Posts Tagged ‘Google’

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

SEARCH SUCCESS IN TV ADS

February 23, 2010

One ad worth talking about from the 2010 Super Bowl (yes, very late to the party but there’s a point) is Google’s.  The spot is simple, moving, and incredibly creative.  And yet, this ad is probably something the live event industry can afford to produce.  It is after all just a computer screen shot with music (very important…builds through the spot) and a few voiceovers!

Click on the following link…watch and listen.  It is really, really good…and in comparison, the Live Entertainment and Branded Live Entertainment businesses actually have real person-to-person interactions at our events!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnsSUqgkDwU&feature=pyv&ad=3910813733&kw=google%20tv%20ad

It is always easier to stay with the status quo.  Most feel they won’t lose their jobs saying no, but they certainly could saying yes.  But innovation only comes with experimentationtrial and errorrisk taking.  Just do your own comparison between the Google ad and this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqKcK2MMr2s.  I’m not saying the Ringling ad doesn’t do its job, I’m sure it does.  I am saying we might be seen and heard through the clutter by thinking differently…say like Google.

Let’s try harder… like Avis

Jim

PURCHASE DECISION TIME

February 7, 2010

It isn’t just the economy…or marketing clutter…or technology…or number of entertainment options…or price, that has reduced the time consumers take to make purchase decisions, it is all of the above.  This should weigh heavily in your mind as you are drawing up marketing plans for 2010. 

PRINT

Not dead…well certainly not for music anyway.  Fans still go to their local weekly publications for news about what’s happening around town.  The key is to change your messaging if it isn’t working.  Dailies have a place in the world too, but not for your advertising.  For those managers still making promoters buy full-page break-ads in the NY Times, please stop.  Monthlies, their deadlines are too far out for most of us.  How do you know what your messaging should and will be in 3-months?  

Social Media

You need to really commit yourself to this.  No sticking your toe in the water.  There needs to be a fulltime voice or voices online.  You can’t go half-ass or fans will either take over the conversation or you will end up talking to yourself.  If all of your social media efforts are self-serving, you will fail.

TV

If you are going to use television, start producing content the public will take notice of.  Remember what you are competing with. 

SEARCH

Search marketing such as Google and Yahoo! can be very effective.  Just don’t buy-in to your marketer’s claims of 300% ROIA click isn’t a purchase.  Measure appropriately. 

RADIO

Again, don’t listen to those holding the crystal balls.  In 2010, radio is still a very effective way to reach a targeted audience.  The problem is our radio spots are too cluttered.  With all the sponsors, pre-sale info, new album info, promoter info, “concert series” info, and website addresses, most of the time the message we want to send isn’t getting through.  Test for yourself.  Listen to a radio spot from a national advertiser and then one of ours…on the radio.  It will make you laugh. 

PUBLIC RELATIONS

PR is a lost art.  What happened to publicity stunts?  When did our talent get so precious that they can’t speak with journalists anymore?  If you can find a good publicist… like I did with Giant Noise, you should hang-on for dear life. 

YOUR WEBSITE

Keep it simple and easy to navigate.  Make sure you have as much information as possible on your site, as well as a place for visitors to contact you.  If guests don’t have a way to purchase tickets on your website, kill yourself. 

MAILING LISTS

Whether online or not…NO SPAMMING!  You must get permission to talk to someone.  No permission, stay away.

PRICING

This doesn’t always mean going lower.  As many promoters found over the past several years, the same ticket that wasn’t selling at a P2 price will sell at a P1 price.  At the same time, rewarding fans for purchasing early versus late would help.  By discounting tickets as you get closer to the show, you are training your customers to wait even longer than they already are to buy.  Flip the model.  Why not make tickets more expensive each day?  That would certainly get some attention if nothing else.

LOYALTY PROGRAMS

We haven’t really been able to get this right since the Columbia Records Club, but it doesn’t mean we should stop trying.  Take a look at what Harrah’s has done.  Hell, Amex makes you pay to be in their loyalty program if you think about it….and the same with many artists’ fan clubs.  The key is to know your customers.  What do they see as a value?  If you are doing some of the other things right, you will know.

OVER-DELIVER

Instead of looking for ways to cut your budget this year, search for places to over-deliver for guests at every touch-point possible.  As marketing guru Seth Godin recently wrote, “Radically overdeliver. Turns out that this is a cheap and effective marketing technique”. 

MAKE YOUR MESSAGE TIMELY

Anyone who has followed how automaker Hyundai and its sister Kia have used the economy in their messaging to sell hundreds of thousands of cars in the U.S. will understand this point.  Because Hyundai could move so quickly, they were able to roll-out their “Hyundai Assurance” program.  Perfect messaging that resonated with consumers. 

A PLAN IS NOT A GRID

A grid showing where and when you are buying adverting isn’t a marketing plan.  You must understand that each show is different.  That every act is a brand…so is every venue, promoter, and producer.  Measure your results. See what’s working and what’s not.  Although you do have a plan in place, it doesn’t mean it can’t be amended. 

Keep Trying…

Jim

MOVING FORWARD

March 2, 2009

Many of you have emailed regarding the positive spin I tried to put on the TicketMaster / Live Nation merger in the newsletter a few weeks ago  https://liveworksnews.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=274.  If the notes I received were actually from SEC regulators, the deal would never happen.  But of course they aren’t.  The hearings on Capital Hill are a near formality in my humble opinion.  The two companies would have never announced the deal if their lawyers didn’t think the merger would pass the “sniff test” both hear and in the EU.  Might they have to sell-off a few businesses to make everyone happy, sure…but this deal is happening and will close, so we might as well move forward.  You know that Irving and Rapino are….Tim and Randy at AEG too. 

It is interesting the way others view our business.  For instance, pick-up the March 2009 issue of Fast Company.  In it are “The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies”.  As you would expect, the usual suspects are there; Apple, Google, Amazon, Zappos, Disney, Warner Music Group, CAA…wait, WARNER MUSIC GROUP and CAA!!!!  And not just WMG and CAA, both AEG and Live Nation are listed as “Companies to Watch”.  Are we all missing something?  Are we too busy playing armchair quarterbacks to see that the time of innovation is passing us by? 

Truth is there are a lot of good things we can talk about.  WMG now has a merchandising company that makes a profit not only for them, but for their artists too.  CAA teamed clients Will Ferrell and Tony Hawk with Sequoia Capital to create web brands FunnyorDie.com and ShredorDie.com.  AEG continues to invest in our business by building state-of-the-art facilities and Live Nation is about to pull-off one hell of a merger (too bad it probably won’t do anything for my stock). 

The time for innovation is now.  Just think about how many companies were started during the Great Depression.  Banks are going to be put under more pressure to give out business loans.  Have an idea, it is time to Move Forward!

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