Posts Tagged ‘2009’

IT’S OFFICIAL…LIVE NATION AND TICKETMASTER TO MERGE

February 10, 2009

It has been reported…. well, everywhere but I took it from the Wall Street Journal’s online “MarketWatch” newsletter that…well they can say it better than me.

By MarketWatch
Last update: 1:50 p.m. EST Feb. 10, 2009
CHICAGO (MarketWatch) — Live Nation Inc. and Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. said Tuesday that they’ve agreed to merge in a $2.5 billion all-stock deal that would create the nation’s top ticket provider, artist-management group and concert promoter.

Wow, that’s a lot…”the nation’s top ticket provider, artist-management group and concert promoter.”  What does this mean to you and me for 2009?  Probably not much.  Although almost everyone who writes on the subject believes that this deal with pass national and international antitrust regulators (although there may have to be some concessions made), there will still likely be scrutiny on both sides of the the Atlantic…which takes time.  The all-stock deal is expected to be completed in the second half of 2009 according to MarketWatch, so one would assume that operations of the combined companies wouldn’t begin till January, 2010.  But what then?

Live Nation Entertainment, Inc will control most concert and professional sports venue ticketing, there is no question.  So fans, show producers and independent promoters won’t see “convenience charges” and other ticketing fees coming down anytime soon.  Frontline’s client’s aren’t going to drop their guarantees, so ticket prices aren’t coming down either.  Again, there is nothing really changing here.  The real bright spot in this deal could be fan service.

There are plenty of smart people at Live Nation and TicketMaster.  Put them together with talent, buildings, and technology, and the fan could actually end-up being the winner of this merger.  Call me a dreamer, but think about it for a second.  The buildings, sports teams and bands can’t put-up with poor customer service.  Lee Zeidman from the Staples Center/Nokia Live told me that if there is a customer with a ticketing problem of any kind, it doesn’t matter who is at fault (promoter, ticketing company, fan club, radio station, etc) it becomes his staff’s job to solve that problem.  The fan doesn’t know the difference, only that their sound sucks, can’t see the stage, didn’t get the seats they were promised, or whatever the issue is. 

So if everything we read is true and there is a merger, we should be able to count on better service for fans in 2010.  It only makes sense since it is in the artist, manager, promoter, producer, and ticketing company…everyone’s best interest to keep the fan happy. 

Talk with you soon…

Jim

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“IF I WERE… LAS VEGAS”

January 2, 2009

In the 70’s and 80’s (the years I was growing up) Las Vegas, the self proclaimed “Entertainment Capital of the World”, was known for inexpensive rooms, food and shows.  The resorts wanted guests at the tables gambling.  In the 90’s, Las Vegas started to shed its sin city reputation to attract families.  Now in 2009, the resorts themselves, shopping, shows, and restaurants have become as much of an attraction as gambling, free drinks, and legalized prostitution (my girls made a game out of collecting call-girl cards that were being handed out on the strip).  The above (minus the gambling, free drinks, and prostitution…except for the “trading cards” of course) are the reasons my family goes to Vegas.

Las Vegas can be great for families.  In one place you can find some of the best restaurants, shopping and entertainment in the world.  The problem is we can’t afford to do it anymore.  I bet we aren’t alone.

Now granted, my family is far from thrifty travelers.  But on the other hand, we drove to Las Vegas versus flying and stayed free on “points”.  We used sites like http://www.goldstar.com/home (my cousin Ann Leslie turned me on to this site) to purchase show tickets, used vouchers and coupons from the hotel, and even a gift certificate to eat one night…and we still couldn’t afford to do it again.  Las Vegas needs to drop its prices, stop building hotels and focus on customer service.

Here are the top 10 Things I would do…”If I were Las Vegas”.

  • 1) Drop your room prices in the nicer hotels. You want to make more money at the tables, save money for guests to gamble with.
  • 2) Have all your managers wait in the lines your guests have to.  That will put an end to that.  Two of my families favorite attractions (also way over priced) were the “Bodies” and “Titanic” exhibits at the Luxor.  We waited in a ticketing line for close to an hour. When we finally got to the ticket window, the person at the counter’s first question was “how will you be paying”.  I wanted to say “I’m not” but instead asked who told her to ask that as her first question…especially when someone has been waiting in line for an hour.  How about may I help you?  The woman at the counter told me “that was what she had been trained to say”. REALLY!!!!
  • 3) Wal-Mart is a discount store and even they have “greeters”.  All the big hotels need customer service people everywhere to point guests in the right direction.  If a guest has to spend all of their time finding their way around, then waiting in line, the guest will not be spending as much money with you as they should.
  • 4) Show ticket prices need to come down.  It costs as much to see “Mama Mia” in Las Vegas as it does on Broadway.  They are not of the same quality and thus should not charge the same ticket price.  The Cirque shows are of the same caliber (although some a little boring to me) so the hotels should pay to have them there and tickets should be $50, not $100 or more.
  • 5) Stop marketing to everyone who wears an “I’m with Stupid” T-shirt.  Middle America needs a place in Las Vegas just like everyone else, but it seems that that demo is a majority of the guests in the city.
  • 6) Use solar and wind power. You are in the desert and one thing that really turns-off many potential guests is the vast amount of resources used in your city.  Use the desert to your advantage and watch a whole new breed of guest come in.
  • 7) Per the above, start a new strip that is totally “green”. An entire new city where there are no cars, all power is from clean energy sources, and water and all other resources are recycled, etc.
  • 8) Bring in more mid-level priced restaurants.  It seems that your choices are either pizza and hot dogs or something that starts with “Le” which is code for very expensive.  How about restaurants that aren’t chains where entrée prices are in the high teens to mid-twenties?
  • 9) Widen the sidewalks. Guests love to walk the strip but don’t like being pushed around.  All the sidewalks should be as wide as they are by Luxor.
  • 10) Would someone please build an amusement park in Las Vegas!!!  The Adventure Dome at Circus-Circus just doesn’t cut it. In fact, someone should take a wrecking ball to that hotel.  They can leave the dome.

