Posts Tagged ‘Price’

POSITIVE THINKING

March 17, 2011

WARNING, THIS IS PROBABLY THE MOST PERSONAL LIVEWORKS NEWSLETTER I’VE EVER WRITTEN.  READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED

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!

Best,

 Jim

Advertisements

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

COMPARISON ADS

February 2, 2010

Happy New Year!  At some point I will write a Newsletter (which also appears on my Facebook page, etc) on why I haven’t been writing newsletters recently…but not now.  Today I want to rip-off some more business’s  advertising ideas.

Have you seen the Allstate Insurance TV spots where they compare their competitor’s prices to Allstate’s?  We could do the same type of ads comparing money a consumer spends on a video game…or trip to the movies that one thinks is so inexpensive…or going out to dinner, etc, to going to a live event or purchasing music.  The comparisons don’t and shouldn’t be limited to a financial message, since our ticket prices aren’t exactly cheap…and we all have seen what younger consumers think the value of recorded music should be.

There probably isn’t a person alive today that doesn’t mark important times or periods in their lives…good or bad, with a song or piece of music.  Many of remember decades by the type of music prominent at the time… 70’s Rock, 80’s New Wave and Punk, etc.  Do you think the casual gamer has the first game they ever owned…although I am very sentimental to Pong?  But you never forget your first concert.  Now that I’ve taken my 12-year old Gwen to a few, she told me she wants me to take her to as many live shows as I can.  Gwen is now hooked on live music!

Experiment…in your next ad, instead of the same old music video, new single, and frame with the B.S. “call to action”, try comparing going to a Zac Brown Band concert (just an example since I’m a fan and we were talking about him in the office today) to going to a movie.  It’s a no brainer for a consumer after that.  Price is very comparable… Zac is only in town a few times a year at most…it is fun, communal …you can go with friends…you can meet members of the opposite sex, that show will only happen once as no-show is exactly the same…but the movie and theatre aren’t going anywhere…just to name a few. 

Hope to hear from you on the subject.  Let me know what you come up with.  Also, the movie trailer concept is something we all should consider.  More on that in the Aspen Live wrap-up which will be headed your way shortly.

Have a great day!

Jim Lewi

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