Posts Tagged ‘Billboard Touring Conference’


November 11, 2013

Industry icon, friend, beloved agent (always nice when you can use those two words together), and mentor, are just a few words people in music use to describe Steve Martin.  Steve resigned last week as President, N.A., at The Agency Group in NY.

No word yet on where Steve will be headed but this week’s Billboard Touring Conference should be like the NFL free agency for him.  I will be playing the part of Jerry McGuirge.  Blind bidding will commence on Friday.  You can send them to me.

Regardless, wishing Steve nothing but the best.  You will never find a more loved and respected person in our industry. Break a leg Steve (not a knee though)!!!



July 26, 2012

In the last newsletter, I mentioned that marketing guru Seth Godin would be giving the Keynote at Pollstar’s conference early next year (Advertising Age named him Marketer of the Decade). Thought his post today was worth sharing with you.   

Feet on the street

The complement to the brilliant strategy is the thankless work of lower-leverage detail.

An organization with feet on the street and alert and regular attention to detail can build more trust and develop better relationships than one than hits and runs.

  • Contact every user who stops using your service and find out why.
  • Create a newsletter for every journalist who covers your space, and deliver it every three weeks, even when you’re not asking for anything. Just to keep them in the loop.
  • Eagerly pay attention to people who mention you online and engage with them in a way that they prefer to be engaged.
  • Sponsor industry events and actually show up.
  • Write a thank you note every single day, to someone who doesn’t expect one.
  • Build your permission asset by 1% every day. Every day, 1% more people are eager and happy to hear from you.
  • Write a blog every day, not to sell, but to teach.
  • Connect people in your industry, because you enjoy it.
  • Host community meetings in your store.
  • Put a lemonade stand in front of your business and let the local kids donate the money to whatever charity they like.
  • Hand out free samples every chance you have.
  • Keep in touch with people who used to work with you and continue to help them get great gigs and new business, even years later.
  • Put together an honest buyer’s guide, pointing out in which instances your competitor’s products are a better choice.
  • Run classes for your customers.
  • Run classes for your competitors.
  • Build a recruiting pipeline that is in place more than a year before you need to hire someone.

None of this is sufficient. Your product and your strategy have to be brilliant. But a lot of it is necessary. Hearts and minds…

Coachella Cruise News

So, you should also get a follow-up on the Coachella Cruise.  Word from Goldenvoice is that the on-sale was strong and it should sell-out.  Keep looking outside your comfort zone.  You are bound to find new ways to make money. 

Irving  Speaking At Billboard

Billboard has announced their Keynote speaker for this year’s Billboard Touring Conference as well and it is none other than Irving AzoffRay Waddell is also bringing in the trio who produce Coachella Skip Paige, Bill Fold and Paul Tollett to discuss, fans, bands and more.  The event will take place in New York November 7-8.  Find out more here

Happy Hunting!


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 @     

Weekend Roundup…Late Again

November 3, 2011

Live Nation’s 3rd Quarter – Today Live Nation reported 3rd quarter revenue and earnings didn’t live up to expectations.  Revenue fell 2.5%…with concerts seeing a 7.3% drop due to lowered attendance.  Earnings were flat.  CEO, Michael Rapino said “We believe the stabilization of consumer demand for live events will continue into 2012 and, looking ahead, we are increasingly optimistic about our opportunities. Given the continued fan demand for concerts and a growing supply of artists hitting the road, we are optimistic about the future growth of the global concert industry.”  What do you think?

Billboard Conference – Next Wednesday, November 9th, I will be moderating the Tour and Production manager panel at the Billboard Touring Conference  The panel has some of the biggest names on the road (Richard Coble, Tour Manager, Britney Spears and Mariah Carey, Jake Berry, Production Director, U2, and Walking w/ Dinosaurs, Steve Lopez, Tour Manager, Widespread Panic, Max Loubiere, Tour Director, Billy Joel, Steve Lawler, Live Nation, and Steve Powell, Tour Manager, Jason Mraz and Avril Lavigne).  The question, what do you want to know from these guys?  Please send and questions or idea to

Concert Greening Project The North American Concert Promoters Association (NACPA) has underwritten a report by REVERB on “Concert Greening” with the stipulation that it be shared for free with the rest of the industry.  You can see it now at  Thanks to Ben Liss for sharing!

Steve Jobs Book Lefsetz said Walter Isaacson “missed the target” I don’t agree.  You hear from all sides of Steve’s life, the good, bad and ugly.  I would suggest you read it…and key-in on Job’s obsession with creating art over all else.  His goals were based not just changing the world, but changing the way “the masses” see art in everyday life.  For us lucky enough to work with art and artists, his passion should motivate us to strive harder toward perfection. 

Hope to see you in New York!


Top 10 Ways to Make Your Festival Successful

November 27, 2008

Last week I had the honor of moderating the “Festival Panel” at the Billboard Touring Conference in New York.  I hadn’t really wanted to do these type of things since starting the Aspen Live Conference (Dec. 11-13 @ St. Regis, Aspen, but when Ray from Billboard emailed me the list of panelist, it was an easy yes.  After all, we are talking about the best and most successful music festival producers in North America.

The panel; Chris Shields from Festival Productions (New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Newport Folk Festival, Playboy Jazz Festival, etc),  Charlie Jones from C3 Presents (Austin City Limits Festival, Lollapalooza, etc), Tony Conway from Buddy Lee Attractions (CMA Festival, Nashville…formerly Fan Fair), Chuck Morris from AEG-Live, Rocky Mountains (Mile High Festival, Rothbury), and Ashley Capps of AC Entertainment (Bonnaroo, Vagoose) really are the best at what they do.  Our Canadian representative got sick and was unable to…well represent.  The basic question that we were dealing with was the health of the festival business in North America.  Is there room to grow?  Are there enough headliners to go around and still have each festival keep its identity?  The easy answer to all is yes.

