There’s no easy way in writing this one so here it goes: Stop asking for guest list from promoters that you have yet to make any deep or meaningful connection with. Rule of thumb: If you don’t know their favorite food, favorite shows, favorite beer, and favorite hobbies then the answer is no to your guest list request. Sorry, but being broke and still wanting to see your favorite artist is not an excuse to ask for a guest list from people you barely know. Today there is a sense of entitlement that is fueling an epidemic of guest list requests.
Just because you see a certain promoter a lot and they give you high fives when they see you it doesn’t make it okay to request a guest list spot every time. It’s like going to someone’s restaurant (where you might know the owner as an acquaintance) and demanding free or discounted appetizers, entree, and dessert…that’s what it really feels like every time I see people demanding for guest list to an event as if the promoter doesn’t have overhead and expenses like any other operating business.
After all, going out is a privilege earned and not something you claw your way into the guest list spot, no matter what, even if it’s shamingly asking anyone and everyone. News flash – it’s OK to financially support the event in a very direct way of contributing to the cause and the scene. If anything, that is the more noble act, but instead we have a community of people (not all but a lot) who would rather text, call, scream, shout, and demand their way to the list….shame on you (you know who you are).
Now I know some of my friends and peers who have asked me for guest list before are probably thinking “Wow Wtf Jia!? are you really writing this shit to call me out!?” Relax, if I have ever put you on the guest list it’s because of our long-lasting friendship, our brotherhood, and sisterhood within the industry and in my personal life (chances are, they’re my real friends). I also offer guest list to people in the industry who I deeply respect that have contributed massively to the scene through the work they have done. People who I deeply respect in the industry will always have a spot on my list… not the leechers and not the ones who only hit me up hours before doors open adding no value to the cause or my life.
Now for everyone that falls under the “guest list hungry monsters” (yes that’s what I call them), this article is for you. I’m writing this to bring awareness of the “entitlement attitude” on requesting for guest list, some people have in the rave and music festival community. I’m also writing this on behalf of my fellow promoter friends and peers all around the world, because something has ought to be said (and written) about the guest list epidemic we all face as promoters. In case you’ve been living under a rock, getting a guest list spot is like the holy grail of our scene, that opens the doorway for everlasting self-importance and entitlement (gross). It’s like flying first class, once you’ve sat in one you almost never want to go back to being a basic GA.
“… promoters often feel isolated and lonely especially after going through an event.”
For many, being on the guest list brings a sense of self-importance, which is why people have a very entitled approach and a rigid mindset when it comes to being on that f*cking list. I know of people who have bought tickets to shows but due to their need to feel special would double-dip just so their name(s) are on the guest list with the reason of “Oh I’ll just sell my ticket or give it to a friend” Wow, you’re such a saint for doing that.
I have worked doors at events and festivals before where people who are not even actual friends of the promoter are yelling at the promoter because their names are not on the list; while demanding to be let in yelling at me as if I hold the keys to their self-importance. Through my experience working in the event’s space for over 15+ years, let me tell you this is one of the main triggers that drive promoters to depression (yes, depression). I’ll explain – think about it for a minute – as of this week (it’s currently Thursday), no one that has bothered me for a previous guest list has checked in on me over text or call to see how I am doing personally… but let me tell you when the next WORK Warehouse event comes around, my phone, my DMs, my emails get active. All of a sudden I feel like I’m one of the most popular kids in town because another event is on the horizon. This kind of cycle of only being contacted when people need something from you (in this case a guest list spot) can drive anyone a bit sad- Knowing that your only value to some of these people is your ability to put their name on a sheet of paper so they can walk-in to the party hassle-free.
The leading cause of mental health issues for promoters are loneliness and losing money from shows. They feel lonely because after the crowd is gone, they’re left with the clean-up. The post-event operation and duties are often a very lonely task as we clean with a skeleton crew. If the event lost money, it brings greater hardship since some of them rely on events to make a living or for some promoters, they have pulled out their savings to throw an event without seeing any of the money back. It’s a common tale in the event-promoter world and when you combine both of them together (sense of loneliness + real money loss) we might never see another event thrown by that promoter ever again. While producing and promoting events has its rewards, the downside can get quite turbulent both mentally, physically, financially, and spiritually.
From the average attendee’s perspective, you’re just one person asking for a simple guest list slot. However, to the promoter, it’s the 20th text/dm they are getting in a very busy day of setting up for the event- Yet somehow they need to make time to deal with your guest list request. For me, the trigger usually comes when we have very busy or sold-out shows. Seriously, I didn’t know that many people in the scene had my number and email. I’m always taken aback by their methods in reaching me (some of you are creative).
“The leading cause of mental health issues for promoters are loneliness and losing money from shows.”
If you’ve gotten this far in the article, you’re probably thinking “Cool bro, I’m still gonna get on that list one way or another sucker!” Yes, I know you’re very smart, creative and probably super witty too. It’s probably how you charm your way into that list every time – good for you.
This article isn’t to STOP people from asking for guest list spots because that will NEVER stop- Just like how we will NEVER STOP RAVING! As long as there will be raves, events, and music festivals there will always be a guest list epidemic; but there is a better approach and something we need to openly discuss so there is mutual understanding on this topic.
