March 29, 2015

Aspen Live, like Allen & Company’s Sun Valley Conference and TED Talks, is about sharing ideas, and we plan to do a lot more of that here (in our newsletter, as well as

In December you will be able to catch highlights from Aspen Live’s 20th Anniversary party.  Till then, we will share information from time-to-time that is worth spreading.  The first is a TED Talk from Harvard Business School’s Amy Cuddy on body language.  Watch it here

Here is a brief explanation from the site: Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.

Want to share an idea or submit a guest post?  Please send any and all ideas to

You can and should register for the Aspen Live Conference here:









March 18, 2015

For the 20th Anniversary of the Aspen Live Conference (Dec 10-13, 2015), it was important to reward our alumni with a presale.  In today’s live entertainment landscape, and in music specifically, presales have gotten completely out of hand, confusing the public and burying our message.

This year’s Aspen presale has been our biggest on-sale in twenty years! Here are three lessons we’ve learned from our presale:

1.   Reward Your Best Customers – For Aspen Live’s 2015 registration kickoff, we opened the gates with an offer to our alumni with special pricing.  Only past guests were notified.  Your goal (like ours) should be servicing your alpha fan, not creating hype or even demand.  That can be a byproduct but not in your sites just yet.  You are there to say “Thank You!” We did, and it worked.

2.   One Presale, No More – Aspen is running one presale with an expiration date, which gives our alumni enough time to react, but not so much time that they procrastinate (REMINDER to Aspen Alums, Friday is your last day to save at  Offering multiple presales makes it feel like no one wins… and have you heard our (live music business) radio spots lately?  “American Express customers blah, blah, blah, with an on-sale to the general public on blah, blah, blah (spoken so fast, you can’t hear the dates).  Use your Citi Visa or MasterCard and get a Sherpa to carry you and your friends to your heated seats where a cold Pepsi, the choice of a new generation, will be waiting for you…part of the Bud Light Concert Series, Ford Trucks, and Jiffy Lube.Holy sheep shit!

3.   Make Your Value Proposition Compelling – Not only were Aspen community members given $100-off registration, guests also had first choice on hotel room categories with significant discounts for those who got in first.  It was a simple process that worked far better than we could have imagined.  The first 20 rooms were sold at $175 per night…that’s right, IN ASPEN. The second 20 were $185, then $200, and now $280.  If you acted quickly enough, you saved over $100 per night…and another $100 (minimum) on registration.  What can you “bundle” for your guests so they feel they lose if they don’t act?

If the three easy steps listed above can work for a music conference, it will work for you. Just make sure you plan as far in advance as you can (within reason).




July 13, 2014

We are told to act confident; that people who do-so in public are the most successful. The truth is, if someone is acting overly confident chances are they aren’t very competent. Dr. Tomas Chamarro-Premuzic Ph.D. has written a whole book on the topic, Confidence: Overcoming Low Self-Esteem, Insecurity, and Self-Doubt. His research has shown “the main difference between people who lack confidence and those who don’t is that the former are unable (or unwilling) to distort reality in their favor”. Meaning if you act like hot shit, you probably are not.

Of course high achievers can also be confident due to their exceptional competence. But as Dr. Chamarro-Premuzic observed, this level of talent exists in very few of us. Doesn’t it make sense that these same high achievers actually lack confidence, which is what drives them? Could your low self-esteem actually be the catalyst to success? Doesn’t lack of confidence drive us to try harder, dig deeper, and become more competent? Commonsense says yes. What else could explain why superstar quarterback Tom Brady is the last to leave practice each night? He wants to be the best on the field.

Many have heard of the 7-P’s. In the military, those P’s stand for “Prior Proper Planning Prevents Pathetically Poor Performance”, and it can translate to every aspect of your life (family, friends, work, even spiritually). Concert production folks will tell you “it is all about the advance”. You can translate this to building competence breeds confidence, and that’s exactly what Chamarro-Premuzic points out in his book.

