Baltimore Sun

What do promoters do, anyway?

The recent passing of renown local event promoter Mark Baltimore got me thinking about the often unseen role promoters play in the nightlife world.

"Promoter" is a fancy word for party planner. Promoters put together special events -- like THE (midnight sun) SITUATION -- and hopefully a lot of people show up to them.

Bars and clubs hire promoters to bring in business. They'll pay a promoter a certain amount of money, either up front or from the night's take, and in turn, the promoter will guarantee a certain amount of foot traffic.


For example, Heidi Klotzman of HeidnSeek Entertainment (pictured), books nights at Red Maple. She hires DJs, sends out event invites and makes sure the parties are a success.

When I hung out with Heidi a few weeks ago on a Saturday night, she was holding court at her table in the back patio like a mafia don, and people were constantly coming over to pay their respect. Ah, the power of promoters ...


Before he passed away this year, Mark Baltimore was one of the city's biggest promoters. Heidi's pretty big, too. So are the JetSetMafia. Those are the guys who were booking those controversial parties at Milan.

Live music venues often have their own in-house promoters, also called booking agents. These promoters will contact band management and hammer out deals for shows. Typically, a club will also contract freelance booking agents to bring in the occasional show here and there.

Don Wehner, of Up Front Promotions, is one of the region's more notable concert promoters. He books a lot of hip-hop and R&B -- acts such as Erykah Badu, who recently played Pier Six Pavilion. Heidi's father, Richard, also used to be a big time concert promoter.

While you see promoters mostly at clubs and live music venues, bars sometimes use promoters to help boost business. As you might imagine, the best promoters build up reputations and connections over time, based on previous successes with certain club owners.

More and more, mega clubs are hiring as many promoters as they can get their hands on, and divvying up their capacities. Remember Palma, the ill-fated downtown club? If memory serves, they were recruiting as many promoters as possible, and putting each of them in charge of 100-200 spots per event.

If there are any local promoters who want to add to this/help clarify some more, be my guest. Same goes for any bar or club owners who want to weigh in.

(Baltimore Sun photo by Colby Ware)