Posts Tagged ‘Wal-Mart’

WAL-MART / TICKETMASTER

February 16, 2010

Irving strikes again…and at the same time does something good for promoters, producers, venues, artists, sports teams, family shows…and yes fans too. 

The deal Irving Azoff announced on February 12th between Wal-Mart and Live Nation/Ticketmaster will almost instantly add 500 brinks-and-mortar points-of-sale for events either playing for the promoter or a venue that uses Ticketmaster for its ticketing.  Would a Wal-Mart shopper actually buy concert or sporting tickets on an impulse?  If it is marketed, yes. 

Marketing seems to be one of the problems (besides the company closing stores) with the deal between Live Nation and Blockbuster.  The store near my house is a perfect example.  They get a ton of foot traffic and participate in the Live Nation ticketing program.  But the concert calendar they have up in the store never has dates or venues listed and the staff behind the counter has very little idea how to sell tickets to a guest anyway. 

Wal-Mart is a marketing machine.  Imagine how many people pass through the doors of a single store in one-day?  The issue of course will be price.  Most of our tickets are not scaled at “Wal-Mart prices”.  When a customer goes into their neighborhood Wal-Mart to buy Eggo Waffles and Tide, will a message in the store prompt them to purchase 30-Seconds to Mars tickets or will the price point and service charges scare them away?

This is one you should all take full-advantage of.  See how many different ways you can use the Wal-Mart ticket outlets to your benefit.  Find ways of creating destination buyers for Wal-Mart…drive traffic to their stores.  Run midnight madness promotions…get back to having fun.

The deal is done.  Make the most of it.   

Speak with you soon…

Jim

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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

LEFSETZ

April 9, 2009

Rumor has it that a major agency spoke about the power of the Lefsetz Letter in one of their staff meetings a while back.  Everyone tells you things like; “I delete every email he sends” or “who has time to read all that”…or even “that ass-hole has no idea what he is talking about”.  Well as the major agency went around the table (no, it wasn’t The Agency Group), they came to the conclusion that “almost everything Bob writes about becomes what the business is discussing the next day.”

Now I should throw out the disclaimer that Lefsetz and I are very good friends (yes, I send him angry notes about some of the stuff he writes too).  But if you ever doubted Bob’s influence, you just needed to see what happened yesterday when Lefsetz decided to start-up a Twitter account.  It was litteraly the biggest news on the whole system!!! 

Bob has been right about so many things the record companies could have done to save themselves, it isn’t even funny.  He told 200 of us at the Aspen Live Conference that the major labels should buy something called Napster, when no one in the room even knew what it was.  Sometimes we don’t appreciate people until they are no longer with us (look at the great artists through the years).  No one agrees with everything Bob Lefsetz says…not even Bob.  But there are many “smart people” out there that still think that Wal-Mart is going into the ticketing business with Bon Jovi because Bob wrote about it in his APRIL 1st letter. 

So the next time you hear someone slagging the Lefsetz Letter, you might want to remind them to not be “Playa Haters”.

Speak with you soon…

Jim

“IF I WERE… LAS VEGAS”

January 2, 2009

In the 70’s and 80’s (the years I was growing up) Las Vegas, the self proclaimed “Entertainment Capital of the World”, was known for inexpensive rooms, food and shows.  The resorts wanted guests at the tables gambling.  In the 90’s, Las Vegas started to shed its sin city reputation to attract families.  Now in 2009, the resorts themselves, shopping, shows, and restaurants have become as much of an attraction as gambling, free drinks, and legalized prostitution (my girls made a game out of collecting call-girl cards that were being handed out on the strip).  The above (minus the gambling, free drinks, and prostitution…except for the “trading cards” of course) are the reasons my family goes to Vegas.

Las Vegas can be great for families.  In one place you can find some of the best restaurants, shopping and entertainment in the world.  The problem is we can’t afford to do it anymore.  I bet we aren’t alone.

Now granted, my family is far from thrifty travelers.  But on the other hand, we drove to Las Vegas versus flying and stayed free on “points”.  We used sites like http://www.goldstar.com/home (my cousin Ann Leslie turned me on to this site) to purchase show tickets, used vouchers and coupons from the hotel, and even a gift certificate to eat one night…and we still couldn’t afford to do it again.  Las Vegas needs to drop its prices, stop building hotels and focus on customer service.