Do not give-up on your continued education through life. Never stop striving to improve competence. The confidence will come. Embrace your insecurity, and turn it into expertise!


May 28, 2014

If you read the newsletter regularly (when it is actually written), you know I like to share wisdom from marketing guru Seth Godin from time-to-time…and always when he writes about music.  Please see below from Seth.  Sign-up for his daily blog for bits of wisdom every day without fail (the guy is amazing).

The problem with hit radio

When you only listen to the top 40, you’re letting the crowd decide what you hear.

And if you consume nothing but the most liked, the most upvoted, the most viral, the most popular, you’ve abdicated responsibility for your incoming. Most people only read bestselling books. That’s what makes them bestsellers, after all.

The web keeps pushing the top 40 on us. It defaults to ‘sort by popular,’ surfacing the hits, over and over.

Mass markets and math being what they are, it’s likely that many of the ideas and products you consume in your life are in fact, consumed because they’re the most popular. It takes a conscious effort to seek out the thing that’s a little less obvious, the choice that’s a little more risky.

Popular is not the same important, or often, not the same as good.

• Email to a friend •


May 4, 2014

The best way to show you what you can accomplish at the Aspen Live Conference in December (11-14) is to share the note below I received over the weekend from Felice Mancini, CEO of The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation.

Hi Jim – thought you’d like to know that as a result of meeting the StubHub folks in Aspen in Dec., this was a result after some follow-up and starting a relationship. In addition to the concert proceeds, we also got a $250K grant from StubHub Foundation. I hope all is well. Thank you Felice!!!

Added to above, we are excited to announce our first program slotted for December, a very special Q&A with the Co-founder of Q Prime Management (Metallica, Chili Peppers, Black Keys, Muse, Cage the Elephant, Eric Church, Silversun Pickups, etc.) the one-and-only Peter Mensch. Have you ever even seen Peter at a conference before? Now you can be face-to-face in the intimate surroundings of Aspen (special thanks to Marc Reiter)

Today (Sunday, May 4), is your last chance to save $100 on registration for Aspen Live, 2014. Go to and save both on your registration and hotel room. If you’ve never attended, reach-out to a few friends who have. They will tell you what I’m telling you now; register your business will thank you for it.

As always, thanks to those that make Aspen Live possible, Bill Young Productions, Goldstar Events, StubHub, TicketFly, the Voice Media Group, and you!


April 7, 2014

Do you use Average Ticket Price to measure success on your shows?  If yes, please stop, it is a façade.

I (probably like you) have always used average ticket price as a measuring tool.  It is what we learned and it makes sense.  That is until Jim McCarthy, CEO of Goldstar Events did some simple math on a whiteboard and the light bulb went off.  We (concerts, sports, theatre, family, etc.) should be looking at Revenue Per Seat, not Average Ticket Price.

Lets say you and I were playing a show at your local arena and tickets were $500.  We sold 4-tickets to our family members but the rest of the 15,000 capacity room goes unsold.  What’s our average ticket price?

Average ticket price is calculated by taking your show gross and dividing by the number of seats you sold…so your average ticket price in the above scenario is $500 even though the promoter will be eating Cup of Noodles for a while.  Average Ticket Price = gross / number of seats sold.

Revenue Per Seat = gross / total number of seats.  This formula gives you much more accurate data as you are counting unsold tickets as selling for $0.  Average ticket price doesn’t really tell you anything…especially standing on its own.

In music and live entertainment, we talk about moving to a dynamic pricing model similar to the travel industry.  Well, airlines measure Revenue Per Seat while hotels and cruises, Revenue Per Room.  The average doesn’t tell them how full their properties are, just how much they are getting per sale.  It is a number that doesn’t really mean anything.

As the Blues Brothers once said, “we are on a mission from god”.  Our mission is to use revenue per seat versus average ticket price.  Please remember, although we are used to looking at the gross and average ticket, it doesn’t tell you what you need to know.  It doesn’t tell you anything.

Please share this mission with everyone!