Archive for the ‘2016’ Category

THE CAA BOOK

August 22, 2016

This book is not for everyone and the reviews haven’t been stellar (my experience was good), but if you work in the entertainment business, you should read James Andrew Miller’s Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artist’s Agency.

Knowing many of the cast from my short time with the agency, it was great fun hearing from all the players and it follows their story accurately.  You get to feel of what it’s like to be inside. Here are some observations and facts I took away from the book:

1)  Information is power. Companies that have this view and make sharing a part of their culture ultimately win.

2)  Working with a team of talented, smart and creative people makes you better. You learn, grow, and try harder. Although agency life isn’t for everyone, the experience of working at CAA was a great one for me (even though I was sick much of my time there).

3)  In entertainment, perception is reality.

4)  Some of us should be working harder. The book will inspire you or deter you from continuing.

5)  Everyone loves Ron Meyer. My two brief experiences with him while he’s been with NBC Universal support that statement. A true gentleman! Proves you don’t have to treat people like shit to be successful.

6)  Everyone loves Michael (Vino) Levine and Howie Nuchow, the two men that run CAA Sports. I immediately bonded with both of them the minute they arrived at CAA, and miss their positive energy in my life.

7)  Our business can be rough. Trying to find a path where everyone wins is the right one. When you start lying and cheating your friends and partners, it never ends well.

8)  Tom Ross is an officer and gentlemen, and more credit is due to him.

9)  The current managing partners should get more credit for where the agency is today. As an example, according to the book, CAA Sports was the number one earner for the agency in 2015. For years, there’s been a narrative that getting into sports was a mistake, and that’s been proven wrong. 20 years in, they shouldn’t be compared to the Ovitz/Meyer/Haber CAA. For better or worse (depending on where you sit), it is a much different company 20 years later.

10) There are many lessons, both positive and negative, to take from this book. Hopefully you will know which is which.

p.s. There’s one story in the book about little bad behavior by the sports guys at their first CAA retreat, and the real deal is actually better than what’s written. The book says it was a special bottle of wine given as a gift to the hotel owners (true) and stolen and consumed by CAA (also true) after the final dinner. But, the special bottle was actually a huge magnum (the biggest I’ve ever seen) and resembled the Stanley Cup for some reason. The hockey guys grabbed it, hoisted it over their heads, then opened and passed it around. Many from the old guard were pissed as the book describes, but most loved them for it! When the story of CAA Sports first retreat came up, I thought they were going to spill on the senior sports agent (not Vino or Howie) that got caught on camera doing some no-no with a junior executive on the gold course. Maybe that’s the next book.

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PAY IT FORWARD

April 23, 2016

“Pay if forward.” That’s what Paradigm’s Lynn Cingari asked us to do on Friday…for Chip. And now I’m asking you to do the same…for Chip Hooper.

I first met Chip through Dave Frey and the H.O.R.D.E. Festival in 1993. Chip was Blues Traveler and Phish’s agent, two of the acts that led the “jam band” scene of the 1990’s along with the Dave Matthews Band (also Chip’s client), Widespread Panic, moe. (Chip act), Medesky, Martin, and Wood, Big Head Todd, Hootie, Spin Doctors, etc.…and the festival’s agent as well. That meant that I started off on Chip’s team, which was always a good thing. It wasn’t fun being on the other side as Chip was a fierce competitor and always had to win.

So many friends, some of the “whose who” of the music business told similar stories about Chip. Everyone he met became his best friend, the late night calls that went on for hours, stories about his son Max’s basketball career, his “second career” as one of the top landscape photographers in the world, music, sports, wine, fancy hotels, anything Chicago, how every call ended with his trademark “you’ve got it”, anyone to be taken seriously was “the real deal”… I honestly cried for over 3-hours.

Friday was a heavy day, yet one filled with love and remembrance. After the moving speakers, and in the case of legendary New York concert promoter Ron Delsener, a hilarious and inappropriate stream of consciousness (Chip would have loved it), the first person I ran into at the reception was one of Chip’s famous clients who had obviously been deeply affected. “How badly do you want to hug your kids right now? How are we supposed to socialize after that? They should have little rooms with therapists for us”. He was right, and as the afternoon progressed, everyone acted as each other’s shrink.

