Tag Archives: Live Nation

Live Nation Reorganizes

22 Nov

Concert giant Live Nation Entertainment Inc. has disclosed the departure of global music chief executive Jason Garner, who will be succeeded by a trio of executives with regional responsibilities, company spokesperson Liz Morentin confirmed.

Veteran concert promoters Mark Campana and Bob Roux will divide the North American market — Roux will handle the South from his office in Houston and Campana with handle markets in the north from Chicago. Rick Franks will oversee strategy for concert tours from his Detroit office.

Additionally, Ron Bension, formerly president of Tickets Now, has been named CEO of Live Nation’s House of Blues and club division. He will be based in Los Angeles, reporting directly to Rapino. — Linda Deckard and Dave Brooks

Contact: Liz Morentin, (310) 975-6860

Goldberg and Team Assess AEG Ticketing

26 Oct

David Goldberg

Longtime Ticketmaster executive David Goldberg has joined AEG as a consultant reviewing future ticketing options for the Anschutz sports and entertainment empire.

He’s working on a business plan with a team of experienced pros, including Blaine Legere, who used to be at Ticketmaster and is now at AEG “helping in every area of ticketing operations, interfacing with Ticketmaster and helping me out; and Brian Pike, who used to be the chief technology officer for Ticketmaster and is also helping in a consulting fashion similar to myself.” Goldberg added that he has availed himself of “bits and pieces of other people’s time” in his quest to “assess the landscape” of ticketing today for AEG.

The process began mid-summer after the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger was okayed by the Department of Justice, which included stipulations that AEG would be given the rights to independently license the Ticketmaster software and create its own ticketing company, either with Ticketmaster software, or eventually another company’s software or maybe a combination of the two. (VT Pulse, Jan. 27, 2010)

During all the hubbub, Goldberg was running publically-traded YouBet.com, which was sold in June. “I stayed close with Tim [Leiweke] and Randy [Phillips] and John Meglen and all my friends at AEG over the years and obviously there has been a lot of change in the ticketing and concert promotion industry since I was away running YouBet.com,” Goldberg said. “While I had the good fortune of just selling a business and didn’t particularly want a job, enjoying my time off, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the situation they find themselves in and the opportunity to come in on a consulting basis to help evaluate the opportunities they have at hand.”

Goldberg called this a “unique point in time,” seeing an “industry in flux to some degree, and from that oftentimes is born opportunity, but sometimes status quo is okay, too. This was an interesting intellectual opportunity to help out some friends and see what the landscape looks like today.”

He said there is no timeframe on producing a business plan for AEG. His first task is determining the landscape in ticketing and at AEG where there are a lot of different needs and stakeholders, including sports teams, facilities, concert promotion, sponsorship, and premium sales. “Every one of those constituencies has various needs and wants from ticketing and all areas of the business. For me, I need to understand the wants and needs internally so I can look externally at what fits those needs.”

Goldberg started in the business in the early 90s as a talent buyer at Jam Productions in Chicago, then worked for Ticketmaster out of the Chicago office doing interactive startups in the music and sports space. In 2003, he moved to Los Angeles to work for Ticketmaster “running corporate development and business development strategies, sales and marketing and a host of other areas.” In 2008, he became CEO at Youbet.com.

He has seen a lot of changes in ticketing. “Back in the day it was outlets and phones that mattered. It’s all internet these days. With that change has come a change in necessary expertise and skill sets. The internet is a great equalizer of distribution. Anyone can have a website. That doesn’t mean selling tickets is easy. There are very few people that have a greater respect for what Ticketmaster has built, having been on the inside,” Goldberg said.  — Linda Deckard

Contact: David Goldberg, david.goldberg@live.com


Ticketmaster Announces New Pricing System

26 Aug

Ticketmaster is moving toward an all-in pricing model and has begun to roll out a number of customer service initiatives to improve its image. Ticketmaster’s CEO for Ticketing Nathan Hubbard announced that the company is launching a new transparent pricing model for most of its events, and gave more details about the company’s new three-day return policy.

