So you want to be a concert promoter? Many people have their own preconceived notion about how glamorous the music business is and believe that on the top of the food chain is the promoter. The reality is, a lot of planning and preparation must happen to be a successful concert promoter. Mistakes can be costly and can end your career before you even start. As a booking agent I have met and worked with hundreds of promoters, some I have even help them achieve their first concert. Here are some insights to succeed in this path.
The natural order, if there ever was one, is to immerse your self in the industry by interning or assisting another promoter and learn the ropes. Options include, but are not limited to booking a local band, being a band manager or working directly at a venue. One or all of these positions will give you the extra edge and insider knowledge you need in order to succeed as a concert promoter.
Here are a few steps to get your best foot in the door:
- Gain Experience with day to day logistics of putting on a concert
- Make connections with artists, their management, booking agents and local music business professionals
- Learn how to market a show
The first and most important piece of advice I will give you is to start small. Once you establish yourself as a concert promoter, you will want to build an excellent repertoire. Venues such as lounges, supper clubs and blues clubs will be easier to manage, staff, produce and have a successful event. Put on shows with acts you already have a relationship with (or relationship with their booking agent) and keep logistics to a minimum.
Relationships are key. By the time you promote your first event, you should have established a good relationship with a least one booking agent and concert venue. You should be privy to how a band is booked and signed for a show, how concert venues are booked and rented, and what goes into marketing a show. You should have a great understanding of the financial side of the industry. From artists’ fees, riders, ticketing to the percentage a concert venue promoter and/or venues takes.
Marketing a show is just as essential as getting the artist booked. If you can’t effectively get the word out that your act is coming to town no matter how great they are no one will show up at the gig. Depending on the size of the venue, you will need to exercise a wide range of marketing strategies that are appropriate for the music you are presenting. You can ask the venue for advice on what marketing has worked for their venue in the past.
Start small and think bigger for next time. Experience will make you better and able to deal with larger shows. Know that there are always risks in promoting concerts. The best promoters plan for minimal risks.
Once your business starts to grow, you can start building multi-city tours and promoting events in other cities. You can venture off into booking new acts and dealing with new booking agents because your repertoire will speak for itself. Being aware of the steps to becoming a successful concert promoter will give you the skeleton to build a prosperous career in the business. Best of luck to you!