One of the great lies I hear from bands that haven’t made in the music business is that promoters don’t promote enough for their shows. Really? A PROMOTER whom by title and definitions job it is to promote isn’t promoting enough? I call a serious BS to this excuse that musicians use to not be accountable for their poor numbers. I have yet to meet either as a musician or a business person a promoter that didn’t promote. We are talking 30 years of playing or working in the business and I have never seen this. Even the small promoters work their fingers to the bone, pay the bands with what little came in and always go home with nothing while the bands bitch and complain and pretty much did no promotion what so ever.
It is my contention that most musicians don’t know what promotion truly is and wouldn’t recognize it if they saw it and they have no idea what is going on in the background. Is this harsh? Yes, but it is my experience dealing with musicians.
So let’s get this out of the way early. Yes, there are exceptions where maybe a promoter is new or doesn’t know what they are doing or maybe doesn’t have a budget but this is not what you normally deal with. Even still people who are promoting an event are usually very excited about their event and will promote it the hilt to the best of their ability which I can not say about musicians. Yes there are a few musicians out there that get it, but the majority don’t and they make excuses as to why they there are no people at their shows.
First and foremost, promoters are not in the business of losing money. Promoters are in the business of making money. They aren’t into taking chances and throwing away hard earned dollars by throwing an event and not promoting it. That is just plain stupid and not even close to reality. If you as a musician have met a promoter that is into throwing money away and you worked with them, then that is your fault for making a bad business decision. Hopefully you have learned form it and know what questions to ask next time.
As far as promoters taking advantage of local bands again a load of BS. If you are a local band, and you were lucky enough to get a spot on an event that has money behind it, you are already getting more than you are worth in advertising and promotion alone. It builds your brand, your credibility and if you actually drew in the minimum of 30 paid tickets you should be drawing in, then you will be remembered and brought in again and again as long as your work your butt off and keep brining in numbers. This does lead to getting paid and much better opportunities for you. If you are a local band opening for a A level or B level band, you are getting paid by getting in front of the audience that paid to see the headliner not you. This is a crowd that would never normally come see you. Understand the opportunity that it is, the opportunity you couldn’t normally afford to pay for yourself and make the most of it.
I can’t tell you how many times I stood in front of Bridgestone arena during a big concert by myself handing out promo cards while not one of the band members helped or how many times I was out ever day hanging posters and no help from the bands. 3 times I had a tiny bit of help hanging posters from 1 musician who did one small area of town with me and 2 others where a model and a friend helped me to 2 square blocks. Everything else was me every day hanging posters and hitting a previous area again every third day. The bands always had an excuse as to why they couldn’t help.
Promoters have their events listed on all the known event websites. They get their events in all the local entertainment rags. They set up radio interviews and advertising. They do email blasts over and over again. They have social media accounts that they promote on. They hang posters all over town over and over again because posters are always pulled down. This more promotion per event then most bands will do in a year for themselves let alone for just one event. What do musicians do? Maybe a couple Facebook posts or tweets and call that promotion.
In a perfect world, each event will be promoted to the hilt by the promoter, venue and bands. Will this happen? Maybe, maybe not. The reality is this. Each musician or band is responsible for their success and the success of each event no matter what anyone else does. You can never rely on someone else’s promotion for your business. YOU have to kill it each and every time. YOU cannot let excuses creep into your thought process. People pay to see bands that are good, the pay to see an experience. If they aren’t paying to see you, it’s not because of a lack of promotion by the venue or promoter. It’s because you aren’t giving them what they want yet. They don’t see anything worth paying for. YOU as a band have to learn how to separate people from their money. YOU have to learn how the become the EVENT that makes them put other things off and come see you instead of a movie or handing with friends.
As a promoter we have to do the same thing however, promoters learn quickly usually and bands seem to languish in poor work ethic and lack of creativity.
Bottom line is this. YOU have to toot your own horn and not expect anyone else to. YOU have to learn the skills to make this happen. YOU have to have a band that is dedicated to putting together a strategy to promote effectively. This means everyone in the band has to participate and quit using the “that just isn’t my thing” excuse. If you are in a band and you find that you don’t have the drive or the time to make this happen, then it is time re-evaluate your business and maybe step aside or just be comfortable with being a local band. There is nothing wrong with that. Getting up and playing music for any number of people is it’s own reward.
The music business isn’t the same as it was 20 years ago. There is very little money it, especially for bands that haven’t made it. Musicians wanted control of their careers so they could make more money and not get screwed. Well guess what, you got it. Now it is all your responsibility. The real work, the hard work is now up to you and you live and die by the sword.
Now you know why, bands had contracts that paid other people so much. They were the ones making you successful. They did all the hard work, the grunt work. They were the ones taking the risk and fronting the money so you could be a rock star.
Time to make a decision. Either you want it and will do everything as a unit possible to make it or you won’t, but quit blaming others for what you are not willing to do for yourself.
To all the bands that are doing it, keep it up! Never give up! Take the reigns of your business and do your best to dictate your success!