5Qs Friday with Tom Windish

Music Consumption, the High Cost of US Touring, and Artist-Centric Business Models

RM: What do you believe is the most-influential trend changing the music industry today?

TW: The way people consume music. It is easier now than ever before to listen to whatever you want to at a moment’s notice. This is an incredible development for artist’s and their ability to connect with people. It’s also easier and cheaper to make an album. Gatekeepers used to be economic. It used to cost a lot of money to promote and record an album and certain individuals and corporations controlled those resources. Now that is largely removed from the equation. The result is that it’s easier than ever for a talented musician to become recognized by fans and to make a living.  

RM: If you could change one thing in today’s music industry to make it better, what would that be?

TW: Taxes levied against foreign artists in this country are 30%. There are some ways to decrease that percentage but it is very expensive. Visas for foreign artists are very expensive to obtain and last less time than in the past. This makes it much more expensive to tour the USA. It makes the financial barrier for a new band to tour the USA incredibly high. If anything, it should be cheaper and easier than before.  

RM: The United States is the only industrialized nation without a Ministry of Culture, yet culture is the country’s greatest export. What are your thoughts about that?

TW: We have never placed the same value on art as many other countries. Look at our venues compared to venues in France, Germany, Japan, Australia, etc. I’m not sure what to think about it, to be honest. I am a supporter of many elements of capitalism but not when it comes to art, education, transportation, the environment or health.

RM: There are a lot of business models floating around for recorded music? Which one do you think makes the most sense?

TW: Business models should be centered around the overall artist brand, not around their recorded music. The combination of revenue streams combine to form an amount of money much greater than what an artist was getting from record sales before.

RM: Who’s your favorite artist right now?

TW: Any of the ones who choose to be represented by our agency for starters…


Tom Windish first dove into the music industry by booking concerts and hosting college radio shows while attending State University of New York at Binghamton in upstate New York. Soon after, he began booking tours for bands, some of which he had booked to play at his college a few months or years earlier.

Originally starting in his apartment in Chicago, The Windish Agency began with minimum expectations and the desire to be the best agency possible for artists that he loved. The agency continues to keep the goals and needs of the artists at the center of its business by finding inventive and thoughtfully constructed ways to bring their live performances to fans.

Currently, The Windish Agency holds offices in Chicago, New York, Toronto and Los Angeles. The company books tours in the United States, Canada, Central America, South America, Australia, Asia and parts of Europe and Africa. Windish and his growing staff of twenty five oversee the tours of many artists including Animal Collective, Crystal Castles, Matt and Kim, Dirty Projectors, Fever Ray, Girl Talk, Hot Chip, Jose Gonzales, Justice, Lykke Li, Miike Snow, Pink Martini, The xx, Yeasayer, and one of his very first clients, Low. 

For more info on The Windish Agency please visit windishagency.com.