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  HOW NOT   TO  PROMOTE
CONCERTS & MUSIC FESTIVALS

 

The concert-promotions book covers all aspects of how to promote concerts… and THEN transitions into the promoter’s natural progressive desire to ultimately promote music festivals. Concerts are one time events, festivals are annuities.

If you're reading this, you've most likely day-dreamed about the idea of promoting a large music festival one day, standing backstage looking out over the throngs of humanity knowing that you are the one that brought it all together. It's a rare feeling.

It is similar to the kind of elation that comes with running a marathon or winning a casino jackpot. It requires courage and unrelenting perseverance, despite the struggles and obstacles, each setback being your helper. How in the world do you expect to learn what to do until you learn what not to do. Start with concerts. Then when you feel the Zen of promoting has arrived, and you are in your comfort zone, go for it. Take the plunge and find that magical concept on that right weekend. Your festival will become an annuity for the entire community. As the event grows overs the years so will your happiness and sense of fulfillment and achievement.

Of course you'll first need:

1) The right festival concept.

2) The right venue.

3) The right plan with a cost and revenue sheet.

4) Adequate Funding.

Concerts are the training ground for festival promotion, but with the multitude of revenue streams; tickets, VIP passes, alcoholic beverages, other beverages, food concessions, arts & crafts vendors, festival merchandise including T shirts, sponsors, special parking and camping passes, advertising and intellectual property like CD recording and other possible audio/ video contract opportunities, the real money is in music festivals. For concerts, most of the time, it's just regular tickets and the big band wants most of that.

It's also the land of entrepreneurial expression and near complete creative freedom.

What's that worth?

 

This promoting nirvana is possible and it just starts there.

If you have the price of admission, $100,000.00 to $4,000,000.00 advance fundage, you can be a music festival promoter. On a granular level, the book examines festival costs, the importance of the Cost Sheet and specific prices you should hope to pay.
In Music Festivals:

  • The bands typically receive flat fees instead of taking the great proportion of profits on a major concert.
  • The festival (you) usually owns the food and non-food vending concessions and the terms for sponsors.
  • The promoter controls more of the variables. From sanitary control to hiring police for traffic control to box office to what hours and how many stages you’ll have. Big things go easier when you can just call the shots and implement. You can move faster without need for approvals or delayed meetings. Are you putting a one-day festival in a stadium charging the itemized costs more on a package deal or are you throwing a jamfest in the woods at a farm? There’s a lot to consider and the book goes into great detail on every aspect of promoting outdoor music festivals no matter what kind you are considering.
  • The ultimate festival promoter owns the property or venue.
  • You have an annuity one weekend for the rest of your life. It only builds year after year.
  • Everybody usually has a really good time, unless you have a jerk for a venue renter/ like Lowell MacGregor in the northwest US, and then you will wish you never tried.
  • You become famous and desirable to be around.
  • You are powerful, you can make things happen. You have a lot of contractors and associates even though your daily operating staff may be just you and one other person.
  • You bring happiness and fun to many, many people from everywhere. Some folks will get married as a result of the experience at your event. Your event influences lives.
  • You bring employment to many, pay subcontractors and have multiple opportunities through the festival to help others and to involves charities that need money.
  • You bring income into the town and county you are staging the event in. You help increase general tourism year-round to that area.

Downside: Many multi-day music festivals do not make a profit on their first year unless they have additional support, IE., sponsors, media, municipal or county gov’t.

Why? Because of the combination of:

  • The promoter’s learning curve on that particular type of event
  • The newness of the organization and systems, methods
  • Trying out pricing and ticket merchandising
  • The probability of no or limited beginning sponsors
  • The show not being well known
  • The venue and location- do people want to go there?
  • The question of local and contractor cooperation and their ability to do what the promoter wants them to do
  • Your relationship with the venue management and their contract
  • The question of artists. How big are the names? Can they draw the numbers you want?
  • The question of the promoter’s ability, education and experience in large scale event promoting meaning the marketingtriangle: advertising , promotions and public relations
  • The laws and local law enforcement’s perspective
  • Funding

No one anywhere has ever written and exposed the volume of information that is found in this one book. Over 30 years of festival and marketing related experience compiled into half of a huge book. Festival proposals, festival contracts, land rental and box office contracts, contractor agreements, forms, site plans, extensive marketing plans, site search criteria, local government concerns, sponsor letters and proposals and tons of advice on what not to do because every event is different.

No book can possibly prepare you for what you will find when you deal with something as volcanic and variable as a major music festival. Music festivals and it’s promoters are a different breed. It takes an interesting combination of attributes to promote be a music festival promoter. Financier, promoter, producer, bookkeeper, para-legal, security, sanitation and operations minded.

In this manual, you get an education on fencing a site, beer consumption and it’s disposal and parking /camping space estimates. You’ll learn how to negotiate with contractors, the talent agents and the media. All of the paperwork is included; forms, contracts, proposals, media and box office forms, stage and site layouts, security schedules, rider contracts, contractor agreements, press releases, media schedules, executive summaries, festival proposals and land contracts. Tons of contacts. Legal, accounting and intellectual law concerns are also found in the book. Do you have an attorney? What kind?

