I Want Your Job: Music promoter

'Finding top new acts is really exciting'


Alex Martin, 26, is a live music promoter and consultant. His music company, Curious Generation, is based in Covent Garden in London.

What do you actually do?

We find breaking music acts we want to work with, find a venue where they can perform, sell tickets, and generally see the live show through to completion. We liaise with managers and market new bands to consumers. There's also the live music consultancy side to the business. We consult with brands that are looking to go into the music scene, and help them choose the right type of music to go with a product launch.

What's a typical working day like?

I arrive at the office between 8.30 and 9am, and get through a wad of emails from acts and booking agencies. I'll liaise with our event management team and look at the programme of events that are coming up. The afternoon is usually spent hosting meetings and keeping up with client relationships. Around 7pm, I'll hit the gym – then at 8pm I'll head off to watch our gigs or check out new acts.

What do you love most about your job?

Music is an invigorating industry to work in. Finding the best new acts and seeing them go from being unsigned and unknown to huge stars is really exciting. We worked with Scouting for Girls when they started out. The have had a lot of play on Radio 1 and are selling out Brixton Academy. They've moved on to a larger promoter, but it's been great to see them progress.

What's not so great about it?

It can be cut-throat. A lot of people want to work in the music industry, so it's a very competitive field. We have to compete with larger music promoters.

What skills do you need to be a really good live music promoter?

You need an ear for music, and to know which acts to put on at the right time. You should understand how to market music to an audience, whatever the genre. The promoter is at the centre of everything. You have to coordinate the whole campaign, so you need excellent organisational skills to manage budgets and liaise with bands, clients, PR, and venues. It's crucial that you can network and manage your contacts efficiently, so you need good interpersonal skills. Finally, you've got to be trustworthy and honest. People need to trust you to sell tickets and put on a great show.

What advice would you give someone with their eye on your job?

Get to know your local music scene. Read the music press to see how shows are being promoted and which venues are popular, and think about how you would market a show. Knowledge of the industry is really important, so it could help to get some work experience with a record company or music promotions business. There's nothing to stop you setting up your own club night if you want to get into promoting. You learn the most from putting on live music events.

What's the salary and career path like?

Work experience positions are unpaid, and at entry level, the starting salaries can be very low – as little as £8,000 to £10,000 a year. At the top end, an experienced promoter in a big company could earn in excess of £100,000. You could set up your own company, in which case your earnings will depend on how well you do.

Curious Generation has teamed up with the national enterprise campaign Make Your Mark in Music to offer advice and some financial support to young people who want to work in the music promotions business. www.makeyourmarkinmusic.org. For more information on careers and training as a music promoter, visit www.bpi.co.uk; www.mmf-training.com; or www.musicmanagersforum.co.uk.

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