Posts Tagged ‘jim lewi’


October 15, 2013

Sometimes it is hard to do the right thing.  For instance, for just a minute, put yourself in the shoes of Charlie, Charlie and Charles at C3 Presents.  You have had one extremely successful weekend with the Austin City Limits Festival…and closing out the second weekend, you have to cancel the final day…the night before!

Imagine having to make that call…or should we say, 1000 calls.  Every manager, agent, tour and production manager…the press, vendors, crew, staff, city…deliveries that need to be stopped, guests that need to be informed…hotel rooms, ground transportation, REFUNDS, etc.  Yet for the C3 guys, I’m betting there was never a question.

It is easy to say they had insurance, but who really knows.  Weather insurance is not only crazy expensive, you have to say when the storm is coming and how much rain will fall.  Maybe with all they do, they have a special policy…it doesn’t matter.  C3 was protecting their brand, the fans and the bands.  Doing the right thing.

Most might wait and see what the next day brought.  Not C3 Presents, they did the right thing. Nice job guys and congratulations on another great event.

See the storm’s aftermath here.

You can decide if they made the right call.





October 13, 2013

In a perfect world, we would put our shows on-sale and they’d sellout. In reality, with few exceptions, that’s not what happens…and one reason why I’m part of the Goldstar team.

Goldstar’s mission is to get members to go out more…try new things…while helping partners sell every seat in the house.  And that’s what CEO Jim McCarthy’s new blog is all about, “Selling Out”.

Jim said “we’ve launched this site as a resource and tool for everybody whose job is to create, market or manage live entertainment. I’m your host, and I’ll write some things. We’ll also have guest contributors and links to useful info and articles elsewhere, and hopefully you’ll participate, too. If we do this right, we’ll all learn from each other.”

Please go to  Sign-up to receive the blog via email…and if you have something to share, do that! I’ll see you there!







October 9, 2011

HBO has been airing the Martin Scorsese film, “George Harrison, Living In the Material World”If you haven’t seen it, make it a point to do so.  The picture is moving beyond words.  It shows us how music…and one person can change the world…the way we think and feel.

There were so many things we learn about George…or at least I did.  One that really stood out was how and why he became a film producer.  It was first and foremost about helping friends.  In this case, the friends were the guys from Mighty Python and the film was The Life of Brian”.

EMI had committed to fund the picture only to change their mind once they actually read the script…just a few days before the legendary comedy troupe were set to begin filming.  George heard what happened to his friends, mortgaged his home, and started a motion picture company
“The Life of Brian”
was made for $4 million.

What sacrifices would you make in the name of art…to help your friends?  George Harrison gives us a great life to try and live-up to. 

Get to work…



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…




March 17, 2011


Lately it seems that I’ve been identifying myself more by the last two-years of temporary defeats with my food festival, rather than the 20-plus years of building successful events.  After living life with the motto “failure is not an option” I’ve let the loss of money and reputation dictate who I am and how I’ve acted.  With the economy being what it is and the number of books and articles written on the subject, there are probably others out there in a similar circumstance that could learn from my experiences. 

Look at any successful person in life, no matter how you measure success, and you will most likely find confidence.  The fact is that there is almost nothing we can control in life.  Certainly what’s occurred in Haiti, New Zealand, and now Japan proves that.  The only things we really do have control of are our thoughts…and depending on the way we are wired, these thoughts can lead to success or failure.  The key is to not stop thinking…and thinking positively

Having a motive other than money is another important factor to success.  In my case, 2009’s trial run of the food festival concept was just that.  Never in our wildest dreams did we expect to make money and draw the crowds we did.  The idea was simply proof of concept and to make sure everyone (guest, talent, restaurants, promoter, staff, and press) had a good time.  With just a few technical glitches involving our cashless payment system and lack of staff as the doors opened, the first few hours of the show failed to fulfill either goal as lines grew to “amusement park size”.  Moving forward, we could fix the operational issues.  Success was within grasp.

The money was an all together different story.  We refunded everyone’s money in 2009.  In fact it was the first time I ever put significant personal money into a project and after seven-figure losses, had no idea how to support my family.  Not only was our savings wiped out, we had no real income to speak of.  Without loans from family and friends we would have never made it.  Lesson learned… having family and friends that care about you can change your life.  Cherish what’s important. 

Moving into 2010, there was only one goal on my mind; to make the food festival successful….which to me meant making money.  After a falling out with our previous partners, we went to what we considered a logical place to hold our events, football stadiums.  They had the perfect lists to market to (season ticket holders) and plenty of room for us to setup.  Unfortunately although we did factor weather in…it wasn’t not enough…and our marketing partners that had done such a wonderful job on our show in 2009 didn’t exist in 2010 (radio, print, online, clubs, etc).  Price also became a concern.  In 2009, we had ancillary charges built into our ticket price…and they totaled only $10.  This would not be the case with 2010.  As the shows came closer to playing, our pre-sales were not picking up as they had in 2009.  In hindsight, we should have cancelled the shows…but we were broke and thinking of money. Somehow we would be able to fix what’s broken and wrap strong.   

