Posts Tagged ‘U2’

TOP 6 MUSIC EVENT PRODUCERS

March 20, 2012

Below are my picks for the top music “event” producers in the U.S. What do you think?

4 Fini/Kevin Lyman – Kevin and company have built multiple touring brands including WARPED, Country Throwdown and Mayhem by staying true to each events vision.  Not only are fans…well fans of their shows, so are the artist that play them. 

SuperflyBonnaroo (along w/ AC Entertainment and Red Light Management) put Superfly on the national stage and have since added Outside Lands (w/ Another Planet and Red Light) and new to Brooklyn this May, The Great Googa Mooga (“n amusement park of food and drink).  Each year, you can find something new and different at their events.  Walt Disney called this “plussing”, or making the experience better for no reason other than to surprise and delight the audience.  Do you “plus”?

C3Austin City Limits Festival (ACL) and Lollapalooza has three things in common, 1) they are great events, 2) no parking spots for 75,000 guests per day, and 3) are produced by the three C’s that have always put fans and bands first.  Charlie, Charlie and Charles are also familiar with “plussing” which keeps fans coming back year-after-year.  Being chosen to produce President Obama’s 2008 Inauguration ceremony speaks volumes of their experience and knowhow. 

GoldenvoiceCoachella is America’s Music Festival (at least Rock/Alternative).  It has been booked and produced for years with passion and love by Paul, Skip and their team… in a market (LA/Southern California) that is much harder to sell tickets in than you may think.  It is easy to say now that you knew Coachella would be successful, yet it lost money for the first three years (and probably wouldn’t be around today if it wasn’t for the vision of the AEG Live management team).  Now they have moved to 2-weekends and added a country festival on the same site, Stagecoach (doing well for years). 

Live Nation/Arthur Fogel, Gerry Barad & CoU2, The Rolling Stones, Bowie, Rush… nothing more to say. 

The Messina Group – Louis Messina and his team just keep hitting them out of the park…ball barks.  Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift, George Strait, and they help-out the Goldenvoice team on Stagecoach in So Cal…those are all well produced shows. 

There are plenty more out there for sure (Jazz Fest, Telluride, High Sierra, Voodoo, moe. Down, country and folk festivals everywhere, etc).  These are my tops, what are yours?

 

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LESSONS FROM THE ASPEN CONFERENCE

January 7, 2011

This year’s Aspen Live Conference was one of our best yet.  Although I can’t speak for every member of the Aspen Family, below are some bullet points of important items discussed, learned, and debated.  Please comeback with comments and ideas.

  • Overplaying – Because most artists aren’t making their money from record sales and publishing anymore, touring has become a vital part of keeping cash flowing.  The problem discussed; some of us continue to book the same acts in the same markets over and over as we watch their business fall off.  This hurts everyone…fan, promoter, and especially artists.
  • Pricing – It really was the same old debate…ticket prices and ancillary charges are too high for fans…certainly for them to take a chance on discovering something new.  The only answer is for each one of us to take responsibility for and do our best to bring prices down.
  • Posse – This is blowing up in Australia and seems like a good idea.  Instead of just letting your friends know about a show you want to see like you would on Facebook, fans actually get commissions for each ticket that they sell.  Check it out… http://www.posse.com/home/index.  We did debate how that works in terms of credibility (your friend may just be sending you this to make money), but that’s not really how the internet works.  You don’t spam your friends (although many of you do and need to stop)…and fans are passionate about “their acts”.  We should get this going in the U.S. big time!
  • Don Strasburg’s Facebook Campaigns – Most of us can agree that Don Strasburg from AEG Denver is a great, passionate promoter.  He has followers on Facebook…creates cool contests…and the fan feels like they are on the inside because of it.  He is selling tickets, but more importantly building a community to help sell tickets for him.
  • Goldstar vs. Groupon – We were lucky enough to have 2 people from Goldstar attend Aspen this year, including the Co-CEO and founder of the company.  Some concert promoters use Goldstar and some don’t.  Both services are about discounts no doubt. I’ve received some pretty strong responses to Goldstar and whether they are good for the business.  Theatre, Sports, and Family has gotten squarely behind these services because they are selling “remnant inventory”.  Our group pointed out that it is different with most theatre, sports, and family shows since they usually play multiple dates in the same city.

