Career as a promotions manager

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Tim Cooper is a 'plugger'. He is head of TV promotion for a company that specialises in getting the music of their client artists played on radio and television.

What attracted you to this career as a promotions manager?

Music and computing have been longstanding interests, and this job provides the ideal combination. I play the piano and several other instruments, and I play in various musical groups in my spare time.

What do you like about this work?

This work is very creative, and it is really satisfying to know that I am helping composers and musicians in their work. I enjoy the problem solving, and combining my interest in IT and music. The job is also very varied.

What does your job involve?

We represent music artists by getting them placed on TV shows to help promote their latest single, album or forthcoming tour. Artists usually have agents who arrange gigs or shows for their clients, but promoters are needed to maintain regular contact with TV and radio stations to ensure maximum coverage for clients.

I am also responsible for getting promotional videos placed on TV channels such as MTV, The Box and other music programmes. The more publicity we can get, the more demand there is for the record. Sales in the record shops dictate how far up the charts the release will go.

Who are your clients?

Singers, bands, groups and instrumentalists. Artists of every type need promoting if they are to break into the upper levels of radio or TV.

How do you promote them?

For unknown bands and singers, I listen to their music tapes, hear them in the studio or gig and then decide if they are good enough to be promoted. If so, I arrange for them to sign a contract with our organisation and I will then use my contacts to ensure that their singles or albums are played as often as possible.

How did you get into this job?

I worked with BBC Radio 1 and built up a lot of contacts within the industry and with record company staff. Previously, I had some experience in sales and promotion while working for a newspaper group.

What is a typical day for you?

Each day is varied, but a day in the office involves a lot of phone calls to TV producers and researchers. Out on the road, I usually accompany bands to TV shows, briefing them and generally looking after them.

Do you work regular hours?

No, my hours vary. Most jobs in the music industry fall into that category. Some days I may work in the office during normal hours, but another day could involve starting very early for a breakfast TV show and finishing late at a music gig that night.

What do you like about the job?

I like the enormous variety that comes with the job, the travel – sometimes abroad – and the free CDs! Also, the opportunity to meet and work with pop stars and up-andcoming new bands.

What skills and qualities are needed to be a promotions manager?

An ear for music is essential. I chose this work because I love music. Good communication skills and an ability to identify promotion opportunities are essential. Sales skills are important, as is the ability to develop good relationships with your regular clients.

Tim's route

  • GCSEs.
  • Various sales and selling courses.
  • BBC Radio.
  • Working as a 'plugger'.

Tim's tip

  • It's who you know that counts in this industry, so develop and maintain good contacts.

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Salary information

  • Promoters can earn anything between £20,000 and £100,000 per annum.
  • Some companies pay commission based on how many times a specific record is played.

Getting in

  • Some musical background is essential and this can be obtained by experience or by working with a radio or TV company.
  • Many graduates get jobs within record companies and then work their way into their chosen department such as A&R, Marketing and Distribution.
  • There are large numbers of suitable music courses available at colleges across the country. They usually include general musicianship, aural/listening skills, performance projects, songwriting, improvisation, sight reading, music business skills, study skills/applied IT skills, music technology and recording techniques. They can lead to BTEC HNDs in relevant subjects.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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