Tips For New Promoters
Tips For New Promoters
Many new DJs will struggle to find gigs through other promoters and come to the conclusion they should run their own parties. This is one of the most effective ways a DJ can get bookings, by booking themselves!
We highly recommend that new DJs try running their own events, but with caution.
There are some common mistakes that new club promoters often make so here’s a list to help you navigate being a new club promoter.
Learn the ropes first!
The best way to get involved in running club nights is to first help other promoters. Learn the ropes by shadowing another more experienced promoter and learn from their mistakes. You can then formulate your own strategy to help you launch your own parties. You want to try and avoid the mistakes that would run the risk of you losing your initial investment. Promoters often need help on the night, perhaps decorating the venue, running the guest list, cloakroom or artist liaisons. Offer your help and you’ll learn through observation what works and what doesn’t work.
The venue will make or break your event
One of the most important factors of a successful event is the venue. The best venues are those that already have passing trade or are already busy. If you can find a venue that is already busy then there is less pressure for you to bring the whole crowd. This is the safest and least stressful way to start an event. The problem here is that many venues will already have promoters on their busy nights so you’ll have to wait for the opportunity to snap up a venue like this. Once you get one, make sure you hold onto it! Often the way to get your foot in the door is to run events on some of the less popular nights to prove your worth and put you in line for the next time a busy Friday or Saturday night crops up. Try running a Thursday night or a bank-holiday Sunday. If you are running a night for a student crowd you can try a mid-week night but otherwise, try and avoid anything that is Monday-Wednesday.
On top of looking for a busy venue try and find a venue that is also in the area your target market likes to go out and party. Stick to areas you know work well. If your venue is outside of where people normally party it’s likely to be a flop. Only promoters with big followings can venture off the beaten track.
Don’t go big too big too soon!
In most cases, it’s far better to start small and build your brand organically. Going too big too soon will leave most club promoters with burnt fingers. Bigger venues are harder to fill and more expensive to hire. It’s far better to have a queue of people waiting to get into a small venue that a big venue with huge gaps on the dancefloor. Start small and keep it small until your queue is around the block, only then upgrade to a bigger venue.
Always keep the size of the venue BELOW the size of your crowd to maintain a feeling of exclusivity.
Replicating what another promoter is doing rarely works
Many new promoters like to learn the trade by copying what another promoter is already doing. They carbon-copy their event and then wonder why no one turns up. You have to remember that other promoters may have worked for decades to build up their audience so you’re not going to be able to replicate that overnight. Successful promoters have built up a following over years with continuous marketing and events. You’ll need to start from the beginning, grow organically and create a database of fans while the brand expands.
Find a USP
You need to find a USP for your event (unique selling point). Every event has to have a reason to exist! What makes your event special and why would people want to go to your night when there are already many events to choose from. Make your event unique and create an identity people will resonate with.
Flyers and posters and adverts don’t work the way you think
Many rookie promoters think that all you need to do is print flyers, put up posters and place sponsored adverts and people will magically show up to your events. Experienced promoters don’t use these marketing tools to bring people to events, they use them as brand reinforcement.
Avoid risking any money
Running an event can be expensive but it doesn’t always have to be. If you’re a new promoter you shouldn’t risk too much money because you’re likely to make mistakes. Far better to learn those mistakes when there is only a small amount of money on the line. By far the biggest financial mistake new promoters make is paying for a venue that’s way too large or agreeing to a minimum bar spend.
In general, a good starting price for venue hire is £1-2 per head. If you're venue is 100 capacity that would mean a standard hire fee of £100-£200. However, some venues will charge a hire fee and a minimum bar spend. A minimum bar spend for a venue of 100 people could be £10 per head, so that would be £1000 but some venues might try and charge you more. I would never agree to a minimum bar spend if I could avoid it. If I did agree to a minimum bar spend it would be £5-£15 per head. Make sure they don’t back you into a financial corner here.
You’ll be able to find some venues that require no hire fee and no minimum bar spend if you look hard enough.
If it’s your first event start very small, with a venue 50-100 people. Try and avoid a hire fee and try and avoid a minimum bar spend. Only hire a venue if you are 100% confident you will get the money back in ticket sales. You can also consider looking for a venue that is free entry and instead of charging a fee on the door ask the venue to pay you to run the event. This is called a 'brand fee'.
Be realistic about ticket sales
Many newbie promoters might book a venue and launch an event and just automatically expect the event to sell out. If only it were that easy! When you’re a new promoter you’re starting from scratch, you need to slowly and organically build a crowd step-by-step.
Most launch parties will only attract 100 people, if successful.
This is why having a smaller venue of 50-100 people is ideal. Don’t base your financial projections on selling out. Expect to only sell a few tickets for your first events while you learn how to market them correctly. Another reason this is important because you want to be able to make profit, so if you can’t make profit on selling 25% of the tickets for an event it’s not worth the risk. Make sure you’re not spending too much money on the event and make sure you have realistic expectations.
You can only really expect your friends to come to your first event. The more friends you have the better! The ideal situation would be that your close friends would help you by inviting their friends. Your ability to bring people to the event will depend on how large your extended friends network is. You might want to work on your friend group before attempting to launch and event. Perhaps host a few dinner parties or house parties.