 Currently, Groupon sells tickets at half the retail price and takes 50% of the sale on top, leaving the promoter with a “trickle” of revenue that doesn’t make up much.  As for those guests spending more money on ancillaries, most of my experience has been that “paper” or discounted ticketed guests actually spend less at the shows than the fan that paid full-price.  From everything we heard (and continue to see), you can really work with Goldstar.  They don’t take a 50% commission on the ticket…you can limit the number of tickets you give to them to sell (which works best prior to the on-sale)…and based on what I’ve seen recently, they even sell full-priced tickets (New Cirque show in LA)…so they can make for good marketing partners regardless. http://www.goldstar.com

 The argument to use these services…their members wouldn’t normally buy a ticket for your show.  As stated above, everyone who uses these sites is looking for a deal.  At the same time, some believe that fans will find the cheapest tickets no matter what and that we are selling a ticket at half of what the guest is willing to pay.  What do you think?

  • Customer Service – As the world gets better at customer service, we seem to stay stagnate.  Employees at our shows are not usually well-informed or trained properly.  In many cases this lack of information gives guests the opposite effect as the desired intent by management.  We need to spend more money and time in training everyone who touches the consumer.  When you go to a Disney Theme Park, every cast member can give you directions to anything.  Try asking one of your parking attendants or security people how to get somewhere and see what happens. 
  • Four Square – The jury seems to be out on whether this is a good tool for live entertainment and music or not.  If there was a consensus it was that like everything else in life, using Four Square is a case-by-case.  It may work for some and not others.
  • Filters / One Place To Go – There is still room and a need for filters to spread the word about live shows and music in general.  Fans and potential fans need one place to go (like a Google) where they can find all information.  Marc Geiger and company had this concept long ago with ArtistDirect.  It can suck sometimes to be too far ahead (as Marc and Don seemed to be) of the curve before everyone has caught-up.  Personally, my finger points to the labels here and their need to own the artist’s sites.  Eventually there will be one place to go…currently it seems to be iTunes although you can’t buy tickets…yet.
  • Marketing Materials – Well, if we are going to overplay our talent, let’s at least show them a new look.  Steve Kelly from Bill Young Productions talked about showing (in TV and Web) or talking about (radio and print) the new stage, something amazing the fan will experience, etc, versus the same old – same old.  U2 is doing this with the 360 Tour on their website…and as a fan; I couldn’t wait to see what the stage was going to look like.  We need to look into this much harder.
  • Quality Is A Problem – Again talked about forever, but with the live business now meaning so much to an artist’s livelihood, actually being good is more important than ever.  Everyone agrees there should be fewer releases…but we are talking about actually having fewer artists put out more material.  Remember when your favorite group would release two-albums a year?
  • Facebook Ads Sell Tickets – Almost everyone in Aspen could agree that their most cost-effective, measurable, and fun way to market shows is through Facebook.  Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or whatever, the important thing is to have a conversation versus a monologue with fans.
  • Reward Programs – Reward programs work for airlines, movie theatres, supermarkets, drugstores, theme parks, banks and credit cards, hotels, rental cars, gasoline, retailers of every kind, even pot dispensaries…why are we still not onboard with this?  Start a program today.  You could bring in some of the good people who have just been laid-off that know this stuff…Like Piper Taylor formerly of Live Nation as an example. 
  • Back To Singles Business – Lefsetz pointed out that we are back to a singles business.  Young music consumers are not out getting the full album; they want the song they like or their friends like.  Knowing this is the case, how do we take advantage of this fact? 
  • Jennie from Guerilla Marketing – Many from our group are fans of Jennie from Guerilla Marketing.  One quote was “she really understands the artist”. 
  • Mix Match Music – http://www.mixmatchmusic.com.  This is a fun website that actually serves several purposes…but really it’s about fan engagement and interaction.
  • Mobile Roadie – You want to create a mobile app for your artist, show, whatever… http://mobileroadie.com/  
  • Bandzoogle – Want to build a website for your artist, show, convention, etc, and don’t have a lot of money…not too internet savvy?  My good friend Jon Topper (manager of moe.) turned me onto this site.  If I can build a website with them, anyone can.
  • Search Engine Optimization – Not sure where we ended-up on this subject as there doesn’t seem to be an easy fix.  If a fan types an artist’s name into a search engine, they will most likely find Stub-Hub and sites like it on the top of the list…and I’m not talking about the ads at the top that are put in a different color to show they are ads, I’m talking about the regular searches.  A fan, promoter or ticketing company site is usually a few spots down.  What happens is that some fans that don’t know better will Google phrases like “Rolling Stones Tickets”…see that they are $1000 a piece and turn away.  They never realize that just a few spots down there are tickets for sale at face value.  No answer came out of our meetings, but that doesn’t mean we should drop the issue. 
  • Taylor Swift On-Sales – A question was asked on why Taylor Swift put her shows on-sale for next summer in 2010 (they all sold-out btw).  The answer everyone came up with is that they wanted to strike while the iron is hot.  If they waited, many of Taylor’s fans may fall-off…this way they stay engaged. 
  • Business with Friends – This is really what the Aspen Conference is all about.  It is much easier, smarter and quicker to do business with people who you know, trust and care about than to just serve up your goods to the highest bidder.  In sales they always say that you don’t make money on your first sale…it is about repeat business.  Why would it be different in your business?

