What Not To Do When Starting In Music Promotion
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What Not To Do When Starting In Music Promotion

If you want to get deeper into the music business and can't wait to start booking more shows to make a difference in your local scene, you might want to cut these habits out in order to satisfy the needs of yourself, the musicians and the music community you are serving.

I can't believe a I'm writing such a list but there are so many times, at a show, I see promoters making the same mistakes which can end with frustration of the bands, the fans and themselves.

Please note that in certain situations, particular items on this list might be okay if done in moderation

Here we go.

1. Catering to particular bands / showing favouritism.

Your buddy or a buddy of your buddy is in a band and wants to play! Awesome. Book them. Wait, they're coming back again? Weren't they just here last week? I already spent my $15 watching them play the same set last time. 

Seriously, stop over-saturating if your promotion is catering to a smaller fan base or the few hundred people you have as friends on Facebook, especially if you're not in a big city with multiple venue choices for music lovers. Most of them will only pony up the dough so many times to see certain acts, especially indie/unsigned and/or local ones. Have some diversity, not just who is in your Top Played list on your iPod.

2. Promising a certain pay and not following through.

This happens more than it should. The band is offered "x" amount of money, they spend the time to load up their gear, usually with some members booking the day off from their other jobs. They spend the gas money to travel and end up playing for peanuts. This is not cool and I should not have to explain why. This makes you look bad, it can make your venue look bad and sometimes the actual city. Why would the band ever want to return?

3. Placing a band on a bill they never fully agreed to.

I had never seen this happen but a few musical acquaintances have told me stories of this happening to them. It starts with a casual discussion about the possibility of playing somewhere in the near future and then, the next thing a band knows, their logo is on a poster for a show they barely knew about and they're finding out over text, from a friend or from an event invite on Facebook. Do not count your chickens before they hatch, do not assume the band is coming and especially don't put a band name on a poster just to get your show attention without full mutual agreement from the band itself.

4. Not promoting / selling tickets yourself

In all the namedropping and social media statuses, sometimes promoters forget what a promoter actually is.

Let's check the dictionary, shall we?

1. A person that promotes, furthers or encourages.

2. A person who organizes and provides financial backing for a sporting event or entertainment.

Main point here: Don't make the bands do 100% of the selling and pushing of the event. They need time to practicefor your event too or both you and them will suffer in the near future. When it comes to the distribution of the money at the end of the night, if at all possible while remaining in line with your previous agreements, give a reasonable amount to the acts who actually had some audience / financial pull for the show, don't just give it all to the headliner who brought five people (half who are usually girlfriends or friends acting as crew).

And the rest:

- Leaving no room in the venue for gear.

- Having a lack of communication.

- Having a lack of organization.

- Playing a disappearing act at your own show.

- Only doing music promotion for the money.

- Mistreatment of musicians based on age (too much disrespect/discouragement of younger talent)

- Having an overall lack of commitment to your own causes.

- Unwillingness to sacrifice ego for career and skill development.

- Being difficult to collaborate with (lack of compromise, progress, conversation, etc).

- Lack of attention to detail (quality of sound, quality of the set-up, etc).

-  Lack of communication (or incorrect communication) about important details (location, set times, payment, etc).

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Comments (2)

Thank you. I understand musicians aren't always the most professional, but if your going to start organizing events, you should be professional.Also, word gets around. If you treat one band poorly, other bands will hear about it.

this article for me; as a show go-er. Was pretty awesome. I can't begin to explain how many shows I've been to where I've seen or heard that these things were happening. It's pretty bad sometimes. I've been to a few shows where the bands got mad and left because there was a disagreement due to lack of communication, and the bands were under the assumption that they would be getting paid and they weren't. I'm glad someones showing interest in the professional side of things and what not to do. Really great article. It's a must read for everyone!