The first step is to choose a venue. The venues in smaller towns or markets are usually cheaper and there is less of a chance of there being competition on the day of the event. The club owner will require a deposit and/or a bar minimum. A bar minimum is what a club owner will require to be sold at the bar on the night of your event. It is up to you to bring in enough people to meet the bar minimum. Be certain that you speak with other club owners in the area to ensure that the venue you are considering is charging a market bar minimum. Also, on the night of the event, request to see the master receipt as proof that the bar minimum has or has not been met. If the bar minimum hasn’t been met, it is the promoters responsibility to the club to pay the difference.
The next step is to choose an artist and contact the artist’s manager and/or label to determine how much the artist charges to perform. You can usually find this information on the artist’s myspace page or website. However, the bigger the name of the artist, the more expensive it will be and the more difficult it will be to find contact information for the artist. Without the proper connections, it is likely that you will have to go through a booking agency (which will tack on their own fees) to book a national artist. For a promoter with limited resources, a good strategy would be to book a regional artist (an artist with regional, rather than national fame), which usually costs between $1,500 and $7,000; sometimes more, depending on the current success of the artist.
The artist’s manager will present you with either a rider or a buyout. A rider is a list of the “add ons” that an artist will require (i.e., audio equipment, hotel/traveling accommodations, etc). The cost of these items will be in addition to the artist performance fee. The buyout is a flat rate that the manager will charge you to cover the items that are listed on the rider. Often times the buyout will end up costing you more than what the items on the rider would, but many times you won’t have a choice.
Now, it’s time to promote!! In smaller markets, radio is relatively cheap. So 50-80 spins on the main radio station is plenty to get the word out. In addition to radio play, it is extremely effective to set up an over-the-phone or in studio interview with the artist to give the artist the opportunity to promote his or her project and also plug the show. Sometimes, the radio might offer you liners, which are live on-air contests in which callers call in to win tickets. Additionally, fliers and posters are also an effective way to promote your show, but placement is very important. You want to target areas that club goers would frequent such as other clubs, barber shops, clothing stores, etc. Speak with the owners of these businesses and get permission to place fliers or hang posters in that business. Aside from promotional placement, handing fliers directly to “passersby” outside of concerts, show and events will also help town get the word out.