Archive for the ‘2011’ Category


December 6, 2011

For most in retail, the fourth quarter makes or breaks your business.  In concerts and events, it is usually the third quarter.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing everything possible to drive holiday sales.  No ideas…just look at what others do.  Apple is a good place to start. 

This holiday season Apple is…

a)  Advertising their product lines aggressively…especially the iPad 2

b)  Sale pricing many of their products.

c)  “Express Lanes” have been setup in many of their retail locations where guests who know exactly what they want can receive faster service. 

d)  You can purchase online and pick-up in-store (this is available throughout the year). 

e)  Communicating directly with potential consumers through email, social, etc. 

Don’t let sales continue to slide.  Remember when there were music retailers?  The fourth quarter was big for them.  I always asked for albums or gift certificates for Christmas, didn’t you?  How about offering gift certificates for your business?  Apple is winning here too.  You could probably even partner with them.

Leaving For Aspen – Tomorrow (Wednesday) at 4:20pm, I’m flying with many friends from LA to Aspen for the Aspen Live Conference 2011.  If you weren’t able to make it this year, please check back for news, reports and insights. 




November 27, 2011

News reports say 2011’s holiday shopping season opened with the biggest weekend in history. The factors include deep discounting (mostly loss leaders to get consumer traffic) and longer store hours.  The biggest driver for this weekend’s sales, the retailers made shopping an event.

It felt, at least to my kids, that if they didn’t participate in Black Friday, they were missing something. So the 14-year old was out by 3:30am and the 12-year old waited to 6:00am.  Both would do it again.  Did you have a Black Friday sale for your events?

Cyber Monday is tomorrow.  Ticketmaster is participating…so are many ticketing and music sites…are you?

Do you remember McDonald’s Gift Certificates?  They were the ultimate stocking stuffer and my brother and I looked forward to having “Santa” deliver them every year.  Do you have gift certificates?  Apple does with the iTunes Gift Card and they have created the new ultimate stocking stuffer…except it’s available all year…at the grocery check-out, 7-Eleven, and Wal-Mart.  Why is a computer company continuing to lead the way in music innovation?

Watching football, Fox just ran a commercial for the Lexus “Season To Save Event”.  Do you have a Season To Save Event…or is your brand too precious for sales?

We must become relevant to consumers again.  It isn’t as complicated as we pretend it is.  There are very few shows that sell-out…recorded music that sells millions (CD’s or downloads)…or merchandise that retailers can’t keep on the shelves.  This can change.

Watch what others do and copy them.  It is at least a start. 

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!



November 21, 2011

Crazy Train – There is nothing like seeing/hearing something and instantly wishing the idea was yours.  That’s exactly how I felt after watching the new Honda Pilot TV commercial

It is creative, uses music and family to tell the story, and again proves… Ozzy Rules!

Music Biz Is Innovating – It was a computer company that brought us iTunes and the iPod.  They are now both intertwined in our culture.  Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine came next with the ultimate accessory to the iPod, “Beats by Dr. Dre” headphones.  Now they are slowly making their way into a “must have” for music lovers.

I was picking-up my mother-in-law at LAX and noticed that almost every other young person coming through security were wearing their Beats.  It was remarkable.  Then watching the NFL pre-game shows, as they flashed players warming-up on fields around the country, the unmistakable white headphones were omnipresent. 

The success of Beats can in no small part be credited to Jimmy.  He has used savvy marketing, partnerships and placement rather than mass media to grow the brand.  This is an example to follow.

What We Can Learn From Twilight – Teens, pre-teens and 20-somethings spent $130 million this weekend to see the latest in the vampire saga.  The message of “Breaking Dawn” was everywhere you turned.  Stories on the young stars appeared in every media outlet, the build-up to the premiere, comedy skits on SNL, and of course the success of the previous movies and books have all played into great opening weekend numbers.  Learn from their playbook…premieres, trailers, and media all playing their part.  Just do the same thing with your next show, tour, season, event or record release.


November 16, 2011

River of Nickels– Yes this quote comes from a brokerage firm’s description of a concert company, but in this case it is recorded music we’re talking about. 

While sending an email to someone at a “major” who’s responsible for the company’s massive catalog, the quote “river of nickels” hit me.  I could actually picture a river of nickels in front of me.  It was long, wide, roaring…and emptied into an ocean of nickels.  These oceans will become the major labels

Selling discs is over and the labels know it.  I suspect the reasons they haven’t stopped making CD’s yet has something to do with stockholders, revenue streams, and the fact that music companies don’t make money from selling music players (not even Sony).  The future for rights holders include paid downloads (especially unreleased material), subscription services, licensing and special markets, broadcast, mobile, live, and a host of other areas, some of which haven’t been invented yet. This is an exciting time and those nickels will add-up (they already do)! 

