I want to wear sweat pants more than cowboy boots for a while.
—Romi Mayes, musician
Romi Mayes was planning to make some changes, but this one wasn't part of the plan.
The Winnipeg musician recently slipped on her icy front stairs, broke her wrist and chipped her tailbone.
What Mayes had been working on was almost as surprising to those familiar with her dedication to touring - she was prepping for a final series of dates before taking some time off from the road.
"I had been booking my own shows for over a decade and have had many friends along the way ask me to help them out," she says. "Now that I feel like getting off the road and staying home a lot more it feels like an easy transition to start a booking agency from the perspective of a musician that has toured and knows what it's like out there."
So Mayes launched her own company, Sure Shot Bookings, an agency that helps musicians coordinate shows and book tours. And her years spent on the road have helped her attract clients without doing much in the way of marketing.
Romi Mayes recently launched Sure Shot Bookings. (Mike Latschislaw)
"As soon as I mentioned I wanted to start a booking agency, I had floods of emails coming in with people wanting to be on my roster. Some pitches are by bands I don't know who are sending me their press kits and some are friends. It seems to me that we all needed a booking agency like mine pretty badly. I am really impressed at how quickly the agency took off," Mayes says.
Part of what's attracting clients is that Mayes runs her business differently from the traditional model. Instead of taking percentages from the acts, she has gone with a flat rate fee per booking and offers advancing the show services as well.
"Advancing is getting the information from the venue like sound check, load in and start times, distances between venues, hotel suggestions, how many sets you have to play, etc. The more information you have on an itinerary before you hit the road, the easier that will be," she says.
"No other agency gives you a detailed itinerary for your tour and I think that's the key to the road."
And because she understands the musician's point of view, Mayes also offers a non-exclusive agreement that isn't contractual, which means her acts can still book their own shows as well. "Of course there is the respect of not stepping on toes and crossing wires once I am booking a tour, then it's my tour to book for the artist, but this is the only agency I know of that doesn't need to own your touring soul if we work together."
While she's clearly driven to work with artists and use skills she's learned over the years, part of this change is also a necessity. In addition to taking time away from the road, Mayes and her daughter are relocating to Vancouver Island.
"I am thinking of it as a semi-retirement. I don't know how long it will be until I feel the get up and go to conquer the road again, if at all, but the idea of country living and laying low with my daughter, maybe even getting plants that I have to water and possibly even a dog, is something I'm really looking forward to right now," she says.
"I want to wear sweat pants more than cowboy boots for a while." Romi Mayes is scheduled to play at the Pyramid on April 19.