If you have a friend or close industry buddy who is a promoter, and have hooked you up with a guest list or multiple guest lists before, it will be good for you to check up on them from time to time. Perhaps get food, coffee/tea to catch up, chop it up over a call, or to make it even easier, you can just shoot a text to see how they are doing.
As mentioned above, promoters often feel isolated and lonely especially after going through an event. The stress leading up to the event as well as during and after can all be very overwhelming. There’s also stress that depends on whether the event was a success or not and it goes far beyond just making money: The vibe, the operations, the staff, and the production all play a part on putting on a good event. Regardless of the success and failure of that event, the entire process of putting one on is simply exhausting and can demoralize a person depending on the overall experience.
Writing this is actually making me realize that I need to do a better job checking in on my fellow promoter-friends and industry peers from time to time. It’s always a good thing to humanize your interactions with your promoter friends or industry people. It will build integrity and trust that goes beyond just getting on the list. I know for a fact that your promoter-friends would appreciate you checking in on them without asking for anything in return.
If you ever want to get on a promoter’s good side simply ask how you can help them promote the show. I don’t think there’s a single event promoter out there who wouldn’t take up on your offer to help promote their event- Especially if they need the help because it’s not a sold-out show. This is also a courtesy act from anyone who gets guest listed, and that is to promote the party you are attending. Let it be known to the promoter that you’re offering some support even if it’s just an IG story or a Retweet of a post. “Anything helps” as the ol’promoter sayings go. By actively reaching out and promoting the show, the chances of you being on the guest list will improve over time if the promoter sees that you’re always helping them out; whether as a friend or just a member of the community. Instead of being the stressor of the event by asking for guest list, why not be part of their solution by promoting the event? Trust me on this, your promoter friend(s) will appreciate this greatly. Even if you might not end up on the guest list the promoter may throw a few drink tickets your way as a token of their appreciation!
If you want to stand out from the rest of the people on that guest list then make it an effort to reach out and personally thank the person or promoter who got you on the list. So few actually do this, but those who do will always be remembered and will have a lasting impression on the promoter because you took the time to thank them after the event. Remember, promoters feel lonely after events because they feel like no one else needs them anymore now that the show is over and everyone had their fun. For that reason, some positive reinforcement the following week might be just the nudge they need to keep pushing forward.
Sometimes things just won’t go your way and a promoter will have to tell you “no” for whatever (valid) reasons they have. Just because you once were on their guest list doesn’t mean you’ll be on there every time. For example, sold-out shows or events that have limited capacity due to venue restrictions are just some of the reasons promoters will say no. The best thing you can do is to not add any more stress towards the promoter and to understand where they’re coming from. If the show isn’t sold out yet, buy a ticket to support the event. If you’re low on funds, stay home. Remember partying is a privilege, not a right. If you’re low on funds, you clearly have other priorities to focus on instead of escaping them.
“Regardless of the success and failure of that event, the entire process of putting one on is simply exhausting and can demoralize a person depending on the overall experience.”
Now if the show is sold out but you want to support it, try to find a reliable reselling platform to try your luck or check on social media. Most sold-out shows just mean that there are no more tickets available from the promoter’s platform, but oftentimes you can find a ton of people reselling due to the fact that they cannot attend anymore. Make an effort to buy from them and be sure to handle your due diligence from scammers.
Do not offer the promoter cash or money on the side. That’s asking the promoter to bend the rules for you. This behavior destroys the integrity of the rave community and might even break the integrity between the promoter you’re offering money to and their potential business partners. If all else fails, too bad. Learn to accept “no” without hard feelings. After all, you didn’t buy a ticket, so why should you get the privilege of being late on tickets but demand to be on the guest list? Something isn’t right with that approach and if you’re that type of event attendee, I hope you’ll take this time to reflect a bit on what it is you’re actually doing.
I know this article isn’t going to end the guest list epidemic and the entitlement that comes with it. I do hope it will bring awareness to the general event-attendee population of a perspective that doesn’t get discussed at all. I personally do not have problems with people I put on the guest list because I know them personally. They are my friends who check in on me, they support my events when I don’t even have to ask them and they are great at getting Nos from time to time. If anyone pulls BS on me, even if it’s a friend, I let them know that what they’re doing is wrong. This kind of transparent relationship and communication I have with my guest list attendees is the reason why it has become easier for me to deal with the mental stress that comes with putting on a dope warehouse rave.
“Instead of being the stressor of the event by asking for guest list, why not be part of their solution by promoting the event?”
My guests know to send in their guest list requests days before the show and not hours before doors open. They know that they have a cut-off time just like we do with our own members. If you found this article offensive or feel personally attacked by it, ask yourself am I really offending you or did someone finally just call you out on this type of behavior when it comes to guest list?
To all my promoter-friends and peers, use this article as your tool to explain where you’re coming from when you get irritated that friends and peers are texting you 20-minutes before doors open. Why that behavior can trigger mental health problems but more importantly, how you can communicate this to them and the community you are fostering. At the end of the day, don’t forget that people on guest lists can fill up a party and make it a vibe.
Guest lists also make hitting bar guarantees easier, or if you run your own bar, you can treat the guest list as hooking your friends up with good appetizers but drinks/entree/dessert is on them. The main thing here is to find a happy middle-ground where you’re not over-extending every time, but maintaining a healthy balance so that promoters can continue doing what they love most: Bringing the community together for a grand ol’raving time!