Posts Tagged ‘Dave Matthews’

THE WMA / ENDEAVOR MERGER

April 26, 2009

Well if it isn’t done yet, it will be very soon.  William Morris Agency will merge with Endeavor…probably by Monday afternoon.  Nikki Finke’s blog says the new company will be called WME Entertainment.  Those most effected by this merger are of course WMA and Endeavor agents (some of whom may lose their jobs) and CAA.  How will it change the face of entertainment?  It probably won’t. 

Truth is, although the agency business has changed a lot over the past 100-years, the agency business hasn’t really changed a lot over the past 100-years.  The primary job of an agent is still to find their clients work.  Negotiate on their behalf with studios, networks, producers, promoters, endorsers, etc, to get the best deal, and put their client in the most favorable light possible.  What the merger will do is create something new and shiny…and in a business where perception is everything, these guys will be carrying a nice head of steam. 

Of course with mergers comes job duplication…and layoffs.  If a business that is contracting, these people may find it tough going looking for new homes.  And although the merger certainly has the most dramatic effect on CAA, where does this leave UTA and Paradigm

Paradigm seems the stronger of the two due to its music roster which includes Cold Play, Dave Matthews, Phish, and Aerosmith.  If I’m UTA management right now, I would be eyeing Gersh, plus a music agency with a strong roster…maybe Dennis Arfa or The Agency Group. 

Well, lets see what the week brings us.  Hope you have a great one!

Speak with you soon…

Jim

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NEWS YOU CAN USE

March 25, 2009

Redlight Leaves a Light On

Industry veteran Nick Light has joined Coran Capshaw’s Redlight Management team and will be heading up their touring division.  Nick spent the last bunch of years as VP of Touring and Artist development for Warner Bros.,  before doing a quick layover at Sony as part of the Rick Rubin restructuring.  We are glad it didn’t take long for Nick to resurface. 

Matlins CMO At Live Nation

Old news for sure at this point, but as mentioned as a rumor in one of our newsletters a few months back, Seth Matlins is now officially the Chief Marketing Officer for Live Nation.  Seth comes from CAA where he was one of the leaders of their marketing divsion working with brands such as Coke, eBay, Harley Davidson and Starwood Hotels (that’s probably why Starwood is now the official hotel chain for Live Nation).  Hats off to Live Nation for the effort…and good luck to Seth. 

Layaway For All

Turns out that the ticket layaway plan we’ve discussed a few times in the newsletter that AEG’s festival division is doing for their Stagecoach Country Music Festival is actually being implemented across all of their festivals.  So, fans can buy tickets and “pay as you go” for Coachella, New Orleans Jazz Fest, Mile High, Bumbershoot, and Rothbury festivals.  Nice job!  Innovation is the key to the success and growth of Live Entertainment.

U2’s New Stage

Speaking of innovation, U2 is headed back out this summer…and back into stadiums.  Their rig looks just amazing!!!  http://360.u2.com/  This is innovation…bringing a show to the people.  Say what you want about the band, this is really cool!

How Will We Build New Arena Acts?

You hear this question over and over again…and yet we aren’t paying attention.  Nine Inch Nails, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Nickleback, Greenday, Foo Fighters, Dave Matthews, Pearl Jam, Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift, Hanna Montana…all play arenas.  Wake-up…keep building. 

Speak with you soon…

Jim

“IF I WERE…MICHAEL RAPINO

December 1, 2008

You can call me a sucker.  I bought Live Nation stock when it was at $20.  Friday it was trading at $4.89.  So why when Live Nation CEO, Michael Rapino had just announced that the company’s third quarter numbers were up significantly over 2007 would the stock price actually slip?  If you were to take out the sale of Live Nation’s motor sports division to Feld Entertainment, they were still up.  So why did the stock fall, and what can our friend Michael do to restore confidence on Wall Street?

