There are many reasons why you could be looking for information about club promoters. Perhaps you want a job as a club promoter. So you are researching how promoters get paid or how to get your feet into the nightlife business.
Maybe you are considering hiring club promoters for your venue, and want a better idea of what kind of promoter you should hire, how much you should pay them, or what you can expect of them.
Or maybe you’re an avid party-goer looking for a great promoter, but you want to learn which ones can put you into a VIP section or help you get free drinks! But you also want to know which ones that you should stay far away from.
Whichever your reason is, you will quickly find that there is not a lot of detailed information out there about what being a club promoter entails, the signs of great promoters versus bad promoters, or how to find the right one for you.
Even the most popular Youtube videos about promoters are often just shallow stories about college students who magically turned into mega promoters overnight. They’re more promotional than they are informative, so you can take their advice with a grain of salt.
This article will remedy this by explaining just about everything you could want to know about club promoters and the nightlife business around them.
I can offer these insights because I’ve worked in the nightlife industry and as a club promoter for over a decade with popular NYC clubs like PHD, Up & Down, Lavo, Le Souk, Avenue, Etiquette, and many more. These experiences led me to create my nightlife marketing company, Always The VIP where I connect guests with the best nightlife and support bars, clubs, and businesses with promotional strategies. All this makes me what you would call an “expert source” of information.
So enjoy the ride as we dive into the club promoting business and debunk a few myths along the way.
The Truth About Being A Club Promoter
You may have come across a few rich and famous promoters who make the promoting job all the more alluring. I don’t want to burst your bubble, but your chances of becoming one of those iconic promoters are slim to nill. So don’t get your hopes up.
Yes, it has its perks. Unlimited drinks, VIP tables, and being surrounded by beautiful people. It’s all there to enjoy.
However, for most people, club promoting is something that they happen to stumble into and fall out of just as easily. After all, the barrier of entry is low and the main skills that you need to start are just communication and a little charm.
But before I go into the important skills that you should learn later, you should understand exactly what a club promoter is.
What Is A Club Promoter?
A club promoter is essentially a part of a club’s marketing team who is tasked with driving attendance. They are more often contractors as opposed being part if the “in-house” team.
The job description for a club promoter typically includes the responsibilities of bringing large volumes of guests, a particular target audience, and patrons (e.g. bottle clients) to parties and events.
Club promoters often find these guests on-site (near the venue), from networking, using online promotions, and/or telemarketing.
What Are The Types of Club Promoters?
Club promoters can be categorized into 3 distinct types:
- Image Promoters
- Street Promoters
- Head promoters
Image promoters are both brand ambassadors and nightlife hosts. The image promoter’s goal is to bring a great-looking crowd that matches the venue’s target audience and reputation. Their target demographic is often young fashionable women, so they regularly host ladies’ night promotions.
Image promoters are normally among the highest-paid types of promoters and get VIP treatment at clubs. The perks include VIP sections, complimentary bottle service, dinners, and more. Image promoters also have many aliases for their title, such as VIP hosts, VIP concierges, and brand ambassadors.
How To Find Image Promoters
Image promoters can often be found on social media, YouTube, and even blogs. They are particularly found on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter, where they can post pictures at VIP tables and promote their parties.
Of all the promoter types, image promoters are probably the easiest to find, since they also tend to look for guests on social media and communicate with them there as well.
In case you haven’t realized it yet from my website, I’m often an image promoter or head promoter.
If you think every promoter pops bottles and stands on couches, you would be wrong. This leads us to our next type of promoter.
If you have ever walked past a club, and been abruptly offered to come to a party nearby, that was likely a “street promoter.” Street promoters stand outside near the venue, in the rain, sleet, or snow, soliciting guests on the street to attend the venue or party. This is one of the most demanding kinds of promoter jobs.
These types of promoters aren’t at VIP sections partying, and they don’t care much about the image. They are only focused on hitting their high attendee quotas, getting paid, and going home.
How To Find Street Promoters
Since street promoters are mostly concerned with attracting guests who are in the immediate vicinity, you will rarely find them online. You can find a street promoter near their nightclubs when parties are happening.
