"GETTING IN ON THE GROUND FLOOR"
Most bands/artists get their start playing the clubs, unless they're a YouTube sensation or 12. The Club Promoter has been integral to the launch of many careers. This is probably the first place the band will play in front of a live audience and realize that, despite their musical skills being sharp and well rehearsed, their ability to banter with each other and connect with the audience plays a huge role in developing a fan base.
Club Promoters want a good reputation as a reliable live venue, they want people to look up who's playing there by default, as opposed to 'seeing what's going on in town.' They want people to go to their club regardless of who's on stage. Whereas bands just want to get out there and play and make a few bucks in the interim. Club gigs are often the Artists' first paying gig.
The Club Promoter wants to know that you've done your job to cultivate a following before he's going to give up his stage for a night. After all, he has to pay the club's rent, insurance, utilities, staff, permits, insurance, etc. That's a considerable nut. Especially for a club that isn't open every night or has nights when there is no live entertainment.
A lot of Artists' bitch about the 'unfair split' because the Club makes money on alcohol. Well, what if there's nobody in the Club? All the bills still have to be paid. It can take a few good nights to make up for a bad one. So it might not be a good idea to go into playing a club with the idea that you're going to make money unless you've got a devoted following who are going to pay to see you play and/or buy drinks at the Club, that's what friends and family are for.
Social Media and amazing technology that allows bands to create professional EPKs does make the Club Promoter's job easier than it used to be. He/she can look up how many followers you have, hear your music, maybe see a few videos of you playing. They can get a pretty good idea of what to expect. So if you have your ducks in a row, the process is easier.
You already know your local club, you've seen shows there, you've imagined yourself on that stage. You've connected with staff and maybe even the actual talent buyer. That's a great start. Sometimes a Club Promoter may require an opening act, if you're local and available and the Promoter knows who you are, you're in a good position to get a call to fill that slot. Club Promoter's do like 'breaking' bands, but their sole motivation is to keep their doors open.
The more popular the venue, the harder it is to get a gig there, obviously, and there are some horror stories out there, pay to play comes to mind. I think that's a horrid system, entirely unfair to emerging Artists. So don't make that investment unless you know you can get paying customers in the door. Not all Club Promoters work the same way, some offer guarantees, some do a door split, I'll get into that more in the Road Tips section.
Club Promoters come in varying personalities, too many to describe in one blog post, but they all have the same basic goal, all Promoters do; Asses In Seats! Be nice to your local Club Promoter, he/she just might be the one who helps get your career off the ground.