In talking to friends who have also looked at the numbers, Wall Street just doesn’t seem to believe in Live Nation’s business model as it currently stands.  Their margins are just too small for analysts, investors, and if you own your own business, probably you too.  When Michael Rapino first took over as CEO of Live Nation, he spoke in public about the consumer’s “value proposition”.  Michael told us at conferences about his plans to make the “amphitheater experience” better.  He talked about food selection, price, the potential of taking out ARAMARK, etc.  Then what happened?  The realities of running a public company, quarterly numbers, and the like must have set-in.   That customer experience stuff was not heard about again.  Instead Live Nation’s message shifted to branding (Live Nation, Artist Nation, Fan Nation, House of Blues, Fillmore, etc), an international platform for brands to reach consumers (e.g. the Citi deal), and deals with Madonna, U2, and of course Carrot Top (just seeing if you were paying attention).  Brands, bands, and fans you might say.  Problem is the fans are last in this equation.  Now you add the Ticketmaster Entertainment scenario in there just for shits and giggles and it really becomes a migraine for Michael.

We will stay away from the Ticketmaster in this letter and just focus on Live Nation and Michael.  Starting with Jack Welch?  Well, Jack may be a business leader from the past, but his brave steps to form GE Capital and move General Electric away from less profitable businesses the company was known for such as small appliances (toasters, can openers, etc) make for a good example of what Michael and company need to do.  Live Nation needs to show Wall Street a plan and a leader that will get the company to the goal line.  So without further B.S., here are some of the things I would do…”If I were Michael Rapino”

·     HIRE SOMEONE FROM DISNEY PARKS TO RUN VENUE OPS – There needs to be a complete overhaul of everything (employee training, venue maintenance, F&B, VIP programs, ticketing, parking, security, transportation, etc).

·     BRING IN A CMO FROM A FORTUNE 500 COMPANY – Certainly Live Nation has its share of marketing pros to count on (Jim’s from the East, Brad in the West, Lulu in Texas, etc), but what our business needs is are marketers that are used to dealing with big ad agencies, big brands, big budgets, and have worked for publicly traded companies.

·     HIRE A CUSTOMER SERVICE CZAR – Disney, Ritz Carlton, Nordstrom, and other customer service culture oriented companies are great places to look.  Live Nation should stand for customer service.

·     TICKETING, OK I’M BREAKING MY PROMISE – Live Nation’s new ticketing system should bring them greater revenues from ticketing… in theory.  But with Ticketmaster Entertainment now owning a management company that supplies so much talent to Live Nation venues, Live Nation’s ticketing is looking much more complicated.  As stated in earlier LiveWorks Newsletters, Irving Azoff is an artist manager first and foremost.  So as an example, both Irving and his partner Howard Kaufman know that their client Jimmy Buffett is probably better suited to play outdoors.  The company Irving now runs makes out better (at first look anyway) if Buffett plays indoors.  Will Buffett play the amphitheaters next summer?  If he does, where do you think all the extra ticketing money Live Nation might be making on their new deal will be going???  Do you think ticket surcharges are going to go down?  Is it too late to talk to Irving about getting Barry Diller to buy LN out of their ticketing commitment???  Just asking.

·     MARKET THE EXPERIENCE – Maybe I sound like a broken record, but in this case LN has something special.  I believe strongly in the amphitheater experience… at least the old one.  Yes, for acts that carry huge productions, they may not be the best places to play.  But for the fan experience, when done right, there is noting like seeing a concert outdoors.  Just ask a Buffett, Dave Matthews, Grateful Dead, Tom Petty, James Taylor, Warped Tour, or any other artists’ fan that has frequented the “sheds” over the years.  Same can be said for many Live Nation clubs.  Have your newly hired CMO come up with some kick-ass marketing that reminds fans how much fun it is to be at a concert with your friends, family, etc.  It brings people together.  Gives them something to share.  That’s why fans buy the event shirt.  So they can show all their friends they were there.

·     FORBID PAPERING – Papering a show (giving away free tickets for gig that doesn’t sell) or selling-off lawn tickets for $10 after the show goes on-sale should not be allowed at any Live Nation show.  As Gene Simmons put it in his Keynote at the Billboard Touring Conference, “it is like letting the fox into the hen house” (can’t believe I just quoted Gene).   Fans find out about these things real fast, and the ones that paid full-price this time will wait for the free tickets or the fire sale the next time the act is through.

