Posts Tagged ‘Irving Azoff’

WISDOM FROM SETH

July 26, 2012

In the last newsletter, I mentioned that marketing guru Seth Godin would be giving the Keynote at Pollstar’s conference early next year (Advertising Age named him Marketer of the Decade). Thought his post today was worth sharing with you.   

Feet on the street

The complement to the brilliant strategy is the thankless work of lower-leverage detail.

An organization with feet on the street and alert and regular attention to detail can build more trust and develop better relationships than one than hits and runs.

  • Contact every user who stops using your service and find out why.
  • Create a newsletter for every journalist who covers your space, and deliver it every three weeks, even when you’re not asking for anything. Just to keep them in the loop.
  • Eagerly pay attention to people who mention you online and engage with them in a way that they prefer to be engaged.
  • Sponsor industry events and actually show up.
  • Write a thank you note every single day, to someone who doesn’t expect one.
  • Build your permission asset by 1% every day. Every day, 1% more people are eager and happy to hear from you.
  • Write a blog every day, not to sell, but to teach.
  • Connect people in your industry, because you enjoy it.
  • Host community meetings in your store.
  • Put a lemonade stand in front of your business and let the local kids donate the money to whatever charity they like.
  • Hand out free samples every chance you have.
  • Keep in touch with people who used to work with you and continue to help them get great gigs and new business, even years later.
  • Put together an honest buyer’s guide, pointing out in which instances your competitor’s products are a better choice.
  • Run classes for your customers.
  • Run classes for your competitors.
  • Build a recruiting pipeline that is in place more than a year before you need to hire someone.

None of this is sufficient. Your product and your strategy have to be brilliant. But a lot of it is necessary. Hearts and minds…

Coachella Cruise News

So, you should also get a follow-up on the Coachella Cruise.  Word from Goldenvoice is that the on-sale was strong and it should sell-out.  Keep looking outside your comfort zone.  You are bound to find new ways to make money. 

Irving  Speaking At Billboard

Billboard has announced their Keynote speaker for this year’s Billboard Touring Conference as well and it is none other than Irving AzoffRay Waddell is also bringing in the trio who produce Coachella Skip Paige, Bill Fold and Paul Tollett to discuss, fans, bands and more.  The event will take place in New York November 7-8.  Find out more here http://www.billboardevents.com/touring

Happy Hunting!

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LIVE NATION & AEG

October 20, 2011

The other day there was a great comparison made between Live Nation and AEG.  To paraphrase; “Live Nation is a concert promoter who happens to own facilities while AEG is a facility owner that happens to own a concert promoter”.  Oversimplification, probably…yet it has merit. 

Michael Rapino and company didn’t collect the assets of Live Nation; they inherited them…or at least most of them.  Part of Live Nation’s strength is also its weakness, real estate.  Specifically the under-performing amphitheatres they seem stuck with through long-term contracts with municipalities, sponsors, vendors, and/or a combination.  Although Live Nation did shed (pun intended) a few of these venues like Nashville and Columbus, the problem persists in Florida, California, the Carolinas, and the like.  The company’s profits seem to be tied to touring which would explain why the venues can be even more troublesome. 

As a concert promoter, Live Nation uses its facilities’ income (ticket rebates, parking, facility charges, F&B, rent, sponsorship, etc) to entice more shows to go their way (concert promoter over facility owner).  Meanwhile (w/ exceptions of course) Tim Leiweke runs AEG and AEG Live as separate entities.  Randy Philips’ organization makes offers to tours and shows based on revenues those events can produce.  They can’t (under most circumstances anyway) pay over 100% of the show’s gross to an act without the ancillary revenue.

Maybe another oversimplification, but Live Nation’s business model seems very similar to 6 Flags Amusement Parks.  Both based on volume over the individual sale.  6 Flags keeps attendance up with season passes costing a similar price to a single-day entry, along with constant discounting and couponing (maybe they make $ from the $.05 they can redeem from their Coke can coupons), with the goal to make their money on parking, F&B, merchandise, upgrades, sponsorship, etc.  Same look at Live Nation, although in their case, they are giving much of the ancillary income back in guarantees to the performer (s). 

