Imagine leaving a good office job with unmatched health insurance and retirement, and leaving a once-in-a-lifetime school program opportunity just cuz you were so passionate about "what can be" in the dance world ( a vision with passion).
It's a hit or miss, this promotion business, ya know...breaking even (after an event) is a success thinking about the bigger picture - call it stupidity, naivete or whatevz - the relentlessness of it all...profit is very little, you all know this as a promoter. But, really, what make us happy as an organizer, and what makes it rewarding...
- you get to revive someone else dying career
- you get to help promote a rookie
- you get to discern a hidden talent and watch it grow
- you get to increase some sort of friendships.
- you get to hire your old friends that always believed in your vision since the beginning
- you get to mentor and coach dancers, dis and young promoters that really has a heart for it
- you get to help dancers that are in financial trouble in many ways...
a) you give them money indirectly via their friends
b) you get to send them money when there is a serious fundraiser, sometimes you tell them you sent money, and most of the time, you just send the money without even telling them. (I've sent money many times even when my financial situation is not doing well).
c) sometimes when you make a little bit of money, you give them a bonus (in addition to their agreed salary) without telling them about it
d) even when money isn't involved, you get to still promote them.( I happen to be one of the promoters that has a wide range of targets and following in social media.)
e) you get to put them on VIP Lists, or even charge them free - some of the loyal customers over the years down have enough money sometimes, and it's your turn to help them out
f) when your friends in the industry says they are unemployed, you are compelled to help them out by giving them small or big gigs the best way you can
g) you are compelled to give certain responsibilities (djing, teaching, performing, volunteering, etc) to people you like or respect in the industry so that they can attend your festival for free instead of charging them for tickets
Small deeds and big deeds go a long way. It not about how they appreciate your good deeds, it's how it made a difference in their lives. It's not even about publicizing.
As an spectator, or just a teacher, you will have no clue with the pain and suffering festival or congress organizers go through. You think you may have an idea from the all the rumors and gossips you hear, but if and when you actually organize a festival yourself, you begin to understand the belly of the beast.
The bad side of being a promoter...
- all the buck stops with you
- everything that happens in your event is your responsibility
- your hotel venue has a lot of car salesmen, and their goal is to charge you with everything you got
- it's a psychological battle between you and the hotel and the venue owner before, during and after the event
- money is everything...MONEY now, not many later
- you won't please everyone
- you will lose money
- you will borrow money
- certain people will owe you money
- you won't be able to pay everyone at a given time (they will be all over you, but you need to understand where they are coming from and be patient)
- IRS is your big nosy stepmother
- you will destroy friendships
- you'll be in the middle of disputes
- due to mental battles, stress and other things that'd make you look older than you should, you have volunteers and staff that would feel unappreciated along the way, and would eventually quit. (try your best to express and show appreciation)
- lots of people will talk shit about you
- there is always backstabbing and conniving people around you
- your competitors are always plotting to outdo you
- you will be disappointed when your loyal staff depicts by working for the other side
It ain't all that glorious, isn't it? It is what it is. I haven't even touch the ssurface of what it means to be a promoter, but I hope you are getting the idea that there's a good side and very bad side to it.
So, are you ready? If you are, as we say in Texas Holdem Poker, you better say, "all in."
About the Author
Rodney Aquino is the first person to co-organized or organized Bachata Festivals in the USA and Dominican Republic. Reno Bachata Festival (2009-2013), Lithuania Bachata Festival (2010), DR1 (2010), Hawaii Bachata Festival (2011-2012), San Francisco Bachata Festival (2009-2015), Afro-Latin Vegas (2014-2016), iSemba (2011-2015), LABKS (2014), Afro-Latin Hawaii (2016) + 10 Other festivals as silent partner.