TSD Memphis

Fri04182014

Business

The art of being a promoter

Our series – The Art of being a Promoter – this week features a conversation with Julius Lewis, who wrote and the recently released movie “N-Secure.”
Carlee McCullough

Our series – The Art of being a Promoter – this week features a conversation with Julius Lewis, who wrote and the recently released movie “N-Secure.” Over the years he has brought some of the best entertainment to the Memphis area, including Anita Baker, Luther Vandross, Kat Williams, Ginuine, Tyrese and the Blues Is Alright Tour. In addition, he is a philanthropist who has supported Cummings Elementary School with impressive donations.

Carlee McCullough, Esq.: How did you get into the promoter arena?

Julius Lewis: My first concert was promoting a Marvin Sease concert. He had a song on WDIA called “I’m Mr. Jody.” It was a smoking hot song. I talked to the guys at Club Paradise and they gave me a shot. So, I accidentally step into the field.

CM: Can you give me the highlight of your career as a promoter?

Julius Lewis

JL: In 2007, the Blues Is Alright Tour set all kinds of records across the country. We had about 11 straight sellout shows (and) at that time (that) was unheard of. We took the tour from DC to Shreveport, Atlanta to St. Louis and Houston to Dallas. It was stellar business and it was unbelievable.

CM: What skills and attributes are necessary to be a successful promoter?

JL: You have to be a good negotiator and have your ear to the street.

CM: What has been your least favorite experience in promoting a show?

JL: Some of the artists.

CM: Has the industry changed over the years? If so how?

JL: Definitely. LiveNation and AEG are the big boys in the business. The fees they pay these artists are ridiculous. They have spoiled the artists and are losing tons of money on the shows. So it makes it harder on the little guys to compete with them. For example, some of the artists are guaranteed ridiculous sums by the big boys and the split will be 90/10 in favor of the artist.

CM: What advice would you offer to individuals interested in the business of promoting?

JL: Find your niche, something that is unique to you. Don’t try to compete with everyone else. As an example, no one is really doing hip hop, R&B, and NeoSoul shows. So there is plenty of opportunity out here. Be smart about it. If you see two comedy shows in the next few weeks, don’t come with a third show or no one will make money. Wait a little while and then bring a comedy show. Talk to the other promoters to make sure that your shows don’t overlap.

CM: What is the key to your success?

JL: Planning. My shows are planned out to next June.

CM: How do you overcome losses?

JL: Unfortunately that is part of the business. Hopefully the bigger shows will compensate for the losses.

CM: What is the key to getting over lost business?

JL: Try to find the next big thing. Sometimes you can build artist loyalty.

CM: What has been the best advice you received along the way in growing your business?

JL: Listen to the people. They will let you know what they like and/or dislike.

CM: How can a young promoter finance their initial event?

JL: It is going to take a lot of sacrifice and saving. You may need to live with your parents longer, delay buying the new car with the rims on it, or not go out as much. If this is what you want to do, you have to be able to sacrifice.

CM: In addition to shows, you wrote and produced the movie “N-Secure” which is on DVD and Redbox now. How did you decide to do movies?

JL: I had been working on the movie since 1997. I planned and saved each year so that we had enough to produce it. I thought the story was realistic and believable. I felt we could make some money in the long run with it and I wanted to show a different side of Memphis. We have the stereotype that none of us are doing well and that is simply not true.

CM: What’s next on the horizon?

JL: We will be bringing more concerts, movies and television shows. The promotions game is not a sprint, it is a marathon. I plan on being around a long time.

(For additional information about Julius Lewis, visit www.heritageentertainmentgroup.com.)

(Please send your questions to Carlee McCullough, Esq., Contract Compliance Officer, City of Memphis-Office of Contract Compliance, 125 N. Main St., Suite 546, Memphis, TN 38103 or e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

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