What’s the best model, it depends on what business you’re in.  Public companies have the advantage of Wall Street capital to fund operating expenses.  The problem of course, they do eventually have to make a profit (something Live Nation has yet to do).  Since AEG is a private company, it is hard to say how much money they make.  At the same time, no one would believe that a billionaire like Phil Anschutz would stand-by and watch money hemorrhage for too long.  I would also argue that Tim Leiweke is one of the most capable executives in our business and would have a similar view as Phil. 

No one really knows what the future holds, but if Irving and Rapino’s plan is to take Live Nation private, it looks like a good one from the outside.  Hopefully then, the playing field will be more level…or at least look that way.

WAL-MART / TICKETMASTER

February 16, 2010

Irving strikes again…and at the same time does something good for promoters, producers, venues, artists, sports teams, family shows…and yes fans too. 

The deal Irving Azoff announced on February 12th between Wal-Mart and Live Nation/Ticketmaster will almost instantly add 500 brinks-and-mortar points-of-sale for events either playing for the promoter or a venue that uses Ticketmaster for its ticketing.  Would a Wal-Mart shopper actually buy concert or sporting tickets on an impulse?  If it is marketed, yes. 

Marketing seems to be one of the problems (besides the company closing stores) with the deal between Live Nation and Blockbuster.  The store near my house is a perfect example.  They get a ton of foot traffic and participate in the Live Nation ticketing program.  But the concert calendar they have up in the store never has dates or venues listed and the staff behind the counter has very little idea how to sell tickets to a guest anyway. 

Wal-Mart is a marketing machine.  Imagine how many people pass through the doors of a single store in one-day?  The issue of course will be price.  Most of our tickets are not scaled at “Wal-Mart prices”.  When a customer goes into their neighborhood Wal-Mart to buy Eggo Waffles and Tide, will a message in the store prompt them to purchase 30-Seconds to Mars tickets or will the price point and service charges scare them away?

This is one you should all take full-advantage of.  See how many different ways you can use the Wal-Mart ticket outlets to your benefit.  Find ways of creating destination buyers for Wal-Mart…drive traffic to their stores.  Run midnight madness promotions…get back to having fun.

The deal is done.  Make the most of it.   

Speak with you soon…

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

CUSTOMER SERVICE CHAMPS

February 24, 2009

First, did you all catch the Senate hearings today on the Live Nation / Ticketmaster merger?  It was weird seeing people you have known well for 20-years testifying on Capital Hill.  Thought Irving was…well Irving and handled himself well.  Seth Hurwitz did a really good job.  Well spoken, facts at the top of his head, he represented the independent promoters well.  Although most senators present seemed to be negative towards the merger, it will probably still pass scrutiny, so everyone keep moving forward. 

My friend Scott Perry who writes The New Music Tipsheet http://www.newmusictipsheet.com/ sent a note about the March 2nd issue of Business Week.  The cover has SPECIAL REPORT printed on the top.  The topic, “Extreme Customer Service, In A Tough Year, 25 Companies That Get It Right”.  So what can we learn from these companies?  Just looking through the list will probably give you some ideas.  I’ve added some fun facts from the Business Week article to help.

