- Get Started
you wanna be a tour promoter?
me – what work goes into arranging a gig?
When it comes to organising any tour there are two main players:
the Tour Manager and the Tour Promoter. The work of the tour manager
is dealt with in our video clip;
whereas here we’ll look at the work of the tour promoter.
does a tour promoter do?
Basically, it’s the tour promoter’s job to advertise and then
sell all of the tickets at each venue visited on a tour.
It might sound easy, but the reality’s pretty hairy! First off,
not only does the tour promoter need to sell all of the tickets
– they need to buy them all in the first place!
Yep – being a tour promoter is a right old money-go-round, and
the reality is that many tour promoters get off the ride with
how does this all work?
When a band decides to go out on tour to promote a record, their
record label will contact a Tour Agent. The tour agent’s job is
to book a number of venues across the country of a size that all
parties agree the band can fill - the Millennium Stadium for U2,
more modest venues for more modest bands.
sums might they be?
As well as buying all the tickets for each venue, the tour promoter
has to pay for the venue, the band’s fee, advertising and printing
costs. They add these up, then work out how much they will need
to charge for each ticket, building in a fee to cover their own
come the band and their record label doesn’t pay for all this?
The tour promoter is brought in as a middleman to take the financial
risks. It’s a two-edged sword for both parties: in the event of
the tour being a total sell-out, the tour promoter will pocket
all of the profits; if, on the other hand, it’s a disaster, the
band will still get its pre-agreed fee.
happens to the tour promoter if the tour’s a flop?
Whatever the outcome, the tour promoter will have to pay the venue,
the band, and all the advertising and printing costs incurred.
If at the end of all that, there’s still a monetary shortfall,
the tour promoter will have to meet the losses.
a bit harsh, isn’t it?
No, its just business. Nobody forces a tour promoter into promoting
any given tour – once approached, they must make a business decision
as to whether or not they think it will make money. If it doesn’t,
the harsh reality is that it was a bad business decision.
tour promoting is a bit of a mug’s game?
Not at all – it can be very lucrative. Realistically though, it’s
a tough occupation: the hours are very long and it’s very competitive.
There are hundreds of small-timers promoting gigs in pubs and
clubs up and down the country, hoping to get their big break one
day with a Coldplay or a Travis.
do they do that?
Generally, a tour promoter will be looking for bands at the beginning
of their career whom they believe have the potential to become
a major act. Barry Hogan has been working with the mighty American
mariachi rockers Calexico for years. By now Calexico play in front
of crowds in excess of 2,000 people whenever they come over here,
so Barry is beginning to build up a reputation for himself and
see financial rewards for his hard work.
how much money can a tour promoter make?
If they’re promoting a gig in a pub that holds 50 people and it
sells out, they might make £50 – enough for a slap-up meal for
two at Pizza Express, with a taxi ride home thrown in. If they’ve
promoted a sell-out gig by The Manics at the Millennium Stadium,
they’ll probably have made enough to buy a small island in the
How do I start?
There are no degree courses in tour promoting, although many promoters
have started out by promoting events through their student union
whilst studying something else. Business studies or marketing
are useful. Otherwise, you can cut your teeth by promoting local
bands in a small local venue – say a pub or club with a licence
for live music.