who really rules nightlife?
Since the dawn of nightlife, a nightclub's owner has always been seen as 'The Don.' The one individual that could part the sea at the door and on the dance floor. The one that truly calls the shots and has the last word. But, as all industries do, nightlife evolves. While once seen as the central figure that orchestrates every aspect of the venue, now works in conjunction with other central players that are vital to the business' success.
Enter the promoter. The person who spreads the word regarding the nightclub, and ultimately brings bodies through the door. Then there's the talent - the DJ - which is the main attraction at over 90 percent of nightlife venues across the country. When working in perfect unison, this three-headed dragon has the ability to create monstrous events, and most importantly, produce a tremendous amount of revenue. But the real question is: who among the three really rules nightlife?
There's no doubting that the owner is responsible for nearly every aspect of the business, however, Karla Ortiz, sales director at Los Angeles-based ticketing firm Wantickets, one of the leading nightlife ticketing services in the nation, believes that promoters have a lot of the weight to bear when it comes to the venue's performance.
"The promoters are the intermediaries between the public and the venue and having promoters that do not represent the establishment well or do not have a strong following can end up causing a major loss to the owner," Ortiz says. "There are a slew of aspects that make up a successful nightclub, but promoters play a big role."
As the sales lead for an organization that has a stronghold in the nightlife market, Ortiz has years of experience working with owners and promoters, but she also understands the impact that good talent can have on a venue. While owners and promoters have their fair share of responsibility, the venue's talent buyer could make or break the venue depending on the talent they bring in.
"If a talent buyer cannot draw great DJs, then attendance will hurt, but if they can attract good DJs but are overpaying, then the owner may not be able to afford to keep the doors open," she said. "The talent buyers determine the type of clientele that is going to be attending their club, so it's important to have a buyer that knows what DJs are hot, but also well-known and respected amongst agents and managers."
While the weight of responsibilities are shared across the board, one can't forget who truly is accountable for the success of the venue at the end of the day.
Promoters may be the key to the audience, but according to Frank Billini, chief of operations at Privileged Marketing Group in New York City, the owner ultimately gives the orders.
"As far as overall performance, the promoter is only going to do what he can get away with so it's the owners job to set the appropriate limitation," Billini says. "A promoter table should not be situated near one that's reserved by a high-end VIP unless they themselves are hosting a high-end client, but they will do it if they can get away with it. Promoters love cool points."