Someone on the bulletin boards wanted advice on getting promo together. Now
I was going to put this up on my own web site but the likelihood of anyone
seeing it is next to nil so I'll post it up here. (Also I can't work out how
to do it) It is long and its not particularily wise but some may find it useful.
Intro letter on letterhead
Firm line of communication -e-mail -postal
The video should be short (3 mins) and should show the prospective client
what it is that you do. (Not how big your crowds are or what a great editor
you are, how you get ready, what kind of car you drive to work etc.) It must
be remembered that most festival organizers have a great many videos pass
across their desks and most will out of duty watch the first minute of every
Your focus should be to keep the client entertained and interested past this
point so as to effectively present your entire visual sales pitch and at the
very least make it onto his or her shortlist. If you can make a client laugh
in the first 30 seconds you have an above average chance of securing income.
The video and the case it comes in also give you an opportunity to stand out.
The few extra cents a hard case cost you brings with it the opportunity to
create a graphic cover with your name and an image and also your website address.
This will be the first thing that the festival organizer or agent sees and
the impression it gives them will flavour their opinion of your professionalism
even before they have watched you. It is relatively easy to produce a video
cover, either by physically cutting and pasting and lazer or photocopying,
or on a computer. Video covers are A4 sized.
With a computer you can also cheaply produce labels for the video itself,
for the front and the spine.Think of your video without a cover in a pile
of other videos and use your imagination to compete.
(Note-CD Roms will be the new medium should you wish to jump the gun.)
INTRO LETTER AND LETTERHEAD
This is a letter of introduction to accompany your video. A letterhead states
the name of you or your act and can be used to convey the style of either
your act or your administrative style. It also clearly informs the reader
of the methods of communication available to them should they require further
LINES OF COMMUNICATION
Any combination of telephone, e-mail, postal address or website can be used
but most important is that the lines of communication that are given are monitored
by either you or someone you have trained to respond to inquiries.
For example, do not include a postal address you only check once a month or
a telephone number that your flatmate answers while you are out of town. The
simplest way is to have an e-mail account and a postal address that is either
monitored by you or on your behalf.
Lines of communication are extremely important. If you succeed in the initial
interactions in convincing clients that you are in control and capable then
your chances of securing employment are well ahead of those performers who
have not spent as much time and thought on the simple things like presentation
and lines of communication.
Websites are very efficient and cost effective in promoting your show or your
act. they have the advantage of being available 24 hours a day to anyone in
the world and allow you to give more in depth information to potential employers.
You can have any number of pictures or short quicktime films and also the
promo copy that you write can be more elaborate and distinctive than a short
piece that would normally accompany an introductory letter.
A website gives you the opportunity to place yourself in the market place
at the level that you wish to be perceived at. A website allows you to be
an international performer competing in the international marketplace. Websites
can also be made to work on a number of levels apart from their international
By using links from your website to other performers sites and also sites
that may be of interest to clients or other performers looking for information
you can develop enough traffic through your site to have your website itself
become a source of revenue through advertising or sponsorship.
CV [or Résumé]
A CV is what, when all is said and done, remains the foundation by which people
perceive your work. A CV is a record of your achievements in performance or
training or teaching or all of these.
There are many styles of CV, I use these criteria:
Solo Development and Touring:
You could use whichever apply to you and any others, get advice and have a
few different versions so that you can tailor your CV to different markets.
An arts festival might take a different focus to a buskers festival and a
corporate event might take a different focus again.
This is a list of festivals and agents and event management companies.
Start locally and work out from there. Start anywhere you like. Make note
of the name of the organization, the individual you will need to contact,
the dates if known of events that they produce, get as much information as
you can. The fee that is usually offered, accomidation provided, travel costs
built into the fee or extra. Tax taken out of negotiated fee or fee after
tax, all this need to be known before commitments are made but more later
Ask people in the same business for information to add to your mailing list.
links page for festival info. Visit performers.net links
page and look at their festival directory. Also via the same links page
check out Doms website (streetbiz)
he also has a list of international festivals.