 Our dates are set for Aspen Live 2011 so mark your calendars now.  Our dates are December 8-11.  Stay tuned for more information.

Happy New Year!

Jim

THE U2 EXPERIENCE

October 26, 2009

I wanted the next LiveWorks Newsletter to focus on marketing but needed a little inspiration.  It came in the form of a radio commercial for U2.  What caught my attention was that it didn’t sound like one produced by our business.  It sounded professional.  Then I realized that’s because it was paid for by Wal-Mart…to me that’s actually a good thing.  And then I read what Lefsetz wrote on U2 last night and I was a bit bummed http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/index.php/archives/2009/10/25/u2-360/.  Is Bob for the tour and U2 or not?

Back to the ad…it was just awesome.  What I got out of it was that the biggest band in the world was coming to down…they had new music…a new album @ Wal-Mart…and of course the “360 Tour“.  It sounded exciting, like you needed to be a part.  It was the U2 Experience!

For years I’ve harped on marketing the concert experience versus tickets going on-sale on a day and time.  U2’s tour is called 360 so right away you get a sense of what you are in for.  The radio spot comes on and envelopes you in U2 music, the band’s show and tour, the new album, and where you can get it (available at Wal-Mart).  The Lefsetz Letter’s opening last night almost took all the wind out of my sails as he pointed out that the biggest news on the U2 tour was the stage.  This is great!

With U2 360, you know you are in for an experience.  I love U2 and have since I saw them in high school when they played for free at SUNY Albany.  Now I love their marketing.  They know how to connect the dots.  Do you?  If you aren’t sure, let me recommend someone who does. 

Years ago, I had the good fortune of working with Jolene Pellant while she was a VP of Marketing for what was then Clear Channel Entertainment.  She had passion, knowledge, tenacity and relationships.  Jolene was willing to go the extra mile.  Cut to this past spring.  We needed help with the marketing around The Great American Food & Music Fest.  We needed a quarterback.  I called Jolene who now runs a company called “Yes Dear” with her partner Mike Gormley.  Within days everything was organized and all pistons firing at the same time.  The Fest had a well-organized plan that was implemented step-by-step by Yes Dear along with our “Best in the Business” PR team, Elaine Garza and Jada Williams from Giant Noise

So, here is three pieces of advice.

  1. If your marketing needs help call Yes Dear @ (310) 203-9007 and speak with Jolene or Mike
  2. Need the best PR people for festivals and events, call Giant Noise @ (512) 382-9017
  3. If you are a U2 fan, go see U2…if you can afford to

Don’t forget that if you have any plans to go to Aspen Live (Dec. 10-12) this year, I really need to hear from you soon.  jim@theagencygroupevents.com or (310) 385-2800.

