THE REALITIES OF AN INDEPENDENT MUSIC PROMOTER
romoting in the digital age - sounds like it should be quite easy by its very nature. You have an idea and the world literally at your fingertips for swift execution. Whatever your craft or creation, along with resilience, a clearly defined narrative and approach is integral, because navigating the world of promotion is in fact no easy task. In this case we dive into the world of concert promotion. So, what exactly do we mean when we say “promoter” and how does one exceed in delivery?
Different than a talent buyer or a booking agent but with some crossover, a concert promoter will wear multiple hats at any given time. It is a role with significant independence and room for creative control, requiring a high level of interdisciplinary knowledge around budgets, negotiation of contracts, marketing, venue selection, and in some cases the concert promoter will also extend themselves into the hands-on production of an event. Some have described it as “masochism at its finest”! You really gotta love what you do. If the passion is there, as the saying goes, “build it and they will come.”
Whether promoting on a project by project basis, taking on the whole branding of a single artist, or having a concise focus for an event, clarity is crucial. Add to that the ever expansive and evolving world of technology and social media moving us at an accelerated rate. Whilst it is easier than ever before to be your own boss, how do you stand out and stay on top of your oversaturated field? Cue Realmusic Events who do just that, coupled with a passion and drive to fill an identifiable gap.
Having marked a decade of Realmusic Events, we take a glance inside concert promotion with founder Andrew Parsons, in uncovering some of the challenges of setting up your own company to battling against the big boys of the music marketing world.
How long has Realmusic Events been around? Why did you want to start a promotions company?
AP: “We've been doing events consistently now since 2009. Recently, (RealMusic Events) celebrated its ten year anniversary with an all day and night event, featuring Pleasurekraft and Chris Malinchak! We started RealMusic Events to quench our own musical thirst and to bring acts to Austin that weren't being booked. The same ten or so acts were coming all the time and we wanted the scene to grow.”
What existed prior to Realmusic in Austin that provided an avenue for electronic music lovers and what do you think their most successful strategies were in promoting electronic music?
AP: “Prior to RealMusic Events, the major players in Austin for dance music were Disco Donnie Presents, Nightculture and C3. I am not sure what, if anything, really served them well in Austin [with] regards to marketing. Disco Donnie Presents and Nightculture have left the Austin market.”
Do you find it a challenge to bring top talent in? What has been your strategy to attract triple A talent?
AP: “The biggest challenge I've found is that these guys we like make so much more money elsewhere in the world. It's hard to get them to come to our area to do a one off [event] or even to the U.S. to do a couple of big shows because the money just isn't right. I think a lot of acts are starting to realize they need to come to the U.S. and build their profile. It's a slow process but it's happening.”
Who are the electronic music promoters you admire most?
AP: “We admire Cercle the most. We love what they are doing!”
What were the biggest struggles for a promoter in 2009 vs 2019?
AP: “I think the biggest struggle for a promoter right now is the overpaying of artists. Their costs are skyrocketing and it's really hard for an independent like ourselves to keep up. These larger companies like LiveNation and AEG are overpaying, driving up the costs worldwide. These guys have unlimited money and can take massive losses here and there, only to make up those losses with their festivals. Just not a fair game.”
With an enviable roster of electronic acts finding its way into the Texan musical landscape, Realmusic Events have also ventured into the world of festival curation through Seismic, adding another string to their promotional bow.
What, if any, were festivals that inspired Seismic and what promotional strategies did you learn from them?
AP: “I'd probably say Awakenings or Time Warp definitely put on amazing productions. I wish we had the budget those guys had to do cool !#$*. Also, Tomorrowland's production is on another level of insanity. Good on them for that, lol. As for promotional items, we kinda just do our own things. We try not to mimic anyone else. I also feel like most of the promotional and marketing people do for festivals is pretty standard. We've incorporated a few things we don't see anyone else doing and I really love it.”
Festival creation and curation is a mega-topic, one we could discuss at length, and a subject we dive deeper into in the other half of our sit-down with Andrew.
Promoting and presenting one’s personal art, whatever size and medium that may come in - music, dance, writing, sports, etc - organization and a broad scope of target markets and authentic outreach are key. Utilizing the tools available to help streamline your efforts can push you further ahead in the game. Whether one deems it fair or unfair, staying ahead and informed on the current state of the game helps the advance.
• • •
Contact Andrew Parsons
The Advance began with the intention of creating community and dialogue around what the future of live entertainment looks like, how we are pinpointing places for growth, streamlining processes, highlighting advancements, and shaping it as a collective. Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org