So you want to party for a living and want to know how to make money as a club promoter. I worked in nightclubs for over 10 years in South Florida as a full time promoter and get this question often so I decided to write it down. There are hundreds of ways to make a quick buck but several main ways to make a consistent living. I will get into the details on each but here is a quick overview of how to make money as a club promoter. Starting off most of your earnings come from working on a street team, next is cashing in on guest list, VIP and bottle service can be profitable, being a MC and hosting events, and taking on full events.
What is Street Team Work
Club promoters usually start by working on a street team passing out flyers, free drink cards, and giving out VIP bands for clubs and promoters to gain some street credit. When I first started I would pass out flyers just to get in clubs and getting free drinks but figured out that making money was way better. When starting off you’ll need to put in the work such as standing on the corner passing out flyers, littering parking lots with flyers at competitor nightclubs, and making yourself known as you build a following.
How to Make Money On The Street Team
After a few months of working the street team promoters in the area and door guys start to know your face and let you in their clubs for free. The next step is to make nice with the owners of these club and let them know your looking to work for them. I started to make deals with club owners early on to pass out their flyers. My base charge was $0.02 per flyer so basically I would take $100 per 5000 flyers. I also made money off free the drink cards and VIP bands I would pass out. Club owners would provide me 100 free drink cards every month and 10 vip bands per night to hand out. I would make $1 per drink card turned in and $3 per band. Any drink cards turned in were collected by the bar tenders and given back to me when I cashed out at the end of the night. I was only given 100 per month so if people kept the drink cards or threw them out I would be out of luck. A perfect night would can earn a potential $100 for passing out flyers, $100 for drink cards turned in, and $30 for VIP bands for a total of $230 per night. My average take home was about $150-$200 per night for each club I would work for.
Pro Tip: At first I would pass all my drink tickets out to all the wrong people. If random people heading home take your drink ticket home you just lost money, if drunk people passing by toss them on the floor you just lost money. I learned to respect those drink cards and treat them like gold. I leaned to go into other bars or clubs and give out high fives with a promise of a free drink if those people would meet me at the club I was promoting. No bums, club owners hate bums but don’t mind you giving a free drink to someone who is going to drop their paycheck at the bar. Club owners will keep shelling out the drink cards if you keep bringing in people who spend so make sure you leave the bums outside begging.
Making Money Off Guest Lists
Giving out free drink cards and VIP bands to popular clubs will get you noticed. People will start calling you on a regular basis looking for access to their favorite clubs. If you can get them in free they will call you every week and try to get all of their friends to call you so you need to manage correctly or you will be on the phone all the time. Make several people a point of contact meaning, if one person is trying to have 20 of their friends call you just have the one person give you a list with their friends names. You end up with several list with 20 or more people on them and you can now send 100, 200, 500, or more people to different venues you promote. I personally would make deals with the nightclub for $1 per person on my list who walks in. I would make $1000 or more a month just off guest list but it’s a hard sell to the club owner when you are just starting out.
Pro Tip: Guest lists can be hard to collect on and you need to be able to trust your door people if you aren’t there to check names off your list. Make it a practice to greet your guest at the front door and walk them in. That way you always have eyes on your lists. Takes some work but you could easily have lists for every club on the block so make sure you never stay in one place too long. Greet your main contact and make nice with their friends for a few minutes. Walk them in and make sure they get checked off that list so you can get paid. Walk them over to the bar, have a quick conversation, and quickly move on to the next batch people trying to get in to the next club. Treat it like a job and you will make money.
Make Money off VIP and Bottle Service
Over time you start to get to know who spends money and find groups of friends who are willing to chip in on bottles. Some club owners are willing to sell you bottles at a huge discount if you can bring these people in. How it works is you make a deal for special pricing on the first bottle your VIP/VIPs buy. Let’s say a bottle of “Foo” costs a VIP $200 to buy but the club only pays $30 to stock it. You make a deal with the club owner to buy the first bottle your VIP wants for $100 and anything above $100 you charge your VIP goes to you for bringing the VIP in. This service can be profitable for you and can be used to develop your VIP guest list by giving out a crazy deals to your VIP guest.
Pro Tip: The VIP bottle service is, for lack of a better term, for hustlers. If you take the “Foo” example above you can make $0-$100 per “first” bottle. If you have one person who is willing to buy a bottle to share with a friend, give them a good discount because they will be a regular. For groups, make your money off them as much as you can and keep group sizes at ten people or less per bottle. If 14 people come in together split them into two tabs and make them buy two bottles. Using the “Foo” numbers above again I would charge the “single regular” about $130-$140 per bottle, group of ten or less $180-$200, and a split group about $150-$160 for each group just to keep everyone happy. Always feel them out because they will come back if you take care of your guests.
MC and Hosting Events
Hosting and being an MC is not really a big money maker unless you have a large following and I’m not talking about likes on Facebook. If you can bring 500 – 1000 people to a club just to see you, the club will put you on payroll. Hosting a hot body contest, MC a concert or dance party, and entertaining the crowd are normal job task and will pay a flat rate or about $1 commission per head for the event.
Pro Tip: Make sure you have a minimum compensation for this type of event because “profit share” events can tank if a better party is going on down the street. You can use the opportunity as an MC to cross promote but make sure you clear it with the club owners and promoters before you start telling people to visit you at another venue.
Owning Full Events
Owning full events is a big job and requires a team of people to pull off. You’ll need at least one person to manage everything we talked about above to make it happen. On top of having your own street team, guest lists, VIP bottle service, and a MC you’ll need even more staff. The club owner will run the bar staff and security but the club promoter owns the door, runs the VIP lounge, hires the entertainment like bands and DJs, manages social media, online web and email marketing, promotions, print media and radio.
Pro Tip: If you plan to dive in and take on a full weekly event, or even do nightly events make sure your team is solid. Have meetings, get on the street with your team and show them what you expect. Teach them how to use drink cards, VIP bands, and guest list to make a living. Test different people running your bottle service to see who is in it to make money and who is just trying to hook their friends up. Do favors for other promoters and always let them into your events for free so they will send people your way. Learn everything you can about the services you pay for like graphic and web design and try to have people on your team with these skill sets to keep cost down.
Most Important Club Promoter Tip
No matter what stage you are in you need to treat this like a job and stay SOBER when you are on the grind. If you are good at this everyone will know you and EVERYONE will try to buy you a shot or a drink. It can be nice but you are making deals all night and being the face of these venues. I personally had to setup a special drink like water or tea that the bartender would give me in a shot glass so I looked social but could keep my head clear. I had two rules, no drinks until I cash out at the end of the night and no deals if there are drinks involved. Stay sober, watch your money, make good deals, and keep your list in order so you can see success.