How to Become a Successful Music Promoter

Music Promoter Sue McLean backstage at the Guthrie Theater

David Brewster / Star Tribune / Getty Images

Are you organized, great with people, and have a deep love of music? Have you been wondering how you can combine your skills and passions together to become a music promoter

As one of the most popular music industry careers, a music or concert promoter is in charge of booking, organizing, promoting, and hosting musical performances at concert halls, clubs, events, and various other venues. 

How to Become a Music Promoter

If you want to work in independent music, becoming a concert promoter might simply involve taking the leap and booking your first show. If you want to work in larger venues and with larger artists, becoming a promoter often involves doing some work with an established company and working your way up the company ladder. Here, we look at two different paths to becoming a music promoter.

Work for a Promotion Company

Concert promotion companies, such as AEG, tend to handle promotion for big-name artists. They may plan festivals, stadium/arena shows, or they may work for specific music venues, handling all of the promotion of shows for that location.

If you learn the ropes at such a promotion company, you may start out doing very basic things, like distributing flyers/posters for events and work your way up to becoming the lead promoter on events. You may also specialize in advertising, accounting or some other facet of putting on an event. Some of the pros and cons of working for a promotion company include:

  • Getting to work on major events/with big-name artists
  • Often more lucrative than indie promoting
  • No personal financial risk for shows
  • May have to work with music genres you don't personally enjoy
  • Can be a hard business to break into
  • May take a long time to climb the company ladder

Working for Yourself/Indie Promoting

Sometimes, getting started in concert promotion is as simple as booking your first show. Where there are musicians, there is a demand for people to promote live shows for them. All it takes is a few successful shows to make your phone start ringing off the hook with calls from people who want you to put on their show. Some of the pros and cons of working for yourself/Indie promoting include:

  • Getting to pick and choose the shows you want to work on
  • You are the boss from day one
  • You may carry the majority of the financial risk of a show
  • Lots of responsibility and wearing many hats, all of which require a large time investment
  • Advancement can be difficult—you may end up in a cycle of promoting small club shows that don't allow you to make a lot of money

Which Is the Right Path for You?

There is no right answer here. It is a matter of personal preference and of course, your career goals. If you crave the excitement of putting on a music festival or working on arena shows, then working for a promotion company is a great way to get started. If you like working with indie musicians and labels, then working for yourself may be the best way to get started.

Consider your end game and choose the path that leads there. Either way, it's important to know that both paths depend on finding the initial funding required to promote a concert or event, be it through the backing of a large promotion company, your own investments, through fundraising or seeking others who will share in the overall expenses (and in return share in the profits as well).