Hubbard shared the news on Ticketmaster’s new blog Ticketology (blog.ticketmaster.com), which Hubbard hopes will improve the company’s image with the public.

Ticketmaster, which merged with Live Nation earlier this year, is rolling out an up-front ticket pricing system that tells fans the final price of a ticket while browsing the site. Hubbard uses an upcoming Jack Johnson concert as an example — as fans browse over an interactive map, they are presented with an estimated price that combines the price of the ticket with the ticketing fees.

“The problem is that historically we haven’t told you how much you have to pay for a given seat until very late in the buying process,” Hubbard wrote in a letter to customers on Monday. “And our data tells us this angers many of you to the point that you abandon your purchase once you see the total cost, and that you don’t come back.”

Hubbard was careful not to call the system “All-In Pricing” because it still has a few limitations. Per order fees and shipping fees are still tacked on to the end of the purchase.

Ticketmaster “can’t boil all fees down to a per ticket fee until we know how many tix are bought and the shipping method chosen, so it has to happen later,” CEO Irving Azoff later wrote on Twitter.

Hubbard said the system won’t be rolled out across all venues because of contractual issues, but by the end of the week, most events will use the new pricing system. Hubbard also gave more details about the company’s new 3-Day Return Policy.

“If you buy a ticket in a venue operated by Live Nation, you now have three days to return it, up until one week before the show,” he wrote.  “We cut this off a week before the show because we need some time to be able to sell that ticket to someone else in case you choose to return it.”

Hubbard said he plans to carefully monitor the system to make sure it’s not exploited by ticket brokers, and invited other venue clients to adopt similar policies.

“We’ll handle the customer care at no additional cost,” he wrote.

Michael Marion from the Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, Ark., said his facility was one of three to test the new system during a trial run that began in April, and he’s only gotten positive response from fans.

“When I was in L.A., they pitched the plan to me and I thought it was a great idea,” Marion said, adding that Ticketmaster handled the implementation of the new system without much outside help.

The news brought a seven-percent spike in the share price of Live Nation, which had been battered by reports of lowered earnings in recent months.

“This is a sign that Live Nation and Ticketmaster are beginning to take some of their public relations problems seriously,” said Mark Mahany, an analyst with firm Piper Jaffry. “There’s hope that this move will improve their overall ticket sales and recapture some declining ticket sales.” — Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Nathan Hubbard, (310) 867-7000; Michael Marion, (806) 378-9471; Mark Mahany, (415) 951-1744

McCue Replaces Evans at SMG; Sipe Heads to Big Sandy

20 Aug

Jim McCue has been hired as the new Sr. VP of Entertainment for SMG and will oversee national bookings and tours for the company’s 70 arenas and 40 Performing Arts Centers.

“We’re bringing someone on who really understands the landscape of the sports and entertainment industry,” said Bob Cavalieri, the company’s Sr. VP of Sales and Development. “Not only does he have plenty of experience to bring to our booking division, he has the ability to expand our nationwide reach and boost our presence abroad.”

McCue has worked in nearly every facet of live entertainment serving as a booking agent, facility executive, promoter and producer. He replaces Mike Evans, who left the company in June to serve as president for Arenas, a newly appointed position at Live Nation.

“There was a bit of a leadership gap when he left,” Cavalieri said, later adding  “Jim (McCue) has had quite a career and I can’t imagine a better fit.”

McCue is currently based in Denver, where he worked as co-producer and co-promoter of the popular Walking with Dinosaurs show, and worked in booking for ArenaNetwork. From 2003-2005 he worked as the Sr. VP of House of Blues Denver, overseeing the club of the same name along with the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, the former Fiddler’s Green (now the Comfort Dental Amphitheater) and the Paramount Theater. Before that he spent seven years working at the Rose Quarter in Portland, Ore., and served two years as the Director of Events for Palace Sports and Entertainment in the Detroit area. He began his career as an agent at International Creative Management.

He will oversee a staff of seven, including Jon Petrunak, VP of Entertainment for Arenas and Bob Papke, VP of Entertainment for Theaters, both out of Philadelphia, and Chris Wright, VP of Special Events, based at the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, N.Y.

