Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

TRANSPARENCY

June 26, 2011

I’ve been scared to write.  I believe in transparency.  The idea that you can find someone on Facebook, LinkedIn, or through a Google search and learn almost everything you want about the person you’re interested in is a good thing.  Yet since last June’s Food & Music festivals, those that are owed money and believe me a crook write horrible things emails every time a new newsletter is posted. 

What sucks is that they are right.  It shouldn’t matter what the circumstances are, if you make a deal with someone, you stand by it.  Since last summer, some have been owed tens of thousands of dollars without seeing a penny…or a timeline for when they will get paid. People who worked hard, fronted money and believed in a concept…believed in me.  Without new investors and/or winning a few court cases, there is no money to pay anyone (restaurants, performers, vendors, crew, etc).  Since the newsletter seems to aggravate the situation, it seemed better to just try to work on what I can change…since you can’t change minds with words (well, maybe if you are Gandhi but not me) only action.

Here is what I do know.  In the internet age, there is no hiding.  In 20-plus years in the business, I’ve never stiffed anyone.  The plan isn’t to start now.  We will close with new investors and win a settlement or two in the process.  The brand isn’t the food festival, or any of the other projects over the years, it is Jim Lewi

I believe in the new things we are trying to create (especially the food and music festival), the old models that work (such as the Aspen Live Conference heading for year 16) and projects still on the drawing board.  A few big fumbles doesn’t make a player.  What you do with your career, life…how you conduct yourself moving forward, that’s what matters. 

It is taking much longer than it should, which is frustrating as hell, but everyone owed money will be paid.  If you are reading this and have your doubts, there are multiple plans in place to change your minds.  Till then, no more being scared to write the newsletter as trust is something earned and with transparency, there is no hiding.

See you soon…

Jim

 

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LESSONS FROM THE ASPEN CONFERENCE

January 7, 2011

This year’s Aspen Live Conference was one of our best yet.  Although I can’t speak for every member of the Aspen Family, below are some bullet points of important items discussed, learned, and debated.  Please comeback with comments and ideas.

  • Overplaying – Because most artists aren’t making their money from record sales and publishing anymore, touring has become a vital part of keeping cash flowing.  The problem discussed; some of us continue to book the same acts in the same markets over and over as we watch their business fall off.  This hurts everyone…fan, promoter, and especially artists.
  • Pricing – It really was the same old debate…ticket prices and ancillary charges are too high for fans…certainly for them to take a chance on discovering something new.  The only answer is for each one of us to take responsibility for and do our best to bring prices down.
  • Posse – This is blowing up in Australia and seems like a good idea.  Instead of just letting your friends know about a show you want to see like you would on Facebook, fans actually get commissions for each ticket that they sell.  Check it out… http://www.posse.com/home/index.  We did debate how that works in terms of credibility (your friend may just be sending you this to make money), but that’s not really how the internet works.  You don’t spam your friends (although many of you do and need to stop)…and fans are passionate about “their acts”.  We should get this going in the U.S. big time!
  • Don Strasburg’s Facebook Campaigns – Most of us can agree that Don Strasburg from AEG Denver is a great, passionate promoter.  He has followers on Facebook…creates cool contests…and the fan feels like they are on the inside because of it.  He is selling tickets, but more importantly building a community to help sell tickets for him.
  • Goldstar vs. Groupon – We were lucky enough to have 2 people from Goldstar attend Aspen this year, including the Co-CEO and founder of the company.  Some concert promoters use Goldstar and some don’t.  Both services are about discounts no doubt. I’ve received some pretty strong responses to Goldstar and whether they are good for the business.  Theatre, Sports, and Family has gotten squarely behind these services because they are selling “remnant inventory”.  Our group pointed out that it is different with most theatre, sports, and family shows since they usually play multiple dates in the same city.

 Currently, Groupon sells tickets at half the retail price and takes 50% of the sale on top, leaving the promoter with a “trickle” of revenue that doesn’t make up much.  As for those guests spending more money on ancillaries, most of my experience has been that “paper” or discounted ticketed guests actually spend less at the shows than the fan that paid full-price.  From everything we heard (and continue to see), you can really work with Goldstar.  They don’t take a 50% commission on the ticket…you can limit the number of tickets you give to them to sell (which works best prior to the on-sale)…and based on what I’ve seen recently, they even sell full-priced tickets (New Cirque show in LA)…so they can make for good marketing partners regardless. http://www.goldstar.com

 The argument to use these services…their members wouldn’t normally buy a ticket for your show.  As stated above, everyone who uses these sites is looking for a deal.  At the same time, some believe that fans will find the cheapest tickets no matter what and that we are selling a ticket at half of what the guest is willing to pay.  What do you think?

