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A Partnertship between Artist and Promoter

JaceyPromoting a gig is a partnership between the venue or folk club and the artist. There are some things that the artist can do to help and some things that are much better done by a local promoter on the ground. It's unrealistic for an artist to expect the venue/folk club to provide a ready made audience without any help and it's unrealistic for a venue to expect an artist to bring a full house.

If you want a full house it should be a joint effort. Organisers should remember, however, that an artist spends a lot of time on the road, away from home and away from any office facilities that she or he might have. There's only so much can be done with a dodgy phone signal or Costa Coffee's wifi connection.


The arrangement that best promotes partnership between a venue and an artist is to negotiate the fee as a guarantee versus a percentage. The percentage is calculated after expenses and there's a good explanation of how it works here on my help page at: http://www.jacey-bedford.com/helpfiles/help-percent.html

Basically, the artist has a guaranteed minimum, but it's not what she/he ultimately wants to make from the night, it's the minimum that means they are not out of pocket on the trip. If there's a good crowd they are going to get more – in some cases considerably more – and that's going to help pay the grocery bill at the end of the week.

The promoter/venue has a guarantee to find and therefore they have to work hard to promote to cover that fee (at least) and if the artist gets into percentages the venue will also make a clear profit. But it's not such a huge guarantee that they risk losing their shirt if (say) it snows or if they clash with the cup final night.

A guarantee versus a percentage shares the responsibility and shares the profit. The ideal is that both the artist and the venue should make a profit.

An Artist's Responsibility

  • WEBSITE. Have a website with a domain name that reflects the artist's name.
  • MAILING LIST. Maintain an active mailing list – not just adding email addresses to it at every opportunity, but making it interesting for your followers. From April 25th 2018 this should be GDPR compliant if sending to anyone within the EU. (Which basically beans obtaining consent before adding them to a list.)
  • PRINT. This is less important as advertising becomes more reliant on social media. Printing posters and flyers that are going to be largely wasted is not very eco-friendly, and not every venue requires print material. Have downloadable A4 and A5 pdf posters available on the artist's and agent's website. The artist (or agent at the artist's expense) might need print media for certain venues. These days it's possible to get good deals on small runs, so only print what's necessary, and check with venues that request posters to see how realistic their demands are. If they ask for 50 posters and 1000 flyers, check that they are going to use them effectively.
  • ADVERTISING. Take out national advertising for high-profile, many-venue tours (Living Tradition, R2 (Rock & Reel), Maverick - etc.) The most cost effective size is a half page vertical - you'll always be at the top of a page. If you can get a half page vertical slot on the right hand side of a right hand page, thet's the most visible position, but not every magazing will guarantee your advert's placement. Don't ignore the local folk magazines and area websites. Print adverts are cheap, and listings are free. Getting articles and reviews in magazines is also free.
  • PROFILE. Send out review and radio copies of albums to establish and maintain a visible profile. Seek out promo opportunities in local folkie magazines and websites
  • INTERVIEWS. Be available to do radio interviews that the promoter arranges, and/or seek out opportunities to do radio interviews in conjunction with the venue – which can often be done the week before by telephone in addition to sending a CD or emailing mp3s. A radio interview a week before the gig is MUCH better than one on the day when people have already made their plans for the evening.
  • SOCIAL MEDIA. Maintain a presence on social media: facebook, twitter, tumblr,. tik tok etc. (though perhaps myspace is over.) In all cases the object of the social media is to get people to your web page. Yes, have a page on facebook and get as many likes as you can but this is NO SUBSTITUTE FOR A WEB PAGE - please excuse me for shouting.

A Venue/promoter's Responsibility

  • WEBSITE. Have a website and keep it up to date. The same thing applies here as applies to artists. Don't just have a facebook page or a convenient page on someone else's site. Have your own dedicated website. Make sure your contact details are on there and if you want to have your booking policy displayed, then do so. It saves you being contacted by the kind of artists you've specifically said you don't book, i.e. singer songwriter if you're strictly trad or the other way round.. Make sure your gig list is up to date and links to the artist's website or the agent's page for that artist.
  • MAILING LIST. Maintain an active club or venue mailing list. Try and get an email address from everyone who steps through your door. Make your list interesting for your followers, so every time it drops into their mailbox, they open it.
  • LOCAL ADVERTISING. Take out local advertising in whatever local folkie print magazine covers your area. Send them interesting news as well. Angle it to make it interesting – just a paragraph or two will give them something to use. They always need content.
  • LISTINGS are free. Make sure you get into all the local listings and the important national ones.
  • LOCAL PRESS. Get local interest stories into the local newspapers. Build up a rapport with your local rag, send them interesting stuff and they'll print it.
  • RADIO. Make contact with local radio programmes, especuially folk/roots ones - but don't ignore local radio 'magazine' programmes and what's on slots. Set up (phone) interviews, if possible, for incoming artists and pass on contact details. If the artist can't appear, how about once a quarter – or as often as you can - getting a radio interview yourself and taking a selection of CDs from upcoming artists. Talk about the club/venue with passion. Enthusiasm is catching.
  • PRINT. Use the posters and flyers the artist has sent you, or download and print their supplied artwork. If you run a club you can put flyers (the artist's or your own) out on seats for several shows before the upcoming one. Posters are difficult to find a home for these days, but try your best. A shop or library that won't take an A4 poster will often put up an A5 flyer instead. Think outside the box. I used to put up a flyer in my local Tesco (on their community noticeboard) and got ticket sales from it. If you are going to ask for hundreds of flyers then please use them. Don't overprint them and then try and give the spares back to the artist on the night. (You don't know how dispiriting that can be – and it does happen!) Don't ask for 50 posters and then poster the foyer with all of them. (Windsor Arts Centre I'm looking at you! 498 overprinted flyers out of 500 left standing on the counter and 50 posters pasted on one wall of the foyer. Are you surprised there were only 32 people in the audience, who'd all come from the artist's mailing list and should have been the icing on the cake?)
  • SOCIAL MEDIA. Use social media: facebook, twitter, tumblr, tik-tok (But as with the artist, this is no substiture for your own website or mailing list.)
  • WORD OF MOUTH. Employ word of mouth. Talk up the event and get your friends to talk it up as well.

And What Does the Agent do for her Money?

Always remember that it's the agent's job to look after the artist's diary, to find and get the gigs for the artist, to negotiate the contract, and ro monitor advanced ticket sales to see if there's anything more needs to be done publicity-wise. In addition an agent will:

  • Send whatever physical publicity the artist has had printed.
  • Have a website where a promoter can download images and text for a press release. (This may also be on the artist's website.)
  • An agent will supply a CD for radio, or will pass the request direct to the artist.
  • An agent will forward all requests for interviews direct to an artist (or their management).

An agent is not a publicist. An agent's job does not include sending press releases to local newspapers and websites. An agent does not keep an artist's mailing list. An agent does not print posters and flyers for an artist (though I will arrange printing for an incoming foreign artist at the artist's expense because sending posters and flyers from abroad costs more than printing them in the UK).

This page was created by Jacey Bedford