Being a music promoter can be a fun and rewarding career. Like a music agent, a music promoter is responsible for promoting a specific band or singer in an effort to help their career. An agent tends to be the person who gets the band shows and appearances to do, while the promoter may work more closely with media and ad executives to plan strategies in getting them noticed. Their pay will vary, based on the level of success of the band, and the situation in which you work.
Music promoters may work closely with music agents, or in some cases, they may be one and the same. To become a promoter, it is important that you understand the music industry from all aspects of the business, and know what it takes to make it successful. The music business is a tough business though, because it is unpredictable. This is because people tend to be somewhat “fickle” when it comes to their musical tastes. In the music business, artists who had a #1 hit often stay there 2 weeks, then drop like a rock to #19 without a moment’s notice. For this reason, it is tough to keep a band you are promoting on top very long. This may be why some music promoters who do it full time choose to promote several acts, instead of one. Either way, from a music agent or promoter’s perspective, it is a tough (but glamorous) business.
The traditional route to become a music promoter might include a 4-year degree in music, marketing, or public relations, much like the background we recommend for a music agent.
AN ALTERNATE ROUTE
Alternately, someone interesting in being a music promoter could have a background in radio, where they are exposed to a lot of different artists and types of music, or they could focus on marketing or other coursework which prepares them for the challenges of this business.
STEPS TO BECOMING A MUSIC PROMOTER
Once you decide to get the background necessary for becoming a music promoter, or if you think you have what it takes already, here are some steps to take to start this career:
1) Work for a well-established music promotions agency. These types of businesses tend to promote big artists, so your chances at promoting someone who turns out to be big increases. Like any career in the arts, though, it will be harder to get a job in the bigger markets at first. So, start small by promoting some local bands first.
2) Establish a reputation as a dynamite local promoter. If you show what you can do locally, you will build credibility on a higher level. Find a promising young startup band who seems to have the special something and see what you can do for them. If you are successful, you can put it in your portfolio to show your work to others later. As the old saying goes, “You have to walk before you can run.”
3) Study what other successful promoters have done. Much of the fame of The Beatles is credited to their promoter, Bryan Epstein. An England music “entrepreneur,” he is the one who supposedly got the idea for the similar “mop top” haircuts, pressed suits and ties, and energetic smiles that won the world over. This combination of insight and foresight became the staple of this group, which is now thought of by most as the most successful musical act to ever strap on a guitar.
4) Work the concert arena too. To get a broader range of experiences in the music promotion business, be a concert promoter too. This makes good sense, since you will be engaging in concert promotion, as well as bookings, and media promotion of albums once you land a gig with a successful band. The more you learn about the music business from all aspects, the more equipped you will be to handle all situations.
5) If you want to be a pro, network with pros. Earl Nightingale, the positive thinking guru of the 60’s and 70’s had a saying: “If you want to be rich and famous, act like you are rich and famous.” This is somewhat paraphrased but his point was that you should act as if you have already achieved what your goal is. So, if you consider yourself a pro, build a network of pros, work on your craft, and you’ll be surprised how easily you’ll fit right in.
Life as a music promoter is a rewarding and challenging one. You can work for a small or larger promotions company, work the concert circuit, or go it alone and start your own promotions biz. The music business is unpredictable so it is exciting to see what will happen next. Promote a band you believe in, and never give up. If they are good enough, they will be noticed eventually. Learn what the crowd wants and you too may be chanting, “Give me money…..that’s what I want!”