Think about the best local promoter or venue owner that you personally know, or are acquainted with. What words would you use to describe their methods?
As I have mentioned before, most of us who are involved in a music scene these days have to wear a lot of hats. DJs aren't just DJs; they're promoters, marketers, media companies… the list goes on.
Promoters these days are a dime a dozen, but sprinkled across the globe are a select few who do what I call “getting it right”. I've created an A-Z list of words which describe these characters, with the hopes that this list will inspire you (and me) to be the best we can be in our promotions game. Check it out.
The Passionate Promoter Is…
Let's face it… there's very little point in being involved with promotions if you don't have any ambition. If the extent of your personal investment in a particular event or project is picking a genre (or a big name) and creating a Facebook post or two, don't be surprised when it doesn't get you too far.
Thinking outside of the box is a huge requirement if you want to stand out amongst a sea of mediocre event planners.
Just because someone is passionate doesn't mean they have to be unreasonable.
Here's an unfortunate fact: throwing events is hard. Throwing a good event is even harder. It's important to maintain emotional stability. As they say, “the show must go on.” As a promoter, you have a responsibility to your patrons and the venue owner to provide value. Calmness of mind is paramount when disaster strikes (such as equipment failure, or scene drama rears its ugly head). Keep your cool. Trust me; over time, people notice how you handle a crisis.
I could have also used “charm” here. Basically, how can you expect people to get excited about your event if you aren't excited about it?
By the way, don't bother faking it. People will see right through you, and know the difference between you screaming “THIS EVENT IS GONNA BE OFF THE CHAIN!!!” and you actually pouring your heart and soul into an event.
There are two sides to this one.
Firstly, determination is required in ensuring that you deliver on a particular event. In item “B” above, we talked about crisis handling. This definitely applies here. If you are the type that throws your hands up when things go wrong, you're in the wrong business. Because, guess what? Things WILL go wrong.
Secondly, it's important to be determined on a much larger scale. Building a name and reputation for yourself is a great way (the best way) to build an audience. But building a reputation is a marathon, not a sprint. You must constantly over-deliver. Promise big and deliver bigger. Don't just do one awesome thing… keep doing awesome things so that it's impossible to be missed.
If your goal is to build a fan base instead of to find customers, you need to engage with them all the time…. not just the night of an event. There are a number of ways to engage with people outside of the event itself, especially with social media being a big part of our lives these days.
One way that I'm doing this with my own promotional outfit (The Re:Vibe Project) is by posting relevant content to my Facebook page all the time (not just right before an event). If your fan page is simply a distribution outlet for you to spam your events constantly, people aren't going to pay much attention to it. In my case, I know that clubs and nightlife have a lot to do with alcohol consumption. I also know that a lot of my audience is not simply satisfied with whatever is spoon-fed to them by the public, and that includes their taste in beer. So, I post a lot of information about local breweries. This helps people to see what you're all about, even when you're not actively promoting an event, which helps them relate to you.
P.S. – If your fans don't engage with you, Facebook is going to give your posts much less priority in its algorithm (which results to it being seen by less people). So, try to make it interesting… and mix up your post types (text, link, picture, video, etc.)
Follow One Course Until Successful.
The most successful promoters knew that they weren't going to immediately throw completely amazing events and have huge crowds of raving fans on day 1. They realized that they would have to work on building their loyal fan base one event (and one person) at a time…. probably for years.
Here's the thing: your audience isn't stupid. Don't patronize them. People won't buy it.
If you really believe in what you're doing, you make real efforts to support your scene, and you truly love your audience… they will know that you are genuine. And people are much more likely to be interested in the person that loves what they are doing vs. the person obviously trying to earn a quick buck or puff themselves up.
Yes, you want to build a brand reputation. But do you know what kind of brands succeed in this day in age? The ones that feel human. Customer service is huge now, and is done in a much different way than it used to be.
People can relate to you when you sound like another person. It all comes down to being real.
Don't sound like a radio ad whenever you're promoting an event. Sound like a friend with a mutual interest.
Think outside the box. Look for open doors. Be the change that you want to see in your scene.
Why make your events a Xerox copy of all the other events being thrown in your town? What do you have to offer that's different? How will you stand out?
Certainly, if you find some methods that work… don't be afraid to repeat them. But the stagnant and closed-minded promoter will miss out on so much opportunity, and never even know it.
In today's age of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and text messages… you can't get away with anything.
I can't stress it enough: it's so important to use good judgment 100% of the time. You can do a hundred amazing things every day for the next year and build yourself a little bit of credibility, but one little screw-up and your reputation is on the line.
Side note – don't air your dirty laundry on social media if you can absolutely avoid it.
You can have the best ideas and the most passion in the world, and it's all but useless if nobody knows who you are.
Just make sure you are known for the right reasons: throwing amazing shows with killer music and being a supportive member of your town's musical ecosystem. Not for being that guy that spams every single event page of every other local event.
