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ON TOUR

Promoter And Venue: Booker • Building Manager • Chief Operating Officer • General Manager • Owner • President • Promoter • Talent Buyer

JOB OVERVIEW

These individuals are responsible for the overall direction and operation of the company. They contact talent, negotiate deals, oversee marketing and promotion strategy, and other details associated with promoting concerts and other events.

PREREQUISITES

To succeed, you need a strong knowledge of the touring and promotion aspects of the business; the ability to read a financial statement; marketing skills and salesmanship; honesty and integrity. “I took accounting in college and that, as it turns out, was very important,” says Jon Stoll.

A DAY IN THE LIFE

Bill Bachand usually gets into his office between 9 and 9:30 a.m. and begins going through the 20 to 25 phone messages from the previous late afternoon and evening. If the theater had a show the night before, much of his day is spent doing accounting tasks for that event. He is very involved with promotion and meets twice weekly with his staff to go over marketing, advertising, radio events, and ticket sales for upcoming shows. He will check in with his bar, box office, and sponsorship managers. He talks with talent agents and negotiates deals to book artists into the venue, and works closely with his executive director, who also handles bookings. He talks with radio station and newspaper representatives about marketing opportunities. Because he is responsible for the fiscal aspects of the operations, he also spends time working on reports and forecasts.

The first things on the agenda when Jon Stoll arrives at his office is to check his e-mail, sort through phone messages, and find out what is going on around the office. “I try to get in early so that I have time to deal with office administration, advertising plans, and other business. The majority of the work is either in Nashville or California, which are in different time zones. Because of the time difference, our office is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day. By the time I finish my other work, agents and building managers are just getting into their offices and I can begin talking with them.”

CAREER TIPS

“Listen to the radio, what program directors say. Do your research. If a radio station isn't playing an act, it is going to be hard to sell tickets to see that artist. In fact, it is impossible.”—BB

“Pay your bills. Make sure that you always have enough money when the artist arrives to pay them, even if the show stiffs. Otherwise you'll get blackballed and people won't work with you. Do the job right, do the best you can, and make sure everybody gets paid.”—BB

“I'm sort of like a doctor, in that I'm on call all the time to bands, managers, and agents. They are on different time zones, whether it be Europe or California, so I'm dealing with things night and day. I tell people when I'm about to hire them, ‘You live this job.’ ”—JS

POINTERS FOR THE JOB SEARCH

Look for opportunities to book and promote bands in local clubs. Get involved with your college concert promotion organization. With that experience, apply to work with a local or regional promoter, or for a building manager that promotes some in-house concerts.

“It is becoming increasingly difficult to become a promoter because of all the national tours going on. It takes a lot of money.”—BB

“My best advice is to make allegiances with certain artists and promoters. Try to get yourself a job with a promoter or venue and learn before you go out on your own. You need to be very well financed, too.”—JS

BILL BACHAND, GENERAL MANAGER AND CHIEF OPERATING MANAGER, CELEBRITY THEATER, AND PRESIDENT OF MR. BILL PRESENTS

Between graduating from the University of Michigan in 1968 and opening a country nightclub in 1984, the closest Bill Bachand had come to a career in the music business was a short stint selling guitars. In the intervening years, he also sold cars, assembled an apartment and duplex conglomerate, and operated a real estate brokerage company in Arizona. One of those pieces of real estate, a Phoenix dive bar named Toolies, was on the verge of bankruptcy when Bachand took it over. With a little cleaning and some judicious advertising on the local country radio station, the club was turning a profit within 90 days. A year later, the club tripled in size at its new location and soon became the region's hottest country nightspot. Now attracting top name acts, Toolies played host to everyone from Clint Black and Garth Brooks to Vince Gill and the Dixie Chicks. The success of Toolies brought opportunities to book the entertainment for the Arizona State Fair and promote a few festivals in the area. In 1994, Toolies won the Academy of Country Music (ACM) award for Best Nightclub of the Year, and Bachand won the first ever ACM award for Talent Buyer/Promoter of the Year.

THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT THIS JOB:

“My heart lies in the promotion and booking, but I find myself having to spend more time on the administration and paperwork involved in running a large venue, than what I did in a club atmosphere.”—BB

“I don't like the fact that there is so much stress and tension, and so many people are insecure in this business today because of a lack of ethics. I don't like the fact that the numbers [cost to book an artist] are so out of sight, that the new entrepreneurs in this world are limited in the concert business.”—JS

THE BEST THING ABOUT THIS JOB:

“First, the variety of acts. Second, the fact that in a theater setting, the show is over by 11:00, so rather than getting home at 2 or 3 a.m., like I did at the club, I'm now getting home at midnight. Third, I love the progress we've made at this venue compared with three or five years ago. I love the reaction from people who come to the theater and see the difference we've made in it. I love seeing people smile and having a good time.”—BB

“I love the music and I like learning. I like the fact that I discover new artists. I still like putting on shows and feeling the rush when the show starts and seeing new artists.”—JS

That same year, Bachand began looking for the next challenge. He bought the ailing Celebrity Theater in 1995 and spent more than $1 million renovating and improving the facility. It took a year just to overcome the former owner's bad reputation with both artist management and the public, but by 1998 the theater was successfully hosting concerts for major national acts. Bachand sold Toolies the following year to concentrate on his other ventures. One of those ventures, Mr. Bill Presents, opened in 1991 as an outside talent buying and production company. Through it, Bachand brokers talent and produces concerts for the Arizona State Fair, as well as corporate and private clients. www.celebritytheatre.com

JON STOLL, PRESIDENT/OWNER, FANTASMA PRODUCTIONS

Jon Stoll grew up with music all around him. His mother sang opera and his sister was also a vocalist. At age 15, when all his friends were forming rock and roll bands in their garages, he was organizing those same groups into “battle of the bands” concerts to raise funds for his New York City high school. Soon he was putting together small shows around town and in upstate New York. He watched location film shoots to gain production pointers, which led to his starting a lighting company to do technical production for the shows he organized. In his senior year of high school, Stoll got the opportunity to produce a touring summer concert series in conjunction with a rock radio station, and a friend who owned drive-in theaters. He worked with up-and-coming artists like Bob Seger and Ted Nugent, and earned nearly $100,000 that summer, which provided the start-up capital for his own independent promotion company.

While studying accounting in college, Stoll continued to produce shows in the New York area, but grew tired of New York winters. “It was very cold and gray, and I hated that.” He moved to Florida to complete his degree and opened Fantasma Productions. “In the beginning, we did everything from arts and crafts festivals to theater concerts and an occasional area show.” Stoll continues to promote live events, including national concert tours, Broadway shows, and events at his company's own theater, nightclub, and restaurant. www.fantasma.com

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCareers in the Music BusinessON TOUR - Rehearsal And Storage Facility: General Manager • Office Manager • Operations Manager, Production: Production Designer And Director • Set And Lighting Designer