Street promoters are often able to offer you a complimentary entry or drink ticket as an incentive to join the party. This is common practice in party cities like Miami.
However, there is not much glamour to the street promoter job. And it is very challenging for most to excel in. To be a successful street promoter, you must be able to handle rejection well and can make a very convincing 15-second sales pitch to succeed.
Head Promoters or Top Promoters
Head promoters have established brands in the nightlife industry, a large following, and the potential to get the best compensation of all promoter types. They often manage promoters with smaller followings, and rarely interact with sub-promoters (further explained shortly). Head promoters often have connections to owners, celebrities, and high-value clientele. Promoting is their business and career.
Because of their strong followings and reputations, head promoters normally get all the VIP benefits. But there aren’t many of these O.G.’s around. I won’t name any though because they are my competition.
How To Find Head Promoters or Top Promoters
While some head promoters may be found on social media, many run companies and manage other promoters, so they don’t need to promote themselves much. So, you are more likely to find someone who works for a head promoter than one themselves. But start there, keep attending parties and networking, and you will eventually cross paths with a head promoter.
Now that you understand the different types of promoters and what each entails, I’d like to debunk our first myth:
Most people do not go directly to being a bottle-popping club promoter!
You normally have to work your way up to it or be lucky enough to partner with an experienced promoter who has that pull already.
That being said, we’ll go into the 3 most common ways to becoming a club promoter:
How to Find A Club Promoter Job
Typically, there are 3 ways to become a promoter:
- Become a Sub-Promoter
- Get An Invitation From Management or a Head Promoter
- Use Job Search Websites
The first one is significantly important. So let’s break this down a little more so you can understand what’s happening here and the pros and cons.
Becoming A Sub-Promoter, The Pros and Cons
If you go to a popular club, search for the table where all the ladies are. If you see a guy that stands out or is wearing all black and a fitted cap, that’s likely the promoter. If you connect with this promoter and he invites you to promote for him, then you have become his sub-promoter.
The worst-case scenario, that you always want to avoid, is becoming a sub-promoter for a sub-promoter.
But generally, being a “sub” has pros and cons that you should weigh depending on your goals and level of commitment to the job.
The Pros of Being a Sub-Promoter
Being a sub-promoter is a great way to get your foot into the door. You can learn the ropes, have some fun, and build up your following at your pace. This is the least stressful entry-level position for being a promoter.
As a sub-promoter, you have the most flexibility. The promoter you work for has made contractual commitments to the venue, not you. Your commitments are to him/her only. So, you can work on your schedule and make side income at your convenience. There is likely very little pressure placed on your shoulders to perform.
Perhaps the main benefit of being a sub-promoter is that, is that you could get access to a ton of venues, perks, and deals that you otherwise would not have access to. And, not only can you learn the ropes from that promoter, you can build many connections.
When you find a good promoter team to work with, they will always take care of you and treat you fairly when it comes to payouts. You will quickly know if you are working with the right promoter based on that alone.
I started my nightlife career as a sub-promoter and it worked out great for me.
The Cons of being a Sub-Promoter
Depending on your goals, one con of being a sub-promoter is that you have more degrees of separation between you and the head promoter. This means that you are less likely to be involved in those important meetings or move up fast in the ranks.
But, this mostly depends on how supportive the promoter you work with is, and also whether you are trying to build a career as a club promoter or if it is just a gig.
Another con to be aware of is that when payouts are divided through more promoters, a sub-promoter’s cut is smaller. However, this may be fair since your contribution is likely smaller also.
Perhaps the biggest con, and situation to be wary of, is that sub-promoters are less likely to get paid if they partner with an untrustworthy promoter. This presents the risk of getting stiffed on payouts.
That is one big reason why sub-promoters often “burn out.”
“Burn out” is when a promoter is overworked, underpaid, and/or abruptly quits due to the pressures of promoting.C. “Nez” Byrd – Nightlife consultant and growth Marketer
Sub-promoters are often unable to endure the strenuous nights of promotion. Mostly, because the work is harder than they anticipated.
Finally, it is important to note that no one gets paid a dollar if the promoter team doesn’t hit their goals. So, choosing a reputable and high-performing promoter team to work with is vital for any sub-promoter.