Go back and re-read letter “E”.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. If people like you, they're more likely to support you. It's nice to be nice!
“This is crazy. I'm expecting to go home tonight and have a hot pizza delivered and waiting for me. He thought of everything.”
That's a quote by a friend of mine, talking to my girlfriend at the PDJ One Year Anniversary show. When you go above and beyond, and your mission is to continually over-deliver, people will notice. When I heard that quote, I immediately knew that I was on the right track.
Attention to detail. Don't underestimate it.
In podcast episodes 3 and 4, I interviewed Fortune (Jessica Fenner) about 30 small-time promoter tips. Here is a very relevant quote from her:
Network equals Net Worth.Myself & Milwaukee underground dance music fans owe many amazing nights to artists/agents/sound & lighting techs & a couple of venues willing to work within the limits of our small market. Conversely they know on my nights, they will have a good time for the right reasons. Nurture your network and it will return the favor.
Objectivity is an important trait for the successful promoter, because while we are motivated by our passion, our actions should be defined by our purpose.
As much as I want promoters to have ambition and listen to their gut, it's also important to look at the facts. Check your numbers, set a realistic budget, and do your best to research your target market. And be very honest with yourself. There may come a time when it's necessary for you to realize that you need to move on from a particular night or idea.
This one contrasts with the above section (Objective). If you don't care about what you're doing, you're going to half-ass it… plain and simple. So do what you love, and it won't feel so draining… even at times when you're not seeing expected results.
If there is one word that I want me, my DJing, and my promotional brand to be associated with, it's this one.
It's important to take a good hard look at what you're pushing in front of people. Is “quality”, honestly, a word that enters your head? If not, what's the point? Would you want to attend if you had nothing to do with it?
There is a place for gimmicks and taking advantage of trends… but your primary focus should be quality (and learning new ways to deliver it). You want to make people fall in love with what you do.
Throwing a great event is tough. But throwing a great event that makes money is where the real talent comes in.
It's important to build a strong network, so that you have the connections you need to make events go off without a hitch. It's also important to constantly refine your event planning strategies. If you don't want to lose hundreds of dollars every time you throw an event (and you aren't doing this intentionally, as an “investment”), you need to be constantly thinking of new ways to cut costs without cutting value.
The best way to become a resourceful promoter is to throw a lot of shows. This mostly comes with experience.
A good promoter throws good events, but a great promoter helps support and stimulate an entire scene. Most of the time, it's in the best interest of everyone involved to support each other in the spirit of collaboration in order to maintain the health of your scene as a whole.
It's way easier to build a bad reputation than a good one. People talk; if you're engaging in less-than-savory business practices, you will be found out.
When you are known as untrustworthy (or, even, if people just don't know either way), people don't want to work with you. Venue owners and bar managers won't want to hire you, DJs won't want to play with you or let you around their equipment, and patrons won't want to support your event. Believe me on this one, as I've seen it first hand a hundred times.
The passionate promoter is not afraid to try out new ideas, go the extra mile, and surprise people.
Every time you over-deliver on a show, you will end up with people who are pleasantly surprised. And those are the people that you will, over time, turn into true fans. But if you're not bringing anything new to the table, people have little reason to be your fans.
Versatility comes into play in two different ways.
The first is having a broad range of influences, ideas, and contacts to pull from in order to provide a unique value proposition for your event. This helps create a supportive web surrounding your promotional brand.
The second is a matter of adaptation. You can plan everything down to the very last detail, but the fact of the matter is that things rarely pan out exactly as expected. Your ability to adapt will ensure that you consistently deliver enjoyable events that run smoothly.
The idea is to get people to enjoy themselves too, right?
Well, a great place to start is with yourself. The more fun you're having, the more likely it is that others will have fun too.
When necessary, keep it business. You want to be a professional. But it's okay to be a little playful too.
Ha! Bet you thought I wouldn't get one for “X”.
“Xenial” is just a fancy way of saying hospitable; that is, being friendly as it relates to a host/guest relationship (especially to strangers).
If you want to build an audience, you need to welcome and embrace newcomers! Don't shoot for only a tight clique of repeat attendees… that will only last you so long. Be accepting of new blood!
Speaking of new blood…
Remember, people are going out to your night to let loose and enjoy themselves. They don't want to think about how badly their boss was breathing down their neck that day, or how they got a flat tire this morning, or the state of the stock market. They want to escape reality and just have a fun evening.
Your audience is either physically young, or young at heart. Don't be a stiff.
According to the dictionary, zeal is “a strong feeling of interest and enthusiasm that makes someone very eager or determined to do something”.
The best promoters are not simply event planners. They are music activists.
Get very serious about what your goals are, and then wave your flag high. Start a movement… even a small one. And enjoy being a passionate promoter who is very clear about their purpose.