A music promoter’s life may not be as glamorous as the artists they work with, but it is a pretty awesome gig if you have a passion for music and an eye for business. Income varies greatly, however, the best promoters earn to up to $1 million per year depending on who they represent, size of the concerts and how many shows they can book.
Live music promotion is a demanding job, requiring late nights, a flexible schedule, a knack for attention to detail and an ability to keep track of lots of moving parts. Burnout is high and stress is even higher. One study found 82 percent of live concert industry professionals said they’ve suffered from severe stress, 67 percent have anxiety and 40 percent struggle with depression. Promoters need to take care of themselves and find a balance if they want to succeed in their jobs, but more importantly, live a good life.
This isn’t always easy to do when you’re traveling, staying up late, on the phone much of the day and at the beck and call of artists and venue managers. We’ve put together a cheat sheet on how to stay healthy in the often chaotic world of music promotion.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep. We all know we need it, but few of us get enough. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for the best health. Sadly, nearly half of us get less than that. A night here or there with only a few hours of sleep may not cause much damage, but if you’re a promoter who regularly gets less than the recommended seven hours, your job performance may greatly suffer. Here’s what we found when people repetitively don’t get enough sleep:
- People who sleep for less than 6 hours per night are 12% more likely to experience a premature death
- Those who sleep fewer than 4.5 hours per night have a higher body mass index and higher A1C values (signaling obesity and diabetes)
- Those who sleep less than 6 hours per night have weaker immune systems, meaning more sick days and trips to the doctor
Here’s where it gets even more interesting. As we said, a promoter needs to be able to tend to lots of details and moving parts. It’s hard enough after a full night’s sleep. When you’re sleep deprived, things get markedly worse. A lack of sleep:
- Makes it harder to process information
- Makes it harder to make decisions or judgments
- Negatively impacts short-term memory
There are things you can do, however, to improve your sleep:
- Schedule shows earlier so they end sooner and you get home in time to get your zzzs
- Avoid stimulants and known sleep disruptors at least 4 hours before bed (caffeine, alcohol, heavy meals, chocolate, tea and nicotine)
- Turn down the temp to 68° for optimal body temperature during sleep
- Turn off phone, computer and TV at least an hour before bed to avoid harsh blue light that stimulates the brain
- Try to schedule sleep at regular times
Set Boundaries with Needy Clients
Clients can be demanding and eat up all of your time if you let them. Set boundaries so they know when you are available and when you are off limits. Stick to these boundaries or they’ll learn they aren’t really set in stone.
One of the best ways to do this is to either have an assistant to field the calls and emails or set your own working hours and turn everything off outside of those hours. Sure, emergencies happen, but you are a business and your clients need to understand you have a “closed” sign in the window during certain times of the day or night.
We also suggest outlining common questions in a FAQ page on your website, in your contract or in a separate document you distribute to all of the key players with your client. Get as detailed as possible to avoid them having to contact you with further questions.
Finally, when you are with your clients, be present. Limit interruptions, ask them questions, ask them to ask you questions and cover everything you can possibly think of when you’re with them. This may require you to have fewer clients but the customer service you will be able to provide will go a long way in making them happy clients. Be sure to use this opportunity to reiterate when you are available.
Stress is inherent for a music promoter. There are hundreds of things that can go wrong and most will happen at the last minute. Stress can cause everything from headaches and chest pain to anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, substance abuse and dozens of more symptoms. While you can’t eliminate stress completely, you can do several things to reduce it so it doesn’t become chronic and damage your health:
- Eat well (eating a whole foods diet with minimally-processed ingredients, sugar etc. will boost your energy and your mood)
- Meditate (meditation is proven to reduce stress nearly instantly)
- Breathe (deep, slow breathing is another stress booster you can do anywhere)
- Take a walk (getting outside and moving increases serotonin, the “happy” hormone)
- Set boundaries and stick to them (don’t let clients rule you)
- Take it day by day (don’t try to build Paris in a day – you can only do so much and it will all get done one way or another)
Need some tips on the above or other ways to reduce stress? There are plenty of sites that can help:
- WebMD – “10 Relaxation Techniques that Zap Stress Fast”
- Verywell mind – “Stress Relievers: 70 Ways to Reduce Stress”
- Psychology Today – “How to Reduce Stress”
Finally, one of the best techniques promoters can implement to reduce stress is to automate as much of their processes as possible. When every moving part is being managed manually through disparate spreadsheets, emails, faxes, handwritten notes, phone calls and calendars, that causes stress. Find an integrated concert management platform that includes communication, calendar, offer generation, financials, settlement and other tools all in one to save time, increase productivity and organization, and reduce stress.
Find Time to Exercise Anywhere
Love it or hate it, exercise works. It not only helps keep your body at an optimal weight, but it actually helps you do your job better. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise has been shown to:
- Control weight
- Combat health conditions and diseases
- Improves mood
- Boosts energy
- Promotes better sleep
- Puts the spark back into your sex life
- Be fun and social
They say you should aim for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise. What does that look like for a busy promoter who travels?
For starters, after you get your 7-8 hours of sleep, instead of checking emails and news, go on a brisk walk, a run or hit the gym. You can do plenty of exercises from home, with or without any equipment. Find a good app, such as Nike Training Club or MyFitnessPal. Both have workouts you can do at the gym, at home or outdoors.
Stuck in a hotel room yet again? Book a room at a hotel with a gym or create your own gym with a few basic pieces of equipment. Pack a jump rope and a tension band in your bag and use the furniture in the hotel room. Use an app or go online and search for exercises you can do with your band. Do sit ups, push ups, planks, squats and lunges. Use a sturdy chair to do tricep dips and step ups. Take a run or walk around the hotel grounds, swim laps in a pool or even climb stairs. The point is to get moving and you can do that virtually anywhere, even an airport terminal.
Being a music promoter has its benefits. Be sure your health isn’t a casualty. By getting rest, eating right, exercising and automating your workflow, you’ll do a better job and enjoy it a lot more.