Author(s): Martin Cloonan and Simon Frith
Organisation / Affiliation: Live Music Exchange- (Edinburgh/Glasgow Universities)
A case study of Scotland’s DF Concerts as a successful promotion business.
Three peculiarities of the promotion business:
It operates simultaneously as an intermediary (between audience and act) and as the purveyor of a commodity (the event itself).
It is difficult to make use of economies of scale and often relies on other means of income (subsidy, ancillary revenues like food and merchandise). Investing in venues could help to bring in revenue from more general leisure spending, but their management could, equally, be an additional burden.
Live music promotion (bringing people together in public) is particularly subject to regulation (regarding, for instance, noise, alcohol and safety). This puts promoters in a complex relationship with state and local governments.
DF concerts, as a case study, reveals three main points.
Promoting music is a more complex business than it might first appear. DF’s success has depended on its ability over the last twenty years to combine three sorts of business: events promotion, a venue, and a festival.
Promoting music is a more political business than might first appear. One of the key elements of DF’s success has been the skill with which it has played the Scottish card. It has constructed the Scottish or the Glasgow audience as being something special—particularly discerning and enthusiastic—which both flatters its local audiences and encourages non- Scottish agents to book their acts into DF events.
Promoting music is a more contradictory business than might first appear. The recent DF story has revolved around its ability to continue to be understood as a local business while being part of a multinational corporation.