Here are the top 10 Things I would do…”If I were Las Vegas”.

  • 1) Drop your room prices in the nicer hotels. You want to make more money at the tables, save money for guests to gamble with.
  • 2) Have all your managers wait in the lines your guests have to.  That will put an end to that.  Two of my families favorite attractions (also way over priced) were the “Bodies” and “Titanic” exhibits at the Luxor.  We waited in a ticketing line for close to an hour. When we finally got to the ticket window, the person at the counter’s first question was “how will you be paying”.  I wanted to say “I’m not” but instead asked who told her to ask that as her first question…especially when someone has been waiting in line for an hour.  How about may I help you?  The woman at the counter told me “that was what she had been trained to say”. REALLY!!!!
  • 3) Wal-Mart is a discount store and even they have “greeters”.  All the big hotels need customer service people everywhere to point guests in the right direction.  If a guest has to spend all of their time finding their way around, then waiting in line, the guest will not be spending as much money with you as they should.
  • 4) Show ticket prices need to come down.  It costs as much to see “Mama Mia” in Las Vegas as it does on Broadway.  They are not of the same quality and thus should not charge the same ticket price.  The Cirque shows are of the same caliber (although some a little boring to me) so the hotels should pay to have them there and tickets should be $50, not $100 or more.
  • 5) Stop marketing to everyone who wears an “I’m with Stupid” T-shirt.  Middle America needs a place in Las Vegas just like everyone else, but it seems that that demo is a majority of the guests in the city.
  • 6) Use solar and wind power. You are in the desert and one thing that really turns-off many potential guests is the vast amount of resources used in your city.  Use the desert to your advantage and watch a whole new breed of guest come in.
  • 7) Per the above, start a new strip that is totally “green”. An entire new city where there are no cars, all power is from clean energy sources, and water and all other resources are recycled, etc.
  • 8) Bring in more mid-level priced restaurants.  It seems that your choices are either pizza and hot dogs or something that starts with “Le” which is code for very expensive.  How about restaurants that aren’t chains where entrée prices are in the high teens to mid-twenties?
  • 9) Widen the sidewalks. Guests love to walk the strip but don’t like being pushed around.  All the sidewalks should be as wide as they are by Luxor.
  • 10) Would someone please build an amusement park in Las Vegas!!!  The Adventure Dome at Circus-Circus just doesn’t cut it. In fact, someone should take a wrecking ball to that hotel.  They can leave the dome.

If there were a number 11, it would be to help pay to widen I-15 as there is way too much traffic on that freeway.

With all that said, I hope Las Vegas and everyone else in the live entertainment business has a great 2009.  As always, I look forward to your comments and encourage you to write a piece for the LiveWorks Newsletter.

Happy New Year!

Jim

“IF I WERE…TIM LEIWEKE”

December 6, 2008

Apologies are becoming way too common in the LiveWorks Newsletter, but I must again say I’m sorry to subscribers for sending an old newsletter to you.  To say I’m frustrated with the situation is the understatement of the century…and if any of you know anything about FeedBurner (the service that sends newsletter subscribers their emails), please let me know.  If there is an upside, as promised, at least you didn’t get the “Recession” email again.  Now on to “If I were…”

It is hard for me to wrap my brain around AEG’s business.  They separate it into AEG and AEG-Live.  AEG invests what amounts to hundreds- of- millions in new venues around the world, while AEG-Live is the concert promotion and live entertainment company built around the acquisition of Concerts West.  With all the money flying around it is hard to say how or if AEG makes any.  Since they are privately owned, AEG doesn’t report their financials, so it is even harder for me to poke my big nose into their shit.  So more than ever, please read the following disclaimer:  The “If I Were…” series is based on not knowing what the day-to-day business realities are for those written about.  Also in many situations, I’m looking at decisions from the past after they have already been played-out (or are in the middle of doing so) so it isn’t necessarily fair to play Monday morning quarterback. Oh well!  Fair or not, I like playing the position, so here are some of the things I would do “If I were…Tim Leiweke”.

