Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Sally Shan Interview

New York Nights caught rising nightlife icon Sally Shan between parties to talk about creating unique experiences, standing out from the crowd and how promoters get such a bad rep...

Vital StatisticsName: Sally Shan
Group Affiliation: Solo
Hometown: New York, NY
Latest Project: World Domination
Next New York Performance: To Be Announced

NYN: I've heard being a promoter is like being a real estate broker. Do you agree with that analogy?

SS: I don't usually think about it like that, but I guess there are similarities. Both of us act as a bridge. I connect the patrons looking for a place to go and the clubs looking for people to come and party, brokers connect buyer and sellers. We both take care of a lot of the details behind the scenes so our 'clients' don't have to worry about them. And both a good promoter and a good broker can give you a much better experience than if you did things on your own.


NYN: You haven't been doing this long, but tell me the perception people normally have about promoters.

SS: I think the perception that people sometimes get about promoters is that they care more about numbers and email lists than taking care of their people. The biggest complaint I've heard about promoters is that they make going out more painful than it needs to be. First, they'll send you an email about a party and give you a great deal on the phone when you contact them. Then when you and your friends get to the club, they’re not there and you can’t get in. You were so excited to go out and you drove all the way to the club and you’re embarrassed that your friends are standing out in the street. All of a sudden the great deal they offered you turns into a really expensive night that is nothing near what you were looking for, but you take it because you feel like you have no choice. I’ve been on that side of the equation so I know exactly what NOT to do.

NYN: There are a lot of people out there promoting. How do you set yourself apart?

SS: I think there are two parts to standing out. First, you have to connect with the people you are entertaining. You’ve got to try as much as possible to interact with them beyond just getting them into the club. I can’t possibly call everyone I work with, but things like Facebook keeps me connected to them through updates and announcements and things.

The other thing that helps you stand out is offering a different experience. I’ve seen promoters try to sell the same bottles in the same clubs with the same music every week for months. I try to have different types of themes and invite different types of people to different venues every week. That way people have something new to look forward to and I don’t get bored either.

NYN: How does a person tell a good promoter from a poor one?

SS: A lot of it is word of mouth and referrals, so I guess it’s similar to a real estate broker that way too. If I throw a party and people have a great time, they tell their friends and post the pictures online and start asking about the next party. That encourages other people to contact me to help them create the next party experience they want to have. At the end of the day we’re providing a service, a unique experience, so the best marketing I can have is doing a great job for all the people on my list.

NYN: What kind of work do you have to do behind the scenes to prep for a party?

SS: There are several different components that go into a great party. It doesn't work if you just update your Facebook page, show up and get drunk. There is a creative element where you develop the theme or the vision behind the event. Then there is a coordination element where you work with the venue to nail down the specifics of what is going to happen. There is a marketing element where you let people know about the party and figure out who is going. Then there’s the execution, where you take care of people and make sure they have a great time.

NYN: You had a birthday recently. What advice would you give someone looking for a party?

SS: Well it’s great if you have an idea of what you want, that way it’s easier for the promoter to give you what you’re looking for. If there’s a certain type of experience, music, vibe or space you want to be in, let the promoter know. I have relationships with some of the best venues in New York so if you come to me with some idea of what you want, I’ll make sure you get it.
Have fun.
G
Photo by Stephen Shadrach

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Life is one big party! Party on dude! LOL I was a promoter years back and realize no matter what type of deal you have with the club owner, you will never get rich. Its another lazy man's or woman get rich quick pipe dream. No offense. Go back to school and get your Masters or Doctorate or go create. Think Cirque du Soleil.

New York Nights said...

It seems to me that promotion is like any other nightlife job (or any job at all really). The only people who are getting rich from it are the owners...and even that isn't a lock.

Have fun.
G

Anonymous said...

Working in nightlife promotion is a way to become an owner, and the best club owners have a background in promotions (inc Marquee in NYC Whisky Mist, Mahiki in London). Secure the right extensive network and this can be ultilised for various ways to earn money. People with narrow minds (inc promoters) perceive it as a quick way to earn money, if you have a vision you can go on to big things..

Anonymous said...

Working in nightlife promotion is a way to become an owner, and the best club owners have a background in promotions (inc Marquee in NYC Whisky Mist, Mahiki in London). Secure the right extensive network and this can be ultilised for various ways to earn money. People with narrow minds (inc promoters) perceive it as a quick way to earn money, if you have a vision you can go on to big things..

New York Nights said...

Doesn't it take a lot more to being an owner than the skills/ contacts that you have as a promoter? It seems to me that owners have to deal with inventory control, licensing, budgets, staff, community boards, police and a host of other issues in addition to having the right network. Am I making it to complicated? Is the jump from promoter to owner pretty seamless like going from college to pro in sports?

Have fun.
G