San Francisco's "Summer of Love" in 1967 wouldn't have been what it was were it not for the efforts of Chet Helms and Bill Graham. These two men promoted some of the biggest concerts and bands of the hippie generation, including acts like Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane and The Doors. Music promotion businesses play a big role in the cultivation of music scenes. To start a music promotion business, you need to establish yourself in a scene, get to know all the important players and make yourself a presence. You will need both tangible and intangible resources, including money and contacts.
Establish yourself in a local scene. Get to know bands, venues, media outlets, and other promotion companies. Your business will depend on the connections you make with other people in the industry. Network. People and venues need to know who you are and you need to know who the important players are to determine who to work with. You need to make yourself a presence in the scene before anyone will take you seriously. Promote whatever shows you can. Offer your services for free in order to build up a list of people you know you can work with and who trust you as well.
Build up capital. You will need money to cover all of the costs it takes to promote a show. This includes sound, lighting, building rental, marketing, security, and such. It is never guaranteed that you will recoup all of your expenses. Bands expect to be paid and you should have the money on hand before promising any guarantees. Failing to pull through on guarantees and contracts will give your fledgling promotion business a bad name.
Brand your business. Decide just what kind of music promotion company you are going to be. Focus on music you are familiar with. If your background is in country music and everyone you know in the industry works in Nashville, it might not be the best idea to start up an indie rock promotion company. Not only will you not have the contacts to get anywhere, bands and venues will be less apt to put their trust in you. Determine whether you are going to align yourself with the mainstream or the indie music circuit. There might be more money working with big name acts, but there's also very big corporations running these shows you will have to compete with. Establish a visual style to set yourself apart from other music promotion businesses.
Market your services. Use the contacts you have made in the scene and spread the word that you're in the business to promote. Build a website. Join every social networking site. You're going to have to get used to flyering, so start by putting up flyers advertising your services. Talk to people at shows. Court venue owners. Promote your business with the same tenacity you'd promote a show or a band.
Acquire professional advice. You will need to gain legal insights about setting up contracts, especially if you choose to host your own events. Investigate how other promoters charge for their services; for example, when representing a band, how much commission does a promoter charge? If you build up a music promotion business while you are working at another job, you will be able to pace yourself as you grow your new business.