The keys to success lie in making those nickel rivers long, wide, and fast with new tributaries being added all the time.  Keeping the cost of entry into the water at a nickel (or something low) will fill the oceans as hit records did till the end of the millennium.  Just don’t get greedy and start building new dams.

Another One Bites The Dust – As many of you know, the Hollywood Bowl (promoting concerts…the LA Phil does the other), along with the promoting team of Andy Hewitt, Bill Silva and Eric Herz have been added to Live Nation’s arsenal.  The company’s announcement stated that Andy and Bill will be overseeing booking for all of Southern California and Las Vegas.

Anyway you look at this it is a win for Live Nation as they gain an historic venue and a competitor with history.

Kenny & Tim Ride AgainKenny Chesney and Tim McGraw announced they will be touring stadiums together next summer starting in June.  This is the second time the two have joined forces…the first ended with an arrest for stealing the horse of a police officer. 

Sorry Aggies Fans – In the last newsletter, while trying to write something nice about “Mother Hubbard”, I actually tipped the apple cart by saying she was from University of New Mexico instead of New Mexico State.  So to Aggies fans everywhere…and of course Mother Hubbard, I’m sorry!


November 14, 2011

Last week I attended Billboard’s Touring Conference (thanks Ray Waddell).  Here are some observations that may help you. 

Mother Hubbard– As I started my opening remarks moderating the Tour and Production Manager panel I looked down to see Barbara Hubbard with one of her students wearing her usual smile.  At 84, Barbara has more energy and passion than most kids just out of school.  Barbara doesn’t just work in the concert business, she teaches it at New Mexico State. She can get anyone from our business on the phone and although promotes in a tertiary market (at best), manages to bring in acts as big as the Stones. If Mother Hubbard doesn’t inspire you, nothing and no one will.  Just follow her example.  Passion is the key.

The Brooklyn Bowl – In the early 90’s, one of the great music scenes in New York City was happening downtown at The Wetlands Preserve. As owner Pete Shapiro points out, “it had terrible sight lines”…yet the audience didn’t seem to mind.  It is hard to think of a “jam band” from that era that didn’t play the club.  At the same time, pin-pointing one thing that made it so popular is next to impossible.  There was a beautiful wooden bar (facing away from the stage), artists were encouraged to play 2-sets versus one, and the basement was a great hang (no stage in sight).  Ultimately it had to be the owners as they created the experience for the artists and audience. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that the big buzz venue in New York is The Brooklyn Bowl, another Pete Shapiro room

The venue is open 7-days a week with a 600-cap concert venue, 16-lanes of bowling, and serves food to guests through a partnership with Blue Ribbon Restaurants. They are very aggressive with social media and use it as part of the experience.  On the Club panel, moderated by Dan Steinberg of Square Peg Concerts (best moderator I’ve ever witnessed…one tweet from the audience suggested that after watching Dan, compared the other panels to “sitting jury duty”), Pete explained how they are able to facilitate last-minute shows (e.g. act plays club…then weather forces a cancellation in the next city…so they just add a show the following night @ Brooklyn Bowl) by announcing them on Twitter.  It benefits everyone and has created a community.  Communities, Tribes (as Seth Godin would say), Friends, Connections, whatever you want to call it, we all want to belong.

 Nic Adler– Also appearing on Billboard’s Club panel was The Roxy’s owner, Nic Adler.  Nic also subscribes to the overall experience and has used his personal brand (vegan, music lover, etc) to bring young people back to The Sunset Strip.  Nearly 18,000 follow Nic on Twitter while The Roxy is closing in on 100,000 followers! 

Another piece to Nic’s (and partners) puzzle for bringing the strip back to the center of LA music culture is The Sunset Strip Music Festival  It will celebrate its fifth year next August…and I will be attending for sure.  How about you?

