With a state as big as Texas, it’s hard to imagine there can be a company so in tune with the differences and nuances between all of the metropolitan hubs—especially with all their different personalities. That is, of course, until you learn about Margin Walker Presents.
Margin Walker Presents is a live-music promotions, creative events, and marketing company. They’re based in Austin and Dallas but works diligently to provide good times to all of Texas’ major cities.
We had the opportunity to talk to their ‘Marketing Sorcerer/Booking Squire’ Chris “Guch” Sakaguchi, who has worked on huge products in music, including Fun Fun Fun Fest.
Can you tell us a little bit behind the name and story behind Margin Walker Presents?
It’s the name of a Fugazi EP and song. They’re one of our favorite bands.
You’re based in Austin and Dallas, but you do shows for all the major metropolitan areas in Texas. How would you say you treat those cities differently for booking purposes? Do you prefer one over the other?
Each city is slightly different. We’ve had major success in every city. It mainly comes down to the artists and venues and how things all fit together.
Where do you see the music scene going in the future for Texas?
Smaller venues and DIY venues are having a tough time. Overall, I think the industry is losing sight of growing bands in a live setting. Millions of views or streams might only translate to a couple hundred tickets. Sometimes eyes get too big.
What’s the biggest challenge for booking in Texas?
The sheer size of the state can make routing difficult sometimes. Artists will just come down for a show or two rather than go all the way to San Antonio or El Paso.
Is there a “Margin Walker” formula for success? How do you guys discover new artists to book?
Do good work. It’s as simple as that. The promoters that you see stick around are the ones that treat everyone right. We’re all from Texas and we simply want to make cool things happen. We can’t do that without the trust of artists, agents, managers, and most importantly, the fans.
As far as discovery, we are all huge music nerds. Whether its streaming services, social media, or good old fashioned word of mouth, we constantly have our ears out for new stuff.
And for a little bit more personal…
Your title is “Marketing Sorcerer/Booking Squire,” what exactly does that entail? How’d you get started with Margin Walker?
I handle day-to-day marketing management for shows in all markets and work on our festival, Sound on Sound. In addition, I’ve started booking shows this year. We all have areas of music that we know the best, and I’m putting my knowledge to the test. I’ll probably have 25 shows that’ve personally booked this year, some of which have already sold out, which obviously feels good and excites me to start booking more. As a whole though we’re averaging around 1,000 shows a year as a company across Texas.
Most of us used to be at a company called Transmission Events and produced Fun Fun Fun Fest. I started there as an intern in the spring of 2011 and just stuck around, really.
You have quite the online presence, do you have a favorite social site?
Best “industry insider” story, since you used to work festivals as well?
I still work festivals. There’s the infamous ‘French Onion Soup’ debacle with Danzig at Fun Fun Fun Fest years ago, but my craziest was probably during SXSW 2011. The Strokes were playing a free show at Auditorium Shores, and the crowd was insane. The park was locked down for a long time. The stage manager sent a radio call for all hands to the pit of security or else they wouldn’t play. So I ended up with my back to them the whole set, pulling kids out of the crowd because they were passing out.
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