Archive for the ‘2008’ Category


February 16, 2010

Irving strikes again…and at the same time does something good for promoters, producers, venues, artists, sports teams, family shows…and yes fans too. 

The deal Irving Azoff announced on February 12th between Wal-Mart and Live Nation/Ticketmaster will almost instantly add 500 brinks-and-mortar points-of-sale for events either playing for the promoter or a venue that uses Ticketmaster for its ticketing.  Would a Wal-Mart shopper actually buy concert or sporting tickets on an impulse?  If it is marketed, yes. 

Marketing seems to be one of the problems (besides the company closing stores) with the deal between Live Nation and Blockbuster.  The store near my house is a perfect example.  They get a ton of foot traffic and participate in the Live Nation ticketing program.  But the concert calendar they have up in the store never has dates or venues listed and the staff behind the counter has very little idea how to sell tickets to a guest anyway. 

Wal-Mart is a marketing machine.  Imagine how many people pass through the doors of a single store in one-day?  The issue of course will be price.  Most of our tickets are not scaled at “Wal-Mart prices”.  When a customer goes into their neighborhood Wal-Mart to buy Eggo Waffles and Tide, will a message in the store prompt them to purchase 30-Seconds to Mars tickets or will the price point and service charges scare them away?

This is one you should all take full-advantage of.  See how many different ways you can use the Wal-Mart ticket outlets to your benefit.  Find ways of creating destination buyers for Wal-Mart…drive traffic to their stores.  Run midnight madness promotions…get back to having fun.

The deal is done.  Make the most of it.   

Speak with you soon…




April 6, 2009

Most readers know the LiveWorks Newsletter is not about promoting our festivals, events, and tours.  At the same time,  The Great American Food & Music Fest  ( )is newsworthy, something we are very proud of, and want you to know about it…tell your friends…and come to the event yourself!

The best festival style “family friendly” event that I can think of in America is C3’s Austin City Limits Music Festival.  These guys make it relatively comfortable to bring your family to a very large event and have a good time.  Yes the venue is amazing…but so is the talent schedule, tag-a kid program, local food options, prices, number of water stations, bathrooms, and entertainment choices in general (even sand to play in).  What if you could combine the best elements of ACL ; what we learned over the years touring the amphitheatres; youthful summer memories of the Saratoga Jazz Festival (food, fun, family, friends…and music, just like ACL); the rock star status that celebrity chefs have taken on; and the best of the best of all- American Food (hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, BBQ, ice cream, etc)?  You would get The Great American Food & Muisc Fest.  Below is how the professional would (did) write it…

The Great American Food and Music Fest ,  a one-day event celebrating the rich traditions of classic American fare and music, will be held at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California on Saturday, June 13, 2009.  It will be hosted by chef and Food Network personality Bobby Flay.

At the festival legendary purveyors of classic American food, celebrity chefs and extraordinary musicians will come together for the first time ever, at an affordable price.  Some of the most acclaimed culinary establishments in the country will be on-site to serve their specialties, including:  Pink’s Hot Dogs (LA), Barney Greengrass (NYC), Graeter’s Ice Cream  (Cincinnati),  Southside Market Barbecue (Texas), Anchor Bar (Buffalo, NY; inventor of Buffalo wings), and Tony Luke’s Cheesesteaks (Philadelphia). In addition, some of the Bay Area’s best food establishments will be featured along with great American wines and specialty cocktails.

The culinary presentations will be augmented by live music from Little Feat, Marshall Crenshaw, and jazz, blues, and swing outfit Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, among many others. The full line-up will be announced shortly. In addition to Flay, there will also be a gathering of other food world notables, including the star of the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins, & DivesGuy Fieri.

Tickets for the event will be available for sale beginning April 5th and can be purchased at, Blockbuster Video locations, and the Shoreline Amphitheatre box office. There are a number of ticket options available for the event to make it accessible to everyday food lovers without breaking the bank. General admission starts at $35 inclusive of all service charges and includes your first plate of food for free. 

Well I hope to see you there!