If there were a number 11, it would be to help pay to widen I-15 as there is way too much traffic on that freeway.

With all that said, I hope Las Vegas and everyone else in the live entertainment business has a great 2009.  As always, I look forward to your comments and encourage you to write a piece for the LiveWorks Newsletter.

Happy New Year!

Jim

“My Heros Have Always Been”…Promoters?

November 12, 2008

I always loved that song – with the word promoters replaced with the actual lyric cowboys of course.  But the title of this newsletter is true.  There are three giants of the live and branded live entertainment businesses that make up a majority of TAG Events & Entertainment DNA.  They are Walt Disney, Bill Graham, and PT Barnum.

Here is how our three DNA strands come together.  Walt Disney created the ultimate Experiences in everything he did, whether it was the first full-length animated motion picture or the first themed amusement park (although I do believe that there was a park that opened a month before that did nursery rhymes and that kind of stuff).  Concert promoter Bill Graham always remembered that what was most important were the Audience and the Talent, while P.T. Barnum was the best at Communicating the Experiences his Audiences would have at his shows.

Over the past 10-years or more, we in the live business have moved away from these three simple principles of creating amazing, once in a lifetime experiences for audiences, and then properly communicating those experiences to that audience.  Tonight let’s look at Communicating and a few ideas to remind you how easy and fun our jobs can be.

Promotions, and the planning and execution of them are a lost art form.  To start with, we in the live business seem to think that ticket giveaways are the only form of promotion.  Giving away tickets is only a promotion if you can keep a story going on-air.  “The 25th caller wins…” isn’t a promotion because the jock isn’t on-air long enough to make it exciting.  Now, having a station broadcast live while Playboy Playmates give away tickets to an upcoming UFC fight at a Chevy dealership, that is a promotion.  It is amazing that we have the ultimate Experiences and are just not that good at communicating it.

Have you seen the print ads and outdoor that Virgin America has been running lately?  Those ads do a great job of communicating an experience; and they are an airline.  Would you rather fly or go see your favorite team, singer, or family show perform?  Here are a few links for you to decide for yourself. http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://images.patronmail.com/pmailemailimages/132/116004/photo_1.jpg&imgrefurl=http://jessicamah.com/blog/%3Fp%3D330&h=600&w=500&sz=318&hl=en&start=1&usg=__wJF5Iqc2f1SBk5S2Fr0qur6R9FA=&tbnid=zvI8pH8ILZKhzM:&tbnh=135&tbnw=113&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dvirgin%2BAmerica%2Bads%26gbv%3D2%26hl%3Den

And now this… http://www.oldhandbills.com/images/060807/Bon_Jovi-Goo_Goo_Dolls-Staples_Center.jpg

Certainly not knocking Bon Jovi’s creativity here.  These are the current tools of our trade… :30 second radio & cable TV spots, 1/4 page print ads, email blasts that mostly get ignored, links on websites, flyering cars at the last minute, and all with very little description of what the fan will actually experience because we are too busy making sure we have all the sponsor tags, the right music beds of songs no one has ever heard of, and of course all the promoters names in there because that’s what is really selling the tickets.  There has to be another way.  Start experimenting.  Here are some ideas.

1) Double incentivize the talent or show with commissions on top of what they are already making in guarantees.  You will see the most action from direct to consumer marketing.  If bands can sell more tickets directly to their fans, let them make the ticket markups and commissions instead of you.  Get Talent working for you.

2) Family shows and sports are the only ones that seem to be able to handle group sales with any success.  The rest of us should take some lessons.  Start by assigning one person in your office as lead and come-up with a group sales strategy.  Look at pricing and models of the groups sales at buildings, sports and family shows and off you go.

3) Try media partners.  The idea of spreading shows across different stations, papers, magazines, etc, is just diluting your message in many cases.  2009 should be the end of the “Neutral Show” unless your show can sell no matter what.  By focusing on fewer media outlets, you should get a lot more bang out of it.

4) Use the economy for your promotions.  For instance, the average price for a gallon of gas in America is now down to $2.30 (not in LA).  If we can see a direct relationship between ticket sales and the price of gas, let’s promote that in a big way…while we still can.

5) Ringling shouldn’t be the only ones to do a “Circus Walk”.  It drives me crazy.  The animals have to get from the train to the gig somehow but PT Barnum turned it into an event in every city.   It still makes news everywhere.  Invent your own circus walk.

6) Guinness Book of World Records stunts get the media out every time.

7) Out hustle/work/promote your competitors.  I was watching a special on TV about Will Smith (the making of something) and they showed him goofing with the cameras.  He said the most interesting thing.  Something like, “you know why I win? Because while you are out partying, I’m working, while you are sleeping, I’m working, while you are watching TV, I’m working…”  Maybe take a lesson from Will.

Before we close, I also wanted to point out something from one of my previous posts, “Drop Your Prices Already”.  It was brought to my attention that artists like Metallica are back with a new album and tour.  Tickets are priced at $59.50, very reasonable.  AC/DC’s current tour is also scaled very sensibly.  As sports ticket sales fall-off in all but the largest cities, you in the sports community should be thinking about price as well.

Talk to you soon,

Jim