Being a nightlife promoter or VIP host (or whatever the fuck you want to call yourself) can be a fun gig. You meet a lot of beautiful women, you drink for free, rub elbows with celebrities and socialites, and have a lot of fun. You probably think “Oh that shit is easy” you just pick up girls and bring them out. It’s not. There is a lot of time and effort that goes on outside of the nightclub that you don’t see. There are a lot of politics you have to navigate.
There are so many venues these days that the demand for good promoters is high. So in the last few years in NYC everyone and their mother has been a promoter in one way or another. I see so many today that have no fucking clue what they are doing.
I don’t claim to be the best promoter out there . Admittedly, I’m only above average in production. This isn’t due to lack of knowledge but more due to the fact that I’m activly pursuing another career. I do it more for fun and networking. Also, promoters tend to have an expiration date. You can only do this shit for so long before it sucks the life out of you. There are a few that have stood the test of time, but I have no desire to be the creepy old guy chasing around 20 years olds when I’m 50. Though that probably won’t stop any of you.
So why should you listen to me? Well I started promoting teen nights when I was 15 years old. By 16 I was taking busses full of underage kids to 18 & over nightclubs. For 4 years in college I pretty much ran the party scene for my fraternity. And for the past 5+ years I’ve been actively involved in the nightlife scene in NYC be it through promoting or other avenues.
I’ve been around the block a few times and the one thing I do know is how to interact with and influence people. I still have plenty to learn and I pick new things up every day. Though I can give you a summary of what I’ve learned in 10+ years of this being involved in nightlife in some way or another. Let’s just say, I know where a lot of the bodies are buried.
So for those who are new to the scene, considering pursuing this or just curious as to how it all works. I’m going to shed some light on how everything goes down.
For the first installment of this multi-part series I’m going to start with the question I get most often and shed some light on NYC Nightlife as a whole.
What is a promoters role in the grand scheme of nightlife and how do you get paid?
A promoter is there for a few different reasons. We are mostly used to fill up venues on off nights. Owners and managers expect us to bring a good looking crowd of hot girls (though a few guys with a good style is acceptable) to fill the room and bring energy. Ever been to an empty club? After 5 minutes your looking at your phone and trying to find an alternative. Humans are a social speices. We want to be surrounded by other people. Potential suitors and love interests especially. So the better the crowd the longer you are likely to stay there and the more money you are likely to spend.
In exchange, they will either pay us per person or a flat fee. Anywhere from $10 a head to close to thousand a night depending on what kind of promoter they are. Image promoters command big dollars and usually come with a fleet of models. Filler promoters tend to have a mix of hot girls from the general population, fashion students ect. There are higher and lower tiers of filler promoters, but as far as I’m concerned if you aren’t strictly image you’re filler.
In addition, you typically get a percentage of all the bottles you sell to clients. This usually starts at 10-15% but can be more if you are known to bring big money clients (often refered to as “whales”). The promoters who bring clients bring the most tanglible value to a venue. While the ones only bringing girls bring an intangible coolness factor and improve the gender ratio but no monetary value you could calculate.
It really breaks down like this. Promoters fill 60-70% of the club up with good looking people(Mostly HOT girls.) who drink for free. The remaining 30-40% pay for the privilege to be in their company. That’s how a club can justify charging $16 for a drink and selling bottles to groups of guys at outrageous markups. They are essentially buying “status” for the night. This is what nightlife in the age of corporations has evolved to.
Not to say every club works this way. Some parties really aim to bring in a diverse cultured crowd and don’t give much away for free. Though it’s tougher for them to stay open when the hot spot across the street have quality promoters that are handing out booze for nothing. Plus, people are always looking for the next best thing. So your window to cash in big is small.
Most venues lose money early on for the the sake of building up status. Then cash in on all the cache they built as socialites and bankers clamor for access. At this point the original owners know the golden goose is running out of eggs. So they sell all of part of their stakes to gullible rich guys looking to get in the club game(Mostly so they can tell models “I’m the owner”). Then the club will slowly fizzle out as people get bored. (Though the current trend is to establish a brand then franchise it around the world and do slight remodels if nessacary.)
In essence the whole nightlife industry is just a big mind game(The money making part of it at least). They’re either selling you an illusion or you’re a prop in their facade. Nightlife much like the emperor in the classic fable “has no clothes.” The system the way it’s set up rewards the young and beautiful(if you consider drinking cheap vodka a reward) and gouges everyone else(Mostly 21-45 year old men). So it really just depends on which side of the coin you fall on. Though if you have money to burn you’ll have way more fun actually paying for shit, then hustling to get it for free. So it’s all relative.
However, for all the trashing that gets done of promoters. We are a nessacary evil and an intergral cog in the machine that is nightlife.
We will discuss more concepts about how to promote successfully and things to avoid in the next installment.