BandWagon decided to talk to Patrick Power about the role of today’s promoter.
Patrick is the booker and promoter at Power’s Bar. Power’s is a live music venue on Kilburn High Road, London. Hosting nightly live music from the best up-and-coming bands but also from established acts including Laura Marling to The Undertones – It continues to be at the forefront of London’s new music scene. They NEVER host ‘pay-to-play’ gigs.
BW: What is the role of a music promoter?
PP: My main role as a promoter is to ensure that the venue I work for has a quality line up of live music every night of the week. I’ve got to ensure the bands I book are bands that draw a crowd and won’t clear the venue when they play!
BW: How does the promoter/artist relationship work?
PP: Basically, the promoter and artist have to discuss what will work best for both the band and the venue. Most venues will like to have bands on as late as they can – the later, the busier the bar – but most acts will want to catch the last train or get back to bed! It’s finding a meeting point half way, making both parties happy, that is the most important part.
BW: If a band or artist wants to get a gig, how should they set about doing it?
PP: The most important thing for bands looking for gigs is to have a good web presence. The first thing promoters will look for is their tracks online, so bands need to have a Facebook page or website with mp3s or Soundcloud link. My advice for bands would be to go out and get a good demo recorded as soon as they can. Having good mp3s online is crucial. Also, think twice before putting a price on your EPs – having a free EP will get your music heard by at least 10 times more people than if it costs money!
If you can’t get the money together for a good demo, get a good quality live video filmed. That way, promoters can get a good feel of your onstage energy and presence.
BW: What do you look for when you book artists for your shows?
PP: Generally, I look for local artists to play the venue. It works best for venue, and for band. Lots of bands from the Midlands and the North like to play London, but playing in your hometown where you know you can pull people, often works out better than long and costly trips down to play empty venues in the capital! For the venue’s point of view, having really good local bands means having more local fans coming, and raising the chance of them coming back!
BW: What advice can you give artists who are just starting out?
PP: I think for the first couple of years in a band, the focus should be on getting tight. Don’t put your focus on ‘making it’ – put the hours in and practise as much as you can. Bands that play together as much as possible will develop together as musicians. That said, try to space your gigs out cleverly. There’s no point in playing three London gigs in a week, they’ll all be empty. If you do a gig a month (or less), then there’s more chance of getting your friends down for it.
BW: What advice would you someone looking to start promoting?
PP: Start by getting a night going at your local bar or live music venue on a weekday. Try and get similar bands to play, bands that suit each other. If the venue lets you, try have it free entry. That way you can get more people down, and the more people that are at your gigs, then the more likely you are to be given a Friday or Saturday slot in the future. It can be quite disheartening if your nights are empty all the time, but keep at it, it’s a fun job!