What responsibilities does a Music Promoter undertake?

Posted by Daniel Hodson (Updated: Wednesday, March 24, 2021)

Approximately 4 minutes reading time

What jobs fall into the music promoter role?

The fundamental occupation of a music promoter is to promote, organise and run a show. They work closely with venues, bands, artists, booking agents and managers to ensure a straightforward and logistically successful event. Promoters are primarily responsible for ensuring the word gets out about the show, and to sell as many tickets as possible within their territory. This is how the business model for a music promoter functions; they agree a fee for the musical act, and factor additional costs such as venue, sound engineer, light engineer, riders and accommodation, with the overall objective of selling enough tickets to profit on the investment.

The role of a music promoter can vary based on what level they are operating at. For example, if covering a singular venue and dealing with upcoming bands/artists is the level at which they work at, the work involved is minimal in comparison to an international music promoter company, such as Livenation. With that said, the responsibility left to a music promoter in general is high, as they are expected to tend to many tasks.

Securing a band or artist

Collaborating with the band/artist or booking agent on an agreed date for the show is important, as other musical events in that city may cause for less of a turnout. Timing is key! Negotiating a deal with the band/artist or booking agent is critical for the promoter, as this, for the most part, is where the majority of their investment will lie. This deal often incorporates a rider (food and drink), and accommodation, subject to the band/artist size.

Dependent on the size of the headline artist, many promoters encourage the acceptance of local support acts. This helps the local areas develop its music scene, and gives incredible opportunities to smaller acts, not to mention the incentive for ticket sales they can bring having a local following of fans, friends and family. If the act is medium/large, local support isn’t always an option, as the package deal is usually part of a tour and included in that package comes the designated support bands, handpicked by the headliners management and booking agent.

Preparing for the event

Finding the best venue in terms of location, and whether or not a genre is traditionally attached to that venue is important. Promoting a show that isn’t in a town, city or residential area would be an additional obstacle to overcome when trying to draw a crowd. Based on the size and popularity of a band or artist, the promoter may have to do more legwork to get the word out to sell tickets, this is where strategic marketing comes into play. Teaming up with local radio stations, giving out flyers, posters, targeting social media campaigns accordingly and working with local press is but a few steps a music promoter can take to secure a successful show.

Finding a good sound engineer can be the make or break for a good night of live music, and it is within the music promoters’ interest to hire someone that is both cost effective to their event, that can also ensure a good quality sound performance that justifies the musical acts.

Laying out clearly defined running show times is imperative for everyone. Legally, a venue can only play music of a certain volume till a set time in many countries, but aside from this, the audience is there to watch the headliner. A late headliner can leave the audience disgruntled, so keeping within time restraints must be attained to. This responsibility, depending on the size of the event, falls to the music promoter and sound technician to cut sets short if absolutely necessary.

Why promoters require a contract

Although it is common for small music promoters to skip on the formality of a contact, when dealing with money between businesses, whether large or small, a contract should be a must. The smallest of shows will often work from a percentage split agreement of ticket sales, as opposed to a set booking fee, as this helps guarantee some financial safety for the music promoter, thus making a contract important, even for smaller events. In general, it is in the music promoter and band/artists interest to have a contract in place stating who is responsible for what at the show. Contracts for a bigger band/artist are a standard, as a lot of money is at risk, and everyone needs to know that they are legally covered.

Could you become a music promoter?

Becoming a music promoter is not for everyone, it can be a high pressure, stressful environment, but equally extremely rewarding. As with most careers, with experience comes skill, so reaching out to your local venue or music promoter to get your hands dirty in the world of a music promoter is the best thing you can do! If you want to work for yourself, do your research; start small and assess the market and demand for small to intermediate sized bands. In reality, a good music promoter can be difficult to find, so if you do a good job and pack a room in your local area, the word will get around and you will be able to develop your reputation, expand the venues you work with, work with bigger acts, and forge a career from it. There are some international promoter companies that host the likes of Summerfest, Coachella and Glastonbury Festival, if you learn your stuff and prove your worth, you might even have a shot at working for one of these companies some day.

Can you make bank as a music promoter?

The profession of a music promoter is one of the most varied when it comes to income. If you’re working with an international artist that can sell out arenas, some reports in the media state a popular act can surpass the $1,000,000 mark for a single performance, whilst new, local acts will be lucky to earn $30 on a door split. Many small promoters do not live solely off of promoting musical events, and see it as a side income. The possibility of falling into debt can be an issue too, so doing your research and making commitments must be as informed as possible beforehand.

Daniel Hodson

Daniel Hodson is a co-founder of Music Missile, and the drummer and founder of various UK bands. His passion stems from both studying and working in the music industry for the past decade.

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