Posts Tagged ‘Festivals’

WARNING – SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION!

April 6, 2009

Most readers know the LiveWorks Newsletter is not about promoting our festivals, events, and tours.  At the same time,  The Great American Food & Music Fest  (http://www.greatamericanfoodandmusicfest.com )is newsworthy, something we are very proud of, and want you to know about it…tell your friends…and come to the event yourself!

The best festival style “family friendly” event that I can think of in America is C3’s Austin City Limits Music Festival.  These guys make it relatively comfortable to bring your family to a very large event and have a good time.  Yes the venue is amazing…but so is the talent schedule, tag-a kid program, local food options, prices, number of water stations, bathrooms, and entertainment choices in general (even sand to play in).  What if you could combine the best elements of ACL ; what we learned over the years touring the amphitheatres; youthful summer memories of the Saratoga Jazz Festival (food, fun, family, friends…and music, just like ACL); the rock star status that celebrity chefs have taken on; and the best of the best of all- American Food (hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, BBQ, ice cream, etc)?  You would get The Great American Food & Muisc Fest.  Below is how the professional would (did) write it…

The Great American Food and Music Fest ,  a one-day event celebrating the rich traditions of classic American fare and music, will be held at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California on Saturday, June 13, 2009.  It will be hosted by chef and Food Network personality Bobby Flay.

At the festival legendary purveyors of classic American food, celebrity chefs and extraordinary musicians will come together for the first time ever, at an affordable price.  Some of the most acclaimed culinary establishments in the country will be on-site to serve their specialties, including:  Pink’s Hot Dogs (LA), Barney Greengrass (NYC), Graeter’s Ice Cream  (Cincinnati),  Southside Market Barbecue (Texas), Anchor Bar (Buffalo, NY; inventor of Buffalo wings), and Tony Luke’s Cheesesteaks (Philadelphia). In addition, some of the Bay Area’s best food establishments will be featured along with great American wines and specialty cocktails.

The culinary presentations will be augmented by live music from Little Feat, Marshall Crenshaw, and jazz, blues, and swing outfit Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, among many others. The full line-up will be announced shortly. In addition to Flay, there will also be a gathering of other food world notables, including the star of the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins, & DivesGuy Fieri.

Tickets for the event will be available for sale beginning April 5th and can be purchased at LiveNation.com, Blockbuster Video locations, and the Shoreline Amphitheatre box office. There are a number of ticket options available for the event to make it accessible to everyday food lovers without breaking the bank. General admission starts at $35 inclusive of all service charges and includes your first plate of food for free. 

Well I hope to see you there!

Speak with you soon…

Jim

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EYEBALLS…MILLIONS OF THEM

February 12, 2009

“Eyeballs…Millions of Them”…with a festival stage and crowd shot caught my eye immediately in the pages of BrandWeek.  The ad goes on; “We are the largest producer of music festivals in North America”.  If you haven’t figured it out by now, this is an ad for AEG-Live’s festival division.   Their roster now includes;  All Points West, Bumbershoot, Coachella, Hootenanny, Mile High Music Festival, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage, Rock on the Range, Rockfest, Rothbury, Sunfest, and Stagecoach Country Music Fesitval.  The first time I saw the ad, I didn’t write about it.  But once AEG-Live bought the back cover of the February 2nd issue, I saw they were committed to reaching out for corporate partners.   

One of the 5 topics thrown out for discussion for the first meeting of “The Aspen Dinner Club” will be “Where Will We Get The Money To Develop Music Artists In The Future?”.  Btw, the club is meeting on March 5th @ 7:30 pm in each city.  Thanks to Ron Laffitte, it looks like we have a location for LA, Village Pizzaria on Larchmont in Hancock Park…other cities’ locations TBD.  Fact is, we will need to look to brands as partners more and more.  Live Entertainment needs to transform itself into Branded Live Entertainment.  AEG-Live seems to understand this and is marketing in BrandWeek where their competitors aren’t.  This a a recipe to win.

Brands are looking for new ways to cut through clutter.  Live Entertainment has so many touch-points throughout the on-sale, marketing, show, and after-show process, that corporations will see the light if you can show them the ROI we can generate!  Between the media value, data, media impressions, live impressions, sales-leads, celebrity association, etc, Live has a lot to offer.  We  just have to reach-out to brands as partners rather than just asking for sponsorship money.  Times are tough That’s when the best innovation happens.  That’s when you have to start working outside your comfort zone.  Look, the NBA just lifted its ban on hard liquor sponsors court-side.  What are you doing?

