How to Become a Concert Promoter

What the differences are between promoters, booking agents and talent buyers?

When you want your band to get that big break, knowing the differences between promoters, booking agents, and talent buyers can lead to tremendous results—both in the short term and long term.

When looking to hire promoters, booking agents & talent buyers, you need to pick an agent that fits your band’s style, has the right networking connections, and is in line with the industry today.

All these different roles play a big part in helping bands evolve. They all play a big part in getting booked for a live show. No matter if it is getting a slot, marketing an appearance, or just getting your name out there,

But it’s not all just about booking a performance. Many promoters, booking agents & talent buyers are also well-connected in the industry. It only takes impressing one of these to get a shot at the big time. So how do you go about identifying who to get in touch with?

How promoters, talent buyers, and booking agents differ

First things first, these roles are all different in their own right. Some agencies may double up roles while others specialize in one area. So let’s investigate what each role entails.

What do music promoters do?

A music promoter is generally the organization that takes care of everything on tour. They handle everything you can think of for a show. This includes:

  • Venues
  • Accommodation
  • Transport
  • Marketing
  • Fees
  • Contracts

The promoter is always your primary contact when it comes down to it. They can be the ones to ensure that everything works both on-stage and off-stage.

Often enough, a promoter will be a team – not just one individual. It’s why you should always do your research before linking up with one.

A good promoter will get you far, even if you are just an opening act on a tour. Promoters can provide everything you need for that show. It’s why a good promoter is essential for having a successful tour.

What are booking agents?

If you want to get a particular slot or venue, that’s when you need a booking agent. You hire a booking agent for one purpose: getting you that perfect slot.

Artists will turn to booking agents to connect with promoters and venues to secure a live slot. Acting as an intermediary, the agent will sell a band to a client to get the deal made.

Agents will often negotiate fees, timings, and roles on the band’s behalf. These may not be for one-off appearances or just live shows, either.

A booking agent can act like a PR rep if a band has a specific platform and following. This can evolve into booking other media appearances and fan meets if the following is large enough.

What does a talent buyer do?

On the other side, a talent buyer is someone who works for a body and identifies who performs at a venue. Acting as a booker for a show, it is up to that person to select acts for a show and handle all aspects of it.

This can be a whole range of different things, including:

  • Arranging the order of talent
  • Negotiating fees
  • Scheduling set lengths
  • Marketing and promotion of a show

You will often find that talent buyers and bookers will deal with a myriad of different parties. This will include the acts, their managers, record companies, promoters, and PR agencies.

All this leads to them being one of the main areas to turn to while a show itself is taking place rather than being on the road.

How do I find the right partner for my band?

Regardless of who you are looking to be involved with, there are some aspects you should always look for when working with any team members, be they booking agents, concert promoters, or tour managers.

All these aspects can represent the difference between a bad experience and one that can get you to the next level. So what are the elements you should be looking for?

Strong track record

There is nothing better than seeing someone’s track record when it comes to being involved in the business. This is particularly true when dealing with promoters and booking agents. After all, a good promoter or agent will have a strong track record in clientele and experience.

When you first reach out to either party, having a quick look at their website or history will let you know if they are worth working with.

If their track history is vague or not easy to decipher, they may not be the best option to pick. There’d be nothing worse than finding yourself booked for the next Fyre Fest!

Alongside that, you can also speak with other bands to see what their experiences are like. Getting a first-hand review of an agent or promoter can be a deal-breaker as to who you may choose to go along with.

Industry connections

In the music industry, getting connections is vital. That’s why linking up with an agent, buyer, or booker with connections can make or break a career.

For starters, any of these bodies in the industry are just as keen to get acts with the highest reputation possible. Therefore, they will be eager to flaunt any connections with the industry to any upcoming acts wanting to get that breakthrough.

No matter their role, more significant exposure for your band can be a huge jumpstart.

With promoters and booking agents, they will have links to larger bands looking for openers or support acts. This brings new talent the chance to gain exposure on a new level they might not have experienced before.

For talent buyers, the premise of bringing big names to a venue or to headline a particular show will bring new eyes to their business along with more money.

And that is what drives everyone forward. They promise to generate bigger business and help themselves sustain a living in the industry.

With all that to take in, getting a rub with anyone bigger in the industry can send a band places – no matter their following.

The detailed differences between promoters, booking agents & talent buyers

Despite the similarities between all these roles, there are some keys you need to keep in mind about how the positions work.

Misunderstanding the crossover can make a difference in the business relationship and what the band might get from using each client. So what should you look out for?

Who handles what between booking agents, talent buyers, and promoters?

While out on tour, you need to understand just who is handling what aspect of the tour. Getting clarity on who controls what not only makes managing business that much easier but prevents any unnecessary communication breakdowns from developing.

This knowledge is beneficial when breaking down who handles what at shows and when on the road.

You should first know what has been agreed upon by a booking agent with both the talent buyer and promoter.

When it comes to dealing with a full tour, you should always speak with the promoter as they are the ones who handle the tour itself.

If you encounter travel issues, personnel problems, or prolonged issues, get your agent to reach out to the promoter.

However, if there is an issue during a show, that is when you can liaise with the booker directly. It could be about your set length or needs on the day, that is when you should see the talent buyer.

They will then be able to handle issues directly and with much more impact. Furthermore, a promoter may not be interested in a minor problem if their tour or event remains unaffected.

