Jobs You Want - Club Promoter
From the outside looking in, these guys are often the enemy. They’re often the reason you’re waiting in line, the reason you can’t sit down to drink unless you want to drop $400 for a bottle of Grey Goose when all you want to do is check out the hot new club. These guys may have more enemies than friends, but that’s kind of the point. The friends that they do have represent both the ownership and operators of the clubs. It’s their job to bring in the best clientele, so if that means marginalizing the rest of the population (you), that’s just the cost of doing business. If you’re a stakeholder in a club, promoters can keep you relevant and popular. In a more tangible sense, they can keep you employed and your bar in the black.
So what do they do?
At the risking of insulting the reader, promoters promote. They promote to different markets in a variety of manners. It is their job to get the “right” (read: beautiful, famous, or rich) people in the club to keep it on the cultural radar for as long as possible. The concept of promotion hinges on the notion that the “right” people are generally too fickle to remain loyal to the same place all the time. Which makes sense. If you got VIP treatment anywhere you went, you probably wouldn’t want to keep hitting up the same place night after night, would you? However, these same people may be loyal to promoters.
So why do promoters command this loyalty and, again, what is it exactly that they do?
Promoters are hybrids of guerilla marketing teams, ambassadors for their client clubs, VIP hosts, and often, operational consultants. Depending on who the “right” person is, a promoter could act as a handler in the case of a celebrity or simply someone that can bring in a stable of consistent eye candy with the promise of VIP entry into the club and the promise of free booze.
That said, there a number of different “right” people that promoters can pursue. That said, most promoters find their niche and specialize in it. As mentioned earlier, the “right” people can be broken down into: celebrities, rich guys who buy bottles, and of course, girls.
The idea is that, as the right people frequent a club, over time, it gets a reputation as being a good, relevant spot. This can occur immediately after a club opens (though in large markets, there is a usually a honeymoon period in which so many people want to go to your new club that you won’t need any help capturing the right people) or later in a clubs life when it needs a facelift. The latter is a much tougher prospect, as club-goers are quite fickle (I mean, just look at them). Once a place drops down to B-list or C-list clientele, it takes a real sea change to get it back on the cultural radar.
The promoters scroll through their contact lists and bring the right clientele and entertainment to the venue. In addition to bringing in sixteen smokin’ hot chicks, they may have ties to DJ’s, certain dancers, or even celebrities (who, although they don’t do much once inside, probably grant more legitimacy to a hot club than anything else). You can get the girls inside with the lure of VIP entry and free drinks. The music and the celebrities? They might want more. Perhaps a flat fee that comes out of the promoter’s pocket, or a percentage of bar revenues that night.
Once a reputation has been established or restored, the crowds come. Which in and of itself doesn’t mean much, as the club could fill up most any night should the owners want it to. However, economics teaches us that the higher the demand, the more you can charge for a product. If the PYT set are climbing the walls to get in to your club, you can charge more for your bottles, increase minimum tabs for tables, and draw from a larger pool of “talent”, both aesthetically and financially. Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd.
While the nights can clearly be glamorous and rife with wine, women and song, the days must be rough, right?
Yes and no.
While daylight hours are certainly “down time” for a promoter, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. If you’re not high on the food chain, you’re probably going to need to keep that day job, which presents a chicken-or-the-egg type problem. Promoters with day jobs can really only work one or two nights a week without dying from exhaustion. And considering that many clubs have no trouble filling up on the weekends, promoters are largely needed on weekday nights, which means if you’re working Tuesday night, your Wednesday is going to be rough. Consequently, getting to the next level of club promotions almost always means taking a job with flexible hours that allows you to work around your nighttime gig. Sad, but true.
If you’re lucky enough to have your weekdays free, then life gets a little easier, but certainly not boring. The two promoters I spoke with say they get about 5 hours of sleep a night, as they often have lunch meetings with promoters, DJ’s, and talent (girls) most every day. So getting home at 4 am means you’re up at 9 or 10 to recover, possibly work out (in case you haven’t noticed, most club promoters don’t look like professional bowlers), and then get to your day.
The afternoons are largely their own to pursue side projects, engage in whatever other jobs they have going, and maybe sit in front of the TV for the odd hour. Then once the sun goes down, it starts back up again. Sporting events, new restaurant openings, and of course, dates before the club opens.
Which brings our two promoters to the topic of dating. In their words, “You shouldn’t do it. You’re a commodity just like everyone else, and you need to make yourself available.” Having a girlfriend is a bad idea because it turns off the women you’re bringing to the club, of course. But beyond that, it’s just a bad idea the same way dating a stripper is a bad idea. They work odd hours and they’re surrounded by sex and alcohol which means both jealousy and bad decisions run rampant.
“We’ve tried and failed since we’ve gotten in that line of work to have relationships”, one admitted. More importantly though, these guys don’t particularly want relationships at this time. They are happy with being more casual, not having to report back, and yes, the occasional (read: frequent) one night stand. There are no shortage of girls that want to be near their looks, visibility, and level of access. And many will sleep with them to get there.
When I asked if where they saw themselves in five years, they weren’t sure if they would still be in it or not (both are in their early 30’s).
“It’s totally fun, but it’s not our goal. We want to use this as a spring board to something else. Perhaps marketing or hospitality development or ownership. It’s still fun every night, but it won’t be fun forever.”
Incredulously, I asked if it really was fun every night or if it was a drag some nights.
“It’s always fun. Some days you move a little slowly and just want to go see a movie, but just like any other job, that’s what your days off are for. You’re in a beautiful place, dancing with girls, drinking as much or as little as you want, and you won’t have these opportunities forever. Wouldn’t you be excited to do it every night?”