Press, Interviews and More

Interview with Folk Music Ramblings

What’s that line — so-and-so is the hardest working person in show business? Well, that just might be Kari Estrin, artist manager and consultant extraordinaire. We recently had the opportunity for a Q-and-A with her and here is that interview:

Q – Is it true or just a myth that inside every music publicist is a singer/songwriter waiting to burst out?

KE – There is truth here that there are a lot of musicians who are in support jobs in the biz – perhaps even more at the A & R level, producers and those working at the record labels, but yes, some managers and publicists too. And case in point, I am a musician myself ! The good news is that having been a trained musician (college), performing and rehearsing, etc. has made me a better manager, publicist/radio promoter and career consultant since I know music and can understand first hand what the artists are talking about. I can offer more strategic advice at times because of it. (see next question) Interestingly, I do find that many publicists here in Nashville I know are not musicians, but still many jobs in the business end of music have their fair share of musicians in business roles.

Q – Why the direction of musical publicist for you?

KE – Music publicist (most often acoustic music radio promotion for me now) is only one direction that I pursue in the music business. My dream in high school was to be a concert producer starting when at 15 years old I volunteered to be on staff for my high school coffeehouse, graduated the next year to running the kitchen and then onto booking the venue in my senior year. I founded my own company in Cambridge, MA in the early 80’s – Black Sheep Concert and Publications, Inc. and I became one of the first large scale (1200 seats at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre) and female acoustic music promoters that I know of in the country to do a regular concert series . I also published a folk magazine called “The Black Sheep Review” whose mission was to unite the NE and Northeast Regions (this was before Folk Alliance existed) but was subscribed to all over the world. At the same time I became an agent and then manager for the legendary guitarist/artist Tony Rice, going on to manage a world music band from the UK, The 3 Mustaphas 3 – and we went to No. 1 in the Billboard World Music Charts. Over the years I’ve tour managed acts like Suzanne Vega and Janis Ian and Steeleye Span. I was assistant festival director for both MerleFest and The Newport Folk Festival. At MerleFest I co-founded the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest. And that’s only some of what I’ve done and do. READ MORE…

Blog Post on IAMA Website

5 Simple Truths I Learned About Music Career Success

by Kari Estrin

There’s lots of advice on how to have a successful career in music, but in the end, knowing these five tips will give you a “leg up.”. Of course, each of us may define what success is differently – but however you define it, these tips will also help you chart a steadier course along the way.


One of the best ways to stand out from the crowd is to be individual, be true to what special talents you have, what you’re writing and your vocal style. Although some artists may imitate others, your best shot (unless you’re into tribute bands) is in developing your own unique sound.


Sometimes the best song you ever wrote happened in five minutes with no edits. That is a gift from the muse, but that’s not always the usual case. Don’t be afraid to edit your songs to make them even better, take voice lessons if you need to hit the notes the way you’d like, or beef up your instrumental work with lessons when you’re starting out. Do what it takes to refine your sound by editing, rewriting, resigning and of course, practice. Reach out for help and expertise – it’s all around you and some of it is free for the finding!


You may have written songs that are jazz, blues, pop, singer/songwriter and country, but just because you have all that talent, know what are you trying to project to your audience? It’s great to be multi-talented and to occasionally throw something atypical into a set artfully, but with so many choices of talent, you need to have a sound and image that people will instantly recognize as yours. Otherwise, you’ll dilute your appeal and have a harder time standing out above the crowd.


Do you understand who comes to see you and if so, do you know can you reach them? Is Instagram or Twitter the social media your audience prefer – or are your fans mostly on Facebook? Knowing your audience, the medium that they will respond to in order to engage them to come to live shows, sell your music and reach them on an emotional level is important.


Arrive at gigs on time and prepared; thank those who work with you or do your sound, serve the drinks or do your backstage catering and let them know you appreciate them. When you’re starting out and even after you “make” it, making those around you comfortable and valued goes a long way to your longevity in business. But learn your business as well – there are resources, including info on the ‘net to help you know the best way to negotiate a contract, how to deal with conflict, what are common music business practices, etc. There are plenty of people who might want to take advantage of you in the business, so if you know more about best how it works and are savvy, you’ll be more protected. Although many bands we may worship have/had a lot of that “bad boy” image – trashing hotel rooms, demanding those brown M & M’s,that’s generally not the smartest way to think you’ll advance yourself or survive in the business these days!

Kari Estrin

Kari’s wide expertise in the music industry spans four and a half decades. Starting in the early 70’s to her concert/festival production days in the 80’s in the Boston/Cambridge area (Harvard, The Berklee, Symphony Hall, Newport Folk, etc) Kari carved out her national reputation. She managed/booked/tour managed guitar legend Tony Rice in the early 80’s and world music act, The 3 Mustaphas 3, who reached No. 1 in Billboard Magazine, truly establishing Kari as a sought after professional. Her groundbreaking Career Assessment System predates “coaching” and has helped a wide variety of artists, from beginning to established, to take their careers to new heights and expanded levels as Kari pioneered working with the “whole” artist in her integrative and holistic approach. She is also is an acoustic music radio promoter and her artists have topped the Folk DJ charts for roughly 17 years.

For more information on entering IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), go to: