Posts Tagged ‘sponsorship’


September 3, 2010


Some of you know the story of attempts last year to launch a Food & Music Festival (link to last year’s story  This was more than a dream.  It was a labor of love that took years of work research and money to get off the ground (link to highlight video from 2009 The short story is last June we managed to do a good job bringing people to the Bay Area Show (right ticket price, marketing partners, fees built into ticket price) but did a bad job of serving them.  In the end, anyone who wanted a refund got one, although after the first 2-hours of chaos due to a technical malfunction, the show ran pretty well for the other 8-hours.  Guests wanted their money back because they had to wait too long to spend more money (what a concept).  My thought, fix our service issues and we have a real winner.  After all, all of our talent played on-time and isn’t that why guests paid for their tickets in the first place?

After selling so many tickets for our first test show (12,000 in pre-sales alone) I figured that promoters would be falling all over themselves to buy the festival in 2010.  Boy was I wrong.  It was a tough sell.  So along with my business partners/investors, we started speaking to NFL Football stadiums.  After all, they only have 8-10 events scheduled per year and have a perfect fan base to market to.  So to the stadiums we went.

For June, 2010 we partnered with two stadiums in the East.  From there on, the game plan that drew so many people in 2009 was not followed. Tickets did not include service charges (it was cheaper to wait till DOS to avoid charges even though tickets were $10 more at the door); we had very little support from local media forget partnerships; went on-sale with only 8-weeks to sell the shows; and had not one sponsor to help offset talent, production and marketing costs in case things didn’t go well. 

You know what’s coming next.  There were “Emergency Broadcast System” weather warnings for our first show this past June.  There was no reason for guests to purchase early since it was a General Admission show and less expensive if they waited anyway…then charged $25 to park on a $30 ticket.  Thus we had about 3500 guests at our show. 

Our second event went even worse as two of our headliners didn’t show…along with the audience.  For those who did attend, many wanted their money back since several of our acts were no-shows…but the stadium felt this was the show’s problem.  They directed all guests back to us even though they had acted as the promoter and were holding all monies collected from the show (minus our deposit).  We had no way of refunding guest’s money even if we could.

So as the saying goes, “Three Strikes and You’re Out”.  We now have had three shots at making the Food & Music festival concept work and each time failed for a host of reasons.  But there is quote from author Napoleon Hill that says “Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure”.  Well, we did a big draw at our first show. At our next two we managed to do at least $32 per head on food and beverage alone.  Why give-up now when we are seeing a model that works?  Market the show properly, make tickets either free or very inexpensive and everyone can make our money on ancillary income. 

So to win we need investment money.  It seemed like such a huge hurdle a few months ago.   Now that there has been some time to assess the business from top to bottom, it really seems like a matter of just finding the “right” eyes and ears to get the opportunity in front of. 

The Festival currently owes money to people as well as businesses.  Some I’ve worked and have been friends with for 20-years, while others we were meeting for the first time.  Paying these bills and moving forward seems a lot more…well like me, then the prospect of bankruptcy…of giving up.  It’s just not American…at least the kind of American I want to be.

Somewhere out there are others like me who believe in our concept and will want to invest.  Maybe it is Entertainment Venture Capitalists…or someone from Silicon Valley…a group of investors …or a company like Pepsi or American Express…How about David Geffen, Marc Cuban or Steve Bing?  I know for a fact that I’m not the only one that knows there is a big business here.  Quitting is for losers

I will not give-up!  The food and music festival is a winning concept.  Please write to me with any ideas you might have.  





January 29, 2009

There is a rumor circulating that Live Nation, the world’s largest concert promoter, has hired former CAA Marketing agent Seth Matlins in the newly created role of Chief Marketing Officer.  If it is true (and I believe it is), it will be the first time that I’m aware of that a concert promoter has brought in someone from outside music to oversee marketing.  This would be big news. 

Seth is also a good fit in the world of Branded Live Entertainment.  Matlins was one of the senior people at CAA Marketing.  While at CAA he oversaw big-brand accounts including Coke, Visa, Starwood Hotels, eBay, Delta Airlines, Harley Davidson, and Hasbro…and he is smart.  Seth knows how to put the pieces together and is well connected in Hollywood as well as Madison Avenue.  Russell Wallach(who runs the sponsorship side of Live Nation) could find new ways to work with his clients through Seth.  Points to Live Nation on this one.  Now it’s time to tackle customer service.

Speaking of customer service, I’m moderating the Customer Service in the Concert Industry panel at the Concert Industry Consortium tomorrow, January 30th @ 3:30 pm in the Santa Monica Room @ the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in LA.  The panelists are Geoff Boucher, The Los Angeles Times; Rick Mueller, Live Nation; Lee Zeidman, Staples Center/Nokia Theatre, and Patrick May, Skyline Music.  We will have free beer and wine at the event to serve you better.  Please come by.

Talk with you soon…



January 23, 2009

The music business continues to take body blows as more of our friends join America’s unemployed.  Interscope records is in the process of laying-off what we here is many as 55 staff (maybe more)  including Robbie Snow, Chris Clancy, Lisa Frank, and Tim Reid.  How does this effect LIVE?  Well, from this side of the fence it would seem that the record labels have always been there to develop the acts over time.  They paid for them to go on the road and learn to be artists.  Labels worked their records in the local markets where the acts toured.  Back in the day, artists were allowed to develop over 3-5 albums.  People like Robbie Snow at Interscope and Nick Light at Sony were a big part of that…so what now? 

No label money or support…no patience for artists to develop over time, and a consolidating industry everywhere you look (radio, print, concerts, label, distribution, retail, etc) has created fans of singles, not artists.  It’s why Rihanna can’t headline a tour.  My two girls, nine and eleven,  love to dance around the house to Rihanna’s songs, but want to go see Greenday in concert.  What will the future hold if the record labels are not around to help develop an artist’s career?  Will the money and marketing come from brand partners?

We at The Agency Group Events & Entertainment believe that Branded Live Entertainment will continue to grow and prosper in the 21 Century.  At the same time, we have also seen managers take on roles previously handled by their artist’s labels.  Azoff/Frontline and Redlight are just two examples of large music management companies that have PR, radio, and marketing staff in-house.  Agencies like William Morris and CAA have brought on marketing and sponsorship people to service their clients.  Will it be enough?  What about the passion and expertise of those label people?  What about tour support…and distribution…and broadcast time?  All things we talked about at the Aspen Live Conferencethis past December…but we didn’t come out with any concrete conclusions (lots of good ideas though). 

What we all do know is that we have talented friends that could use our support right now.  Call or email them…show your support.  As for the above, there is a huge 10X shift going on in our industry.  Keep changing or you will be left behind.  Not sure what to do, try something.

BTW, please visit our new company website at 

Talk with you soon…


Branded Live Entertainment

October 30, 2008

Sponsorship is almost becoming a dirty word in corporate hallways these days, as CEO’s and Boards of Directors push for more ROI from their marketing investments.  Yet at the same time venues (such as the downtown complex AEG is building in LA) and tour productions (music, sports, family, etc) are getting more expensive to build and operate, thus putting a heavy burden on consumers to pickup the tab.  The solution of course is partnerships between “Corporate America” and “Live Entertainment”.  What is needed is understanding.

First, both brand and live entertainment properties must gain a basic knowledge and appreciation of their partner’s business and goals.  If you are on the brand side, get familiar with the property, building, artist, or market you are co-branding yourself with.  Understand that they consider themselves brands too and are just as protective as you are.  On the entertainment side, check out your new partner’s website, advertising, products, etc.  Find ways early on in the creative process to work the brand into the show.  In my experience, it is important that you have all players involved from the opening bell, rather than just sales and marketing people.  A sponsorship sales person might not know what is possible…or not possible for your event, tour, show, building, etc.  Having decision makers and those that actually do the implementation involved from the get go will not only save you time and money but will also build a more trusting relationship between the parties (e.g. you won’t have to take anything back later, like when a sales person promises to put trucks on either side of a stage that can’t support the weight).  I’m attaching a link to the website of our genius set and lighting designer (ex-Disney Imagineer) Jim Lenahan to illustrate how well things can work when brands and entertainment folks are joined from day one.  The videos and photos you should link to shows a “transformer” Ford F-150 Pick-up for a Toby Keith tour that I first drew on a napkin (literally) and “Lenny” turned into reality.  I will send a Youtube link that shows the actual transformation as soon as we upload it (stay tuned).

Your partnership can come together in different ways, but what you will see more and more of is the brand side taking the lead to create an entertainment property: “Branded Live Entertainment”.  You have certainly heard enough about “Branded Entertainment” which for the most part is still relegated to TV and film product placement.  Of course films like “Cellular” and more recently “Transformers” along with TV shows built around popular board games have moved past simple placement to build whole storylines around a product or brand.  This same kind of movement works in the “Live Space” as well and what we at the Agency Group Events & Entertainment Department specialize in (sorry I have to give shameless plugs once in a while).

There are brands out there that are getting good in the live game.  One that deserves props is Jägermeister and what they are doing in music.  According to the brand’s website, they started the Jager Music Program in 1994 and now sponsor over 160 bands.  Besides being principal sponsors of tours like OzzFest, in 2002 the company started their own Jägermeister Music Tour. This is classic “Branded Live Entertainment”.  Jager came up the concept, books the talent, decides what markets and venues to play, and the message(s) being delivered to consumers.  Besides the tour, there is the Jager branded stage that travels on tours and to events across the country.  Just a few weeks ago my family and I saw their stage parked in the middle of Palm Springs for their annual motorcycle rally.  It was there in the middle of the street for the entire weekend and every band played on it.  When the stage was shutdown at night, it was still doing its branding job.

There is a difference between Branded Live Entertainment and Mobile Marketing.  The latter usually involves some kind of expando-truck with a brand’s display and some sort of “experiential element”, product sampling, etc.  Branded Live Entertainment is built around a fan’s experience interacting with the brand or product in a natural environment (for the consumer, not the brand).  If the brand looks authentic in the entertainment atmosphere created, it only makes sense that the consumer will identify that product with that experience.  This is why musical acts that you come to know in college or on vacation always have a special place in your heart…even if they aren’t really that good.

With advertisers looking for new ways to cut through clutter and see their marketing dollars selling more stuff to more people, there is no better way than through Branded Live Entertainment.  “Live” allows your brand (whether an entertainment property, household good, or artist) to differentiate itself from competitors by; interacting one-on-one with your consumers or fans, creating a communal environment where those in attendance share a once in a lifetime opportunity (live is live…it will never happen exactly the same way again), driving press to your brand that it might not otherwise get, is far more cost efficient for a national or international program than a traditional advertising program (local & regional print, radio, and cable ads are usually used for live).

So if you are in Entertainment, stop asking for sponsorship and if you are on the brand side, look for ways to build your own property.  Need help, call or email me at (310) 385-2800 or

Talk to you soon…


Start or Buy a Consumer Show… or Three…Today!

October 26, 2008

To be fair,  just as CNN or Fortune disclose that they are “a Time Warner Company”, I should let you know that although not in it now,  I grew-up in the consumer show business (my parents own and or operate a bunch in the Albany, NY market).  Consumer shows (Auto, Home, Bridal, Boat, RV, Ski, Sport, etc) have been around forever and yet for the most part have not been consolidated (although there are two companies working on that now), re-invented, grown, or even been on most of our radar.  Consumer shows are a huge growth area for the Live Entertainment and Branded Live Entertainment Businesses and something you should look into right away.

Certainly can’t speak for the rest of the world, but in the U.S., consumer shows are for the most part controlled market-to-market.  One promoter usually “owns” a city or region and does a majority of the shows in that market by locking-up the convention center or best venue or venues in town (e.g. Javits Center in NYC).  There is no reason for this model to continue, although if you wanted to start this way, there are markets open for you to jump into all over the country.  Because consumer shows are not seen as sexy to the entertainment industry (no real talent, very short windows to make money, low margins), we have ignored them.  As consumer show promoters’ die-off, there is no one there to take their place so the markets now lay dormant.  Opportunity there for sure, but what I’m thinking is looking at this from a whole new angle.

Consumer shows work perfectly into today’s economy.  What I’m suggesting is infusing what all of you do best into a model that in many cases needs some updating.  Have you been to one of these shows recently?  If not, go.  You would be surprised that with few exceptions (some of the auto shows for example), not much has changed.  Same booths, same pipe-n-drape, skirted tables, demos, brochures, promotional giveaways, and appearances by “celebrities” you’ve kind of heard of…you think.  What if there was real celebrity, real production, and great brands all built around the idea of helping consumers with a problem?

As an example, “the news” is full of reports that the new home starts are way down.  Makes sense since banks have no money to lend.  So what if Sears were to grab two big celebrities they currently work with, Tye Pennington (new school) and Bob Vila (old school) and build “Do-it-Yourself Workshops” around the country starring Tye and Bob?  Besides Tye Pennington and Bob Vila, Sears and Craftsman become the stars and their brand breaks through the clutter.  Sears and Craftsman advertising and promotions not only push the brands, but the upcoming events (which they also have a piece of), their stars and their stars’ brands (sold through Sear’s outlets and online).  You could do the same with Kmart, Wal-Mart, Target, Ford, Dell, AIG (no spa treatments please), P&G, Coke, Wells Fargo, and any other brand that wants to reach consumers.  Again, you must be helping people with a problem.

The keys to success are these.

1) Be Authentic.  Your event needs to be the real deal, not a mobile marketing campaign for your brand.

2) Have great talent involved up and down the line.  It isn’t enough to have a few celebrities involved; you need to have a first class event.  As an example (although not a consumer show), if you were to ever go to Michael Jordan’s adult fantasy camp, you would notice that you not only get MJ himself, but a whole team of NBA and NCAA coaches, training and hospitality staff.

3) Media partners are key.  Most consumer shows don’t spend much on advertising.  They usually will partner-up with a local print, TV, and radio partners.

4) Make money before you open the doors.  Between selling booth space and sponsorship your consumer show should be making money before you sell a single ticket.  Any money you make at the gate is gravy.

5) Don’t charge the public a lot of money for a ticket.  If your show is extremely talent heavy and in a major market, maybe you charge $20 with no coupons (of course there should be multiple places for consumers to get coupons for discounted tickets).

6) Solve problems for consumers.  As an example Wells Fargo (my bank) could setup “Get Back Your Money” shows where they bring in the biggest names in personal finance as well their best local stars to help consumers get back on their feet.

7) Start Now!!!

If ever there was a time to get into the consumer show business, now would be it.  Whether you are a brand, live event pro, or currently in the consumer show business, it is at least worth a look to see if you could find an opportunity for yourself or company in consumer shows.

Would love your input.

Talk to you soon…