Invitation From Management or Head Promoter
If you ever go to a party and your crew stands out in the room, then you may get an invite to be a promoter. Night managers and head promoters often survey the room. When they like what they see, they may personally offer to “take care of you” if you come again.
This hookup could pave a way for you to break into promoting. The trick here is to come back a few times with your great-looking crowd to show you can do it consistently – That’s the hard part.
Build rapport with the manager or head promoter each time. Then casually ask about promoting for them. Likely by then, you will have earned enough cool points to get put on the payroll!
Pro tip: Just because you are hired by a head promoter or a venue it doesn’t mean you can trust them to give you a good deal or pay you for your work.
Online Job Search Sites
If you do not have experience in promoting, have a huge network, or have a big crew of reliable alcoholics, then be very cautious about looking for promoter jobs online. It’s hard to find legit promoter jobs online or at job search websites like indeed.com or glassdoor.com.
If you happen to come across an online job listing that you are interested in, then be sure that it includes training, a ramp-up period, and a documented pay rate and commission structure. Generally, these online employers want telemarketers. Which is likely not what you are looking for!
As a telemarketing promoter, your job duties would mostly include cold calling, booking parties, and supporting the operations at the club. Although this may not be the type of glamorous “club promoting” that you were hoping for, it is however another way in the door – Albeit a boring one.
For any job that you find online, just make sure that everything is in writing and your duties are clear. Otherwise, you may end up doing a job that you hate and getting paid pennies. On that note, let’s discuss how promoters get paid.
How Much Club Promoters Are Paid?
First, let’s debunk a myth. Most club promoters are not paid a salary. Club promoters are normally paid on a commission structure where they are either paid a flat dollar amount for a set number of guests, a tiered payment based on performance, or a set dollar amount “per head” (“per head” means “per guest”).
Cub promoters’ potential earnings largely depend on the deals that they negotiate with management and their capability. And not every club promoter may get the same deal. Club promoters are not guaranteed any wages because they are rarely ever employees, club promoters are typically contractors.
Of all the time that I have been promoting in NYC, I have yet to come across one club promoter who earns a “salary.” The people getting paid salaries are normally on the management or marketing teams who hire the promoters. The marketing team has a set budget to pay promoters, based on performance.
How Much Head Promoters Can get Paid
A “head promoter,” who takes over a party, can generally make between 10-20% of the revenue from the bar.
In the nightlife industry, the revenue that is generated from the bar is called the “bar ring.”C. “Nez” Byrd
The percentage of the “bar ring” is often calculated on a sliding scale. The higher the ring is, the higher the percentage is.
Negotiating for a split of the covers charged at the door is also possible. The best deals would be a combination of both the “bar ring” and the “door.”
How Much Image Promoters Can Get Paid
An “image promoter” can generally make between $200-$400 a night. This is called a “flat,” which is a straight payout as long as they hit their quota and bring the target audience (typically beautiful people). A successful image promoter with great deals that works 5 nights a week could get paid around $48,000 – $96,000 in a year.
How Much Street Promoters Can Get Paid
A “street promoter” generally gets paid per head, which can range between $8-$12. The payout is normally only for people who paid to enter. The higher the cover, the higher the payout. You can’t pinpoint an average range payout for this because guest turnout varies everywhere and every night.
Typically, every promoter can get paid a percentage for any bottle client’s purchases. Which is usually commissioned around 10%-20% of the total spend for that table, not including tax or tip.
While these are all fairly standard promoter deals, many variables could affect how venues pay promoters:
- Some clubs hire fewer promoters, so their payouts and nightly quotas are higher.
- Some venues don’t charge covers or have low maximum occupancies, so their profit margins are smaller.
- Popular venues may not offer high payouts unless you can significantly boost attendance or sales.
Additionally, if there is a celebrity appearance planned, venues often won’t even pay promoters. It does make business sense to pay promoters only when they are needed.
Lastly, and possibly most importantly, promoters do not get paid for guests who don’t check in on their guest list! So a guest forgetting to say the promoter’s name at the door is a sin in the nightlife.