The more people involved and invested in your event the better. They will help you by bringing their friends.
Create a good brand BEFORE booking a venue
You should really think through the concept of your brand and create it before booking the venue. Firstly because any venue will want to see a clear brand and plan before letting you use their venue. First start with the idea of what the night is about, the style of music and the target audience and then come up with a catchy name and logo. Make your brand pop and make sure it looks high quality. You can then create profiles including Facebook, Instagram, Resident Advisor, Tik Tok, YouTube etc.
Have everything ready to go before booking the venue.
Make sure you document the process
One of the best ways to get people involved in your night and to garner support is to make them feel part of the process. Document your journey on social media and and keep your audience in the loop with new development. It’s also super important to document the night itself so make sure you find a photographer or videographer or both! You can then use this content to promote your next event.
Booking headline DJs is difficult
New promoters will often think the key to selling out a venue is to book a headline DJ. This is sometimes true but there is more that goes into marketing that just booking a headline act. DJ agencies who represent headline acts also won’t let you book them anyway! They will need to see a track record of promoting sell-out events before allowing you to book their headline artist. Instead, as a new promoter you should support the best local talent you can find and other DJs who will help bring people to your event either through their friend network or their fan base. This will of course be cheaper and easier for you to book. Once you’ve run many successful events you can then think about aiming for bigger and bigger acts. Again, the key is to grow organically!
Book the right kind of DJ
The music is the main part of the event, you have to get it right! Make sure that you are booking capable DJs who know how to mix and play for the crowd. Make sure they have lots of experience or have studied DJing at an academy like LSA. (Click here for our range of DJ courses) You’ll need to be confident they will reflect your brand professionally. You can also invest in your DJs, build loyalty and consistency by booking the same acts but leave room in the lineup for guests.
Offer early bird incentives
If you’re running a new night be sure to price your tickets so there are different tiers. The normal ticket options are to have a super cheap ‘early bird’ tickets limited to small number, like 10% of the total tickets. They should be cheap and sell-out fast. Then the second tier would be more expensive and cover another 20% of the tickets. Hopefully you will break-even just on those ticket sales alone. Then the third tier is the real profit margin. They will be the most expensive and last minute ticket. Another interesting strategy is sell different types of tickets, perhaps VIP, Early Entry tickets or tables. Experiment with different ticket products and encourage early bird sales.
Play a good host
On the night, you need help! Running an event is super stressful and there are many things for a promoter to worry about. The best thing is to outsource the bulk of this work to assistants. Make sure that you’re not too busy that you don’t have enough time to actually socialise and play host to your friends. In the ideal situation you wouldn’t do any work on the night so you’re free to be the main host introducing everyone and keeping everyone happy.
Have good security staff
Make sure that the security at your venue don’t have a bad reputation. If they have bad reviews about the security on Google I would avoid working with that venue or ask them to provide a different security team. You want to make sure the security are polite, professional and good at their job of making everyone safe. Avoid venues that hire rude security staff that make your guests feel unwelcome. Remember the security are also there for you, if anyone is harassing your or causing trouble politely ask the security to make them leave the event. You should also maintain a good relationship with the bar staff and the managing staff on the night.
Make sure you know them all by name and always by polite. A smile goes a long way!
Follow health and safety
The venue and the promoter are responsible for the health and safety of their staff and patrons. Most of the responsibility falls on the shoulders of the venue but the promoter is also partly responsible. If you’re running an event it’s a good idea to do a health and safety check to see if there are any potential risks you need to mitigate. Make sure that if you bring any equipment or lights or decorations to the venue that they are approved by the venue and are safe to use. For example, you don’t want your decorations to catch fire and burn down the venue. As a promoter you also need to have public liability insurance to cover for any potential issues. Bear in mind insurance won’t cover you if you didn’t take steps to avoid obvious health and safety risks.
Have the correct license
Some promoters will run illegal raves however the risk is very high both financially but also in terms of your brands reputation. We’re not the police so we’re not going to tell you that you shouldn’t run illegal parties, that’s up to you. Just know they are very risky. If you want to avoid risk make sure your event has the proper license for all the hours of your event. Most venues will have this in place so ask them for the details of their license. You might find out they can only serve drinks at certain hours, require photo ID on the door or they can only have the volume above a certain level.
Make sure it's a good sound system
Make sure that the venue has a decent sound system and professional lighting. If they don’t avoid them at all costs. It’s one of the primary functions for a venue to have a decent sound system so if they can’t figure that out who knows what else they can’t do. Avoid these kind of unprofessional venues. Make sure the sound system is loud enough for the kind of party you want to have and make sure that it’s pleasant to listen to for long durations. Also make sure the lighting is good for the event. Make sure the venue isn't too bright, bright lights make it feel less clubby and more school disco, try and find a darkly-lit venue that has that clubby feel.
Avoid bars with higher-than-average prices
No one wants to spend a months wages on one night out. Make sure you avoid venues that charge too much for drinks. If it’s too expensive people simply won’t have fun and won’t come back.
Ultimately it’s a disco. Make sure people have fun, the music is good and everyone is safe. If they have a great night they will come back time and time again!
If you're interested in running your own club nights or event make sure you check out these three essential blogs for club and party promoters:
How to Start your own Club Night
A-Z List of London Clubs
How to write and event proposal