The Evil Promoters

What is wrong with how the local music scene works here in Los Angeles? That is a good question and the Pros and Cons of this subject are worthy of many pages. I’ll start off by picking one in particular, Promoters.
There are many in this city that are seen as shady and unprofessional. I personally know a few of them. And I have the honor of calling a couple of them friends, but as a whole, the stereotype is often dead on. To me, a good promoter is someone who actually works the scene to get more people to their events. They have legit websites that generate the buzz needed to get the people in the door. They contribute to the cause of the artist. In fact, almost every promoter I've worked with here in LA are in fact an artist themselves.

What troubles me is the financial aspects of this endeavor. I get the fact that promoting takes time, money, and resources. And when you calculate the fact that you go into a contract with a club, there is a sense of urgency to have your artist produce the numbers. I must admit, I've struggled as many artists have with getting people through the doors. So I'm not screaming this is wrong. The problem is the cuts and the motivation to get the fans out.

Recently, I was offered a gig by an exceptional and talented artist (new to the LA scene). Once I found out who was promoting the show, I immediately had my doubts. As it turned out, my guys were unavailable and I had to back out. With that said, before I turned down the slot, the promoter sent a list of requirements that were very unreasonable and favored only him (not to be named). By his way of thinking, he guarantees himself a set amount of money per band each night. It’s an unbelievable amount actually. 5 bands on a Wednesday night guarantees this guy a minimum of $600.00. Not bad for one night. There is still 6 nights left in the week.
Here is the numbers to my estimation of the wonderful deal that us Lucky artist get by working with this guy.

1st Level: You bring 15 loyal fans that pay to see you at $10 a pop. The artist get $0.00, promoter gets $150.

2nd Level: You bring another 15 fans totally 30 paying people and you get to split the money down the middle for fans 16-30. The artist gets $75 and the Promoter gets $75 plus the original $150= $225. The math is just not adding up in my opinion. But maybe I'm wrong.

3rd Level: If the artist brings 50 fans then things become more even as the money is split down the middle from the 1st to the 50th fan. $250 to the Artist, $250 to the promoter. I personally believe that the lion's share of the money should go to the artist. Yes, a good promoter spends money on advertising, flyers, emailing, etc. But so does the artists. And in my case, I pay my bandmates for their time. We are all in this together. And if you are bringing 50 people to shows consistently, you don't need a promoter anymore.

Trust me, I understand that this is a game. And as a musical artist that wants nothing more than to perform and express myself, it pains me on some levels to be this way. I still deal with promoters when I have to but only if I have to. But this particular case is another form of PAY TO PLAY. As an artist, I must take responsibility for getting people to my shows. I understand completely that it’s my job to create and nurture my fan base. I believe promoters like I’ve just talked discussed are one reason LA’s music scene is hard are on the artists. But until we as artists stand up together and say “no more,” there will always be guys like this there to take advantage of the system. Pay to Plays are wrong on so many levels. This is just my thoughts. I’ve learned to side step this system and find other venues to perform that are not as bad. Being paid for my service is still of importance.

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