promoters come in for a hell of a lot of stick.
You've finally booked a gig in your local toilet, er,
venue, worked your balls off, subjected your mates to
your dubious noise and you're now waiting to get
you've played a support slot in a London dive, you
could be waiting a very long time. Played in a
regional pub back room? You're lucky if you get some
petrol money. The gig promoter is the guy that booked
you, so it's him who gets the sullen looks, but who's
making the money?
way, of course, you're just happy to have played the
gig in the first place. You've been hassling the guy
for months, and getting the same old runaround. You
can't tell if he's trying to fob you off, or if his
hands really are as tied as he makes out. The fact is
that many promoters in smaller venues (that is, up to
a 400 capacity) are keen to support local bands and
get them on the bill.
as the majority of gigs are booked through agents,
they have little room for manoeuvre. Agencies try to
bung in their hopeless bands that aren't going to
pull anybody just to annoy you.
course, looked at from the other angle, if your band
has got an agency deal, then you would much rather
get a booking over a struggling local act, wouldn't
you? That goes without saying, as there's little room
for altruism in this business unless you can afford
a thought, however, for the many poor souls who
haven't got someone toiling on their behalf (minus 15
per cent) to get them bigger and better gigs. There's
much resentment towards certain London venues, where
the queue of bands desperate to play often outnumbers
the punters. It wasn't that long ago that bands were
expected to fork out a deposit of, say, £50 and be
given a handful of tickets for them to sell for their
own gig in order to recoup the deposit. Those who
fail to do so end up paying to play. As there wasn't
exactly a shortage of eager wannabes, the practice
encouraged the more unscrupulous promoter to exploit
a saturated market.
improved slightly, but if you're first on at the
Garage in Islington in mid-week, be grateful for
petrol money.When it comes to the actual promotion of
a gig, how much can you expect from a gig promoter?
No easy answers there, as it depends hugely on the
level of the band. The common practice is for the
promoter to send out releases of forthcoming gigs to
all local media. This includes a myriad of free
listings magazines plus the local daily and weekly
newspapers. They go into the flyers that are handed
out at all the gigs across town.
hard work comes with what is essentially
self-promotion. For a start, it helps to have a
well-written biog (without any irritating waffle) and
a proper set of publicity photos done. It prevents
the promoter from feeling like a prat when he sends
out embarrassing and useless information about the
supposed next big thing.
if a promoter is hemmed in by agents' demands, it's
still worth approaching them directly by sending a
package with your information and, most importantly,
a tape or CD. Show enthusiasm for the place you want
to play in, and show enthusiasm for music in general
and you can't fail. You might have to wait some time
for them to get back to you, as they usually have a
stack of waiting tapes, but it's always worth
reminding them of your presence.
down one night, buy the promoter a drink and take another copy of the tape, just to make certain. There
are plenty of small venues who always have a list of
promising back-up bands in case someone pulls out at
the last minute. You just might have your number
drawn one night.