Posts Tagged ‘Passion’

LIVE NATION LAYOFFS…AGAIN

December 3, 2010

Today Live Nation went through another round of layoffs.  Depending on who you speak with anywhere from 100 to nearly 300 staff were given pink slips.  It is at these times that we should be looking for ways to help our friends who were affected. 

I’m sure they won’t be the last company in our business to be laying people off before the New Year.  The next question is what’s next…for Live Nation and the business as a whole?

Innovation and passionate people are what’s going to get us out of this mess…just like any other business. 

Happy Hanukah to all my Jewish readers!!!  Next week, Aspen Live Conference…hope to see you there. 

Have a great weekend!

Jim  

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CRUSH IT!!!

September 22, 2009

A few weeks ago Bill Maher did a special edition of his HBO show Real Time by pulling away from the program’s usual format and only interviewing two guests.  One of those guests was Bill Moyers.  Moyers, one of the most respected journalists of our time spoke about what is needed from our leaders in Washington (but it applies to everyone), Passion.

As an example of the passion needed today, Bill Moyers brought up John F. Kennedy’s inauguration speech from 1960.  Specifically the lines “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”  Moyers points out that if President Obama asked Americans to do the same today…to sacrifice for their country…he probably wouldn’t see a second term (sad to hear but probably true).  Yet at the same time, it is exactly what is needed.  The President was elected because he gave Americans, and to some degree the world…Hope.  You can do the same in your office.

Many see mixing passion with business as unprofessional.  It is misunderstood.  I bet Jim Cramer was seen as crazy by “the establishment” on Wall Street before he got his own TV show.  And I have to believe that was the case with my friend Gary Vaynerchuk (and Kramer’s friend too)…who wrote a book about it called Crush It http://crushitbook.com

Crush It calls for readers to cash-in on their passions.  And who would know better than Gary.  He took a small family run business and turned his passion for wine and Business 2.o into what is now VaynerMedia;  a multi-million dollar enterprise that encompasses retail (The Wine Library) in New Jersey, online retail (winelibrary.com), publishing (He has two books @ age 33), and Gary’s widely popular web TV show, Winelibrarytv.com.  He has even added travel to the portfolio with his second cruise, The Crush It Cruise http://www.crushitcruise.com (full disclosure, The Agency Group Events produces this cruise with our partner Mike London).  Where are the Gary Vaynerchuks of our business?

We saw passion in our heroes…from what is now an almost forgotten business.  People like Bill Graham (anyone within 100′ knew he had passion), Mo & Lenny @ Warner Bros., Frank Barcelona, and of course Ahmet.  Their passions were the acts, fans, and the business of music.  My personal heroes are Abraham Lincoln (honor …and he fought for what he believed in), Bill Graham (devotion to fans and those that play for them), Walt Disney (details in creating the experience for fans) and P.T. Barnum (his ability to communicate with consumers).  All four men had passion and spoke passionately for what they loved.  Today we all seem to be weighed down by the quarterly numbers of every other mature, consolidated industry.  Yet for most of you, the numbers have nothing to do with why you got into this business. 

It is time for all of you to stand-up and become the JFK’s of your offices!  What we all need right now are leaders we can believe in.  Ones that inspire us to do great things (JFK wanted to put a man on the moon)…so we will want to sacrifice…be part of something bigger than ourselves.  Bill Moyers is a great man and he has inspired me.  Bill reminded me of the things we can do when given hope…when we are part of a “Great Group”…when we are pushed to succeed vs. torn down.  Bill, Bill, and Gary reminded me to Crush It. 

Speak with you soon…

Jim

Top 10 Ways to Make Your Festival Successful

November 27, 2008

Last week I had the honor of moderating the “Festival Panel” at the Billboard Touring Conference in New York.  I hadn’t really wanted to do these type of things since starting the Aspen Live Conference (Dec. 11-13 @ St. Regis, Aspen http://www.aspenlive.net), but when Ray from Billboard emailed me the list of panelist, it was an easy yes.  After all, we are talking about the best and most successful music festival producers in North America.