McCue will oversee the regional divisions as well, including Bob Belber who heads the Northeast, Cyndee Pennington who heads the Southeast, Jerry Goldman who heads the Midwest and Dan Spellens who oversees the West Coast.

Cavalieri said McCue will take the helm during a slow period in the concert business, but added that he expects things to pick up in 2011 with a number of artists reserving holds throughout the year.

Brian Sipe is leaving the Sovereign Center in Reading, Pa. for his first GM position at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington, W. Va. Sipe will begin his duties at the SMG managed facility on Aug. 30, replacing A.J. Boleski who was hired to manage the Intrust Bank Center in Wichita, Kan.

“My first goal is to get into town and continue to bring strong bookings to the building,” said Sipe, who will oversee shows by Sugarland and Chris Tomlin. “My biggest goal will be to continue to bring concerts to the facility,” he said.

Built in 1977, the arena seats 9,000 for concerts and will host the Huntington Hammer of the United Indoor Football League beginning in the 2011 season. Sipe will also book the nearby 2,500-seat amphitheater and work with the 20,000-student Marshall University to bring more campus events to the arena. — Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Bob Cavalieri, (610) 729-7920; Brian Sipe, (304) 696-5566

Naming Rights Report

17 Aug

Foxwoods Theatre, New York

Date Announced: Aug. 9

Buyer: Foxwoods Resort Casino/Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation

Terms: Multi-year, financial terms not released

Brokered: In house by Live Nation

New York City/Live Nation/Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Comments: Foxwoods Resort, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe casino in Ledyard, Conn., has purchased naming rights for the former Hilton Theatre in New York’s Times Square, home of the soon-to-open Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark, a musical featuring the music of Bono and The Edge from U2.

Neither side is releasing terms or financial information.

“There is a good symmetry with our customer base,” said Micah Hollingworth, general manager for the theatre. “Should [Spider-Man] be successful, it is going to be an evening out-escape-luxury destination in the Northeast, and there is a lot of cross pollination in our consumer bases.”

The sponsorship also provides Foxwoods with access to the venue for corporate and philanthropic events, and tickets to performances at the theater.  The Foxwoods name will be included on all tickets and collateral for Spider-Man’s advertising campaign.

“Showcasing the Foxwoods brand in such a prominent location in New York City provides us with a signature opportunity to further extend our reach into the most coveted media market in the world,” said Robert Victoria, chief marketing officer for Foxwoods and MGM Grand at Foxwoods, in a statement.

Spider-Man is said to be beyond the scale of anything Broadway has produced before. Hollingworth said the closest comparison was Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas. It is expected to appeal to a national and international audience, even before the far-reaching U2 fan base is factored in.

That will offer powerful opportunities for everyone involved, Hollingworth said.
Live Nation’s alliance team brokered the deal.

“The Hilton deal expired last year, and they have been aggressively in the marketplace,” he said.
The theater is currently undergoing a renovation to increase the seating capacity to 1,930. It was originally built in 1996 on the site of the Apollo and Lyric Theatres.

Contact: Micah Hollingworth, (212) 556-4750

PNC Club Level at Miller Park, Milwaukee

Date Announced: Aug. 5

Buyer: PNC Bank

Terms: Five years, financials not released.

Ownership/Tenant: Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball District, Milwaukee Brewers/Milwaukee Brewers

Brokered: Locally

Comments: The Brewers have expanded their relationship with PNC Bank, granting them naming rights for the club level at Miller Park. This is the first time the team has sold club level naming rights.

“PNC purchased National City Bank in December 2008 and the conversion of 25 branches began in June,” said Jeffrey Noe, spokesman for the bank. They are making a $50 million capital investment in southeastern Wisconsin.

The deal includes signage on the club level concourse and inside the seating bowl, along with club level carpet inlays, said Thomas Hecht, vice president of corporate marketing for the Brewers.

Signage will be in place by Aug. 20.