Talk with you soon…

Jim

AEG SAYS I’VE GOT IT ALL WRONG

February 2, 2009

Responding to the LiveWorks Newsletter on a new CEO at AEG, Randy Phillips sent an email to clear things up.  He tells me that I have it all wrong (actually used stronger language than that).  So here is the list of where Randy say AEG is really at…

1) AEG-Live has been ” immencely profitable over the last 7-years”

2) There is no new CEO

3) Randy says his “colleagues have worked tirelessly for our clients and we have shared great success together.”

4) AEG “did not overpay for a bunch of disparate assets and, instead, invested in great executives.”

AEG has great executives, has invested in our business in a very positive way (Nokia Theatres, O2, Staples Center, etc), and has built a great roster of music festivals.  As for Randy’s quote about being profitable for the last 7-years, I guess that just goes to show me that you should try to count other people’s money because with the investments in the Nokias, festivals, and local offices, I just can’t make sense of it. 

Sorry if I upset anyone over there.  That was certainly not the intention which is why I wrote that it was a rumor.

Talk with you soon…

Jim

WHAT TO LEARN FROM TOP RATED CONSUMER BRANDS

January 27, 2009

In the January 19th issue of BrandWeek,  columnist Kenneth Hein listed  the”Top Rated Consumer Brands of 2008″ according to research from BrandIndex via 1.2 million online consumer interviews they conducted.  As I looked over the list, I thought it would be interesting to go through each brand, write down what consumers probably see in them, and then see how we could implement that into Live Entertainment.  So here we go.  Please note that the first two on the list are both TV networks (just interesting fact)

DISCLAIMER TO BRAND MANAGERS: I’m not aware of your official brand messaging and don’t have time to look it up, so if I’ve got it wrong know that this is just one consumer’s take.

  1. Discovery Channel – Quility programming that covers content others don’t.  They also do a good job with brand extensions and how they touch consumers.  LIVE’s lessons here are first, quality is always important in driving sales,  and second, to develop entertainment for consumers that are being under-served.
  2. The History Channel- Again we see quality in their programming as a key to the network’s success.  Also, many are just fascinated by history.  LIVE’S lessons from History would be to create more programs like the live Titanic exhibit that combine the past with a live emotionally engaging experience.
  3. Google – First to market, easy to use, consistent, and almost everyone has access…this is a great brand.  Why not a Google for LIVE?  There really isn’t anything out there that is reliable, consistent, easy to use, etc.
  4. Craftsman – You can rely on your tools…  Craftsman is a great brand because they make a quality product at a good price point that lasts forever.  My idea here is to hook-up with Sears to produce the ultimate Handyman/DIY consumer show.  Do-it-yourself is big in a down economy!  Sears, please call me!  I already have the deck done.  Branded Live Entertainment at its best!!!
  5. Sony – You’re staying home more which means more time in front of your television.  Your Sony TV works great.  So does your DVD player.  LIVE should be able to create quality products that you can rely on to entertain you…but we don’t always.
  6. Rubbermaid – They make your waste basket and the containers you use to store your food.  In other words, Rubbermaid makes products that you need… that last.  Figure out what consumers and fans need and produce that show.  Observation works a lot better than research groups in for this.
  7. Barnes & Noble – Don’t really get this one.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the brand and read a lot.  It’s just not clear why they would be so high in consumer’s minds.  As for an idea, LA has a very successful book fair at UCLA every year sponsored by the LA Times.  Newspapers are looking for anything right now.  Here is your chance to partner with them. 
  8. Whirlpool – We need washers, dryers, and refrigerators.  That’s not going to change.  Whirlpool makes good ones.  No ideas here for LIVE…yet.
  9. Clorox – One bottle has so many purposes at such a low price.  One must be careful not to try and be all things to all people…especially in Live Entertainment.  Festivals are the LIVE version of bleach.  Lots of entertainment for one price. 
  10. M&M’s – If you are hungry and standing in front of the candy rack, M&M’s look like the best value.  You get more than one M&M, they come in different colors, sizes, and packages, and now you can even customize them.  Ever been in an M&M’s store?  Crazy!!!!
  11. Tylenol – It’s the choice of hospitals.  That’s enough for me.  They even made it through the “Tylenol Scare” and managed to invent a safety package that everyone else had to copy.  If you are in LIVE, find who is at the “white hot center” of your show theme and get them to endorce you.  If it is doctors for Tylenol, who is it for you?
  12. Duracell – High-end electronics (like those for products that keep you alive such as pace makers) come with Duracell batteries in them.  See above. 
  13. Quaker – In tough times, people turn to their health.  Quaker Oats are healthy and inexpensive (I’m assuming they aren’t talking about the motor oil company).  How about producing a health related event?  Before Ben Silverman joined NBC, I pitched him and his production company on a “Biggest Loser Live” concept”.  Now might be the time. 
  14. Pillsbury – Easy and quick to make, good price points, and an iconic lovable mascot.  Pillsbury saves the over-scheduled consumer precious time.  You should be using ever means at your disposal to break down any barriers for consumers to finding your event, buy tickets, and attend. 
  15. Lowe’s – Surprised that they are on the list and Home Depot isn’t, but hey that’s consumers for you.  I would pitch Lowes the Handyman/DIY show I want to run by Sears.
  16. Black & Decker – Tools again.  Reliability.  LIVE, see above on Handyman/DIY…again.
  17. KitchenAid – They make appliances you need with good design…and have Kitchen in their name.  In LIVE, food shows and festivals are continuing to grow.  The Agency Group Events & Entertainment has two different concepts we are producing in 2009 alone. 
  18. Campbell’s – Soup makes for filling, inexpensive meals.  Campbell’s has been around forever.  Time to start a food show. 
  19. Maytag – Years of advertising the same message of “the lonely Maytag repair man” seems to have paid off.  What’s your message?  If you are still marketing your shows line-up (product attributes) you are doing it wrong.  Market the experience!
  20. Kenmore – One would think with Craftsman so high on the list that Kenmore would be higher.  Again, with consumers…  Anyway, Bruce Springsteen is our Kenmore.  So is Sesame Street Live and Disney’s Broadway shows.  Like Kenmore, you know the brand and the experience are going to. 