We didn’t wrap strong.  In fact without going into too much detail, we ended-up losing even more money.  The food fest owes more money than it ever grossed.  In my mind, I felt like a loser…and that has been the image I’ve been projecting ever since.  All the years of the Aspen Conference, HORDE Festival, MTV Campus Invasion, Woodstock, Jeep Tour, our cruises, etc…meant nothing.  If my 13-year old said I was a loser, I was a loser. 

Then something weird happened.  Investors started getting interested in the food fest idea.  Actually, the fact that we were two-time losers…wanted to pay all our debts…and wanted to try again…all worked to our favor (who knew???).  Although the number of people we drew in 2010 was soft, our food and beverage numbers were record-breaking.  If we could put the numbers from 2009 together with per caps from 2010, we have one strong show.  All of a sudden we were thinking creatively again. 

For one thing, I never wanted to look at bankruptcy as an option.  We owe money and I would rather raise the money, pay everyone back and move forward than walk away from those that trusted us…that trusted me.  Again to my surprise, this had also worked to the fest’s favor.  You see, one of the things investors like besides making money is doing business with people who have shown integrity through their careers.  They were happy we wanted to pay our debts versus declaring bankruptcy.  Gee, maybe I should have lost more money (just kidding of course).

The last two years have been the worst of my life.  Getting sick, death of family and friends, nothing has had the collateral and emotional damage that losing everything and letting people down has had.  Yet the moment I started thinking…positively… things began to change.  I went back to the computer to make sense of the numbers…combed through every note from every meeting…every email…and all our post-mortem meetings. This could be fixed.

As of today we are holding dates in multiple cities for an even better food fest concept and will have a few new partners (investors, promoters and brands) to help us along the way.  We aren’t there yet but we sure are getting close. 

There will be a new food fest in 2011…along with more cruises, festivals, and the biggest Aspen Conference in our history this December.  All this change with a simple attitude adjustment… and positive thoughts… of something other than money. 

I would like to thank all the family and friends that believed and continue to believe.  I would like to thank our staff, vendors and talent.  I would like to thank my heroes Abraham Lincoln, Walt Disney, Bill Graham and PT Barnum for continuing to show me the right road.  I would like to thank all of those authors that have written books and articles that have influenced my thinking.  And I would like to thank you for reading the LiveWorks Newsletter.

Keep Thinking…Positive Thoughts!




August 29, 2010

I finally got around to reading Jeff Jarvis’s book, What Would Google DoChris Sacca (ex-Googler turned investor) had suggested it to me a while back and am now mad at myself for not picking it up sooner.  It inspired me to re-think the Aspen Conference.

For over 15-years, the Aspen Conference has had the privilege of hosting some of the most provocative and timely speakers (Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell, Michael Moore, Chris Sacca, etc), but what truly makes it special are those who attend.  The Aspen Conference is a collaborative effort.  Just ask anyone from our family (community). 

This December, we have discussed moving the conference from Aspen to Park City (one flight vs. two), recruiting new blood, changing the format, and with inspiration for Jeff Jarvis…having YOU decide almost everything that happens. 

Please send me any and all ideas related to a collaborative conference.  This will be your conference and you will decide everything from agenda topics to guest speakers, to what hotels…even the new name.   

Our dates this year are December 9-12.  Please write back…give input…tell me what you want.




August 15, 2010

A recent Brandweek had a short article from Robert Klara on the strength of ice cream sales this year.  Klara explains “The National Ice Cream Retailers Association recently told Time that some of its members hit sales spikes of 25 percent over last year.”  We are now competing with ice cream shops for consumer’s entertainment dollars. 

I have a friend in LA that owns his own ice cream shop in the Valley…Dandy Don’s.  The guy makes a cookies and cream that tastes like you are eating the real thing (cookies and cream) rather than ice cream.  Anyway, Don and I went for a walk the other day and he says his sales are strong too.  This is a state with 12% unemployment

We must find ways to emulate what the ice cream business is doing…changing flavors to keep-up with consumer demand and keeping prices reasonable.  Speak with any promoter or producer and they will tell you for the most part, if the show is priced right and there is a demand, it will sell.  Maybe we change the model?  How about going into business with the buildings and ticketing companies to create more revenue streams? Of course this would mean lowering or doing away entirely with performance guarantees.  Maybe it is time to start investing and betting on ourselves!

Have a great week!