Posts Tagged ‘fans’


August 7, 2009

The idea of the last LiveWorks Newsletter was to point out how innovators like C3, Goldenvoice/AEG Live, Superfly/Ashley Capps/Coran Capshaw, CAA, William Morris, Madison House…and Kevin Lyman have changed the landscape of the U.S. Concert Business through their festival development…and challenges the rest of us to try to live-up to their example.  So when I first saw a few jumping on Kid Rock’s bandwagon to tear Kevin down (in my mind Rock was the only one who should have been dissing and even he admits that he likes Kevin), my blood pressure started rising fast (those of you who know me have seen that before).  But then…Lefsetz started posting the flood (only way to describe it) of support for Kevin Lyman.

It was heartwarming to see so many bands, managers, agents, promoters, sponsors, fans…everyone say WE LOVE KEVIN… AND THIS IS WHY vs. ARTHUR FOGEL IS A LIAR (which we still saw too much of).  Here are some facts to chew on…

1) The U2 tour is doing very well whether you like their new album or not.  They are an amazing live band, always do groundbreaking production,  and unless you are in the box office counting the drop every-night, you shouldn’t be commenting on other’s ticket sales (unless you are Bob Lefsetz as he is our business’s commentator and conscious…and the reason we have these dialogues in the first place).

2) A new trend the business is seeing, and adapting to as much as possible is seating preferences.  P1 seats continue to sell in this economy.  So do P3’s and beyond.  P2’s not so much.  What you might see in a stadium concert is a show that is 98% sold-out and still has an empty section that looks like it is down-front. Just because the promoter/building/band wants to fill it in, doesn’t mean the show didn’t make money, and most of the capacity sold.  Maybe I’m totally wrong, but if you don’t know for sure, don’t call someone a liar!

3) Like the Festival Producers listed above,Arthur Fogel has changed our industry.  Bono and Madonna think he is the rock star!  He basically owns the top of the box score artists.  If you are talking shit about
Arthur, you are just jealous or pissed!  Me, I would rather do business with him than not. 

4) In case you haven’t noticed over the past couple of days, The Lefsetz Letter has us all talking.  Managers, agents, promoters, lawyers, business managers, label people, sponsors, fans, even rock stars (although I’m not sure if Madonna knows that Bob actually types on a computer and doesn’t write with a pen…but even she is talking about his fishing tackle).  Ok, so he doesn’t always get the facts perfect…but I don’t think that’s the point.  Bob, like the rest of us wants to see change for the positive.  Sometimes he needs to say things in a certain way to piss people off and get them talking (he never told me that but I’m guessing it is the case). 

With the way the world sits right now, our business should be pulling together instead of knocking each other down.  We should be encouraging Kevin Lyman and those like him to continue to innovate and create new vehicles.  It was awesome the way everyone wrote to Bob to tell “Kevin stories”.  We should all encourage and take part in the fun debate that happens as part of the Lefsetz Letter.  We should do the same for anyone who is trying to make a difference!

Hope you have a great weekend…and sell tickets (instead of giving them away)!

Speak with you soon…




January 21, 2009

What is it going to take to make us change our ways in Live Entertainment?  Why do we still do such a bad job at marketing our shows and events?  There are probably hundreds of reasons, but through a little un-scientific research (calls out to some of you) we have identified the 10 most obvious things you can do to improve your Live Entertainment marketing.