At this point, you should have a firm understanding of the club promoter job, which type you would like to become, and what the potential pay would be like. So now, I’d like to give you a primer on some key things great promoters do, and some key things that bad promoters do.
The Signs Of a Great Promoter
Great promoters make the night more enjoyable for their guests. They are personable, they make conversation, and they dance and share laughs with attendees. They build bonds while pouring shots down throats. You can spot these promoters easily because they are often in a large group of girls at a VIP section having a great time.
But great promoters also wisely set boundaries, and make sure that their guests always come first. These are just a few things that guests would and should look for when they want to find a great promoter.
They Are Attentive Hosts
Great promoters make their guests feel welcome, respected, and appreciated. Making a guest feel like they are just a number is not the way to build a following. There is a customer service element there that shouldn’t be ignored.
- When it is cold outside, they should wait with and help their guests in the line to get in.
- When the waitress doesn’t come around for their bottle client, they step in.
A great promoter doesn’t stop at promoting a party, he/she helps people have some of the best times of their lives.
They Never Get Too Wasted
Great promoters never get more wasted than their guests. Remember, promoters are also hosts, from beginning to end. They should always have their wits about them to attend to guests.
So, if you are a promoter, keep in mind that this is a job and the club is your workplace. If you go overboard, your reputation spreads on the lips of both your guests and your colleagues (the managers, the waitresses, etc). Great promoters pace themselves.
They Build Long-Lasting Connections
Great promoters build lasting connections. They let guests know that they are more than just a number on a guest list.
Generally, nightlife offers many opportunities to build real connections. You will be surprised at the type of people you will meet at a party. They can be doctors, politicians, or someone that you could start a business with someday.
The Signs of a Bad Promoter
The characteristics of a bad promoter can be summed up by a derogatory term, often uttered from the lips of disgruntled guests, the “douchebag promoter.”
Being a Douchebag Promoter
A “douchebag promoter” is a club or party promoter who is self-centered, flirtatious, disrespectful, and cocky. They often look at people as nothing more than ticks on a guest list and have little regard for their well-being or experience. He/she is often well-groomed and wears a stereotypical all-black club promoter outfit.
Douchebag promoters tend to treat women like they are a dime a dozen, often attempting to sleep with as many as possible. And they look at men like they are ATMs who aren’t welcome unless they are spending lots of money.
This is the type of promoter that experienced partygoers avoid.
Sleeping With Guests
A big mistake that many promoters make, is getting too “friendly” with their guests.
If you are promoting just to get laid, then it should be fairly easy. You will be partying with intoxicated people, so it will often happen naturally. Many promoters take on the job just for this opportunity to take someone new home every night.
To this, I recommend an old saying, “don’t defecate where you eat.” Hooking up with every desirable guest burns bridges and makes promoting problematic. No one wants drama in the club because your flings crossed paths.
Overselling A Party
Guests are not idiots. One of the worse things that promoters can do is give misleading information or make a party sound better than it is.
Many promoters get so caught up in trying to make a buck, that they take on any party, with no standards and will say whatever a guest wants to hear as long as they get them to the party.
Great promoters keep it real and connect people with the right parties:
- If someone says they don’t like house music, don’t invite them to a rave.
- If someone prefers upscale venues, don’t invite them to a hole-in-the-wall club.
Promoters that lie to guests are the reason why many people literally “hate” promoters.
Allowing or Promoting Drugs
Another huge mistake that bad promoters make is allowing drugs into their circle. Most people don’t want to be around that, but there are always exceptions to the rule.
If you are a promoter it’s best to keep your “nose clean” and your guests in nothing worse than a drunken stupor. Having to explain why your guest overdosed on something that you gave them never ends well.
There will always be guests who ask for the “plug.” Let them find it on their own.
By this point, you know just about everything there is to know about being a club promoter. It would easily take you years of mistakes to learn all this on your own. (You can learn even more in my article, “How to Be A Successful Club Promoter.”)
And, if you are looking for a club promoter, now that you understand the different types, where to find them, and things you should be aware of to help decide which is the best one for you.
I leave you with this final recommendation: When you find a good promoter, be loyal, and you will reap the benefits!