It's easy to confuse the work of concert promoters with that of talent buyers, booking agents, and other behind-the-scenes players in the live music business, and for good reason: there's plenty of overlap. But while a talent buyer books performers for the venue where they work, and a booking agent represents performers seeking to set up live shows, concert promoters aren't affiliated with a venue or an artist. Rather, they independently plan and produce live events from top to bottom—single shows, tours, festivals, and special events.
Promoters need to be as disciplined as they are passionate, able to negotiate intelligently, keep tight control over expenses, and pay careful attention to the myriad details involved in producing a live music event.
For the concert promoter, every job begins with budgeting: determining the right amount of money to spend on a concert, tour, or festival in order to maximize returns. Concert promotion is a numbers game, and since promoters assume all of the financial risk for the shows they put on, they have to be sure that the event will be profitable. Success hinges entirely on the promoter's music and market savvy, negotiating skills, and ability to recruit an audience.
Once a budget is in place, the promoter secures performers, negotiating contracts and fees with both the performer's and the venue's teams—although some concert-promotion companies own venues, making the latter unnecessary. A slew of work follows, any of which can be outsourced to a third party if budget allows: designing and executing a marketing strategy; arranging travel, transportation, and lodging for the artist and crew, as well as on-site hospitality; devising a rider (a set of requests—usually creature comforts) with the artist; creating a production schedule with venues for load-in, load-out, lighting, and sound; and, if the event is a festival, hiring a festival director and event operations coordinators to handle goods, services, security, and logistics.
Concert Promoter at a Glance
The concert-promotion industry is dominated by corporate behemoths like Live Nation and AEG Presents, but small, independent promoters—often operating regionally—have managed to carve out a niche. Most concert promoters start out organizing events, concerts, and festivals at their college or within their local area. Some go on to become interns and assistants at any of the aforementioned concert-promotion companies, where they can advance within their departments, while others found their own independent concert-promotion companies. Success as a concert promoter means having access to bigger acts and better venues, and creating well-attended, talked-about, and financially successful events.
Aspiring concert promoters can get experience by putting on house concerts in their home or at friend's place—handling the booking, ticketing, promotion, and production. Entry-level jobs and internships are also available at major concert promotion companies like C3 Presents, Live Nation, AEG Presents, Bowery Presents, Another Planet Entertainment, and Jam Productions.
- Event production
- General knowledge of performing artists
- General knowledge of music venues
While a love of live music is a helpful quality for any concert promoter, it's not enough to make it in this risky and competitive business. To succeed, concert promoters must be as disciplined as they are passionate, capable of keeping tight control over expenses. They must also be highly detail-oriented, both while planning and producing live events and while sitting at the negotiation table with artists, agents, and managers.
Concert promotion is a consuming job, which requires performing business duties—usually out of an office—by day and attending shows at night and on the weekend. Concert promoters are constantly networking with other music business professionals, and constantly searching for up-and-coming artists with momentum and strong fan bases. In the lightning-speed world of social media and viral sensations, concert promoters have to be ready at all times to capitalize on changes in the music community.