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ON TOUR

International Festival And Tour Promoter • International Promoter

JOB OVERVIEW

Promoters route tours, promote festivals, negotiate contracts, and arrange other details for music artists to perform outside the United States.

CAREER TIPS

“International touring is very detail oriented. If you forget one detail before an artist leaves, they're going to end up paying for it.”

Learn a second or third language; foreign travel experience is an advantage.

PREREQUISITES

To succeed, you need a background in touring and promoting concerts or festivals, and an understanding of the European or other foreign markets. Fluency in a second or third language is an asset, as well as experience and contacts in the music industry. Trisha Walker Cunningham cites “a love of people, a love of music, and a love of Europe” as being keys to her success. “There is nothing more satisfying than choosing an artist, based on your gut feeling and ear for music, who you think will work in Europe, and they do.”

THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT THIS JOB:

“Dishonest people: people that say they are going to do an event and cancel it, artists that don't honor their commitments.”

THE BEST THING ABOUT THIS JOB:

“Being fortunate enough to have a God-given gift for picking artists that I know will work in Europe, and then they go onstage and they do their show and people go berserk—the audience just goes nuts. That is probably the most satisfying part of my job: knowing that I played a part in bringing those people an evening of happiness.”

POINTERS FOR THE JOB SEARCH

A position as an international agent or promoter, and touring internationally with an artist as a road manager, are helpful in learning some of the skills, and making the contacts necessary for this job.

TRISHA WALKER CUNNINGHAM, INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL AND TOUR PROMOTER, TRISHA WALKER INTERNATIONAL

Born in Singapore, raised in Cyprus and London, an international upbringing proved to be the perfect background for Trisha Walker Cunningham to one day become a global concert promoter. During a short stint at Radio Luxembourg in London, she answered a newspaper ad for an assistant to a concert promoter, who turned out to be the driving force behind the prestigious Wimbledon Country Music Festival. She worked on nine of the annual festivals and was eventually put in charge of the event. “I organized every detail. I did the contracts, the work permits, the musician exchanges. I handled television and press and organized a pre-festival banquet for 600 people, including booking the entertainment.” Working with American country artists proved so enjoyable that she decided to move to Nashville in 1978. “I had five hundred dollars in my pocket, a suitcase of summer clothes, and no job. I had never been to Nashville before. I knew three people well enough to call them at home, and all three were out of town. I never felt so lonely. I cried myself to sleep thinking, ‘It's got to get better than this.’”

A week later, one of her contacts gave her a backstage pass to Fan Fair, the annual meeting of country artists and their fans, where she met someone who led her to work with a local film company. The company soon went broke, but not before she had made enough contacts to start up her own freelance international promotion office. Her first client was Buddy Lee Attractions, for whom she also handled television and radio bookings of the agency's artist roster. Business continued to build, with Walker Cunningham booking talent for Nashville Now and other programming when The Nashville Network (TNN) went on the air in the early 1980s. In 1985, George Strait asked her to handle his in-house publicity, which she did for two years, adding press and public relations to her skills.

In 1987, Walker Cunningham was approached by some of her foreign contacts to handle the promotion of country music festivals in England, Ireland, and Switzerland. She was the first to introduce Reba to Europe in 1989, and over the years has done the same for Emmylou Harris, the Mavericks, Kenny Rogers, Trisha Yearwood, and many more. A short-lived position as head of the international department at the Jim Halsey Company in 1988 convinced her that she was better off working for herself. From then on she has worked for others only on a consulting basis, as with her 1993-1997 association with MCA International. In 1995, Walker Cunningham was honored with the CMA's first International Achievement Award. In 2005, Walker Cunningham took on management duties for Koch Records artist Eric Heatherly.

Additional topics

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