Posts Tagged ‘Walt Disney’

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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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

SECRETS OF SUCCESS

February 9, 2010

My friend Jolene Pellant sent me an email today with a link to BusinessBrief.com.  She wanted me to see “Walt Disney’s 8 secrets to success” that they had written about.  Jolene knows that Walt is one of my business heroes and always believed that experience was most important.  Here are Walt’s secrets that you might want to work into your daily life.

1)      Provide a promise not, a product: The Walt Disney brand certainly delivers that.  From the moment Disney started the focus was always on the “experience”.

2)      Always exceed customer’s expectations: As stated in the last newsletter, over-delivering can be a cheap and effective marketing technique.  Going over budget to make the experience wow your guests one year might save you a lot of money in marketing dollars the next.

3)      Pursue your passion, and the money will follow: You may know that Walt went bankrupt several times building his dreams.  Work on labors of love and the profits won’t be far behind.

4)      Stay true to your company’s mission and values:  As it says on BusinessBrief.com, “Walt Disney was famous for saying; I hope that we never lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse”.   

5)      Differentiate your offer: Six-Flags are amusement parks.  Disney Land and Disney World are theme parks…actually “Resorts” complete with themed hotels and restaurants. 

6)      Lead by example and delegate: Walt was the original artist for Mickey Mouse.  He was also the man would ran the studio, sold the pictures to movie houses, cut distribution deals etc.  As the company got bigger, Walt hired the right people to take over those jobs. 

7)      Defy convention: Don’t listen to critics and those that can’t follow your dreams.  Everyone thought Walt was crazy when he purchased thousands of acres of swampland in central Florida.  Now, not so much.

8)      Leave behind something to grow: Just think about how much the Walt Disney Company has diversified since Walt’s death. 

Sure there will only be one Walt Disney, but it doesn’t hurt to try to emulate the best.  If all you are looking at is cutting budgets, stop.

Speak with you soon…

Jim

CRUSH IT!!!

September 22, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speak with you soon…

Jim

BRING THE SUNSHINE WITH SUMMER!

March 24, 2009

I read an article recently (don’t remember where but think it was Brandweek) about how all of the negative stories Americans watch, read, and talk about on the economy each day are effecting depression levels.  No surprise, they are up dramatically.  The bad news is just about impossible to get away from.  Even if you try and hide, it pops-up on your IRA, 401K, mortgage statement, or even a phone call with a friend.  So how can Live Entertainment help bring the sunshine to consumers, media, and brands this summer?

In the March 23rd issue of Advertising Age, author Bob Garfield tells us that “the future is bright…but the present is apocalyptic.”.  He is speaking about media.  Newspapers saw a “20% drop in circulation…amid 23% population growth” in the same period.  Magazines have seen ad pages drop off “22% so far in 2009”.    Broadcast radio, TV, and billboard giant Clear Channel that “was going to destroy our very democracy”…well now so much anymore.  Network television’s audience continues to erode in the double digits.  Garfield says that “cable has problems of its own…as it’s no more DVR-proof than broadcast.”  Even online publishers like Yahoo! are taking a hit. 

So as marketers look for ways to reach consumers… and media try to attract business…and consumers look for a way to come out of their depression…in walks the answer to everyone’s prayers…BRANDED LIVE ENTERTAINMENT!

Walt Disney built Disneyland to make his world of imagination come to life.  That’s what we have the ability to do in Live Entertainment.  Right now, people are hurting.  Everyone is looking for an escape and we can provide that.  It is really simple…so lets do a quick brainstorm to show how easy it really is.  I’m going to turn on the TV and the first brand I see, we are going to create a Live Entertainment event for them that also solves the above issues.  Shit…ShamWow…ok.

1) TALENT – We have to have Vince from the commercials, he is amazing! 

2) EVENT – How about a car wash that uses only ShamWows to wash, dry, and detail your vehicle…the car wash is free with your ShamWow purchase.  We can use NASCAR pit crews to do the washing, make it a race, more exciting…even help out NASCAR who’s numbers are down as well. 

3) MEDIA – Tie-in print, radio, TV, cable, and web partners.  Do ad buys with all that have promotions circling back to the event.

4) GIVING BACK – Water from car wash should be recycled…hoses should have the latest water saving nozzles…soap is all biodegradable…and a portion of the money should go to local charities.

5) MORE – Maybe the car wash is tied to filling the city swimming pool for the summer…or maybe the event is actually using ShanWows to clean-up your city.  How about Mayor Bloomberg gets bankers, traders, and the like to use ShamWows to clean-up Wall Street and show America that not every NYC banker is corrupt. 

Well, you get the idea.  Brands need ways to communicate directly with consumers, as their usual forms of message distribution fall-off (see above).  The media need to sources of income and ways to drive traffic.  Consumers need cheering up.  Let’s help everyone out this summer and BRING THE SUNSHINE BACK!