  1. WORK ON FEWER PROJECTS – This was the number one answer by far.  You can’t tell a member of the media, fan or anyone else that “this is the greatest show ever” three times a week. 
  2. HIRE MORE QUALIFIED PEOPLE – Lots of talk about “a few good marketers out there… but most are basically paper pushers.”  Fact is, there are very few senior level marketers hired period…forget someone from outside the entertainment world. 
  3. LEARN TO USE NEW TECHNOLOGY PROPERLY – Lots of one way conversations going on in Live Entertainment right now…that would be us spamming our fans.  As marketing guru Seth Godin said recently in one of his blogs, “just because you have someone’s email address doesn’t mean you have the right to email them.”
  4. LOVE WHAT YOU SELL – Marketing starts and ends with the product.  If you don’t believe in the product, how can you sell it to others?
  5. KNOW YOUR MARKET – Many of you brought up the fact that sometimes you just weren’t sure who the audience was for the show…or how to reach the audience even if you knew. 
  6. HAVE A WRITTEN PLAN – Concert promoters, this is not a grid with your ad buys pasted up, but a road map on how you plan to market the show from onsale through doors.  Just having a plan for the onsale and then waiting to see what happens is not a good idea. 
  7. STOP GIVING TICKETS AWAY – It has spread from the concert industry to Ringling Bros.  Set a ticket price and stick with it.  Not sure the show is going to sell, create an “entry level price” in your scaling.  You can always reduce more tickets to the entry level price without hurting your market.  Free, two-for-ones, and the like just train your fans to wait.
  8. GROUP TICKETS ANYONE – Family, sports, and amusement parks do a much better job at this than concerts, comedy and festivals.  Get with it people.
  9. PARTNER WITH YOUR SHOW – The actual show, event, or artist will make the biggest impact communicating with fans directly.  Creating that relationship early on will help you start a dialogue with the fan versus through the filter of media.
  10. PARTNER WITH BRANDS – Just like you, brands are looking for ways to cut through clutter and get their message directly to consumers.  You have a perfect vehicle for them to do that. 

Would love to hear your ideas.

Talk with you soon…



January 14, 2009

Last week there was a LiveWorks Newsletter on using technology to service our fans better.  The letter pointed out how a group of eye doctors were making their patients lives easier through the use of their website, online questionnaires, and email.  As a follow-up, please see below.  If you aren’t doing at least what Dr. Richlin and his team are doing, you should re-think your online strategy. 

Dr. Richlin & Associates
Steven Richlin, O.D., Jackson Lau, O.D.
David Krasnow, O.D., Kenneth Lawenda, O.D.
Farid Eghbali, O.D.

9033 Wilshire Blvd
Suite 402
Beverly Hills, CA 90211310-276-5333



Dear James,

Thank you for visiting our office recently. We appreciate your trusting us with your eyecare and we always try our best to meet your expectations.

We hope you are happy with the service you received but if you have any questions or concerns, please contact us. We are striving to make our service the best possible, and appreciate any and all input.

P.S. To help us serve you better, we are making greater use of e-mail. Would you please add us to your e-mail address book? We sure wouldn’t want you to miss anything important!

Your comments and suggestions are very important to us and help us provide the best service possible. Would you please take a moment to complete our brief patient-satisfaction survey? Complete Satisfaction Survey


Have A Question About Your Vision?



If you do not wish to receive future reminders or notifications from us, click: remove me 




January 7, 2009

If you have been a subscriber to the LiveWorks Newsletter for a while, than you are painfully aware of the fact that I’m far from an expert on technology.  I hired a pro (thank you Alan) to look at the email delivery problems and believe that you will not be reading the “Political Marketing” letter again unless you want to (fingers, toes, and everything else crossed).  Anyway, if technology makes your customer’s life easier you should be using it. 

My family has only lived in LA for a few years and we needed an eye doctor.  If you need info in this town, call Irving.  So I sent an email to Irene (Irving’s long time right hand) asking for a contact.  A few hours later I had my appointment (thank you Irene and Irving). 

The person who scheduled my office visit was extremely professional.  After going through all of the office procedures and directions, I was told to expect an email with two forms for me to print, sign and take with me to my appointment, and a link to the office’s new patient paperwork so all of that could be taken care of online prior to my arrival.  Here is the email I received.

Hello Jim,

Thank you very much for scheduling an appointment with our office.  Please feel free to visit for Welcome Forms, Directions to the office, and Parking Instructions.

The Welcome Forms can be submitted electronically through the website, directly to our office.  In addition, please find attachments which must be printed and brought in with you to your appointment.

