The promoter plays an important role in the total electronic music experience.
A few months ago, Darin Epsilon and I explored the pitfalls of troublesome touring from an artist’s standpoint and I thought for sure I knew how simply the side of the promoter could be told in a follow up article. Since the time of the last article, lots has happened to shake our scene and the role of the promoter has been in the spotlight more than ever. It’s a big responsibility to be the trusted go-to person when touring artists play their town. It’s a hefty weight to carry.
What makes a good promoter? How do they get big names to trust them?
There are good promoters and there are poor promoters. If you tour, you’ve probably met both. Personally, I know some great promoters and thought I would talk to them about how they make it work in a competitive market. I have the pleasure of working with Wes Straub and Dario Arias, who throw daytime, poolside events in the heart of Playa Del Carmen on the rooftop at the boutiquey Be Playa Hotel. Nadir Agha is the guy in charge of booking big names in Stereo Montreal, one of Canada’s best clubs with a world-renowned sound system. Two different types of events but with the same goals in mind – have a welcoming, fun, successful event.
Right off the bat, I resonated with something Nadir had to offer. He said, “It is extremely important that artists feel comfortable and attended to for them to be in their most relaxed state.” And I can relate. When you know your needs are taken care of, there’s an internal sigh of relief that helps the artist be the artist they are. When I arrived in Playa Del Carmen in November, I was met at the airport by smiling faces and the event poster being held up. Immediately, I knew, “Oh, this is good.” Wes and Dario do this for all their artists which include the likes of Cid Inc, Darin Epsilon and Quivver. From there, the second you set foot in the Be Playa, you needn’t worry a bit.
From these responses, immediately you can tell these promoters have the right attitude. I’m not saying touring artists need to be treated like royalty but it’s a huge relief when the person waiting to greet you at the is someone you can trust to have your back. Artists can be themselves and that’s what we all want.
When asked, Nadir was open about his “traditional approach” to booking and taking care of a big name, not to mention pulling off an awesome gig.
“ I treat everyone with the same respect and gratitude as I would my own family, regardless of gender, importance, talent, agent or manager. One must not forget the reason we’re devoted to this business is because we are passionate about music. Picking the perfect opening DJ for the main headliner is also an extremely important element to factor in the overall success of the night. Stereo is a world-renowned institution that has been around for over 17 years. I’d like to believe that it’s the club’s reputation for attention to sound quality, musically educated clientele, in addition to the general vibe and charm of Montreal is what keeps everyone coming back for more.” – Nadir Agha
How many people would you treat like family? And yet this is what these promoters do for touring artists. Wes and Dario answered pretty much the same, showcasing the importance of making sure the whole booking process, start to finish is an enjoyable one.
“No matter what, we try to make the experience for the artist we’re booking as best as it can possibly be – from the first interactions with the booking agent, to the moment they arrive, to the show itself, to the moment they leave. Overall, it’s preparation, being organized, and being willing to do the work to make sure everything goes smooth. On top of that, having back-up plans is essential.” – Wes Straub
“It’s important to stay calm. You can only prepare for so much and unexpected things are going to happen. The key is to work together as a team to solve any issues and keep the party going.” – Dario Arias
This is exactly what happened when Quivver visited the Be Roof. It poured rain but Wes and Dario, keen in foresight and quick in response were quick to find another venue and find a solution for everyone involved. No gig is ever perfect but the reaction of everyone involved makes things a lot easier, or harder.
So, what can we do as a collective to help make the jobs of promoters easier? Show up to support the carefully selected opening DJs to enjoy the full experience of the night the promoter has planned! Nadir oozes with humility and downplays his massive role as he deflects back to who he calls the “real heroes and ambassadors” of our local scenes.
“ I firmly believe that communities need to learn to love and support their resident DJs since they are the real heroes and ambassadors of our local scenes. We have international artists flying in every weekend to play, sometimes even multiple acts on a given night, so there’s no shortage of talent to discover. It’s all about finding that diamond in the rough and sometimes that diamond in the rough may be in your own backyard.” – Nadir Agha
The more articles I write and with every person I speak to, it becomes glaringly obvious that our scene is, and must be, built on respect and trust. Like a well-oiled machine, it takes all parts to be moving as they’re supposed to for the desired result. Promoters wear a plethora of hats and are ready to switch gears at any given moment to stick to plan – having an awesome party and by routinely pulling off elaborate events with satisfied artists and party-goers a like, that is a large crowd to keep content.
If we were really to get down to who are the real heroes and ambassadors of our scene, we need to give some props to the promoters that open their lives to let in strangers. We need to thank them for what is often a thankless job. We should acknowledge that their fine ears are the catalysts for our weekend soundscapes and dance floor escapades.
If promoters didn’t make the scene spin, there’d be fewer artists spinning in our towns.
On your next night out, amidst your adoration for the DJ, take a moment to say cheers the ones who made the moment happen and thus continue the cycle of good vibes in our scene, even more.