Concert and Music Festival Producer Hal Davidson reveals inside talent buying tips on the road to becoming a professional concert and festival promoter. Promoting only what you like and not concentrating on which act will make you money is an expensive lesson to learn. You should figure your attendance, venue, costs and ticket price based on a level talent, not on a particular act. Another words, most $50,000.acts are going to draw about the same attendance. That’s why they are all $50,000.. That is the market value of that act. Unless you subscribe to Pollstarpro.com and look up that performer’s historic ticket sales and assess the value, you have no idea what that act is worth. You are just throwing darts. There’s more to it than that.
Your show’s attendance is mostly determined by the level of talent. National acts draw, local acts don’t.
50 local artists may not draw what one- third tier level $10,000. national act does. In general, local acts do not draw sufficiently to gamble on, unless you are promoting in a nightclub or bar, or there is another source of attraction, such as a Chili or BBQ Cook-off. Promoting a concert or festival with exclusively local talent is a crap shoot. Actually a craps game is probably a better gamble. Mixing local and national acts is allowed, but you’ll have to check the headliner’s contract to make sure that performer will allow it. Some don’t. You may need a second stage, and make sure they are far away enough so there is no sound bleed. Funding, marketing and your energy are the other prime factors determining attendance besides the name of the headliner.
Don’t get yourself emotionally attached to one act. If you are going to do this well, you can’t let your feelings for one act get in the way. What if that is no longer available on the dates you have venue availabilities (avails)?
The odds are not in your favor, they are in the talent agent’s and act’s favor. They don’t care about your reasons to pay less. They have a market value and they are going to get it, or you won’t get the act. Just getting them to answer your calls, or call you back is a problem most of the time. The bigger the act, the tougher it is. You have to be a professional promoter with years of experience, with big bucks to book tier one performers. Sometimes it can take many weeks to get a decision from just one act’s agent. Dealing with talent agents today can ruin your whole day. It’s generally not a pleasant experience. Most agents act like they are doing you a favor.
Unfortunately, the great majority of all national artists are priced higher than the market warrants. That is to say, the band’s price is not proportional with their historic grosses. If a band is $30,000, yet they typically sell only 597 tickets @ $45 for a PG (potential gross) of $26,865. you will lose at least $50,000 on the event because not only will you not cover the cost of the artist, but you paid for rent, promotion, stage production, staffing, security, catering, permits, legal, insurance, ticketing, and the ticket sales were $26,865 on a concert that cost $80,000 plus the sales tax you are expected to pay.
Promoting festivals or grouping artists together are two of the best ways to beat this mathematical conundrum. The talent agents don’t care if you lose money, they will sell you the artist for as much as they can possibly get away with. Agents are making money off unknowing promoters every day. The fact is that the great majority of all artists are literally not worth their price.
If you have a weakness in dealing with the talent agencies, consider a third party agency. Nashville’s Chuck Baril books just about every kind of act imaginable and is a highly recommended talent buyer. "Chuck is fast, honest and knows the true value of the act. His interest is your interest. Let him negotiate for you and save the stress. He does get an additional fee as all talent buyers do. Talent buying is an entire career unto itself and Chuck has the daily connections with talent agents you need. He fights for best prices! Central time , he can be called at (615) 881-4145 or email him: email@example.com
If you decide to book the talent yourself, read more about talent contracts, rider contracts, talent negotiation, the Offer Form, talent buying advice, stage production instructions, stage production costs, a list of major talent agencies and their contact information and other valuable related resources can be found in either of Hal’s 3 comprehensive promoting manuals found at concert-promotions.com
Hal Davidson a veteran of the industry who has walked through fire more than once is case hardened in 2022 and suggests Old & New School methods.
Promoting for decades, major festival and concert promoter mixes tried and true promo techniques with new digital marketing.
"In a difficult economy, promoters need to promote more." said Festival and concert expert Hal Davidson. "More than ever, any type of gathering or street celebration needs endless promotion. Mixing old promotion methods with the new is essential". he said.