  • Customer Service – As the world gets better at customer service, we seem to stay stagnate.  Employees at our shows are not usually well-informed or trained properly.  In many cases this lack of information gives guests the opposite effect as the desired intent by management.  We need to spend more money and time in training everyone who touches the consumer.  When you go to a Disney Theme Park, every cast member can give you directions to anything.  Try asking one of your parking attendants or security people how to get somewhere and see what happens. 
  • Four Square – The jury seems to be out on whether this is a good tool for live entertainment and music or not.  If there was a consensus it was that like everything else in life, using Four Square is a case-by-case.  It may work for some and not others.
  • Filters / One Place To Go – There is still room and a need for filters to spread the word about live shows and music in general.  Fans and potential fans need one place to go (like a Google) where they can find all information.  Marc Geiger and company had this concept long ago with ArtistDirect.  It can suck sometimes to be too far ahead (as Marc and Don seemed to be) of the curve before everyone has caught-up.  Personally, my finger points to the labels here and their need to own the artist’s sites.  Eventually there will be one place to go…currently it seems to be iTunes although you can’t buy tickets…yet.
  • Marketing Materials – Well, if we are going to overplay our talent, let’s at least show them a new look.  Steve Kelly from Bill Young Productions talked about showing (in TV and Web) or talking about (radio and print) the new stage, something amazing the fan will experience, etc, versus the same old – same old.  U2 is doing this with the 360 Tour on their website…and as a fan; I couldn’t wait to see what the stage was going to look like.  We need to look into this much harder.
  • Quality Is A Problem – Again talked about forever, but with the live business now meaning so much to an artist’s livelihood, actually being good is more important than ever.  Everyone agrees there should be fewer releases…but we are talking about actually having fewer artists put out more material.  Remember when your favorite group would release two-albums a year?
  • Facebook Ads Sell Tickets – Almost everyone in Aspen could agree that their most cost-effective, measurable, and fun way to market shows is through Facebook.  Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or whatever, the important thing is to have a conversation versus a monologue with fans.
  • Reward Programs – Reward programs work for airlines, movie theatres, supermarkets, drugstores, theme parks, banks and credit cards, hotels, rental cars, gasoline, retailers of every kind, even pot dispensaries…why are we still not onboard with this?  Start a program today.  You could bring in some of the good people who have just been laid-off that know this stuff…Like Piper Taylor formerly of Live Nation as an example. 
  • Back To Singles Business – Lefsetz pointed out that we are back to a singles business.  Young music consumers are not out getting the full album; they want the song they like or their friends like.  Knowing this is the case, how do we take advantage of this fact? 
  • Jennie from Guerilla Marketing – Many from our group are fans of Jennie from Guerilla Marketing.  One quote was “she really understands the artist”. 
  • Mix Match Music – http://www.mixmatchmusic.com.  This is a fun website that actually serves several purposes…but really it’s about fan engagement and interaction.
  • Mobile Roadie – You want to create a mobile app for your artist, show, whatever… http://mobileroadie.com/  
  • Bandzoogle – Want to build a website for your artist, show, convention, etc, and don’t have a lot of money…not too internet savvy?  My good friend Jon Topper (manager of moe.) turned me onto this site.  If I can build a website with them, anyone can.
  • Search Engine Optimization – Not sure where we ended-up on this subject as there doesn’t seem to be an easy fix.  If a fan types an artist’s name into a search engine, they will most likely find Stub-Hub and sites like it on the top of the list…and I’m not talking about the ads at the top that are put in a different color to show they are ads, I’m talking about the regular searches.  A fan, promoter or ticketing company site is usually a few spots down.  What happens is that some fans that don’t know better will Google phrases like “Rolling Stones Tickets”…see that they are $1000 a piece and turn away.  They never realize that just a few spots down there are tickets for sale at face value.  No answer came out of our meetings, but that doesn’t mean we should drop the issue. 
  • Taylor Swift On-Sales – A question was asked on why Taylor Swift put her shows on-sale for next summer in 2010 (they all sold-out btw).  The answer everyone came up with is that they wanted to strike while the iron is hot.  If they waited, many of Taylor’s fans may fall-off…this way they stay engaged. 
  • Business with Friends – This is really what the Aspen Conference is all about.  It is much easier, smarter and quicker to do business with people who you know, trust and care about than to just serve up your goods to the highest bidder.  In sales they always say that you don’t make money on your first sale…it is about repeat business.  Why would it be different in your business?

 Our dates are set for Aspen Live 2011 so mark your calendars now.  Our dates are December 8-11.  Stay tuned for more information.

Happy New Year!

Jim

ASPEN LIVE 2010

September 27, 2010

Our goal for this year’s Aspen Live Conference (December 9-12) is to really make a difference…innovate and grow our business.  We want this conference to be all about your wants and thus are using Jeff Jarvis’s model from What Would Google Do? to build this year’s program. 

Below are some of the ideas that many of you have already sent in and are in no particular order. 

–          Try developing our own business again

–          More of a “Tech presence” this year…Social Media, Ticket Sales Platforms, etc

–          How do different marketers relate to one another so as to collaborate outside of our industries?