It does not include use of a luxury suite, ATMs in the venue, or providing financial services for the team or the venue.

“The agreement wasn’t for hospitality purposes,” Noe said. “It is primarily about moving the PNC brand into southern Wisconsin.”

“We had a relationship for a few years – it started with National City Bank – and expanded with PNC taking over,” Hecht said. “The partnership elements are significantly larger with PNC.”

The deal was brokered in-house. The bank already sponsors “Major League Moment,” a program that has children join Brewers players on the field for the National Anthem during Sunday afternoon home games.

“We are doing a PNC Bank Day on Aug. 27, with post-game fireworks,” Hecht said. “We haven’t done a fireworks show in seven or eight years, so this is a big deal.” — Liz Boardman

Contact: Thomas Hecht, (414) 902-4400; Jeffrey Noe, (412) 762-4550

TicketSummit Comes Into Its Own, But Talk Still Centers On Live Nation

28 Jul

TicketSummit’s keynote panel included (from left) Jeff Kline of Veritix, Doug Lyons of Tickets.com and Don Vaccaro of TicketNetwork.

REPORTING FROM LAS VEGAS — In its fifth year, Ticket Summit enjoyed a record attendance over its recent three-day run, with more teams, primary ticketing companies and ticket brokers participating than ever before. Attendance was estimated at just over 600 with a trade show that hosted nearly 25 exhibitors.

The success of the July 14-16 conference was in contrast to the difficult market conditions facing the hundreds of ticket brokers in attendance. Tickets continue to sell below face value for many concerts, consumers continue to wait until the last minute in hopes of snatching up discounted offers and acts that were once guaranteed to sell out arenas are now cancelling concerts because of slow ticket sales.

Recent show cancellations for Rhianna, Jonas Brothers and Christina Aguilera are “horrible for the industry. It’s horrible for everyone in this room,” said Don Vaccaro, CEO of TicketNetwork, which owns and hosts the annual show. Speaking of a recent industry trend to dynamically price tickets to meet market conditions Vaccaro said, “As long as the price is going up, it’s a business model that works. If they dynamically price tickets so they go down, consumers wait until the last minute to buy tickets.”

Coinciding with the conference was an investor call by Live Nation Entertainment that helped set the nervous mood at the conference. CEO Michael Rapino and Chairman Irving Azoff warned investors that ticket sales were down 10 percent for the top 100 tours during the first half of the year, and forecasted a 15 percent drop for the second half of the year. The announcement inadvertently prompted a sell off of the Live Nation stock and a two-day, 22-percent drop in price, the largest for both days on the New York Stock Exchange.

“I think it’s going to be a long time before we see anything positive for this market,” said Vaccaro during the conference’s keynote panel, which also included representatives from Veritix and Tickets.com

Since the Justice Department approved the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster, the business development market has opened back up. Paciolan, which was spun off to Comcast-Spectacor, has re-signed over a dozen clients in the past 60 days, while Cleveland-based Veritix has inked deals with the Final Four and Frozen Four.

“For the longest time during the merger talks, the sales pipeline froze because everyone took a wait-and-see attitude. Now that the merger has been announced, everyone is looking at next steps,” said Jeff Kline, president of Veritix.

Kline said his company is trying to leverage its technology and Flash Seats platform against Live Nation’s ability to bring content and concerts to potential client facilities.

“It’s easy on their part to use content as a unique sales proposition,” said Kline, adding that many facilities have expressed a fear that if they sign with anyone besides Live Nation, they’ll lose concerts. While the merged company is not allowed to retaliate against facilities that go with Tickets.com or Veritix, they are allowed to bundle content deals into their agreements.

“It’s a very subtle and important difference,” Kline said.

Doug Lyons, newly promoted VP of Product Marketing & Strategy for Tickets.com, said the other competitive tactic Live Nation attempts to use to corner the marketplace is upfront payments, often worth millions of dollars, in exchange for ticketing contracts.

“They’re still trying to use the old model to use money to influence how deals are made,” he said. “Executives at buildings are no longer just looking at money. They’re looking at technology.”