Speak with you soon…

Jim

2 CENTS ON LEFSETZ/CONCERT STUFF

August 7, 2009

The idea of the last LiveWorks Newsletter https://liveworksnews.wordpress.com/2009/08/03/innovation-wins-every-time/ was to point out how innovators like C3, Goldenvoice/AEG Live, Superfly/Ashley Capps/Coran Capshaw, CAA, William Morris, Madison House…and Kevin Lyman have changed the landscape of the U.S. Concert Business through their festival development…and challenges the rest of us to try to live-up to their example.  So when I first saw a few jumping on Kid Rock’s bandwagon to tear Kevin down (in my mind Rock was the only one who should have been dissing and even he admits that he likes Kevin), my blood pressure started rising fast (those of you who know me have seen that before).  But then…Lefsetz http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/ started posting the flood (only way to describe it) of support for Kevin Lyman.

It was heartwarming to see so many bands, managers, agents, promoters, sponsors, fans…everyone say WE LOVE KEVIN… AND THIS IS WHY vs. ARTHUR FOGEL IS A LIAR (which we still saw too much of).  Here are some facts to chew on…

1) The U2 tour is doing very well whether you like their new album or not.  They are an amazing live band, always do groundbreaking production,  and unless you are in the box office counting the drop every-night, you shouldn’t be commenting on other’s ticket sales (unless you are Bob Lefsetz as he is our business’s commentator and conscious…and the reason we have these dialogues in the first place).

2) A new trend the business is seeing, and adapting to as much as possible is seating preferences.  P1 seats continue to sell in this economy.  So do P3’s and beyond.  P2’s not so much.  What you might see in a stadium concert is a show that is 98% sold-out and still has an empty section that looks like it is down-front. Just because the promoter/building/band wants to fill it in, doesn’t mean the show didn’t make money, and most of the capacity sold.  Maybe I’m totally wrong, but if you don’t know for sure, don’t call someone a liar!

3) Like the Festival Producers listed above,Arthur Fogel has changed our industry.  Bono and Madonna think he is the rock star!  He basically owns the top of the box score artists.  If you are talking shit about
Arthur, you are just jealous or pissed!  Me, I would rather do business with him than not. 

4) In case you haven’t noticed over the past couple of days, The Lefsetz Letter has us all talking.  Managers, agents, promoters, lawyers, business managers, label people, sponsors, fans, even rock stars (although I’m not sure if Madonna knows that Bob actually types on a computer and doesn’t write with a pen…but even she is talking about his fishing tackle).  Ok, so he doesn’t always get the facts perfect…but I don’t think that’s the point.  Bob, like the rest of us wants to see change for the positive.  Sometimes he needs to say things in a certain way to piss people off and get them talking (he never told me that but I’m guessing it is the case). 

With the way the world sits right now, our business should be pulling together instead of knocking each other down.  We should be encouraging Kevin Lyman and those like him to continue to innovate and create new vehicles.  It was awesome the way everyone wrote to Bob to tell “Kevin stories”.  We should all encourage and take part in the fun debate that happens as part of the Lefsetz Letter.  We should do the same for anyone who is trying to make a difference!

Hope you have a great weekend…and sell tickets (instead of giving them away)!

Speak with you soon…

Jim

NEWS YOU CAN USE

March 25, 2009

Redlight Leaves a Light On

Industry veteran Nick Light has joined Coran Capshaw’s Redlight Management team and will be heading up their touring division.  Nick spent the last bunch of years as VP of Touring and Artist development for Warner Bros.,  before doing a quick layover at Sony as part of the Rick Rubin restructuring.  We are glad it didn’t take long for Nick to resurface. 

Matlins CMO At Live Nation

Old news for sure at this point, but as mentioned as a rumor in one of our newsletters a few months back, Seth Matlins is now officially the Chief Marketing Officer for Live Nation.  Seth comes from CAA where he was one of the leaders of their marketing divsion working with brands such as Coke, eBay, Harley Davidson and Starwood Hotels (that’s probably why Starwood is now the official hotel chain for Live Nation).  Hats off to Live Nation for the effort…and good luck to Seth. 

Layaway For All

Turns out that the ticket layaway plan we’ve discussed a few times in the newsletter that AEG’s festival division is doing for their Stagecoach Country Music Festival is actually being implemented across all of their festivals.  So, fans can buy tickets and “pay as you go” for Coachella, New Orleans Jazz Fest, Mile High, Bumbershoot, and Rothbury festivals.  Nice job!  Innovation is the key to the success and growth of Live Entertainment.

