live music industry

Do you know who is responsible for the killer concerts you love? Have you ever wondered how exactly artists get booked for specific venues at specific times? What’s the deal with labels and managers? Aren’t they the same thing?

It’s not as simple as a venue and an artist agreeing to set up a show. There are many people behind the scenes who put in hard work to make your shows great.

There are many different structures and roles within the live music industry. While it’s complex and ever-evolving, there are some basic roles that are essential to any show. It’s also important to note: the bigger the artist, the higher the production budget, and the more people who get involved.

A guide to understanding the live music industry & its many roles

The artist

This is usually who people go to see. The headliner, the main event, the name who draws most shows’ audiences in. They’re the talent.

The venue

live music industryThis is where the show occurs, which you would think would be a simple step in explanation, but it’s not. Venues are not just locations. If they were, people would be able to rent them out like any other space, which sometimes occurs (think warehouse shows or festivals on big fields).

Venues often have in-house promotion teams, who are event promoters who work directly for the venue as opposed to freelancing. They often have a share of the responsibility for selling tickets (if they’re in-house promotion, they have to sell a lot), running the show, ensuring the safety of members, and production. Production is all about making sure the sound, ambiance, lights, and set-up are all up to the artist’s live performance standards.

The event promoter

The event promoter is, in my opinion, the most underrated and most overlooked component of the live music industry.

Promoters are the organizers behind gigs and parties, and they’re responsible for pretty much everything. They book the artists and bands, are responsible for marketing and promoting the concert, and are in charge of picking venues. Oftentimes, you’ll see a blurred line between event promoters and venues, as many venues do some or all of their event promotion in-house.

Many promoters though are making names for themselves without ties to a venue, and that’s why promoter awareness has skyrocketed in recent years. Some of the names may be familiar to you by now like Space Yacht or Brownies and Lemonade. These are promoters who have a record of proven success with no ties to artists or venues.

The artist manager

live music industryAn artist manager is responsible for creating opportunities for the band or artist and, in the beginning stages of a bands’ career, is oftentimes the booking agent as well. They bring on the right people, build an environment and team that will encourage creativity, and cultivate the artist’s career. In today’s music industry, there’s a trend of management and labels becoming one, which can help or hurt artists depending on the interests of the band.

The booking agent

When an artist outgrows just a solo artist manager, on comes the booking agent. Booking agents are essentially artist managers for live events. They are the liaison between the artist team and the event promoter. They deem which environments are appropriate for their artist, which can range from negotiating deals, arranging proper technical set-ups for shows, and, in many cases, securing hospitality, travel, and other logistics.

The label

The label is only extremely crucial in the live music industry if it is intertwined with the artist’s management team, which you often see with large artists who sign exclusive record deals. Otherwise, one-off releases on labels will not greatly affect the live music event. However, if they’re signed to a label/management duo, labels will have input on tours and the touring artist’s openers.