If you have any difficulty with the Welcome Forms, or have any questions at all about the electronic forms, the printed forms, the website, or your appointment, please do not hesitate to contact myself, or the office at your convenience.

Once again, thank you for scheduling your eye examination with Richlin Eye Associates.  We look forward to seeing you in our office very soon!

 Ric Peralta
Office Manager
Richlin Eye Associates
9033 Wilshire Blvd Ste 402
Beverly Hills  CA  90211

Think about the exchange above.  The doctor’s office makes it easy for the patient by letting them fill-out forms when it is convenient for them.  You don’t need to worry about forgetting your insurance card or how to spell the medications you are on, you can do it from home.  At the same time, it saves the doctor’s office time, money on paper, ink and electricity, chance for errors reading patient’s writing…and makes them look really cool. 

Then yesterday the confirmation email below arrived.  I have never received service like this before purchasing tickets to any event…even through an American Express Concierge.  We are being shown-up by Beverly Hills eye doctors. 



Your Eye Appointment

Dr. Richlin & AssociatesSteven Richlin, O.D., Jackson Lau, O.D.
David Krasnow, O.D., Kenneth Lawenda, O.D.
Farid Eghbali, O.D.

9033 Wilshire Blvd
Suite 402
Beverly Hills, CA 90211310-276-5333  


  IMPORTANT: Please click a link so we know you received this message.
                Confirmed – I‘ll be there    Sorry,  I need to reschedule


Dear James,



This is a courtesy reminder that you have an appointment in our office scheduled for the time and date indicated below. If you are unable to keep your appointment, please let us know as soon as possible. If there should be anything you need to contact us for, please don’t hesitate to call or email at your convenience.


We are happy to be your eyecare providers.
SPECIAL NOTE: Our Building is currently undergoing renovations. Please excuse the dust. Our garage and main entrance are still accessible, so you should have no delays in getting to us.

NEW PATIENTS AND RETURNING PATIENTS WITH NEW INFORMATION: We have included a link below to our online patient information form. So we can see you promptly and provide faster service, please complete and submit the form prior to your appointment. If you are unable to complete the form in advance, please arrive a few minutes early for your appointment. Thank you.

If you haven’t already, click to: Complete Form

Appointment Date: 1/9/2009   Time: 11:00

NOTE: During your eye examination you can experience the benefits of the latest technology in eyecare – the Optomap Retinal Exam. The Optomap allows a more thorough eye-health examination than was previously possible…and without dilation! For more on this remarkable technology, click: Optomap

Do you need directions to our office?  Office 1 Map  Office 2 Map

For information about our office, please Visit Our Website.

Have A Question About Your Vision?





Let’s step it up and use technology to better serve our fans.

Talk with you soon…



December 15, 2008

Sorry it has been a while since the last LiveWorks Newsletter.  To make sure subscribers didn’t receive another old newsletter from our FeedBurner account (for those of you not familiar, our feed system for newsletter subscribers sends out old posts whenever I don’t write for more than a day), I deactivated our system while away and will continue to do so whenever I don’t post for more than one day until we figure out how to fix the problem or import our subscriber list to another subscription feed service.  If you have tried to subscribe to the LiveWorks Newsletter in the past and it wouldn’t work, please try again by clicking on the following link  Subscribe to LiveWorks Newsletter by Email.  Once you subscribe you will receive a verification email.  You must respond to this email in order to start receiving the newsletter.

As many readers may know, since last Tuesday I’ve been in Aspen, Colorado, hosting the 14th Annual Aspen Live Conference.  Although we covered many topics in our eight-plus hours of meetings and debate, the most important message to come out for me was… BRING THE PRICE FOR ADMISSION DOWN AND THE EXPERIENCE UP!