Tour & Production Managers– With experience comes knowledge and wisdom, and the Tour and Production Manager panel had plenty of both.  Here are a few things I picked-up from moderating.

a)    No matter who signs our checks, it is about the fans and this should never be forgotten.  Remember who the real customer is.

b)    Whether we like it or not, catering is one of the most important elements to a show.  Honestly it sets the tone.  So the next time you are thinking about a comment like “Corn Flakes are good enough for my kids, they are good enough for the crew”, remember the crew and artists are your guests.  Putting them in a bad mood to save a few hundred dollars (or thousand for that matter) isn’t worth it. 

c)     Everyone wants to win!  There shouldn’t be sides (e.g. promoter, band, crew, venue, etc)…we should be pulling for each other.

d)    Make large directional signs to toilets, stage, dressing rooms, catering and production offices prior to the crew’s arrival.  Also have any keys needed for the day handy.

e)    All gates and entrances needed for load-in should be unlocked prior to the crew/act’s arrival and should remain open till you see the last truck/bus depart.

f)      Please have the venue’s Wi-Fi on when buses arrive and stay-up until the last vehicle has left the parking lot.

g)    Runners should know the local area well…and have a positive attitude.

h)    Create a laminated phone list with all important cell and land line numbers for your show and give it to everyone to put on their lanyards.  This will make everyone’s job easier.

i)       If your show is not going to make money, go to the act for a reduction rather than trying to save at the show.  The crew, and more importantly fans should not be punished for lack of ticket sales.  Cutting staff, security, catering and local crew could help a promoter/venue’s bottom line in the short term…but how much and is it worth it?

Next is Aspen Live!  We are less than a month away and have been able to open-up more rooms at the Limelight Hotel to accommodate guests as we have nearly doubled our numbers from 2010.  Our dates are December 8-11 and you can still register for only $225.  Find out more @     


November 6, 2011

The Steve Jobs book is having a big effect on my thinking lately.  There’s a quote from Jobs about halfway through that hits like a sledgehammer.  “In the end, you just don’t want someone else to control a big part of user experience.”  In Live Entertainment, that’s all we do…with a few exceptions.

The talent/artist/act/athlete/producer/director has their vision and from there, the watering down begins.  Costs play the biggest role in diluting the message.  The show needs a place to play (w/ venue ops people, box office, security, ticket takers, ushers, parking attendants, customer service, etc, all between the show and guest) , marketing, ticketing, production and design, crew, etc, which can all have negative impacts…yet can be cost prohibitive to carry.  Cirque du Soleil has their touring shows in tents and the others, installs/sit-downs (Vegas, NY, LA, etc) where they can transform and control the environment.

Disney is similar in wanting control of the experience.  With Broadway, the theme parks, cruise ships, adventures and vacations, guests are coddled from the first interaction. The exception would be Feld Entertainment’s Disney On Ice which is a license that has been in place for decades. 

So what do we do?  It needs to start with a hybrid model.  Let’s use Feld as an example. 

Tickets are sold, mostly through Ticketmaster rather than Disney or Feld’s own ticketing.  This is necessitated by the multiple venues the show plays under contract (although Feld does have their own promoter agreements with TM).  The same with ticket takers, security, ushers, box office, etc.  Yet Feld does promote the shows internally (w/ help from venue marketing), caries production, crew, performers…and their own merch and concession operations and sales people (to the dismay of venues around the world).

Take a look at your upcoming projects and find every touch point with guests that you can take control of.  Apple, along with Disney and Cirque believe in the end-to-end user experience.  You should too. 

Aspen Update – The 16th Annual Aspen Live Conference is filling up like it hasn’t in years.  At this point, The St. Regis, Aspen is completely sold-out.  There are still Grand Deluxe rooms available at the Limelight Hotel.  Please go to and register today.


November 4, 2011

Concert and event promoting was once an art and can be again.  The money was second to being part of something bigger than ourselves… that made people happy.  Something important.  From a show’s announcement, to where it played, how it was promoted, marketed and produced, every detail became a new adventure.  Just as the mood and vibe of a recording makes a great record, the experience of the fan, entertainer/artist, crew, and producer make a great event. 

We all must draw the line now.  It is time for innovation…for investment and reflection.  The experience…and as Michael Rapino would frequently say when first taking the reins at Clear Channel Entertainment (now Live Nation), the fan’s “value proposition”, must be strong and obvious.  There is a reason why Cirque Du Soleil currently has seven shows running in Las Vegas alone.  It is about innovation…investment in the creative process…art, production, marketing and design coming together.

Last night I met-up 3-buddies from our business.  We discussed an old friend we have worked with for years.  There was a time when this person genuinely seemed to love the job…working for one of the legends that has since retired.  Now, the best words to describe his adopted work style, ass hole!  He cares not about the art, the fan, the experience…only how much money he can squeeze from each date.  Time to retire dude!!!

The line we all need to draw starts with ourselves.  Look at what you are doing.  If your only motivator is money, go into banking where the real money is.