U2’s New Stage

Speaking of innovation, U2 is headed back out this summer…and back into stadiums.  Their rig looks just amazing!!!  http://360.u2.com/  This is innovation…bringing a show to the people.  Say what you want about the band, this is really cool!

How Will We Build New Arena Acts?

You hear this question over and over again…and yet we aren’t paying attention.  Nine Inch Nails, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Nickleback, Greenday, Foo Fighters, Dave Matthews, Pearl Jam, Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift, Hanna Montana…all play arenas.  Wake-up…keep building. 

Speak 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

Selling-Out Isn’t Good, It’s Great!!!

November 2, 2008

To start, wanted to follow-up on working hand-in-hand with brands.  Please follow the link to see our designer Jim Lenahan take Ford and Toby Keith from conception to reality. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GB1plbRXytM …now to the subject at hand.

Mike Krebs from Golden Voice/AEG Live in LA is a great concert promoter, and most of you in the music business reading this would probably agree.  Last week Andy Somers and I had lunch with Mike.  Among the many things we discussed was the importance of shows selling-out, and how few do these days.  “Krebsy” got into detail about the impact a sold-out show has on the promoter, public, press, artists (even if they are in Feld’s Disney on Ice) venue staff, and yes even the secondary ticketing market.  Maybe it’s time we all look at the venues we are playing and remember what kind of impact the words “Sold-Out” have on everything. 

I wish it was Monday so I could call on our friend Gary B. over at Pollstar to see if he has stats on how many concerts sold-out in 2007 and so far in 2008.  My guess is a lot fewer than you would think.  Fact is we aren’t playing the numbers much differently than the folks in the mortgage businesses that are now failing.  Instead of “I’m going to make more money so we will be able to afford this house”, its “we can sell the tickets this time”.  The theory is the bigger buildings have higher gross potentials so, let’s just have our show play there.  If your ticket price is low enough, this tactic could work but it usually doesn’t.  Just as those who thought they were going to make more money and thus bought houses they couldn’t afford, never did get that paycheck they were hoping for.  So then we start looking at ways of “making the house look better” for the show.   And as Mike Krebs brought up at lunch, papering our shows is doing no one any good.

If your show can sell 10,000 tickets in a market, put it in the appropriate venue.  Probably an 8000 seater if they have it.  Going bigger puts your show in a position for the bean counters to start talking about papering (giving tickets away) it.  This is good for no one in the long term.  In the short term, it sells parking, beer, and hot dogs.  It doesn’t sell tour merchandise or do anything else positive for the artist, show or event.  Papering does; trains the public to wait for free tickets, pisses off the fans that paid full price, and ultimately weakens the market for show (artist, touring property, etc), promoter, venue, etc.  Paper in a market long enough and even those ancillary sales the venue accountants are relying on will dry-up.  You may already see it happening. 

Here are some suggestions to follow during the down economy.

1) Start early, get your venue holds as early as possible.

2) If you work with a promoter, listen to their opinions on venue, dates, days of the week, ticket price, advertising and promotion, etc.  Otherwise, promote the show yourself.

3) If you have sponsors, make sure they are part of your marketing campaigns and collaborate with promoters.  In some cases, you should take less money in favor of targeted advertising (just make sure you get approval of those ads in writing).

4) Summer concerts need to stop going on-sale so early.  It is killing your summer.

5) Price your show smart.  In talking with concert promoters this summer they told me that John Mayer’s numbers actually went up this summer…ticket price + good product = success. 

6) Play venues that are either the “right size” or even a little smaller than your show should be in.  Selling-out has huge impact on the market and will keep fans coming back.

In a recent copy of our friend Bob Lefsetz’s The Lefsetz Letterhe spoke with Irving Azoff about his plans for the future after taking over as CEO of the newly branded Ticketmaster Entertainment.  One thing Irving said that rang in my ears was that too many of us were still living in the old business.  One part of the old business that we should try to hang on to with everything we have is selling-out our live shows.  If you need an example to help, remember that U2 doesn’t play stadiums anymore and they are doing just fine. 

As always, would love your input.

Talk with you soon…

Jim