t get added.

All Our Exes Live In Texas were just nominated for an ARIA Award after selling out their album tour mid-year, Ziggy Alberts is about to sell out the goddamn Palais Theatre in Melbourne after spending years cultivating a fan base with the most intense work ethic I’ve ever seen. I’m excited to now be working with Electric Fields who have one of the most dynamic live shows I have ever seen – I think they are going to be huge.


Come and meet Katie Rynne, Gemma Pike (triple j), Lucy Smith (FBi Radio), Alistair Green (MAKER Agency) and more industry heavyweights at New Directions at The Con: Building A Team on October 27th, 6pm in the Music Workshop, at Sydney Conservatorium Of Music.

Entry is free. Register your spot here.