Promoters can be very effective in breaking new bands and creating a music scene. A promoter is a person that contacts venues, sets up shows and assembles a bill of bands that he thinks will draw lots of patrons to the venue. Successful ones are usually well-connected, popular and fair to the core bands they work with.
I have seen many blossoming promoters in town that get bad reps because they mistreat bands and venues. It is really easy to get burned and banned from clubs, so here I offer up some hard-learned tips.
1) Don’t Rely on Bands for Promotions: The biggest mistake promoters make is putting the fate of the show in the band’s hands. As a promoter, it is your job to PROMOTE the living crap out of the show to ensure its success. Promoters have the responsibility to get the posters to the venue 6 weeks out, make handbill flyers to pass out at other shows, contact local music publications to promote the event, create and promote Facebook and MySpace events, email everyone you know, text message everyone you know, etc… Promoters should enlist the band’s help and motivate them to participate, but in the end, its your reputation on the line. Don’t blow it and don’t get lazy.
2) Assemble a Street Team: Every great promoter has had a loyal and effective street team by their side. A street team is a group of people that go around posting information about your show around town and assist in spreading the word. Street teams are very effective when properly coordinated and incentivized. Pay them or compesate them in some way. That way, everyone feels like they get something out of the relationship. Free tickets to the show works. So does free merch from the bands playing, free drinks and free food. To keep them engaged, schedule bi-weekly meetings and talk about successes and failures of promotional activities and get their feedback on your shows/band selections.
3) Set Attendance Expectations: This one is key. Set realistic attendance expectations for the show based on the venue, bands playing and amount of promotions done. It’s all a numbers game. For example, if you handout 5,000 handbill flyers, you should expect at least 1-2% (50-100) of those people to come out. Chances are more will, but expecting a 1% return on your promotional activities will set your expectations on the lower side. If the venue only holds 100 people, then you don’t need to do that big of a blitz, so you can adjust your promotional efforts accordingly. Another way to get a good idea of how many people are coming is to ask them to RSVP via text message, email or posts to your blog and give them incentives to do so (discounted ticket or free music). On the day of the show, make sure you communicate to the venues and bands what kind of crowd you are expecting.
4) Invest in Your Business: After you make a little cash from your shows, you should always re-invest in the business. You can go to bigger venues, raise the profile of the bands playing, invest in mass media advertising and grow the street team. You could even expand to neighboring cities and replicate your success. The key is to not get fat and happy and stop. It’s to keep building the business until you can make a living from it.