TEMPORARY DEFEATS VS. FAILURE…or “IF I HAD $1MILLION DOLLARS…”

READER’S WARNING…THE FOLLOWING IS LONGER, MORE PERSONAL AND  SELF SERVING THAN THE USUAL LIVEWORKS NEWSLETTER!  VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED!!!

Some of you know the story of attempts last year to launch a Food & Music Festival (link to last year’s story https://liveworksnews.wordpress.com/2009/06/23/lessons-from-andy-grove/).  This was more than a dream.  It was a labor of love that took years of work research and money to get off the ground (link to highlight video from 2009 http://www.jimlewievents.com/gafmf.m4v). The short story is last June we managed to do a good job bringing people to the Bay Area Show (right ticket price, marketing partners, fees built into ticket price) but did a bad job of serving them.  In the end, anyone who wanted a refund got one, although after the first 2-hours of chaos due to a technical malfunction, the show ran pretty well for the other 8-hours.  Guests wanted their money back because they had to wait too long to spend more money (what a concept).  My thought, fix our service issues and we have a real winner.  After all, all of our talent played on-time and isn’t that why guests paid for their tickets in the first place?

After selling so many tickets for our first test show (12,000 in pre-sales alone) I figured that promoters would be falling all over themselves to buy the festival in 2010.  Boy was I wrong.  It was a tough sell.  So along with my business partners/investors, we started speaking to NFL Football stadiums.  After all, they only have 8-10 events scheduled per year and have a perfect fan base to market to.  So to the stadiums we went.

For June, 2010 we partnered with two stadiums in the East.  From there on, the game plan that drew so many people in 2009 was not followed. Tickets did not include service charges (it was cheaper to wait till DOS to avoid charges even though tickets were $10 more at the door); we had very little support from local media forget partnerships; went on-sale with only 8-weeks to sell the shows; and had not one sponsor to help offset talent, production and marketing costs in case things didn’t go well. 

You know what’s coming next.  There were “Emergency Broadcast System” weather warnings for our first show this past June.  There was no reason for guests to purchase early since it was a General Admission show and less expensive if they waited anyway…then charged $25 to park on a $30 ticket.  Thus we had about 3500 guests at our show. 

Our second event went even worse as two of our headliners didn’t show…along with the audience.  For those who did attend, many wanted their money back since several of our acts were no-shows…but the stadium felt this was the show’s problem.  They directed all guests back to us even though they had acted as the promoter and were holding all monies collected from the show (minus our deposit).  We had no way of refunding guest’s money even if we could.

So as the saying goes, “Three Strikes and You’re Out”.  We now have had three shots at making the Food & Music festival concept work and each time failed for a host of reasons.  But there is quote from author Napoleon Hill that says “Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure”.  Well, we did a big draw at our first show. At our next two we managed to do at least $32 per head on food and beverage alone.  Why give-up now when we are seeing a model that works?  Market the show properly, make tickets either free or very inexpensive and everyone can make our money on ancillary income. 

So to win we need investment money.  It seemed like such a huge hurdle a few months ago.   Now that there has been some time to assess the business from top to bottom, it really seems like a matter of just finding the “right” eyes and ears to get the opportunity in front of. 

The Festival currently owes money to people as well as businesses.  Some I’ve worked and have been friends with for 20-years, while others we were meeting for the first time.  Paying these bills and moving forward seems a lot more…well like me, then the prospect of bankruptcy…of giving up.  It’s just not American…at least the kind of American I want to be.

Somewhere out there are others like me who believe in our concept and will want to invest.  Maybe it is Entertainment Venture Capitalists…or someone from Silicon Valley…a group of investors …or a company like Pepsi or American Express…How about David Geffen, Marc Cuban or Steve Bing?  I know for a fact that I’m not the only one that knows there is a big business here.  Quitting is for losers

I will not give-up!  The food and music festival is a winning concept.  Please write to me with any ideas you might have.  

Thanks!

Jim

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