Sounds simple, but the common fact is that most promoters become complacent and rely heavily on their electronic (TV or radio) or online promotion to cover the task of selling out that venue you are risking huge investments on. "In a time of efficiencies and need to do more, it’s not enough to rely on anything by itself. Learn to push a strong and targeted marketing mix." says Hal. Good promoters know the virtue of a good media mix, but with the present spotty economy, going back to the most ancient form of promotion besides word-of-mouth, flyers/ posters done well, is now essential to loading up those gross impressions at a low relative cost.
"The Cost Per Thousand (CPM) value to reach your target customers using flyers and posters is incredible. When you consider that a minimum of 3 people read your mini color flyer, to reach 30,000 of your targeted potential ticket buyers for .008 cents each means we all need to do more of it and better!" Davidson said.
With all of the promo choices out there, your overall event marketing budget can become diluted fast. Flyers and posters help you target a geo-area, and with regard to flyers, walking right up to the type of people who look like your customers and handing them a flyer with a smile saying: Have you heard about our music festival? is effective.
Davidson advises to, "move fast through the crowd realizing that you have a limited time to get around to as many possible in a targeted gathering. It’s not a time for long conversations or to make new friends, it’s a marketing opportunity. Use a backpack to carry additional flyers, because you never seem to have enough."
Promoter Davidson also states, "promoting at events, do not hand huge stacks to people on the spot who ask to help. Hand them 20 and your business card, (You do have cards with you?). Tell them to email you to get more flyers AND posters, that you only have enough for the event. If they email you back, sign them up as a paid or volunteer worker to promote with you. Just making them go through that one step filters out the helpers who can’t really help at all."
"The more structure in your street promos, the more effective they become. Don’t ever leave large stacks on counter tops in physical locations. If someone takes them all or a kid just trashes them, you just lost valuable promotion material.", Davidson added.
The idea is to keep coming back to or keep mailing back to that store. Even better, keep a complete database with contact name and phone number, email address of every location you promote in. Each location can become an important part of your promoting network.
When placing posters in windows, use 2-way tape or blu-tac (a repositionable adhesive silly-putty type goo), to place the posters, but place 2 posters back-to-back so store patrons AND people walking by can see the poster.
The most popular flyer is a ź page, 2 sided, color, UV coated, professionally designed flyer. Print 500 for your local fair or 150,000 for your major music festival. Cost is about $120 for 5,000 flyers. You need to provide art or they will do it for a fee.
For flyer or poster design, take a look at livemusicart.com. The most popular size poster is the easiest to ship 11x17, (100 for $125 or $310/ 1,000 at www.rushflyers.com), the other 2 popular sizes are 18” x 24” and 24” x 36”. In the case of a festival’s changing talent lineup, it’s ok to make more than one order. It’s normal to get out a poster fast, and for a couple great acts to come on board later on.
"Promoters just hiring a street team and not managing one themselves is lazy. The best idea is a combination street attack like the one Davidson commanded when promoting LIVE AT THE ZOO in South Australia recently. He mixed contracting 3 different promotion agencies, primarily to post posters in city store and restaurant windows. Each street team contractor had geographical sectors, and types of businesses they had set up promotional deals with. Otherwise you don’t get into that location." Davidson said..
He also said "We ordered posters and flyers 5 times with 5 different versions as we brought on many big name Aussie bands. We used about 100,000 flyers and 1,500 posters. In addition, we used our online worker and volunteer application process to recruit an army of independent street teamers all over the country”. We also mailed flyers, posters and 2 free tickets to hundreds of music stores and head shops." Davidson said.
Making virtual flyers/ posters available online from a button on the home page of the festival web site was also effective, Davidson also hired independent, part-time street promoters. Volunteers placed flyers and posters in their micro-local area in return for a festival ticket.
"It's now a competitive edge to have highly effective street teams." Davidson also said, "mixing in new texting promotions, email campaigns and other SEO principals along with traditional radio, billboards, promotional tie-ins and effective public relations, in total will provide good coverage to the target audience. If you do all of that, you have the magical marketing triangle".
Davidson added, "newspapers are just not a good investment any longer. too expensive for a one time shot to too broad an audience, and newspaper's online editions mean little in the full perspective".