In past newsletters I’ve talked about early concert experiences at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center or SPAC.  My friends and I went to almost every concert each summer because the venue was so special to us, and we could afford to go.  In Aspen last week, Don Strasburg broke-it-down to an even simpler formula of “opposite sex + friends + cool place to hang out + affordable experience = crowded venue” (I’m paraphrasing here so please excuse me Don if I didn’t get it right).  When Don said that, I realized that some things will never change (as much as they change), and Don’s theory had merit.  After all, when we were young, we didn’t go to see Loverboy, REO and others at SPAC because they were our favorite bands, we went because it was $7 for a lawn seat and we knew that the experience at the venue would be great.  So Jay Scavo brought up the concept of a venue season pass to help develop artists.

Season passes are nothing new to the live entertainment business.  Amusement parks, sports teams, recreational areas (such as ski mountains and beaches), and performing arts centers have had season passes for decades, so why can’t you?  Yes there are hurdles to overcome such as artist compensation for season pass holder’s tickets and the potential for no-shows from those tickets… but there is simply nothing that can’t be negotiated when the deal is put together.

Don Strasburg tried an experiment for our group.  He made-up four season passes to the Fox Theater in Boulder, CO and put them on-sale on the club’s website for $400 per pass.  With no advertising, no email blasts, and only a post on The Fox’s website, Don’s four season passes sold-out in less than an hour.  Sell enough of these and you have a very healthy business going.  If season pass holders want to go to a show that is sure to sell-out or at least do well, they will need to put in their orders by a certain deadline or their tickets will be released for general sale.  Difficult, yes…impossible, no way.

Do you have a season pass for your shows?  How about a low-priced “starter rate”?  If not, it might be time to start thinking about ways to compensate everyone and show fans real value.  Two-for -ones, discounted tickets, and the like only devalue your show’s brand, but the venues, promoters, and more.  Create a season pass, discounts and loyalty programs, or simply lower the price of admission and watch your numbers go up.

Talk with you soon…



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…


Market The Experience

November 17, 2008

Driving down one of our wonderfully congested streets in LA, I was struck by the billboard pasted below.  It reminded me that in the live business we never market the experience, just the show itself.  If we changed this, we would sell more tickets.


The above ad from Pom Wonderful does not tout the great taste of the beverage, its calorie count, unique color, or any of its other characteristics that could set it apart from its competitors.  Instead, Pom grabs you with a headline, Cheat death… and a noose.  Pretty easy message to understand.

On your next tour, show, event, whatever, try marketing the experience rather than the show.  If you are a concert promoter and have the band moe. coming through, try monitoring fan sites and chat rooms to see how they describe the act’s shows…and then market that.  If you produce family entertainment or sports, push the bond parents can make with their children rather than the opportunity to see “so and so Live”.

Over the years, I’ve written many times about my concert experiences growing up at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, NY.  It would start with meeting up at a friend’s house.  This way we could caravan up and park next to each other for tailgating.  Driving I-87 North or South (depending on where you live in that part of upstate NY) you would see all the other cars, vans and pickups headed to the same place you were.  Sometimes it would be as obvious as a carload of people and a sign in their window that said “ ____ or bust”.  Other times it would be something simple like a beat-up Trans-Am (hey I did say upstate NY) driving next to you  blaring the latest album from the artist you are going to see, on a  stereo worth more than their whole car.

Once at the show, walking around and people watching was the thing to do.  That and marshmallow fights.  At dusk, the opening act would usually hit the stage.  Most of the audience were trickling into the venue by now, but not always paying attention to the band.  Finally at 9:30 pm; house lights would dim, stage work lights would go out, and with much anticipation in the air the artist that everyone had come to see would light-up the crowd.  You sang every word to every song and didn’t leave until the house music came up and the blinding light of reality signaled the march back to your car.

Describe that when marketing your next live event.  How is the show going to make your audience feel?  What will the experience be like?  Why should they pay money to go?  It has been said a million times… “Sell the sizzle not the steak.”  Most purchases are based on an emotional response.  What could be better than hanging with your best friends, watching your favorite live attraction with people who are sharing in your excitement!  Market that to fans and watch the tickets start selling.

Talk to you soon…