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What does a music promoter do?

Updated April 17, 2017

Music promoters produce live concerts, be they local events or national acts. A promoter can be an individual or a whole company, but the end result is always the same: produce an exciting live music experience. While music promotion can be rewarding, it will be stressful and time consuming as well. Promoters are responsible for the attendees, bands and venue staff; letting down any one of these can lead to a ruined reputation and career.

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Music promotion as a business

Promoters will work with the venue on contract; sometimes the promoter will pay to rent the property, while other times the venue operator will provide compensation as a percentage of door sales and/or money made at the bar---a solid track record is needed for the former.

There are many different ways a promoter can bring folks through the door: national acts bring a large draw, and "pay to play" is popular when promoting local acts. Through pay to play, a band literally buys tickets from the promoter to sell for their show; it's not popular among bands but it guarantees profit for the promoter.


Music promotion is often a cash business and, as such, may lead to a number of discrepancies. Issues concerning door prices, maximum occupancy, when the venue must close (and when its allowed to start live music), how much to pay bands and what percentage promoters take home are all considered in lengthy and detailed contracts.

Promoters are often the first people attacked after an unsuccessful show. Contracts protect the promoter and the venue from unfair law suits.


Getting people to an event is the primary goal of any promoter. There are a number of ways to accomplish this including flyers to post outside, at venues or on car windshields; e-mail lists which grow after each event; social networking sites and event listings.

By branding the promoter or promotion company itself---rather than the bands---a loyal fan base grows that will follow the promoter to shows and events no matter who's playing.

A well known promoter

Peter James "G" Grant is among the better known music promoters. He saw a market for 1960s music and embraced it, rather than exploiting it. Grant managed some of the best known bands of his time, among which were the Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin and Bad company.

How to start promoting

The best way to start promoting is by working with an experienced and established company or individual. Look up promotion companies in your area and give them a call asking if they need interns or part timers---you will gain valuable experience without risking your own finances or reputation.

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About the Author

David Sachs is an industry music writer in Orange County. His articles regularly appear in OC Music Magazine and are occasionally contributed to Dealerscope Magazine and the OC Register. He has taken his love of music and continues to share what he learns from daily adventures in his writing.

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