Hal's books, HOW NOT TO PROMOTE CONCERTS AND MUSIC FESTIVALS and HOW TO PROMOTE CONCERTS Simplified have detailed and updated modern techniques for running your own poster and flyer effort to promote, with just about every other detail of promoting concerts and music festivals.
Hal's been promoting concerts and festivals since 1975 and is now a festival consultant. See these incredible books and other promoting resources at concert-promotions.com
Long promoter Hal Davidson offers tips on setting up your concert or festival promotions company.
Promoting and producing an event is one thing, setting up your company so that you are protected and operating according to industry standards is another. Anybody can book a hall and a band. Take steps to appear professional and start up your new promotions company for longevity.
AGREEMENTS AND LEGAL: Every individual and every contractor you work with requires an agreement. This means, workers, employees, partners, and anyone else you are paying money to expecting services to be performed. Every detail of what you expect from them, delivery day and time, what you are expected to pay, and the payment terms, must be listed on these documents. For these docs to be legal, binding agreements, both parties need a signed copy or you may have trouble enforcing them. Just keeping them in your computer is not good enough. You need a hard copy of each document kept in a file and secured so that no other person can get to them or knows where they are. You can only trust yourself in this business.
If you do not have a budget for a lawyer, you will quickly learn that it is far more expensive not having one. It can end up costing you more than money. There is no mercy in the concert or festival business and it is filled with sloppy, stupid operators that will tell you they do use agreements and that they are not necessary. That they have references and have been doing business without agreements for many years. At that point, you need to point out that you do not do business without contracts and if they continue to have a problem with your way of doing business, don’t do business with them. You must learn to say “no”. There are many other reputable companies looking for your business willing to do things the legitimate way.
Without a caring attorney in your corner, it’s just a ticking time bomb of when and how bad you will get screwed. Simply having one tells everybody else that you are serious and that betraying your trust could be a big mistake for them. Lawyers are expensive, budget for them. They should look over and approve your major agreements. Make sure your workers have either an independent contractor’s agreement or are legal employees. Paperwork is required but it’s not hard to figure out. The details are in Hal Davidson’s promoting manual.
BANKING/ ETHICAL PRACTICES: Start a checking bank account with your operating company’s name and address on the checks. Do not mix your private funds with your company’s funds or this could be interpreted as fraud. Selling tickets to a show you do not have proper funding for can be construed as fraud. Selling tickets to an event you do not have the venue or acts you are advertising is fraud. You cannot even mention names of acts to anyone at all, unless you have them contracted. Be very careful here.
Make your payments on time and stick to your end of the agreement. If the other side breaches your contract, first send them an email, if no response, send a certified letter, if no response or satisfactory resolution, turn it over to your attorney and stop doing business with them. Follow up with your lawyer to make sure you have done everything necessary to inform the other side of exactly what happened, and that you are disconnecting with them, if that is your decision.
The idea that you are going to finance your event with sponsor funds is not realistic. You need core funding regardless of your intention to use funds from other sources. You must have your event 100% financed in advance or the lack of, will show in the lack of confidence you’ll have in delaying payments and down-sizing critical elements of the promotion or production.
Making professional looking, not computer generated business cards, says who you are and that you are a professional. Just make sure you have them on you.
Read more in any of Hal’s promoting manuals. concert-promotions.com
Event Producer Hal Davidson offers observations on the need for best practices in professional concert and festival promoting. Know whom to stay away from when promoting. It’s getting a little bumpy out there… more like an earthquake!
The most difficult word to say for a new promoter is "no". "I have learned to turn down or leave projects, before they get started, because of red flags waving in my new filtration process, early on." Hal Davidson, Festival Consultant says. "Ethics and the lack of it, in potential associates, partners, new promoters and industry contacts, has become the number one criteria for me in deciding whether to get involved or not, after a number of terrible experiences in the concert and festival business over just the last 5 years. It’s become fairly standard to not practice best practices in this business."
Davidson went on to say, "most promoters don’t even know what best practices are and they really don’t care. People are signing contracts with no concern of adhering to the terms. They just don’t think you’ll ever take them to court."