Event companies and agents can be found in telephone directories, through
search engines or via word of mouth.
NOW HAVING ACCUMULATED ALL THE RAW MATERIALS NECCASARY,
WE MOVE ON TO STEP 2
Get out of bed.
Decide where and when you want to be touring.
Or when you want to want to apply yourself to your local market.
It is easiest to bracket these attempts into timeframes. This gives you a
specific task instead of a general attitude, it also allows you to set targets
and evaluate the process as it goes. The old hippyspeak used to say that there's
no such thing as success or failure. I would rather put it that there's just
good and bad structure. So..give your self a timeframe of projected work and
another to try and secure that work.
Points to consider:
Minimize travel costs by bracketing events in proximity to each other in time
and geography. This is a prime consideration.
Having selected a brace of festivals at around the same time and within practical
reach of each other, write a cover letter outlining your tour project.
This will help festival directors because they sometimes work together and
would rather have an act work at a number of festivals so that they can share
the travel costs associated with bringing you to there area.
Create a list of elements needed for festival directors to provide you.
This can include things you need for your show as in minimum space requirements,
PA, on site prop storage etc. Also personal requirements like access to AA
meetings, special dietary needs, telephone line access for your laptop, whatever
you consider is necessary for your reasonable comfort in order for you to
This gives the staff you are dealing with a better knowledge of your requirements
and helps both parties work better at their jobs. So often performers complain
about things they had taken for granted not being provided but it is their
responsibility to let organizers know in advance what their requirements and
Remember the better the experience is for both parties the greater chance
of repeat work and recommendations toward other festivals.
(starting to sound like cheesy girl guide matron)
Having compiled your promo combo, it is now time for the medium expense of
mailing them all off. Try to do it all at once if you can, it helps to rate
your responses in terms of how soon some people get back to you and remember
also that speedy responses by you will get things firmed up quicker and make
the process and the perception of the way you do business seem professional.
Have a list of targets your promo has been sent to and some sort of filing
system where all correspondence between festivals can be kept separated into
a festival by festival basis. This can be done in files at home or by giving
yourself various categories in your e-mail account.
Wait three weeks and deal with whatever responses you receive during this
time then send out an e-mail to those places that have not yet replied asking
them whether they have received your material and whether they are interesting
in having themselves included in your upcoming tour.
After a month (bearing in mind that usually you are planning tours at least
three months in advance) look at the responses you have had and look hopefully
at the number of confirmations you have or shortly hope to have, and work
out your projected income and whether it will cover costs.
You now have three choices:
1. You can cancel already confirmed gigs well in advance, explaining that
the response has not been sufficient to cover your expenses. (Administrators
appreciate honesty and will either accept your position and bear you in mind
for next time or try and help you by using their local knowledge to get you
2. You can go on the offensive for a week and fax all places sent material
outlining your need to finalize your itinerary and asking for a timeframe
for finalization of their programs (admin-speech, learn it and prosper) Give
them a set time to respond.
3. You have enough response to potentially cover your expenses (with full
conformation always before departure)-Golden rule.
POINTS TO CONSIDER
Get your promo completely together before you initiate contact and be
ready to respond promptly. Common mistakes are initiating contact and then
leaving them waiting for ages as you try and get a video organized.
Get everything together first. (A letter, a video and an e-mail address is
my suggested minimum.)
Footnote: A forum in which self validation pontificates. I'm posting this
in an effort to be helpful. I was taught about content and form and performance
and specialize in it. Art administration has been a slack 17 year crawl, but
it all comes down to having a system of promotion that is simple enough to
leave you to concentrate on your work or your shrunken head collection.
Any questions, comments or criticisms can be directed to:
Please remember that The guru lurk, while not a particularly busy Guru, does
carry a certain collective spiritual responsibility and so will get back to
you most possibly in this life but not always.
Martin Ewen and his 3-meter-tall
stilt character 'Lurk' have been traversing the globe for the past ten years
observing the world from a slightly different perspective than the rest of