Keep the ideas flowing.  During trying times like these, great things can happen. 

Talk with you soon… and please visit our new company website @ http:www.theagencygroupevents.com.   Also don’t miss the Customer Service Panel at the Concert Industry Consortium on Friday, January 30th at 3:30 pm in the Santa Monica room at the Hyatt Century Plaza Hotel. 

Jim

OUR MARKETING STILL SUCKS!

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…

Jim

Lessons From Disney

November 15, 2008

We all know that The Walt Disney Company has a lot of money to do things right. Yet many of their competitors are well capitalized and can’t even deal with trash properly (are you listening Mr. Shapiro).

My 11-year old daughter and I walked out of Disneyland / California Adventure after spending $290.89 ($12 for Parking + $188 for 2 “Park Hopper Tickets” + $63.89 for dinner @ Restaurant in Pirates Ride + $27 for water, pretzels, soda, etc) with big smiles on our faces. Why can Disney charge so much and still leave consumers feeling they got value for their money (ok, we went a little crazy eating at that restaurant, but you only live once and we actually were able to get in)? Here are some major points from the notes Gwen and I took this weekend. We will stick to stuff that everyone can afford to do in some way.

· WEBSITE – From Disney’s website we were able to buy tickets, plan our day, find out what rides were closed, what shows were new and when they were playing, and of course directions to the park.

· WELL MARKETED ROUTE – We all don’t have the political clout to get the kind of exits and signage that Disneyland has, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have a well market route. Bonnaroo and ACL Festivals both do a good job with this.

· TRAINED PARKING STAFF – These people know how to park cars, campers, buses, limos, and even pumpkin coaches. If you can’t afford to hire pros to run your parking, study what Disney does and then create a manual.

· TRANSPORTATION FROM YOUR CAR OR HOTEL – At many arenas, stadiums, amphitheaters, etc, there is one hell of a hike from your car to the entrance to the facility. Disney not only provides transportation, they give you valuable information while you are traveling on their trams and monorails.

· EXTREMELY WELL TRAINED STAFF – If you need a map, “go to a custodial worker in an all white uniform”. Want to find a ride or attraction and don’t want to look at the map?  ANY employee can tell you the fastest way to get there. And with a smile on their face. Training and manuals are the keys to success…along with hiring the right people (but not as important as training and manuals no mater what anyone tells you).

· BRANDED LIVE ENTERTAINMENT – Disneyland and California Adventure sponsor/partners are built right into the show rather than looking like an afterthought. Everyone who drives a car on the “Autopia” ride gets an official drivers license from Chevron. Kodak has “Photo Shot” areas that are even marked out on the theme park’s maps.

· SIGNAGE & MAPS – Maybe repeating myself a little with well marked route, but this relates to ounce the consumer is at your event. If you have trouble finding something at a Disney park, you either can’t read or speak English or Spanish, or you don’t know to take advantage of their translation programs… or you don’t like asking for directions period.

