Promoters and Venues and Bands, Oh My!

Matt Blake By Matt Blake, 9th Dec 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Music>Promoting Music

When a local concert goes badly there is plenty of blame to go around, lots of finger pointing and no one wins. But, ultimately, who's responsibility is it to get people to the venue on show night?

Had a bad show?

Promoters and bookers line up on one side, bands line up on another side and venues line up on a third side… and once this triangle is formed everyone starts blaming everyone else for the problems that occurred during the shows that weekend. Now, I’m known for speaking my mind… loudly and publicly. And I am going to offer some of my insights on this triangle of terror that happens to the local music scene every week. But it all sums up like this… if you had a bad show, you are probably partially to blame:

Promoters / Show Bookers:

You should make it very clear what exactly you expect from your bands and your venue. If you want you bands to load in at 6pm, don’t tell them that load in starts at 6. Tell them that load in is at 6. If you want your bands to play a 40 minute set, tell them "You will play from 10:00 – 10:40", don’t say you go on at 10 and Band 2 goes on at 11. As a promoter or booker you are usually working with everyone involved in the show and it is your job to make sure everyone knows specific details. Let the venue know how you and your bands expect to get paid and when. Make sure the bands know how to collect their money. Make sure sound techs know the full details of the night’s events and any special needs of the show. All of these details should be spelled out, clearly and in advance of the show date. If you are being paid to promote a show, promote the show. You would think that this goes without saying, but posting a few links on Facebook is not promoting a show. You should be actively seeking out ways to reach fans who would enjoy the show and finding ways to get the show information in from of them and get them to show up.


Again, Be clear and detailed about what, when and how you expect things to happen at your venue. What personnel will you have at the event and what are the extent of their responsibilities? If you are providing a sound tech and PA for the show, then make sure, for the love of GOD, your sound tech isn’t trying to get more money from the people running the show. Your employees should treat bookers, promoters, bands, and fans with respect; and when they don’t it reflects badly on your venue.

This is your venue, and you have a right to set the rules and guidelines. But they need to be set ahead of time and enforced equally. Also, promote the show… it is not just the band or promoter or booker’s job to promote the show at your venue. It is in your best interest to promote as well. Make sure information about all your upcoming shows is available on your venue’s website, up at the entrance to your club, and at the bar. If someone has been in your venue, they should know what shows are coming up at your venue.


Just showing up and playing your music is not good enough, folks. You have a direct line to your fans and it is your job to promote your upcoming shows to your current fans. Venues, Promoters, and Bookers do not know all your fans, but you do. You can rely on others spread the word about your show in addition to your efforts, but you have a responsibility to promote a show that you are playing at. I’ve got news for you, bands… the people hurt the most if you have no-one show up to see you, is you. The Venue has bar sales and the other bands, the promoter or booker probably has other bands on the bill. You also have to let your venue and booker know exactly what you expect out of them; if you start trying to negotiate the terms of your gig at the venue a few hours before you play, don’t expect anyone to be helpful! Know the terms of the show; know what you are getting paid and when you will get it. If these details weren’t decided ahead of time, do not get upset when you are stuck with your hand out at the end of the night.

A big problem that I am seeing more and more is over booking. If you are playing on a Friday night in one town and you book a Saturday show, the next night, in the same area do not expect to have a good draw either night! If you don’t promote your show until a week before the date, plus you announce another show the next night, only 30 miles away, do not expect to have a good crowd out to see you. Also, if the booker or Venue says you only drew 7 people, then ask to see the door sheet. If the door sheet says you only drew 7 people, then you only drew 7 people. Don’t argue about it, unless you can bring more than 7 people over to the door that will say they came there to see you, if you do argue about it you will only make yourself look like an egotistical jerk, period. Do not show up late to the venue, when it is time for you to get set on stage get on stage and don’t leave until after your set and do not get so drunk that your cannot perform your own music correctly.

A good show is everyone's responsibility.

These are all just guidelines, but, if everyone involved in a show maintains good and open communications and is specific about their expectations for the show and takes responsibility for making it a good show; you should have a good show! If you want to make money with live music you should treat it with the respect that any job deserves. Now, stop bickering like little children, own your actions, take responsibility, and make your show a success.


Bands, Bar, Concert, Gig, Live Music, Music, Promotion, Show, Venue

Meet the author

author avatar Matt Blake
I am a creative and eclectic artist. From graphic design and photography to writing and spray paint, I work in a variety of mediums. My writing focuses my hobbies: Design, music, travel and food.

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