–          Sourcing those who are marketing without even knowing it and taking their ideas/successes and applying to our businesses.

–          Getting buy in on doing things for the right reasons and social benefit which will translate into success on other levels.

–          Making the conference more appealing to younger end talent by lowering cost/admission or creating viral option.

–          Indentifying and analyzing the real issues that will impact our abilities to sustain, expand and compel our business.

–          Attendees:  People who consume our product, such as 

  1. film
  2. television,
  3. concert goers and 
  4. video games producers

–          Expand to include more areas of music people, such as  

  1.  
    1. managers 
    2. label guys 
    3. producers
    4. studio owners 
    5. promoters
    6. venue managers

–        Bring back some of the regulars that haven’t been with us for a few years

 –          Speakers from: 

  1. Doug Fox from Beaver Productions;
  2. Google;
  3. Facebook; 
  4. People that do product placement and sponsorships; 
  5. Derek Sivers;
  6. Someone from old media, i.e. newspaper or magazine that have made a successful transition to internet; 
  7. A Venture Capital person to give feedback on what financial people think is wrong with the music business;
  8. John Bolton of SMG who manages BOK Center. He took it from not even on the map to number to #9 in the USA and #24 in the world based on Pollstar’s tracking of ticket sales

 –          Outside speakers but not if they will lose people over the necessity of paying for them… more people that are inclined to come anyway that have something to say, like Ian Rogers, the Next Big Thing guy, obviously Bob.

 –          Some new blood would be good…each of us could make an effort to get someone new to come the group

 –          Circulate a few, like 2 or 3, main topics in advance to get things moving.

 –          The Agency Group NYC once called “Awkward Lunch” where 5 or 6 totally random people are forced to arrange a time to have a meal together. Perhaps we can do an Awkward Breakfast where you assign 8 very random people into groups to eat their breakfast together at 8am for an hour.

 We are also planning to reach-out to the brand, ad agency, and corporate world as we are now more and more in partnership with them. 

Keep the ideas coming…  We will have the website up soon.

Thanks!

Jim

CLUB PASSPORT UPDATES…

September 20, 2009

It is good to know that all of you are alive and well.  The last LiveWorks Newsletter on Live Nation’s new Passport got a lot of you writing… whether it by email or Facebook.  In that time, I’ve learned a lot.  First from our friends Debbie Speer at Pollstar and Jim Steen from Live Nation who informed me that I had it wrong on the number of venues in each market that are participating.  It is all Live Nation clubs (and some small theatres), not one per city.  Then came the rest…

Going back to the last LiveWorks Newsletter https://liveworksnews.wordpress.com/2009/09/17/livenations-passport/ again, we talked about our conversations at the Aspen Live Conference (this year’s dates are Dec. 10-12 @ the St. Regis, Aspen…please call (310) 385-2800 and ask for Jim for more info) regarding “Season Passes” at clubs to help grow developing artists.  More specifically, the problems agents and managers might have with this concept.  Well, look no further than the Live Nation’s website for your answers. 

For instance, take LA where I live.  The Wiltern Theatre has 28-shows remaining this year according the calendar on their website.  Of those, Club Passports can only be used at three; Billy Squier, Enanitos Verdes, and Moby.  The House of Blues Sunset’s percentage is better.  According to their website, of the 25-shows (excluding Sunday Gospel Brunches) remaining on their schedule, the Club Passport is good for 9.  But before you get too gitty, the “new music” fans will be discovering include Better Than Ezra, Dinosaur Jr., The Sippy Cups (guessing this is either a kid’s group or a new fad from The Hills), and K.C. & The Sunshine Band.  Looks like not too many managers or agents bought into the concept of having the Club Passports competing against their artist’s hard tickets.  I’m not sure what’s going on in the real world, but many of you wrote screaming foul and pointing at Live Nation.  Is it really them?

I’m going to stay out on my limb and continue to say that no matter what, Live Nation’s Club Passport is good for our business.  If it does nothing but generates publicity for Live Nation, that’s still drawing attention to Live Entertainment and Branded Live Entertainment. It still gets a dialogue going about concerts.  How about a few more of you sign-on with Live Nation’s program and see where it gets you?  What are you doing to help after all? 

It is time to innovate…and I for one think we should start with our marketing!  Who is going to have the first TV or Radio spot that looks and sounds like those of “national brands”?  When are we going to see our industry take a serious look at communicating with consumers?  Not talking at them but with them.

Let’s get a movement going!  It can start at our next “Dinner Club”.  The summer is just about officially over now and it is time to get to work.  How about Wednesday, October 7th for our next Dinner Club meetings?  For those who have never been, it is time you came.  Put the date in your calendar and stay tuned for the times and locations in your city (some locations may choose a different date too) or area.  It isn’t so much about dinner as it is drinks and socializing.  Sharing ideas face-to-face.  You know, LIVE!!!

Till then…speak with you soon…

Jim