Show Promoters: How Well Do You Know Your Business? Part 2

All right, let’s get slightly historical for a second. Artists and show promoters are usually cut from the same cloth. A lot of times, show promoters are music artists themselves, so they are highly sensitive to being righteous about the shows they throw. Then you have your promoters that are just really big fans of the music and they just want to do their part. Both types kind of adopt a particular ethos in setting up what constitutes a great show or not. They would rather risk not paying the rent than letting a musically-blasphemous band take the stage, even if they knew said band would pack the house. This righteousness is admirable, but I do not understand why anyone would waste funds over it. At the outset, I just wonder why the greater music community (artists and fans) is not initially involved in the decision of what makes events worthwhile. You just do not here promoters wondering who/what the mass populace wants to see.


While this situation of the standards-driven promoter is not a bad thing, I wonder why they still suck at getting people to fill venues. Call me an idealist or obtuse, but I just feel like they should be awesome at the business side by this point. I mean, c’mon, there should be eons of experience in a local-dive-bar-with-a-stage near you! Truth is, many of my local promoters (which actually includes me at times, I’ll admit) have been doing half-assed work for so long that it is only making things worse for artists. There are not enough promoters that are transparent enough to trust. Then promoters put way too much expectancy on artists to bring crowds, which makes me ask “what’s the point of your job then?” If you are a promoter, then you should have the social capital to get a certain amount of people out on your own command. For those that don’t understand what I mean by social capital, then I want to ask you to quit now before you piss off another band.

I have been reading The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber and he touches on how quantification is crucial to making improvements in one’s business. This concept had me thinking why I kept having unstable results with my shows. I NEVER TOOK THE TIME TO QUANTIFY MY CONSUMER BASE FOR THE EVENTS I THREW. I did try my hand at permission marketing with attempts to get show attendees to sign up for mailing lists and the like. It is a pretty tall task to convince drunken youngins that you are not a bad guy and you just want to continue giving them reasons to party. I never stuck with it long enough to really find it effective. Truth be told, I bet this would be a worthwhile tool if I kept at it.

With me using social media so heavily, I find myself becoming increasingly annoyed lately by promoters wasting time by spamming their “friends” via MySpace and Facebook. I think I may need to create a slogan to put a lid on this stupidity; something like “Friends Don’t Let Friends Waste Each Others’ Time With Internet Spam.” If you think about it, your real friends should want to come to your event on grand principle. The other people that you are trying to reach are not really paying attention, because you are just like every other spam promoter. You know what, let me set up the first tenet to becoming a better promoter:

1. You are in the business of personal interaction, so build personal relationships with people. If you do not really know your MySpace/Facebook friends, then how can you really expect them to support your events? Unless you have booked MC Hammer, then no one is going to care!

If you profess to be a promoter, you should be a people person. You should be very likable. It should not be a chore to be around a crowd and it would help if you are open to talking to said crowd. During this time of interacting with your potential customers/patrons, you should be trying to find things you have in common with them, not just setting up your elevator pitch to had them a flyer. The purpose behind this is to build a long-term relationship with your customer. I use the term customer because that’s what they are! If you are planning to have a monetary relationship with these folks, then you need to see you are in the customer service business. You have internal and external customers as a show promoter. Internal being the artists; your external customer is your show attendee. Get it? Got it? I hope so.

Once you build a strong core of like-minded people that you can leverage whenever you throw an event, you will find the promotional process to be much easier as these folks will be obliged to aid you in making your event a success. You don’t have to keep sending reminders as people will actually ask you when your next show is. This personal connection also makes you a lot more aware of how you come across to your friend/customer. There is a book I would like to quote, but I haven’t read it yet. I imagine it’s a book by Seth Godin. Which one? I do not know, probably all of them. I am digressing though, so I am going to stop here.

I am going to release all the tenets in part 3. This one is a little long, so take this in, comment and get ready to talk smack on the possibly-controversial list to come later this week.

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