· MARKETING – AEG should market itself as if it were a public company.  Meaning, they should start reaching out to consumers as a brand.  This is a real opportunity to differentiate AEG events and venues from everyone else’s.  Market in and to your communities.

· FAN RELATIONS DEPARTMENT – Goldenvoice guys should certainly be a part of this unit (just look at what they’ve done with Stagecoach’s layaway plan).  Although as per above, the whole company should be behind this mission, AEG should have a department whose only job is looking after fans (sports, music, family shows, etc).  With the intelligence they can share with the rest of the company, AEG’s whole culture will move into the role.  Think about what you could implement.

· STOP THE BIDDING WARS – In the live music business, bidding wars do a huge disservice to fans by driving ticket prices up, and thus everything else.  Create a committee to look at each opportunity and make a quick assessment of it.  Adding layers of bureaucracy can sometimes actually speed-up the decision making process since every deal wouldn’t have to pass by Randy Phillips and/or Tim.

· ENERGY/GOOD CITIZEN – The new solar panels at LA’s Staples Center and the PR that went along with it is a great example of what I’m talking about.  Getting ahead of the competition by switching over to clean energy, recycling, conservation programs, etc, will not only save you money both now (through tax breaks and energy savings) and in the future (it is said that “U.S. companies can spend billions now or trillions later”), it will make consumers feel better about doing business with you (this has been proven).  Hire a “Green Czar” that’s responsible for these initiatives.  Build it into AEG’s DNA.  The changes that Wal-Mart found their “associates” have made and continue to make since the company started its greening is amazing (looking for ways to cut down on post-consumer packaging, energy saving ideas, and even eating healthier).

· VENUES – I’m sure this isn’t the first time you have heard that several of your new concert venues and theaters are feeling a little sterile.  I think a better analogy might be a modern AMC multi-plex.  Don’t get me wrong (or anyone else saying this), I appreciate not only the investment you are making into our business, but the thought you put behind building them (production manager’s dream, great sound, etc).   Maybe your architects know something the rest of us don’t on how things will look in the future or how the venues will wear over time, but right now they could use a little more character.

· FREQUENT BUYER PROGRAM – Reward loyalty with a program that gives fans discounts on tickets, early access to the best seats, special merchandise, VIP parking without paying for it, etc.  Give them a membership card with special stamps or stickers for each show, game, or special event they attend.  Consumers can show their friends.  Think of it like the concert T-shirt you wear to school the day after the show to let everyone know you were there.  It will work with sports fans young and old the same way it works for music fans.

· THE DENVER OFFICE – AEG needs more strong local promoter acquisitions like Chuck Morris and the Denver office.  In two-years, Chuck, Brent, Don, and company have not only built two new successful music festivals, they have also managed to give Live Nation a run for their money in a market where LN owns and/or controls several major venues in the market (thus the ability to offer more money in theory).  Coincidentally it was Chuck and team (and Barry Fey as it relates to Coors Amphitheater) that built-up most of those venues.

· THE BENCH – Almost repeating myself from the item above but not really.  For some reason there is a perception that AEG doesn’t have a deep bench.  Not sure that reality matches perception (Tim, Randy, Larry, Paul, John, Chuck, Debra, etc) but it is out there.  Might be time to speak with John Scher in New York, Arny and Jerry in Chicago, and more.

· BUY LIVE NATION – They should be willing to sell it right now at a real discount.  Go directly to those that hold the IOU’s and make an offer to buy the company @ $7 per share.  The stock could fall below $4 this week.  Make your move.  Stockholders like me will be really happy to get out alive and you would end at least one war.

· RESTART DIALOGUE WITH MSG & TICKETMASTER – If buying Live Nation doesn’t work out, how about trying to re-engage conversations with MSG and/or Ticketmaster?  Again, now might be the right time to talk as both Ticketmaster and MSG are on the move and cash is king.

· BRANDS – We in live entertainment are just not getting it right when it comes to working with brands.  AEG has a great sales team (I’m sure, never met them as I have the Live Nation team, who are also very good) for their building’s naming rights etc, but need to do even more to work across their multiple platforms (venues, local concerts, tours, sports).  It is time to breath new life into our business.  I bet there are some very smart marketing and branding types who are feeling rather concerned about their Detroit jobs these days.  Sunny California probably looks pretty good right about…now.  Bet they would work for less with a big upside too.