Can you put on a music festival for less and call it a professional effort? If you’re intending to have real marketing, administration, promotion, production, ticketing, staff, site infrastructure and everything else that’s required, the answer is yes, you can put a cheap festival that will cause you major problems. The kind of problems you’ve never imagined all at once. A young promoter put on a one day festival at the fairgrounds recently, it was only $65,000.. He told me he lost $18,000. I explained afterward that the artist’s names and the horsepower behind the marketing s what determines the size of the event. If you don’t spend on major name talent, count on losing money.

You can have every great local or regional band in the state all at one event and only have 1,500 people show up. The same one-day festival with some nationally known support acts could draw 5-10,000. The cost of the talent should be about one third of your total event budget. Starting small can be very dangerous. Make an event that will have force in that target marketplace on a weekend only when there is no competition.

NOTE: A festival promoter must be detail oriented and like to work all of the time. If you are not, forget it. It is also not recommended you try to work a regular job and promote a festival at the same time. Both will suffer.

COMPONENTS TO MAKING A MUSIC FESTIVAL HAPPEN
All of these topics are discussed in depth in the book.

  1. An understanding of the need for good timing and for what you are getting into
  2. A marketable and winning concept that can be put into an easily understood plan
  3. A Promoter who likes to write, can communicate, do math and be a leader, a dynamic personality helps. Accountants do not make good festival promoters.
  4. A suitable venue for the intended demographic audience and attendance. See below
  5. A cooperative county and local community
  6. The ability to sell alcoholic beverages
  7. Adequate funding
  8. Support Systems (you cannot do this alone)

In your search for a music festival site that is not a conventional stadium, racetrack or other structured and already built venue, it is suggested that you consider the following requisites to optimize your event’s capacities.

THE PROSPECTIVE LAND SHOULD:

  1. Be accessible by either driving straight ahead into the property or by making a right turn off the access road leading to the driveway.
  2. Be located on as straight and wide a road as possible, sharply winding roads are dangerous for the size audience we'll have.
  3. Have a natural water source for our guests to play in.
  4. Not have neighbor's actual living quarters too close (for noise levels).
  5. Have as few driveways as possible around it's driveway and the road leading to the property should not have too many driveways. The fewer the better.
  6. The closest interstate exit should have a small piece of property for sale or rent allowing the erection of a 60-70' high lighted sign.
  7. The neighbors (or one neighbor) with sufficient flat land should be amenable to renting or renting with option to buy later for expandable parking/ camping area.
  8. The county must allow alcohol consumption and at least beer/ wine sales. (Even if a non-profit sells it for us and collects a small percentage of substantial gross sales)
  9. Should not be mostly wooded, must have substantial cleared areas. Lightly wooded areas for shaded camping is good. It is realized that almost any property would require a certain amount of clearing.
  10. Have rolling hills, a natural amphitheater or hilly area where an amphitheater can be sculpted by some cutting and filling and grading.
  11. Have interior roads which help but are not a major ingredient because the interior roads may not be going where we want.
  12. Have some structures, IE. Home or two, barn, storage building, bldg. for Admin. offices.
  13. Have friendly neighbors not hostile to periodic ingress of large numbers of cars.
  14. Have a cooperative Economic Development Commission and non-obstructive ordinances regarding outdoor gatherings or outdoor music festivals.
  15. Not be located in a flood plane.
  16. It is a plus if the location has good cell phone reception and is high speed internet capable.

MOST FESTIVALS ARE OUTDOORS

Whether on a farm or in a city park, festivals are typically outdoor events. Some festivals mix outdoor facilities and indoor clubs, theatres and sometimes a stadium. These types of events are usually produced in a downtown area where you have to use various venues as the event grows because of the proximity and layout of the entire project. Some festivals at colleges use this format by mixing indoor and outdoor venues. The book covers doing festivals indoor and outdoors or both. Problem with colleges is you cannot sell alcoholic beverages, which can make the difference between loss and profit in your first year. Much more on beer and concessions sales in the book.

But most festivals are outdoors and differ from a concert in that a festival is just that, a festival or array of concerts. A one-day festival will have enough artists to fill each stage with steadily performing talent (except repeated segway set-up times) from either noon – 7/8 pm, or from noon- midnight or from 4/7 pm- 2am. The actual time schedule should fit the market, music and audience. That is determined by speaking to the venue manager, talking to the talent agents and other people in the business (sound/ lights people, other promoters, the city administrators and your insurance broker. You figure it out.

A real music festival has to feature at least 4-5 bands to be respected. With multiple stages over three days, many festivals stage over 30 acts (artists, bands, performers). Some have over 100 performers because they have 10 stages and some of them are going 24 hours a day. Festivals with one big stage over 3 days will feature about 18-20 artists unless they are using smaller acts to play during the reset times in between major performers and then there may be a total of 40 performers for one stage. If the stage runs 24 hrs, even more artists.
Most three day festivals open On Friday at noon- 5pm and end Sunday late afternoon or up to 10pm. It’s best to provide some time for people to get home safely and rest for work on Monday.

Festivals more popularly are 2 days; Friday and Saturday, or Saturday and Sunday and most popular for camping events or larger festivals is 3 days, Friday- Sunday. You have heard of 4 or 5 day festivals, but they most probably didn’t start out that way. Everyday you add, you add between 25%-50% to your total costs.

The concert-promotions book deals with all aspects of the festival in depth. Like concerts, the festival’s destiny is in the budget. So the book examines each festival component first, from a cost point of view. And the new CD contains a complete Festival Cost Sheet in Excel so you can actually use it and modify the document for your specific needs.

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