Speak with you soon…



February 14, 2009

The “Eyeballs…Millions of Them” along with “” campaign that we spoke about in the last newsletter were both dreamed-up by Skip Paige from Goldenvoice/AEG-Live.  You may know Skip from Coachella and Stagecoach festivals, but Skip now heads up AEG-Live’s whole festival division.  Hats off to Skip and his team for their efforts! 

But you don’t have to be as big as AEG and play to millions of fans to participate.  We can see examples of Live Entertainment and brands partnering on a much smaller level with multiple returns on both sides. 

For example, think about how much it costs an artist per week to tour with a bus…at least $5000 (and I’m being very conservative).  The bus lease, fuel, permits, driver’s pay, hotel rooms and per diems, washes, maintenance, over-drives, parking, laundry, etc, really adds up.  So artist Donavon Frankenreiter and Verizon Wireless went into partnership.  Orchestrated by Q Prime Management, the deal is great for all.  It gives Donavon, his band and crew a place to live while on tour, saving tens of thousands.  At the same time it provides Donavon well needed tour marketing through radio and online (that I’m aware of).  Verizon gets to promote its association with Donavon, give away tickets, wrap his bus and trailer (see below), backstage meet-n-greets and more to fans… brought to them by the brand.  This is a win-win!!!

Donavon / Verizon Partner

Branded Live Entertainment is growing up…becoming more of a two-way street.  Say goodbye to sponsorship and hello to your new partners in Live.

Talk with you soon…



December 27, 2008

When you go to Las Vegas, there are a ton of live entertainment options laid out in front of you.  There’s probably a lot in your town too.  Should there be a bricks & mortar option for ticket shopping for live events?  One where you can see everything (like Ticketmaster) but have the option to purchase at a discount?

People love to shop.  Although retails sales numbers from the holidays are horrible, the fact is the malls and stores felt just as crowded as ever.  A good guess would be that like my family, Christmas didn’t go away Santa just had to tighten his belt from losing half his weight in the stock market.  Even cashed-in some American Express Membership Rewards points to get the toys for the girls (this Santa doesn’t have boys) this year.  So now Christmas is over and we are looking for things to do.  Go to and you can find things, but if you are a normal family, this is not something you can do on the fly due to cost.  With live entertainment promoters of all kinds looking for ways to sell “remnant tickets”, we should have at least one business dedicated to selling tickets to IMPULSE BUYERS.

There are probably millions that still don’t know what they are doing on New Year’s Eve, 2008.  Many will end up staying home.  Some because they want to, but others because they just can’t afford any of the options available to them…and the free ones are just not that appealing (crowds, cold, drunken people, etc).  How many live performances on New Year’s Eve do you think still have tickets available?  From the little research project we just did at our house, it is over 90%.

There is one event my family really wanted to go to this New Year’s.  The cheapest ticket is $75 plus “applicable charges”.  $75 ends-up being $89.50 per ticket to not see or hear the show very well.  In these times (or any times), that is just too much.  In a recent Reuters story on Live Nation and CEO Michael Rapino, writer Yinka Adegoke pointed out that “Rapino argues that his business will be able to weather the worst because consumers only visit one or two big shows a year, and they will always save up to see their favorite artists even in a downturn”.  Yikes, is that what the concert business has come to?  We need to attract new fans to live.  A business setup to sell tickets to any live show at any venue from any agency just might do well.

Yes, with a majority of ticket purchases happening online, there would have to be a user friendly web store with everything in it that the bricks and mortar shops have.  But if there was a well designed, laid-out ticketing store in your local up-scale mall where consumers could shop for tickets to live performances at every price, you can bet we would see more impulse buyers and thus less remnant tickets.  It is certainly worth an experiment for any one with the budget and relationships to try.  The Westfield mall in Century City, CA, a few blocks from the Agency Group Events & Entertainment offices would be a good place to start.  Las Vegas would be another.  New York City has the beginnings of this concept already working with the Theatre Development Fund’s TKTS ticket store in the middle of Times Square.

There are almost always lines at this place, and they only sell theatre tickets.  Imagine what we could do with a little effort!  Love to hear your thoughts on this.

Happy New Year!



