Why We Wrote This Guide

This guide was written to give readers an idea of what a promoter is and how they contribute to the live music industry. As an artist live performances are one of the most important aspects of your career. An article from TorrentFreak lists touring and live performances as the highest-earning revenue stream for musicians. This is why working with a skilled and connected promoter can be very beneficial for artists and venue owners.

Who This Guide Is For

  • Artists looking to have more insight on the tour booking process and promoters
  • Venue Owners interested in learning more about the importance of working with good promoters
  • Individuals interested in learning more about tour promotion


Types of Promoters

As an artist, it’s important to understand the types of promoters that you will be working with in the industry. Some promoters are working to promote you and your brand and other promoters are working to promote your live performances and appearances. Both types of promoters can greatly benefit your career so it’s important to know the basic things that they should do and offer you.

Artist Promoters
Artist promoters are typically an important part of an artist’s team. They work closely with artists and their agents to help widen the reach of their clients’ music and broaden their audience.

Venue-tied Concert Promoters
Venue-tied promoters work for a specific venue and their primary function is to bring in artists and performers for live shows. They’ll do things like organize events, book bands, and advertise the shows. Ultimately they’ll work to put on the biggest and most successful show possible for artists and venue managers.

Independent Concert Promoters
Independent concert promoters do a very similar job to venue-tied promoters but the primary difference is that independent promoters are not tied to any specific venue. This means that an independent promoter can connect artists to several different venues to better fit their preferences. This type of concert promoter can be more beneficial to artists because they are not tied to a specific venue and can choose one that may be more convenient for the artist and their fans.

What does a promoter do?

Concert Promoters
There is a lot that goes into putting on a successful concert and often a concert promoter is intimately involved in the process. One of the first and most important things a concert promoter does is contact artists and band managers or agents to schedule concerts or events and connect them with an appropriate venue. Venue-tied concert promoters will automatically connect the artists to their venue. The promoter will then work to negotiate fees with venue owners, agents, and artists. These fees commonly include things like any fees that the venue may charge, accommodation costs, and riders. After the promoter, artist, and agent are on the same page the promoter is ready to start publicizing the event. Many promoters will publicize the event through social media, radio and TV ads, email lists, and word of mouth. Often promoters will also handle some off-stage needs like accommodations and anything an artist may include in their rider agreement. One of the final things the promoter will do with the artist and/or their agent is create a contract of their own that outlines things like any fees owed to the promoter or venue owner, dates and rehearsal times, length of performance, the rider details for the artist, etc.

Artist Promoters
On top of promoting and publicizing the live performances of artists, artist promoters help promote the artist themselves and their music. They create promotional material such as press kits, press releases, promotional records, and “one-sheets” and attempt to gain an understanding of the artist’s image and music to find the demographic the artist will most appeal to. The artist promoter will then connect the artist’s work with the best promotional outlet for their art. This means contacting playlist curators and radio program directors that may be into their artist’s sound.

How do promoters get paid?

A promoters’ pay is dependent upon a few different factors, including:

- What kind of promotion work they’re doing for the artist
- The deal made with the band or agent
- How popular the artist is

Making money as a small indie promoter can be quite difficult since your pay is typically based on the success or popularity of your artist. This is why it’s important to understand the details of how you’re going to earn money in this field if it is something you’re interested in pursuing.

Concert promoters
One deal that concert promoters and artists or agents can work out is called a door-split-deal. This means that the promoter and artist will split the proceeds from ticket sales in whatever proportions they agree upon. Often, the success or popularity of the artist can play a role in the split. For example, a more successful artist may get 80 percent of the proceeds while the promoter gets 20 percent whereas a lesser-known artist may split the money 50/50 with the promoter. This type of deal is more common for small independent or up-and-coming artists because their show’s success is typically not guaranteed.

Most established artists with strong followings prefer to have a set guaranteed fee. This means they are guaranteed a certain amount of money regardless of ticket sales and the success of the show. In this type of payment deal, the promoter will be paid with the ticket sales that remain after they recoup their expenses from putting on the show and paying their artist their guaranteed fee.

It’s important to note that independent concert promoters take on a larger risk when promoting for an artist or venue. This is because they use their own money to book the venue, pay the artist, and create promotional materials such as posters and online advertisements, relying on successful ticket sales to make a profit. Concert promoters that are working with a promotion agency or venue are typically not responsible for covering these costs alone.

Artist Promoters
Artist promoters are typically paid by the artist themselves if they are unsigned or working with a smaller independent label but some larger labels may assume the responsibility of paying an artists’ promoter. This could either be a flat fee paid by the artist or the artists’ label or a percentage of income based on the success of the artists live performances.

Do I need to hire an artist promoter?

As an artist, and especially as an unsigned artist, hiring an artist promoter or working with a promotion agency can be very beneficial for you but it isn’t mandatory. Self-promotion is certainly possible but new or smaller artists typically don’t have the resources or connections that professional promoters or promotion agencies have. The music industry is currently flooded with new artists struggling to build a platform or fanbase to jumpstart their careers and get their music heard by the masses. Hiring an artist promoter could be the very thing that helps you stand out and make greater connections within the industry. In short, no, you don’t have to hire an artist promoter but if it’s in your budget, it’s in your best interest to do so.


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