·     HIRE A CHIEF TECH OFFICER – This isn’t an IT guy.  This is someone like Joe Rospars.  Joe ran the tech side of Obama’s campaign, while the company he founded with his partners, Blue State Digital was responsible for the online fundraising.  Live Nation needs someone that can speak to music fans and figure out a way get those fans to help make new ones.  Fact is, in 2003 when Ann Marie Wilkins called me to contribute to Obama’s Senate run in Illinois, I had never heard of him.  He is now President Elect of the United States.  In early 2007, most Americans still hadn’t heard of our new President.  Guys like Joe can do a lot for our business.

·     BUY METROPOLITAN AND JAM – I know they certainly don’t want to sell to you and you may not want to buy them, but John, Jerry and Arny are all legends in our business with great relationships your people don’t necessarily have.  Do you really need one more competitor in markets that has seen nothing but turbulence?  Imagine the artists you could potentially promote in NY and Chicago with those guys on your side.  This seems like a no brainer to me…other than getting them to do it.

·     GO ON A ROAD SHOW – All of the above cost money and in the short term, earnings will suffer.  This could be hard for investors and analysts alike to swallow but you must remain strong.  Put a plan into place and then go out on the road and sell it to your entire staff, local “town hall meetings” and finally, Wall Street.  But don’t just go to NY.  Speak with analysts, traders, and business leaders in every community you do business in.  Let consumers see a face to Live Nation.

·     PRICES – We all know that on top of tickets, the prices for concessions, parking and merchandise are just too high.  With that said, it is funny that an act will make a comment on stage about the price of a beer, popcorn, or parking at a Live Nation venue but won’t say a word about those same prices (or even higher) in the arena.  Why is this?  In many cases, the fans feel ripped-off, and the bands feel they are being ripped-off.  This is a huge perception problem.  The answer is probably going to have to be a combination of dropping your prices to increase volume and positive PR in the short term.  Long range, we need to work on the “value proposition” because for whatever reason, our fans seem to have a problem with the $8 parking at your venue while football fans pay at least twice that and don’t seem to complain.

We have probably covered enough.  Again, my disclaimer is that I’m a Monday morning quarterback.  I don’t have to sit in Michael’s shoes everyday.  But I do feel that Jack Welch’s example is a good one here.  If you are really in this for the long term Michael, some of what is written above just might make sense to you.  To bring the live business back to health we need to think less about gross and more about number of tickets sold.  In the long run, getting more fans through the doors to experience live entertainment is the only way to win.  The concept of fewer bodies at a higher ticket price can only work for some acts and for so long.

Talk with you soon…

Jim

Irving Azoff’s Rock-n-Roll Rules

October 23, 2008

Irving Azoff used to have a saying (not sure if he still uses it or not), “Rock-n-Roll rules, I win or I win”.  And as a lot of you reading this know, he usually does.  So when Steve Kaul from The Agency Group sent around the Reuters story this morning about Ticketmaster buying-up Warner Music Group’s stake in Frontline Management, it didn’t surprise me…too much.  The question is what’s next and who’s making the next move?

I’m not going to cover the Warner Music of it all, since it doesn’t really relate to the live business.  As for Ticketmaster, one would assume that Frontline artists would no longer be playing for Live Nation, but with Irving never assume.  When Irving owned a big piece of AEG, it didn’t stop him from having his artists play for their competitors.  It is a manager’s job to do what’s in his or her client’s best interest and I’m pretty sure in Irving’s mind they are two separate deals.

The deal certainly gives Irving, Howard and company more power (as if they needed it) and could put Live Nation in a very interesting dilemma.  Artists like Jimmy Buffett, Aerosmith, Steely Dan, Alan Jackson, etc (Dave Matthews of course but that’s Coran Capshaw…who could still end up selling), are the reasons why seasons tickets, VIP packages, venue sponsorships, and even the Citi deal to some extent, still sell in LN’s venues.  Take those acts out of the equation and it could be trouble for not only the amphitheater business but for Live Nation’s House of Blues and Fillmore brands they are continuing to build.

Another big question is what does this mean to the ticketing business Live Nation is setting up?  What’s the next move there?  Does Live Nation try and sell their ticketing company to Ticketmaster?  Is now the best time to sell?  What does this all mean for AEG?  Do AEG and Ticketmaster now resume talks?  Does AEG consider selling to Live Nation (would this deal every pass the Feds)?  Who knows…

I leave you with the same question we started with, what’s the next move and who’s making it?

Would love your input.

Talk to you soon…

Jim