December 22, 2008

It has been said that some of the smartest people out there are in advertising and marketing.  Think of some of the brilliant brand campaigns of the past and you would probably agree.  So why are we in live entertainment going to corporations with our hands out looking for a check rather than partnering-up to get the word out?  Why are we not attempting to build more Branded Live Entertainment properties?

Those in sponsorship sales have been saying for years that “the dollars are just not what they used to be”.  After all this time, there is still no uniform measurement for live events or live impressions as there is for media (CPM or cost per million, etc).  So if brands are spending less on traditional media, imagine how they are looking at sponsorship in these troubled times.  Live entertainment needs to partner with brands and play to each others strengths.  We provide the entertainment vehicle while the pros from the marketing world craft the message, while using their vast arsenal of weapons to get the word out there, heard, and understood.

In the concert business, when we break the news to fans that a show is going on-sale, it usually looks something like this…

  • a) Announcement to radio of on-sale date
  • b) Spam music fans that may have purchased tickets in the past about the date
  • c) Buy ads in local weekly for print (if you still do it), run 4-8 ads for 4-days on appropriate radio stations for the “break”…plus lame promos like win before you can buy…cable TV buys and possibly some web stuff. Of course all your marketing materials look and sound exactly the same as they did 20-years ago
  • d) You put together a “maintenance plan” based on how you did on the on-sale

How many times do you think a local marketer has to run the above exercise each year?  Now imagine those same people have the time, resources, manpower, and money to promote each live event as if it were a new product launch from Proctor & Gamble.  Just think of what you could do with $20 million versus $1 million ($25,000 x 40 dates), and a radio spot where you aren’t waiting to hear…”Funny car, Funny car, Funny car this weekend only”.

Talk with you soon…



December 18, 2008

First, the news coming from record company land isn’t good.  Friends of yours have either lost their jobs or are about to (EMI, Sony and now Interscope).  Always nice how these things happen around the holidays, isn’t it.  Show support and help anyone you know if you can.  There will be a lot of really good talent out of work.  Remember change brings opportunity!!!  Speaking of opportunity…

Advertising Age titled their December 15th issue “Book of Tens 2008”.  It covers top ten lists from “stories of the year” to “top tech toys” to “lessons from the Obama campaign”.  Since LiveWorks Newsletter subscribers have read the “Political Marketing” newsletter so many times, I thought it would be fun to use Ad Age’s Top 10 “Lessons From The Obama Campaign” and add a live entertainment twist.  So, here we go…

•1) IT’S THE PRODUCT – Ad Age’s Ken Wheaton (who wrote the piece) says that at the end of the day, “it’s likely that Barack Obama won because he is Barack Obama.”.  Or to put it another way, he doesn’t suck.  If everything is marketing, start with a great product and you are more than half-way there.

•2) KISS – No Gene, not you.  “Keep it simple, stupid” (ok Gene, maybe you).  You have heard this a million times, but always worth repeating.  The Obama campaign’s message was simple and never changed.  As Ken Wheaton wrote, “The product may have been complex, but the branding was simple and consistent.”

•3) DON’T PANIC – Although it is important to be limber in these times of change, it is also imperative to think before acting.  Shooting from the hip could get you shot in your own foot.  When Obama went through the Reverend Wright controversy, he never blinked.

•4) LET OTHERS BUILD BUZZ – Give fans the tools they need to spread the word for you.  Provide them with “all the proper fonts, logos and talking points”… and then sit back and watch it go.  For instance, you can’t get into the “KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas” concerts unless you are a “KROQ street team member”.  Get in the club, and you have access to purchase tickets.  No club membership, no tickets.  This policy gets people to tell their friends and it builds buzz…along with a database for KROQ.

•5) GET OPRAH ON YOUR SIDE – I don’t think there is anything to add here.

•6) PUT ON A SHOW – Ad Age’s list talks of Obama’s nomination acceptance speech at Invesco Field in Denver in front of a crowd of 80,000…then doing it again in Germany and St. Louis.  We all know how to put on a show.  How about putting on a show to announce your show?  I bring up Ringling Bros. circus parade again to you as an example.  We need to be doing more parades.