The panel; Chris Shields from Festival Productions (New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Newport Folk Festival, Playboy Jazz Festival, etc),  Charlie Jones from C3 Presents (Austin City Limits Festival, Lollapalooza, etc), Tony Conway from Buddy Lee Attractions (CMA Festival, Nashville…formerly Fan Fair), Chuck Morris from AEG-Live, Rocky Mountains (Mile High Festival, Rothbury), and Ashley Capps of AC Entertainment (Bonnaroo, Vagoose) really are the best at what they do.  Our Canadian representative got sick and was unable to…well represent.  The basic question that we were dealing with was the health of the festival business in North America.  Is there room to grow?  Are there enough headliners to go around and still have each festival keep its identity?  The easy answer to all is yes.

Tony Conway pointed out that the CMA Festival actually raised their ticket prices this year and are at this point well ahead of last year’s sales to date, without announcing a line-up (the event takes place in the spring).  On a call prior to our panel, Charlie Jones talked about how the Austin City Limits audience “must be trained or something”.  The fact is they are…trained to expect that the event will be well run, with great music and food, clean port-a-johns, plenty of places to get a bottle of water that doesn’t cost $4, amazing transportation system, and a friendly staff.  The ACL and CMA audiences are trained to expect quality and value.

Based on my notes from our panel, here is what the experts had to say…at least on that day is the TOP 10 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO MAKE YOUR FESTIVAL SUCCESSFUL!!!

1)      Know Your Market There is so much that goes into a festival’s workings, that without knowing about traffic patterns, neighbors, law enforcement, political issues, competition, and a whole host of other issues, you are setting your festival up to fail.  Chuck Morris pointed out that artists that aren’t big around the country can draw in Colorado.  One reason being radio station KBCO in Boulder.

2)     Community Relations – Each of our panelists at the Billboard Touring Conference had at least one story of how building relationships with community and business leaders, neighborhood associations, law enforcement, fire and rescue, parks & recreation officials, health department, and others gave them some kind of advantage.  Whether it was bidding on a new project, going into a new city, or getting into trouble and needing help, there is no substitute for being a good citizen.

3)     Over Deliver – Especially in year one, it is important to over deliver for your consumers and talent.  Even if it means the difference between breaking even and losing money, spend the extra to WOW the audience.  It keeps them coming back…”trains them”.

4)     Price – Price is very much tied to knowing your market, but for some reason, festival pricing is much more sensitive than regular live entertainment pricing.  Your customers really want to feel they are getting their money’s worth since there is an assumption that what ever they are going to see will be watered down (music act will play a shorter set without their production, food festivals will give you smaller portions than the restaurant would, etc).

5)     Transportation & Housing – This really should be 2 if not 4 separate departments of your festival team.  Certainly if you going to have 2 departments you need to separate responsibilities between those that handle transportation or housing for artists and crew and those that will get the audience from place to place.  Housing is a place not to be overlooked.  Every try to get a hotel in a city where there is a large festival?  Good luck!

6)     Booking Talent – The strong message here is that anyone can book a really big headliner; it is the whole package that makes a festival. Remember, a festival is more than a line-up it is about passion.

7)     Camping vs. “City” Festivals – Our panel all believed that the growth in North America would be more in the non-camping festival model (ACL, Jazz Fest, CMA Fest, etc).  With that said, Rothbury only started-up last year in Michigan and it is a camping festival.

8)     Food & Beverage – Every producer will tell you about the part that food and beverage play in the overall feel of your festival.  With festivals like New Orleans Jazz & Heritage and Austin City Limits, the food has become almost as much of a draw as the music.  Also price was a big topic.  Some people just have a problem with $4.50 for water.

9)     Technology Is Your Friend – Use technology whenever and wherever possible to make your fan’s experience more enjoyable.  Things like an event schedule that consumers can customize to plan their day at your festival have become necessity.

10)  Build a Model – All of our panel’s festival producers pointed out that once you had a model that worked, you could reproduce that model in other cities and with other festivals.  The key here is experience.

If there was an 11, it would have to be staying out of trying to do a festival if you have no experience.  Better to partner with someone like those listed above who already have their “models”, and can make things run smoothly for you.  Going in head first without learning to swim can make all of us drown.

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