That should be enough to keep Tim and company going for a while.  Again, please know that just as with Michael Rapino, I don’t know the realities of Tim Leiweke’s job.  These are just ideas I would work towards knowing what I know, “If I were… Tim Leiweke”.

Talk with you soon,

Jim

TOP 10 WAYS TO THRIVE IN A DOWN ECONOMY

November 29, 2008

I was reading Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2009 Trend Issue and it became evident that what the editors were saying about “businesses to start in 2009”, could be applied to the live entertainment business.  So with that in mind, and a bunch of extra stuff added, here is the Top 10 Ways To Thrive In Today’s Down Economy

 

1)       GO GREEN – You have no idea how much money you can save.  Wal-Mart found out.  Appoint a “Green Czar” for your office with the idea of taking your company Carbon Neutral.  One easy way to get your staff into this is to pass a certain percentage of savings onto your employees; although you probably don’t need to do that (it is still a good idea).  Here are some other ones.  Recycling cans and bottles, switching to florescent light bulbs (also added bonus of saving on cooling costs in summer), maintain irrigation systems and change sprinkler heads over to water saving types, car pools, install motion detecting light switches, provide “power strips” for employees to plug all chargers and electronics into (this way one switch shuts off all…most power from electronics is used when the power is actually off), etc.  Also, the simple fact that going green is a trend makes consumers want to associate with your company or product. 

 

2)       USE TECHNOLOGY – The obvious web/mobile app that will have the most immediate impact on live entertainment is the paperless ticket.  There should be a real financial savings to consumers who choose this option.  When Ticketmaster’s business went from predominantly phone sales to the web, that savings was never passed on to the consumer.  One can argue there is a cost for keeping up with technology, but Ticketmaster would have never switched over if there wasn’t a huge cost savings.  You don’t have to pay for a computer’s healthcare, sick days, taxes, etc, after all. 

 

3)       MARKET TO BOOMERS – I think the folks from Entrepreneur said it best with boomers represent “the biggest wealth transfer in history”.  Average Net worth: $257,800, Average Annual Income $71,400, 38% expected to inherit $210,000 (average), 35% have already inherited $113,000 (average).  How about a “Financial Show”, couldn’t be better timing right now?

 

4)       THINK HEALTH – Whether it is something as simple as updating your food and beverage selections, or you are developing a health related consumer show (maybe related to aging, see #3), heath is on everyone’s mind.  You should be thinking about this in your business.  Even keeping up with your staff’s healthcare maintenance can save you money by saving your employees trips to the doctor. 

 

5)       MARKET TO GENERATION Y – Echo Boomers, or whatever you call them, now number 75 million in the U.S. (Source: Deloitte Consulting), with buying power of $1 trillion (Source: U.S. Census Bureau).  Find ways to reach this game loving, social networking, born on a computer audience and get yourself a piece of that $1 trillion.  Wouldn’t suggest a “gaming tour” or festival just yet.  So far, no one has been able to figure out that model. 

 

6)       DROP OR RAISE YOUR PRICES – Look at the market.  For every case of an overpriced ticket, there is an under priced one (maybe in another show category, but you can find it).  There are so many examples of events raising their ticket prices and seeing a large sales spike.  Unfortunately, the opposite is true more often. 

 

7)       CHANGE YOUR MARKETING – We in the live business need to catch-up with the rest of those that market products.  This doesn’t have to be about spending money, but it does have to do with creativity and innovation.  Time to start listening to the young people in your office.

 

8)       STOP SPAMMING, START COMMUNICATING – I’m as guilty of this as anyone and it must stop.  Just because you have a database and a consumer gives you permission to send them info, doesn’t mean you should be sending them 3 emails per week.  Develop a dialogue with your fans and watch your business flourish. 

 

9)       FITNESS IS BACK – I would be really interested to see if places like Canyon Ranch are down in this economy.  Either way, fitness is back on consumer’s minds.  How can you work this into what you are doing in your business?  How about staging the world’s largest spinning class where a portion of the proceeds go to Lance Armstrong’s “Live Strong” campaign?  How about installing a small fitness room in your office (you would be surprised how little it can cost)?  It is proven that those that workout have more energy than those that don’t and are able to concentrate on better at work. 