•7) GET THE MEDIA IN THE TANK – My parents always taught me that if you treat the media with respect, they will do the same for you.  Obama was treated like a rock star by the media.  Think about it, we actually have rock stars.  Now we just need them to be nice to the media.

•8) DON’T FORGET THE BASICS – Ken Wheaton points out that “For all the talk of change, for all the rhetoric about new media, Obama rode to victory the old-fashioned way: He outspent his opponents, and much of it went to TV”.  TV is a visual medium and we in live entertainment just don’t do a good job marketing our products on television.  Time to step it up.

•9) EMBRACE WEB 2.0 – Although the Obama campaign didn’t do much in the way of traditional web advertising, their use of social networking will be studied for years to come.  Figure out how you can start a movement like that online and you are headed down the Yellow Brick Road.

•10) NOTHING – After all that, writer Ken Wheaton points out that a political campaign “has almost nothing in common with a marketing campaign.”  Of course he is right.

I guess the big message here is to have a great product and then do all your homework three times.  As the saying goes, “good luck comes to those that work hard”.

Talk with you soon…



December 15, 2008

Sorry it has been a while since the last LiveWorks Newsletter.  To make sure subscribers didn’t receive another old newsletter from our FeedBurner account (for those of you not familiar, our feed system for newsletter subscribers sends out old posts whenever I don’t write for more than a day), I deactivated our system while away and will continue to do so whenever I don’t post for more than one day until we figure out how to fix the problem or import our subscriber list to another subscription feed service.  If you have tried to subscribe to the LiveWorks Newsletter in the past and it wouldn’t work, please try again by clicking on the following link  Subscribe to LiveWorks Newsletter by Email.  Once you subscribe you will receive a verification email.  You must respond to this email in order to start receiving the newsletter.

As many readers may know, since last Tuesday I’ve been in Aspen, Colorado, hosting the 14th Annual Aspen Live Conference.  Although we covered many topics in our eight-plus hours of meetings and debate, the most important message to come out for me was… BRING THE PRICE FOR ADMISSION DOWN AND THE EXPERIENCE UP!

In past newsletters I’ve talked about early concert experiences at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center or SPAC.  My friends and I went to almost every concert each summer because the venue was so special to us, and we could afford to go.  In Aspen last week, Don Strasburg broke-it-down to an even simpler formula of “opposite sex + friends + cool place to hang out + affordable experience = crowded venue” (I’m paraphrasing here so please excuse me Don if I didn’t get it right).  When Don said that, I realized that some things will never change (as much as they change), and Don’s theory had merit.  After all, when we were young, we didn’t go to see Loverboy, REO and others at SPAC because they were our favorite bands, we went because it was $7 for a lawn seat and we knew that the experience at the venue would be great.  So Jay Scavo brought up the concept of a venue season pass to help develop artists.

Season passes are nothing new to the live entertainment business.  Amusement parks, sports teams, recreational areas (such as ski mountains and beaches), and performing arts centers have had season passes for decades, so why can’t you?  Yes there are hurdles to overcome such as artist compensation for season pass holder’s tickets and the potential for no-shows from those tickets… but there is simply nothing that can’t be negotiated when the deal is put together.

Don Strasburg tried an experiment for our group.  He made-up four season passes to the Fox Theater in Boulder, CO and put them on-sale on the club’s website for $400 per pass.  With no advertising, no email blasts, and only a post on The Fox’s website, Don’s four season passes sold-out in less than an hour.  Sell enough of these and you have a very healthy business going.  If season pass holders want to go to a show that is sure to sell-out or at least do well, they will need to put in their orders by a certain deadline or their tickets will be released for general sale.  Difficult, yes…impossible, no way.

Do you have a season pass for your shows?  How about a low-priced “starter rate”?  If not, it might be time to start thinking about ways to compensate everyone and show fans real value.  Two-for -ones, discounted tickets, and the like only devalue your show’s brand, but the venues, promoters, and more.  Create a season pass, discounts and loyalty programs, or simply lower the price of admission and watch your numbers go up.

Talk with you soon…