The ethical deterioration of America is reflected in the concert and festival business, which has always drawn dreamers with a common thread of dishonesty, incompetence and acute stupidity. If you doubt it, read www.shakedownfest.com, www.festivalanimal.com and www.liveatthezoo.info, all perfectly good examples of bad people in this business. These postings are from an honest promoter informing the public of reality and truth.
The Test: Watch for signals in communication. New contractors and potential associates should be filtered. Do they:
Concert Producer and Consultant Hal Davidson’s treasure of experience, advice and instructions gives today’s promoters a tactical edge with his updated 374 page Bible of Concert & Festival Promotions.
Promoting since 1975 and writing about it since 1999, Hal Davidson is a living vault of inside industry information on any of the 70 or more components that go into putting together a music festival.
He said, "These events all have standard operating methods now. There are about 40 cost items for a concert, it’s simpler and cheaper, but much more of a risk, just not as many revenue streams or freedoms in promoting a one-night concert in somebody else’s venue as in a festival production. Any festival promoter will tell you that fests are extremely work intensive, probably not a good idea to have a family and try it or you may not have them at the end. You work all the time."
He continued, "As far as cost goes, a 1,000 seat professionally staged concert starts at about $25,000. upfront money needed and it goes all the way up to a modern one day stadium type music festival can easily cost over $2 million by the time you're finished. The book covers it all."
"Although many of the technical aspects are the same, a concert is usually 2-3 bands you sit down and watch for 3-4 hours.” Davidson added, “A music festival can be just a one-day event, let’s say in a stadium or a park, but it should always be outside to be a real festival and have at least 6-8 bands on each stage per day. Festivals either have camping or not. Festivals are a better overall value per dollar to the ticket buyer than a concert."
Davidson said, "no matter whether a concert or a festival, you still need stage production, marketing, administration, ticketing, security, insurance, rider contracts fulfilled, so there are many similarities. It’s just that a festival usually uses allot more of everything and has more details and staff. Due to larger budgets and larger venues, a music festival should not be attempted by anyone not first promoting a number of concerts to develop their operational capacity."
Selling more than 4,000 manuals over the last 10 years which started as a 160 page compilation of concert promoting notes, here’s what some promoters buying Hal’s book commented, unedited:
"I just finished reading your book How Not to Promote Concerts and Music Festivals and I must say that it is a masterpiece. I learned a great deal from this book and I am eager to get into the concert promotion business. Thank you for creating this book as it will give me guidance in my future events."
"Thanks for your concert promotion manual. I found it to be well written, comprehensive, and engaging and I feel I have a much better understanding of the business. Frankly, my expectations were exceeded. The business plans were of particular interest, particularly those dealing with the acquisition of sites suitable for hosting musical events. I was looking at my own property through different eyes after reading your book. We are currently financing to upgrade the buildings. I would certainly be interested in discussing your services in the not too distant future. Again thanks, I am very pleased with your publication and I will highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in learning about concert promotions."
"I purchased Hal Davidson's book and I received a personal phone call with the purchase, which was awesome! He guided me through his book with verbal support and helped me with applications for future challenges."
Hal and his crafted book are true elements to credit the success of a few events I have designed and coordinated. The forms thumb drive made things much easier to build my contracts from and keep on course without stumbles. They both are recommended to have in your arsenal of power tools.
Hal Davidson and concert-promotions.com has aided countless promoters worldwide. Founded in ethics and best practices, Hal Davidson and his online information provides needed assistance and answers to Promoter's questions.
Hal Davidson is based in Maryland, and in 2020 promotes and consults on concerts and music festivals all over the world. See his books at concert-promotions.com
His consulting site is rentapromoter.com Another helpful concert and festival funding site: concertpromotons.org
This information is for reference only and may not be re-printed in other promoter’s or author’s books or online articles to sell other concert or festival promotion books. Legitimate News agencies are welcome to credit the author in the usage of this material under the expressed condition that the article is not designed to promote other concert or festival promotion books or promoter’s online blogs or forums.
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