 

10)     ENERGY – This has to be top-of-mind with most people these days.  Consumers couldn’t be more confused on what the options are, which ones are best, etc.  Create a show that addresses energy, and if it is entertaining and priced right, it will sell for sure.

Please always remember that we are in the live entertainment business.  It is our job to get people out of their homes and make them happy, educate them, and break them out of the funk they are in.

Talk to you soon,

 

Jim

 

 

 

Drop Your Price Already…

November 8, 2008

Well I must start with another disclaimer.  You see my brother writes a blog very similar to the LiveWorks Newsletter and today, he talked about what’s covered below…and we post on the same site.  So here is a link to Joe’s stuff so you know there is no plagiarism on either of our parts. http://joelewi.wordpress.com/

For weeks we have been talking about embracing the recession and finding ways to use our Live Entertainment to pull consumers out of their funk.  We’ve covered customer service, partnerships versus sponsorships, using examples from political marketing to move an audience, and all the positive psychological and financial attributes of selling-out shows.  What our business needs to fix immediately is ticket prices.

Burlington, VT concert promoter Alex Crothers pointed to gas prices as having a much more noticeable effect on ticket sales than the stock market or bad news about the economy.  There has been story after story reported in the media about retailers perceived as bargain or discount merchants sales going up, while those catering to design and style sales are declining.  Case in point, Wal-Mart and Target.  Target is down, Wal-Mart is up.

Of course there is always the consumer that had the perception that if things cost a lot, they have to be worth it.  There is case after case study of events attendance actually going down as ticket prices fell year-to-year and the opposite happening if ticket prices rose.  That was not in a 2008 economy.  Now even luxury brands normally immune to market fluctuations are feeling the hurt.  In Forbes annual “Richest People in America” issue, even the boys from Google took it hard seeing  their “stock down 40%  since all-time heights last November.”  Why are we in the live business ignoring this trend?

It is time for all of us in live entertainment to knock-off the “pomp and circumstance” around what we do and see it as any other business would.  Yes our talents need to eat.  So do managers, agents, promoters, techs, stagehands, venue people, and everyone else associated.  But everyone needs to eat a little less to get a lot more.  The live and music businesses are special.  But I’m sick of hearing that what we sell is so different from what everyone else sells.  Selling is about emotional connections.  So the fact is, we have a leg-up on all the other entertainment distractions out there.

In the November 3rd Issue of Advertising Age there is a story about ranking brands based on “best bang for buck”.  Interesting stuff.  Consumers were asked to rate best ans worst by category based on “providing the best value for the dollar”.  For Domestic Airline, Southwest was best, United worst.  Carbonated beverages, Coke best, Red Bull worst.  Credit Cards, Visa good, Discover bad.  And no surprise here, in Financial services, Fidelity was ranked best while Goldman Sachs got a negative rating.  Another great group of stats from the article where the “Bottom 10 Brands”…brands with the lowest scores.  10) Starbucks, 9) BET, 8) Neiman Marcus, 7) 7-Eleven, 6) Perrier, 5) Abercrombie & Fitch, 4) AIG, 3) Red Bull, 2) Hummer, and # 1) MTV!!!! No live brands in the study.  Btw, Craftsman was the #1 brand for value.

Why is this all important to you?  Because if you are Live Nation, AEG, MSG, Feld, Momentum, GMR, or Chrysler, you are creating live brands of some kind.  Building value into everything you do defines your brand.  Ticketmater Entertainment will have a hard time getting over its old “TICKETMASTER” reputation.  Hiding the fees is not going to change anything.  The artists and shows will always have their names.  What we need to do is drop our prices and explain to consumers what they are getting for their money.

We do a bad job of marketing the experience of live.  Let’s take a look at that.  Volume will do more for our business than raising prices.  Lower your prices $2 on everything (tickets, merch, food, beverages, parking, venue charges need to go away all together, etc) and tell the consumer all the amazing things they will see, hear, feel, and do at your event, show, or attraction.

So drop your prices and watch as the money comes in.

Talk to you soon…

Jim