We learned life lessons to pay forward Friday. We learned of the incredible sacrifices friends and family made to help Chip at the end of his journey; Jackie Nalpant (my hero), Dan Weiner, Fred Bolander, Lynn Cingari, Dr. Koontz (Chip’s Oncologist that made house calls when Chip was too weak to travel), Sam Gores and the whole Paradigm Agency (Sam was the one who arranged for Chip to travel from California to Michigan to surprise his son Max for his college basketball team’s senior day…watch here http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=14857467), and especially Chip’s daughter Val who took a semester off from Duke to take care of her Dad, THANK YOU! Not only have you helped a dear friend/family member through his toughest time, but taught us all how to be more human (crying hard again).

Friday’s reception’s theme followed another core Hooper value, sharing. Chip was giving of his time, money, loves, and passions that included food and wine. So the champagne for the toast, and wines served were from Chip’s personal cellar. The food (including Ben and Jerry’s) was some of his favorites. Chip’s incredible photographs (Lori and I have 3 hanging in our home, go to http://chiphooper.com/www/index.html) were displayed around the beautiful Sunset Center in Carmel, the perfect venue to hold a celebration of a great man’s life.

Uber lawyer Elliot Groffman started everything off by sharing a video that Chip watched all the time, sometimes on endless loop, and now I’m paying forward to you. Truly inspiring! https://www.ted.com/talks/louie_schwartzberg_nature_beauty_gratitude?language=en.

Please pay it forward. Call your friends and family, hug your kids and significant other…and please go to http://www.cfmco.org/about-us/fund-list/chip-hooper-foundation/ and give what you can.

P.s. Moving forward, the Aspen Live Conference will make a donation each December to The Chip Hooper Foundation as well as creating an annual award (the only one we will give each year) to honor those that follow Chip’s messages of passion, art, music, family and sharing.

 

 

 

SETH GODIN’S POST

February 1, 2016

Writing without anything to say is hard. Even with all the information that came out of the Aspen Live Music Conference’s 20th Anniversary in December, I still haven’t had the drive to tell you. Then today one of my marketing heroes, Seth Godin wrote his blog below (thanks Seth)…using the music business to make his point, and even mentions one of our amazing guest speakers from Aspen, Scott Borchetta (thank you Scott)…so knew I had to share it with you. Just wished I had written it.

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Living with your frustum

David Bowie left behind an estate worth about $100 million.

And there were perhaps five hundred musicians of his generation who were at least as successful. From Brown to Dylan to Buffet to Ross, there were thirty years of big hit makers.

That’s the top of the pyramid. Lots of people tried to make it in the music business, and there were many thousands at the top, hitting a jackpot.

In geometry, a pyramid without a top is called a frustum. Just a base, no jackpot.

The music industry is now a classic example…

The bottom is wider than ever, because you don’t need a recording studio to make a record. And you don’t need a record store to sell one. More musicians making more music than ever before.

And the top is narrower than ever. Fewer hitmakers creating fewer long-term careers. Radio is less important, shelf space is less important, and so the demand for the next big hit from the next reliable hitmaker is diminished. Without Scott Borchetta or someone similar leading you to the few sinecures left, it’s almost certain that you’ll be without a jackpot.

A similar thing happened to the book business, of course. The big bookstores needed a Stephen King, a Jackie Collins and a Joyce Carol Oates, because they benefitted from having something both reliable and new to put on the shelf. Printing a lot of copies and using a lot of shelf space is a gamble, best to bet on the previous winners. The ebook world doesn’t care as much.

The long tail, easy entry, wide distribution model does this to many industries. It’s easier than ever to be a real estate broker or to run a tiny dog shelter–easier, but harder to get through the Dip.

While the winner-take-all natural monopolies get the headlines and the IPOs, it’s not surprising that many industries are frustrating frustums.

The frustration, though, doesn’t come from the lack of a top to the pyramid. It comes from acting as if the peak is the point of the entire exercise. For more on this, check out Derek Siver’s honest and generous book.

The good news is that it’s entirely possibly you don’t need the peak of the pyramid. The leverage that comes from digital tools means that it’s entirely possible to do just fine (and have a powerful, positive life) without being David Bowie. Once you know that this is it, perhaps this might be enough.

Enough to make a difference and enough to make a life.

The way music used to be. And is again.