Thursday, 26 September 2013

Its time to get a promoter

Over the last few weeks we have been looking at the relationship between a professional band and its consumers (the people who listen to your music), its customers (the people who pay you to play) and its suppliers (the people who supply you goods and services).
Last week week we looked at how the game changes when you start taking the door and how this subtle change in relationship has a big impact on how successful your gigs will be.

This week we take it up another notch and look what happens when you start dealing with a Promoter.

Promoters sometimes have a bad reputation, mainly due to some pretty dodgy things that have gone down in the past and occasionally continue to do so. That doesn't make them all bad, it just means you have to be weary and know how to get the most out of a promoter.

Lets say a promoter rings you up and wants you to play at a concert they are promoting in a few months, lets call it "La De Day Out".
What is the relationship between you, the Promoter, the Venue and the people that come?
Who is responsible for Marketing and Promotion?

Lets start with the Venue...
The Promoter is the Venues customer. The Promoter pays the Venue for using the Venue to hold their event.
The Promoter may get the Venue to run the bar and may or may not get a cut of the bar or sell the rights to run the bar depending on the terms of the deal. If the promoter gets a cut of the bar, then this still makes the Promoter a customer of the venue and this would generally only happen on very large events.

The Promoter sells tickets to the event, the people that buy tickets are the Promoters customers.

The Promoter hires bands for the show, the Promoter is the bands customer.
The band is not selling music, the band is renting the bands Brand to the promoter.
The Promoter uses this brand to make their event look attractive enough for people to pay money to buy tickets.
This is why some posters have bands highlighted in bigger letters than others. The more valuable your brand is at selling tickets, the bigger your name will be on the posters and this is a really good way of telling how good your Marketing is working. The most valuable brand is called "The Headline Act".

The Promoter pays you no matter how many people show up.
The Promoter sells tickets to the show for however much the Promoter likes because they are taking a BIG risk.
If nobody shows up, they still have to pay everyone. If its a full house, then the Promoter can make a truckload of money (note, this rarely happens).

The people that come to the event because you are playing are your consumers.
The people that come to the event because another band are playing and have never heard of you before are your potential consumers. The people coming to the event are also the Venues consumers.

The Promoter is 'renting' your brand for their event, that means its in your interest to Market this brand as hard as you can to make it as valuable to the Promoter as possible.

The Promoter is responsible for "Promoting" the event, all they are doing is advertising the Where, When and Who. They may also do some Marketing of you but this is squarely aimed at Promoting the event and is not entirely genuine (they aren't doing it out of the goodness of their heart and it may not have a long term impact, they are doing it to increase the value of your brand beyond what they are paying you). In other words, it is far better that you do the Marketing because Marketing that you do is worth something to you, Marketing that the Promoter does is worth more to the Promoter.

Where it gets confusing is that the Promoter may also do another type of Marketing as well. If they have a regular or annual event, they may Market this to make it more appealing.
For example, for "La de Day Out", they will run advertising, facebook messages to try to create the image that La De Day Out is the best annual festival in the country. This increases the value of the events brand which may result in people buying tickets no matter who is playing.

This is the holy grail for a Promoter because then bands will want to come and play at their event to increase the value of the bands Brand. ie "We played at La De Day Out last year".
This gives the Promoter leverage to decrease the costs of the bands because it is more valuable for a band to perform at the event than what it is to get paid cash.

The bands can then use the fact that they played at La De Day Out to increase the value of their brand and get paid more at all their other gigs. This is where I throw caution to the wind because Promoters are VERY good at talking up the value of their events. If a promoter opens a sentence with "It will be great exposure for you" then generally if someone needs to tell you it will be great exposure, it won't be great exposure.

If you are contracted by a Promoter, you generally don't do any promotion of the event without asking the Promoter first. You are free to Market yourself as much as you like (unless you are planning on doing a controversial publicity stunt that is), but you need to leave the event Promotion up to the Promoter unless they specifically ask you to do something. You might tack an "Appearing at La De Day Out on X Date" at the end of your Marketing initiatives which the Promoter will be very happy about or you might work on a joint press release with the Promoter that combines both Marketing of your band, Promotion of the event and Marketing of the event all in one release.

Working with Promoters represents the next step up on the scale towards "Making It". Next week we will take it one step further.