Speak with you soon…

Jim

“My Heros Have Always Been”…Promoters?

November 12, 2008

I always loved that song – with the word promoters replaced with the actual lyric cowboys of course.  But the title of this newsletter is true.  There are three giants of the live and branded live entertainment businesses that make up a majority of TAG Events & Entertainment DNA.  They are Walt Disney, Bill Graham, and PT Barnum.

Here is how our three DNA strands come together.  Walt Disney created the ultimate Experiences in everything he did, whether it was the first full-length animated motion picture or the first themed amusement park (although I do believe that there was a park that opened a month before that did nursery rhymes and that kind of stuff).  Concert promoter Bill Graham always remembered that what was most important were the Audience and the Talent, while P.T. Barnum was the best at Communicating the Experiences his Audiences would have at his shows.

Over the past 10-years or more, we in the live business have moved away from these three simple principles of creating amazing, once in a lifetime experiences for audiences, and then properly communicating those experiences to that audience.  Tonight let’s look at Communicating and a few ideas to remind you how easy and fun our jobs can be.

Promotions, and the planning and execution of them are a lost art form.  To start with, we in the live business seem to think that ticket giveaways are the only form of promotion.  Giving away tickets is only a promotion if you can keep a story going on-air.  “The 25th caller wins…” isn’t a promotion because the jock isn’t on-air long enough to make it exciting.  Now, having a station broadcast live while Playboy Playmates give away tickets to an upcoming UFC fight at a Chevy dealership, that is a promotion.  It is amazing that we have the ultimate Experiences and are just not that good at communicating it.

Have you seen the print ads and outdoor that Virgin America has been running lately?  Those ads do a great job of communicating an experience; and they are an airline.  Would you rather fly or go see your favorite team, singer, or family show perform?  Here are a few links for you to decide for yourself. http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://images.patronmail.com/pmailemailimages/132/116004/photo_1.jpg&imgrefurl=http://jessicamah.com/blog/%3Fp%3D330&h=600&w=500&sz=318&hl=en&start=1&usg=__wJF5Iqc2f1SBk5S2Fr0qur6R9FA=&tbnid=zvI8pH8ILZKhzM:&tbnh=135&tbnw=113&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dvirgin%2BAmerica%2Bads%26gbv%3D2%26hl%3Den

And now this… http://www.oldhandbills.com/images/060807/Bon_Jovi-Goo_Goo_Dolls-Staples_Center.jpg

Certainly not knocking Bon Jovi’s creativity here.  These are the current tools of our trade… :30 second radio & cable TV spots, 1/4 page print ads, email blasts that mostly get ignored, links on websites, flyering cars at the last minute, and all with very little description of what the fan will actually experience because we are too busy making sure we have all the sponsor tags, the right music beds of songs no one has ever heard of, and of course all the promoters names in there because that’s what is really selling the tickets.  There has to be another way.  Start experimenting.  Here are some ideas.

1) Double incentivize the talent or show with commissions on top of what they are already making in guarantees.  You will see the most action from direct to consumer marketing.  If bands can sell more tickets directly to their fans, let them make the ticket markups and commissions instead of you.  Get Talent working for you.

2) Family shows and sports are the only ones that seem to be able to handle group sales with any success.  The rest of us should take some lessons.  Start by assigning one person in your office as lead and come-up with a group sales strategy.  Look at pricing and models of the groups sales at buildings, sports and family shows and off you go.

3) Try media partners.  The idea of spreading shows across different stations, papers, magazines, etc, is just diluting your message in many cases.  2009 should be the end of the “Neutral Show” unless your show can sell no matter what.  By focusing on fewer media outlets, you should get a lot more bang out of it.

4) Use the economy for your promotions.  For instance, the average price for a gallon of gas in America is now down to $2.30 (not in LA).  If we can see a direct relationship between ticket sales and the price of gas, let’s promote that in a big way…while we still can.

5) Ringling shouldn’t be the only ones to do a “Circus Walk”.  It drives me crazy.  The animals have to get from the train to the gig somehow but PT Barnum turned it into an event in every city.   It still makes news everywhere.  Invent your own circus walk.

6) Guinness Book of World Records stunts get the media out every time.

7) Out hustle/work/promote your competitors.  I was watching a special on TV about Will Smith (the making of something) and they showed him goofing with the cameras.  He said the most interesting thing.  Something like, “you know why I win? Because while you are out partying, I’m working, while you are sleeping, I’m working, while you are watching TV, I’m working…”  Maybe take a lesson from Will.

Before we close, I also wanted to point out something from one of my previous posts, “Drop Your Prices Already”.  It was brought to my attention that artists like Metallica are back with a new album and tour.  Tickets are priced at $59.50, very reasonable.  AC/DC’s current tour is also scaled very sensibly.  As sports ticket sales fall-off in all but the largest cities, you in the sports community should be thinking about price as well.

Talk to you soon,

Jim