But not all technology is treated equally. It was Ticketmaster which introduced a paperless ticketing system for a number of concerts over the past 18 months that sought to close out brokers by making concert tickets non-transferable. The practice was outlawed in the state of New York after intense lobbying efforts by companies that included TicketNetwork and eBay.

“I’m not sure (paperless was) that big of an innovation,” Lyons said. “It’s just trying to address some business requirements. I think the innovation will come when we start expanding our technology to work with other technologies.”

Kline offered similar sentiments.

“Clients are looking for an integrated technology solution,” he said. “It’s not enough anymore to just sell tickets. — Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Don Vacarro, (860) 870-3400; Jeff Kline, (216) 466-8055; Doug Lyons, (416) 573-0568

Live Nation Seeks to Reassure Investors on Eve of NYC Meeting

20 Jul

Live Nation shareholders will converge at Irving Plaza in New York tomorrow for the company’s first Investor Relations event since merging with Ticketmaster in January.

Live Nation’s stock has dropped about 30 percent after capping out at $16.70 in late April. Nervous trading and concerns about concert cancellations might have led to a drop in nearly $1 billion in marketshare, but Live Nation still has one important believer — influential analyst Ben Mogil. His reports from firm Thomas Weisel in San Francisco are some of the most widely read on the stock (partially because he makes them available to the public). Mogil thinks problems at Live Nation are overhyped and expects the stock will return to about $17 per share, but he lowered that projection from $19.50 which he had forecast earlier in the year.

“Our new estimates are largely a result of the U2 tour postponement and we believe that some of the concerns over the amphitheater environment, while valid, are overblown,” he said.

Anaylst David Joyce from the New York firm Miller Tabak also said concerns about the company were exaggerated, and trimmed his projections to $19 per share long term, a 70 percent upside from where the stock is currently trading. He estimated attendance would be down approximately six percent  to 12.3 million tickets.

In terms of debt-to-profit ratio, “They’re in better shape now with Ticketmaster, and they refinanced a large part of their debt and don’t have any maturities coming due,” he said.

As for the cancellations, he said that the company’s core demographic of 16-to-24 year-olds faced high unemployment and that many are attending fewer concerts than usual.

“And let’s face it, some of these acts are just overexposed,” he said.

On Tuesday, Live Nation announced the rescheduling of its U2 360 Stadium tour for summer 2011, with 16 shows from May 21 to July 23.

“More importantly Live Nation and Ticketmaster have each been in the concert business a very long time and we cannot imagine that in coming up with guidance in the first year of their merger they did not factor in some margin of error as there are always tours in good and bad economies which simply do not meet expectations,” he wrote in his report.

Weisel said that while No Service Fee promotions have led to a drop in some revenues, it has increased attendance and ancillary spending and accelerated a move toward all-in ticketing “likely allowing for a stealth return of fees.”

While a number of amphitheaters have faced cancellations, many sheds still have a full season, according to Live Nation’s report. The Woodlands (Texas) Pavilion, Cruzan Amphitheater in West Palm Beach, Fla., and the Pacific Amphitheater in Costa Mesa, Calif., have had zero cancellations this year. Other venues haven’t fared so well. The Cricket Wireless Pavilion in Phoenix lost 25 percent of its summer shows, while the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Charlotte, N.C., canceled 6 of its 19 concerts and the Sleep Train Amphitheater in Wheatland, Calif., cancelled four of its 10 gigs.

Don Vaccaro of TicketNetwork, which is hosting its annual TicketSummit in Las Vegas tomorrow, blames discounting for Live Nation’s problems, and while he acknowledges it might serve as the company’s short-term saving grace, in the long run, he said it will hurt the company.

“The concert model will fail if promoters continue to discount tickets. Consumers will start waiting closer to shows to buy tickets, which means more cancellations from nervous promoters,” he said, adding that he thinks artists will eventually need to lower their guarantees, along with ticket prices, if a full recovery is to materialize. – Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Ben Mogil, (415) 364-2500; David Joyce, (212) 370-0040; Don Vaccaro, (860) 870-3400