How to be a Concert Promoter

By Eric Hammer

Being a concert promoter may sound like a dream to many people, however you should be aware that not only is it a real job which requires real work, it is also a job where you could lose tens of thousands of dollars in a relatively short period of time.

Put simply, a concert promoter is the person who arranges for a band to have a concert at a particular venue. They arrange the venue, they arrange for the tickets to be sold and advertising to be taken out. Concert promoters also make sure of course that the band actually shows up on schedule for the event so that everything goes off smoothly.

So what's not to like? You get to hang out with famous musicians and singers and go to concerts all the time right? Well, yes, you do all those things. You also however have to make sure that the concert goes off without a hitch and that's where problems can arise.

In contracts with lesser known acts, the band usually makes a deal to take a share of the profits. However, if you were to book a major name, not only will you have to compete against the big boys who have millions of dollars in backing behind them, but you'll also have to guarantee a certain payout to the talent regardless of profits.

Plus, even when working with lesser known groups, you are still the guy on the hook for all the expenses involved in paying for the concert to come off and if the tickets don't sell, you lose money.

How Much Can You Make?

It is impossible to quantify how much you could make as a concert promoter. Those who work with major talents such as Madonna, Justin Bieber or Elton John easily rake in millions of dollars per year. However, all those people started out working on lesser known acts and built themselves up. Plus, even those who work with the big acts can lose money if something goes wrong. For example, when concert promoters in Israel booked Elvis Costello for a concert and he later backed out of the deal, they lost tens of thousands of dollars on the deal.

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Keep in mind that even when dealing with minor talents, you are going to be facing huge egos. It pays to be the sort of person for whom flattery comes naturally. You need to be able to schmooze with agents and with the talent and explain to them why they should sign with you and not with someone else.

You also need to be able to show these people that you have the connections and the wherewithal to get them into the venue they want to be in. Obviously the local boy band who plays in a garage is not going to expect to be booked into Madison Square Garden, but if they've already had a few gigs and they've built a following, they're going to expect you to be able to get them into a decent venue and not some church basement.

Speaking of that, if you don't have the funds and or the backers to get a concert going, do not try to book it. The concert promoter who has to cancel a concert because he or she simply ran out of funds is the generally soon going to be the guy working the counter at McDonalds and telling anyone who will listen how he used to be a concert promoter.

Qualifications / Requirements

While there is no formal education required to be a concert promoter, you need to know a great deal about the music business and how to deal with problems. If you do not understand every intricacy of the music business then you are not yet ready to be a concert promoter.

First Steps

Start by reading everything you can find about the music industry. Then, either take a job as an assistant to a concert promoter or at least work in a venue where concerts typically take place. It's important to get that experience before you strike out on your own. Finally, make sure that you have the money to be a concert promoter or that you have backers who have signed guarantees to fund the concert no matter what happens.

Resources

Check out these helpful resources to find out more about being a concert promoter:

WiseGeek: How Do I Become a Concert Promoter - A good, basic guide to starting out in the business of being a concert promoter.

Concert Promotions.Net - We usually don't like to recommend sites like this since they are so obviously trying to sell you something, however there is some good information here. Whether the book they are selling is worth anything however, we can't tell you.

eHow: How to Become a Concert Promoter - Some additional information here which seems useful, though the writer is a bit cheeky in his approach.


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