Tony Conway pointed out that the CMA Festival actually raised their ticket prices this year and are at this point well ahead of last year’s sales to date, without announcing a line-up (the event takes place in the spring).  On a call prior to our panel, Charlie Jones talked about how the Austin City Limits audience “must be trained or something”.  The fact is they are…trained to expect that the event will be well run, with great music and food, clean port-a-johns, plenty of places to get a bottle of water that doesn’t cost $4, amazing transportation system, and a friendly staff.  The ACL and CMA audiences are trained to expect quality and value.

Based on my notes from our panel, here is what the experts had to say…at least on that day is the TOP 10 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO MAKE YOUR FESTIVAL SUCCESSFUL!!!

1)      Know Your Market There is so much that goes into a festival’s workings, that without knowing about traffic patterns, neighbors, law enforcement, political issues, competition, and a whole host of other issues, you are setting your festival up to fail.  Chuck Morris pointed out that artists that aren’t big around the country can draw in Colorado.  One reason being radio station KBCO in Boulder.

2)     Community Relations – Each of our panelists at the Billboard Touring Conference had at least one story of how building relationships with community and business leaders, neighborhood associations, law enforcement, fire and rescue, parks & recreation officials, health department, and others gave them some kind of advantage.  Whether it was bidding on a new project, going into a new city, or getting into trouble and needing help, there is no substitute for being a good citizen.

3)     Over Deliver – Especially in year one, it is important to over deliver for your consumers and talent.  Even if it means the difference between breaking even and losing money, spend the extra to WOW the audience.  It keeps them coming back…”trains them”.

4)     Price – Price is very much tied to knowing your market, but for some reason, festival pricing is much more sensitive than regular live entertainment pricing.  Your customers really want to feel they are getting their money’s worth since there is an assumption that what ever they are going to see will be watered down (music act will play a shorter set without their production, food festivals will give you smaller portions than the restaurant would, etc).

5)     Transportation & Housing – This really should be 2 if not 4 separate departments of your festival team.  Certainly if you going to have 2 departments you need to separate responsibilities between those that handle transportation or housing for artists and crew and those that will get the audience from place to place.  Housing is a place not to be overlooked.  Every try to get a hotel in a city where there is a large festival?  Good luck!

6)     Booking Talent – The strong message here is that anyone can book a really big headliner; it is the whole package that makes a festival. Remember, a festival is more than a line-up it is about passion.

7)     Camping vs. “City” Festivals – Our panel all believed that the growth in North America would be more in the non-camping festival model (ACL, Jazz Fest, CMA Fest, etc).  With that said, Rothbury only started-up last year in Michigan and it is a camping festival.

8)     Food & Beverage – Every producer will tell you about the part that food and beverage play in the overall feel of your festival.  With festivals like New Orleans Jazz & Heritage and Austin City Limits, the food has become almost as much of a draw as the music.  Also price was a big topic.  Some people just have a problem with $4.50 for water.

9)     Technology Is Your Friend – Use technology whenever and wherever possible to make your fan’s experience more enjoyable.  Things like an event schedule that consumers can customize to plan their day at your festival have become necessity.

10)  Build a Model – All of our panel’s festival producers pointed out that once you had a model that worked, you could reproduce that model in other cities and with other festivals.  The key here is experience.

If there was an 11, it would have to be staying out of trying to do a festival if you have no experience.  Better to partner with someone like those listed above who already have their “models”, and can make things run smoothly for you.  Going in head first without learning to swim can make all of us drown.

Talk to you soon,


Book To Read

November 20, 2008

It must of been at least a week or more since Bob Lefsetz wrote about Malcolm Gladwell’s (prior Aspen Live Speaker… 2008 dates Dec. 11-13 @ St. Regis, Aspen) new book, “Outliers, The Story of Success”.  Bob talked in his letter about “how he couldn’t put it down.”  He was and is right.  Go pick “Outliers” up today.  It is a great book!  I also believe (haven’t confirmed, but how many Floms who are famous lawyers in NY are there?) there is a whole chapter on our friend Jason Flom’s father, Joe.

I’m in New York this week for the Billboard Touring Conference.  So far in speaking to people attending, the news is not good.  Concert promoters from across North America are saying that sales are down on everything “except slam dunks like AC/DC” (I can’t tell you how many times I heard that exact line on Wednesday).  The news reported the U.S. automaker B.S. as the stock market dipped below 8000.  Michael Moore (prior Aspen Live speaker…2008 dates Dec. 11-13 @ St. Regis, Aspen) is on Larry King right now on my TV giving his solution to Detroit.  He says, give the automakers the money, but make them build what the government tells (hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles, mass transit, etc) them to build, like Roosevelt during WWII (aircraft, tanks, etc).   This is some out of the box economic thinking from a film maker, don’t you think.

We in the live business need to innovate and think more like Michael Moore (will leave the shameless plug out this time).  Since the shit storm seems to be hitting New York and Detroit the hardest at the moment, let’s work on ideas for helping the Detroit Live Entertainment and Branded Live Entertainment businesses.  New York is a lot to take on with a plethora of entertainment options.  Detroit is a better target.

With the doom and gloom hitting Detroit right now, what ideas do you have to help our friends there sell more tickets to more people more often?

BTW, if you are in New York for the Billboard Conference, please come to the Festival Panel at 10:45 am that I’m moderating.  It is a great group of people to ask questions to about big event and festival producing.

Please send me your ideas and talk to you soon…