  1. Amazon –“Some 30 % of sales come from outside retailers who sell goods on Amazon.”  Although there is more to that paragraph, you can take a lot just from that one sentence. 
  2. USAA Insurance –“Financial services firm for military families handled 150,000 catastrophe claims in 2008, double its average, as events such as Hurricane Ike destroyed customers’ homes and autos.  Still, USAA retained 96% of customers”
  3. Jaguar – “…Jaguar’s field teams for customer service were recently ranked best in the auto industry by the Nation Automobile Dealers Assn.”
  4. Lexus “…awards cash each year – as much as $50,000 – to dealers who have the best new service ideas.”
  5. The Ritz-Carlton – “To lure corporate event planners worried about high-end confabs amid the recession, Ritz will donate 10% of corporate meeting fees to charity.”
  6. Publix Super Markets – “To ensure customers always find what they come looking for, upscale Florida-based grocer Publix adopted an “automated replenishment” system in 2008 for fresh items.  Scanners indicate when inventory levels are low, and software automatically orders replacements.”
  7. Zappos.com – “With no monitoring of call times and no scripts, call centers have so much power it’s critical to make sure they’re a cultural fit.  To do that, CEO Tony Hsieh offers new customer service agents $2000 to leave the company after an initial training period if the new hires don’t think they mesh with Zappos’ zany culture.”
  8. Hewlett-Packard – “In 2008, Hewlett-Packard opened eight new customer service centers worldwide, including two in the U.S.”
  9. T. Rowe Price – To meet the customer service questions that flooded the company following the start of the financial crisis, “the company tapped 300 employees who formerly worked the phones to help meet call demand.”
  10. Ace Hardware – “…rolled out new technology that analyzes past shopping patterns to tell store managers what time of day is quietest for tasks like shelving products and cleaning rest rooms.”
  11. Key Bank – “In the past year, the bank unveiled new online tools that give entrepreneurs many of the cash-management services long reserved for large companies…”
  12. Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts – “…is outsourcing laundry to third parties at some properties and combining some hotel management roles to help save labor costs.”
  13. Norstrom – “Nordsrom’s famous return policy lets customers return any item at any store…”
  14. Cadillac – “Despite General Motors’ cash crunch, Cadillac has not scalled back on guaranteeing loaner cars to customers while their cars are in the shop.”
  15. Amica Insurance – “…CEO Bob DiMuccio says what sets the company apart is decades of investment in the staff, which has a turnover rate of less than 7%.”
  16. Enterprise Rent-A-Car – “…management pay and promotion are directly related to a store’s service performance.”
  17. American Express – New compensation model for call center agents…”offer them incentives tied to satisfaction scores and the flexibility to trade shifts.”
  18. Trader Joe’s Supermarket – “Some 99% of employees work in the stores, and even CEO Dan Bane doesn’t have an assistant.”
  19. Jetblue Airways – “…Jetblue created the industry’s first Customer Bill of Right – which includes providing compensation for passengers affected by problems caused by the carrier.”
  20. Apple – “Last year the company posted the largest one-year increase ever in the University of Michigan’s closely watched American Customer Satisfaction Index.”  Can you say Genius Bar?
  21. Charles Schwab – “A push to reduce the number of steps it takes to open new accounts has helped to shorten some call times, freeing up reps to answer calls faster.”
  22. BMW – “Now BMW ties rewards to how well dealers look after dissatisfied customers.”
  23. True Value – The company is expanding its online survey capabilities.
  24. L.L. Bean – “A simplified software system for entering orders has greatly reduced the training time for new hires.” 
  25. JW Marriott – “… tried to improve service by cross-training employees such as administrative assistants, who have been taught to serve food at banquets.  That keeps service leves high without having to hire more staff.”

Here is the short list of what I took from the top 25.  Some are the same old themes you always hear from me… I’m sorry, but it’s what I see above.

  • Use technology to serve customers, employees and save money
  • Hire the right people
  • Train your employees properly
  • Provide generous compensation packages for employees tied to customer satisfaction, not just sales
  • Have a philanthropic side that matches your customers’ concerns
  • Don’t keep customers holding!  Have a person answer the phone, not a machine
  • Treat your customers like gold…because these days they are worth a lot more

Talk with you soon…

Jim

USE TECHNOLOGY TO SERVE FANS

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 www.richlineye.com 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
310-276-5333
http://www.richlineye.com

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  

PLEASE NOTE OUR BUILDING
IS UNDER RENOVATIONS
THE BUIDING IS COVERED IN SCAFFOLDING,   

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

 
 


Dear James,

1/7/2009

 


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…

Jim

“IF I WERE…MICHAEL RAPINO

December 1, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talk with you soon…

Jim