Managing these issues can make a difference between a good and a lousy tour. And it also sets a precedence for other shows and tours further down the line.

Who gets paid the most between talent buyers, promoters, and booking agents?

When it comes down to everything, it’s money that talks. Money is always a big sticking point for anyone looking to get involved with these parties.

But you may not know just how each of these parties generates fees and what they may gain or lose.

You will usually find that a booking agent pockets the most from a show. Agents will nominate a booking fee that gets added to whatever a band earns. This is mostly between 10%-15% of what the band is paid.

This fee is always guaranteed – something that cannot be said for what a promoter and talent buyer will earn.

For promoters, their windfall comes from the show and tour itself. After taking care of picking venues, managing the bands, and looking after acts, they will get a set split of the revenue generated from the tour.

This is also where the talent buyer will also muddy the waters even more. Some buyers will look to pay big money to promoters to get bigger acts in.

They will then bring in legal teams and draw up contracts agreeing upon splitting the money from that particular show. That also considers ticket pricing, marketing, and the acts themselves.

Once a show has ended, this will deter who has earned what from the night. A full house will ensure both parties make money. A poor showing will result in losses. For a booker, it’s only a one-night problem.

For promoters, this is a problem if it happens for multiple shows on a tour. Their overall profit/loss margin hinges on the success of a tour – especially once all the parties have been paid for.

Who handles logistics between booking agents, talent buyers, and promoters?

When working with all these different parties, you might also find that they might not always be the same character for one series.

Well – not when it comes to the promoter and buyer. However, you should stick with a booking agent if you go on a series of shows.

When going on a large series of shows, you will find yourself moving between cities, states, and even countries. This will undoubtedly throw up different laws and rules over weeks and months.

It’s up to the booking agent to connect these dots and link up with promoters and buyers as and when necessary. This is particularly true if going to multiple countries.

For example, if you go on a tour of Europe, you may encounter changing promoters every few days and buyers each night. The booking agent is the one who needs to join the dots in a sensible order.

It’s where the agent should stick with a promoter for an entire leg – e.g., Touring the UK – before moving on to shows and new promoters in mainland Europe.

Not only does this make touring much easier, but it also allows everyone involved to tie everything up before starting a new leg of the journey.

Do we hire them, or do they hire me?

No matter who you are looking for – promoters or agents – making contact with a company is a two-way street. If you are looking to hire a booking agent or a booking agency, they will want to know more about you. The same goes for promoters and talent buyers looking for acts. So what should you know about the process?

Hiring agents

It’s up to you whether you use a booking agent or not. Some acts prefer negotiating for themselves, but others find using an agent much more manageable.

However, a booking agent isn’t going to accept everyone knocking on their office door. They will look over every aspect of your act to see if representing you is right for them.

To get yourself in a good position before a potential meeting, there are some things you need to go over. These include:

  • Maximizing your value. Booking agents are only interested in representing the biggest talent possible. Therefore, maximize your branding and social media traffic to show your worth.
  • Highlight connections. If you can name-drop relevant heavyweights in the industry, that will get agents much more interested in representing you and how much you may be worth to them.
  • Avoid bad press. Any agent will research potential clients before a meeting. Therefore, avoid adverse incidents and be honest if you know baggage is weighing you down.

All these points will help you search for an agent and make meetings and negotiations much easier before having that crucial first meeting.

Attracting interest from promoters and talent buyers

Even though the points above are relevant in generating interest from promoters and bookers, there is more work to be done if you want these parties to reach out directly to you.

These businesses and companies will search high and low to find the right talent for a show and tour. This means that your efforts are directly responsible for how others see you.

To secure that prestigious slot you’ve been dreaming of, you can try some tactics to get you ahead of the competition. Some useful tricks include:

  • Take time to create an electronic press kit. A portfolio selling your style, skills, and achievements will make people notice what you represent. It gives them everything they need to reach out in one place and makes it more likely for them to reach out.
  • Always be active. It can be playing shows, updating social media, or building your brand. A busy band will always generate momentum. The more active your band is on the local scene, the more promoters and bookers will notice.
  • Engage with fans. Ultimately, getting fans through the door is what everyone wants. Therefore, the more your act engages with fans, the bigger the demand will be to see you. This will get promoters and talent buyers noticing your act over others where people are impartial. And this speaks volumes when selecting rivals.

These little tricks may not seem much, but they can go a long way. Being active and organized on all fronts shows your band is serious about your efforts.

And it makes people notice. By doing this, promoters and talent buyers will automatically look in your direction. These deal breakers secure the slots for serious artists who want to get themselves on top of the scene.


When looking at the differences between the roles, it’s easy to understand how easy it can be to mix up those involved in each position.

Some people may think promoters and talent buyers are the same entities; however, buyers are generally involved with the venue rather than the tour itself.

While promoters handle all aspects of a tour for an act, acts will use a booking agent to represent them when negotiating with both parties.

This will then command a difference in how each party earns money and how well a show and tour will run from start to finish.

Despite these differences, they also do share some familiar aspects. This includes ensuring that each party has a proven track record in the industry and can deliver on their word.

Furthermore, any of these parties that are well-connected within the industry can help send an act on the pathway to success.

Once all that is understood, a band can understand the differences between promoters, booking agents & talent buyers and make educated choices on who they work with for their next show. 

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