· PLACES FOR PEOPLE TO SIT & EAT – You will sell more food and beverage if you give your guests a place to enjoy it…out of the sun, rain, wind… on a clean table. Disney knows this.

· FOOD & BEVERAGE VARIETY –Disney even goes the extra step of using the theme of the area (Adventureland, Frontierland, New Orleans Square, etc) to design both the menus and architecture of their restaurants, stands, carts, etc.

· LINES ARE BAD – When lines start to form at the ticketing windows out front, they open more windows right away. If one line seems to be moving faster than another, there is a supervisor out in the slower line trying to find out why (clipboard in hand). When there are lines at popular rides, Disney warns you of the wait time, gives you an option to come back later with a “Fast Pass”, and tries to keep your mind occupied by designing an experience around the line should you decide to wait.

· PEOPLE TRAFFIC CONTROL – Boy do these guys know how to keep guests moving, change directions for parades and shows, etc. Training, training, training.

· CLEAN RESTROOMS / CLEAN EVERYTHING – Nothing else to say.

· KEEPING STUFF UP – It is amazing, but it is said that some things at Disney parks get a fresh coat of paint every night. Ever see how much “ABC gum” you find at a Six Flags Park? Yuk!!!

· LIGHTING MAKES THE SHOW – Whether day or night, Disney parks use lighting to help create an atmosphere. You should do the same.

· CROSS PROMOTION – Disney builds their movies, books, and TV shows into their theme park rides, shows, and attractions. Branding at its best.

I could go on forever, but the list above was most of our note highlights. Disney is certainly not perfect, but we can learn a lot from them.

As always, would love your opinions and comments.

Talk to you soon…

Jim

This Is A Bull Market!

October 28, 2008

We have all read of great military victories where outnumbered forces win over far superior armies.  The Battle of Guagamela where Alexander and a force of 50,000 (or less) beat back over 200,000 Persians or Julius Caesar’s victory at Alesia, where his Roman army of 30,000-60,000 defeated over 300,000 Gallic tribes.  You see these same kind of remarkable results every day on sports fields and conference rooms around the world.   Teams, athletes, businesses that should easily win on paper are beat by those with inferior resources, skills, size, etc.  They do it through the will to win (among other things).  This is the attitude we are taking through our current economic downturn and we suggest you do the same.  It may be ugly on Wall Street, but in the Entertainment and Branded Live Entertainment businesses, it is a Bull Market!!!

Going to work everyday worrying about the economy is not going to make it better.  In no way am I suggesting you forget about it, in fact just the opposite.  Look at the recession as an opportunity to serve fans, talent, partners, brands, etc.  Find new ways to reach and talk with your consumers…start a dialogue…build or re-build a community.  Put the audience first.  Here are some suggestions (some may be painful) on how to win in our Bull Market.

1) Spend more time working on fewer projects. With the number of shows, festivals, and attractions we are putting through our markets, there is no way to do a great job on all of them so it becomes a numbers game.  Stop that shit.  If you don’t believe…don’t have passion, let it go to your competitor or same it for another time.

2) Marketing is not buying ads and putting shows on-sale! There are event and entertainment marketing people out there from Feld to Disney, AEG to Live Nation, who would love the budgets, staff, and tools that their counterparts at companies like GM and Unilever have to work with.  Take on fewer shows and maybe those budgets and tools will exist.

3) Spend time with your team thinking about price points. Consumer value is the name of the game here.  How many times have you put together a small focus group even within your own office to talk about how much a ticket or hot dog should cost?

4) Leadership is key to winning! Whether the CEO of a big company or President of “Me Inc.” you need to lead by example.  Show the world you aren’t scared and have a plan to move everyone forward.

5) Now is not the time to cut staff or marketing budgets. They are both easy targets during hard times but ultimately could and will have negative effects on the long-term heath of your business.  Cutting staff is bad for morale both inside and outside the company.  As for marketing budgets, any business that either increased or kept their marketing spend level during the recession of the early ’90’s came out ahead of their competitors when things got good again.

6) Look at winners for inspiration. Target’s numbers are down, Wal-marts are up.  Follow the leader when developing and or marketing your next event.

Yes, you can read “The Secret”, pray, or call Mom and Dad for advice (I do all the time).   They all may work for you.   For me, I think about the fact that everyone needs an escape from their daily lives.  Live entertainment can bring that to them like no other medium.  It is something you share with those around you…a moment in time that can’t be captured.  The other day, win guru Gary Vaynerchuk passed on a big money speaking gig because it conflicted with a NY Jets home game.  When I asked him why, he said something like “he could always make that money back but could never take back those Jets snaps”.

This is a Bull Market!!!

Talk with you soon…

Jim