Two key differences between the mega-fests, Dave Matthews Caravan vs. Lollapalooza

April 7, 2011

Aside from the obvious—geographically, the Lakeside/South Works site is a little more than 11 miles south on the lakefront from Grant Park, and the musical aesthetic is mainstream/jam-band versus mainstream/“alternative”—there are two very significant differences between the three-day Dave Matthews Caravan festival on the Far South Side and Lollapalooza in the heart of the city’s biggest park.

1. According to Jam Productions co-founder Jerry Mickelson, who is co-promoting the festival with the giant national concert conglomerate Ticketmaster/Live Nation, the radius clause at Caravan is a fraction of that imposed by Lollapalooza.

Caravan is restricting acts on its bill from playing within 120 miles of Chicago for 30 days before the festival and 30 days after. At 300 miles, six months before, and three months after its festival, Lollapalooza has the most restrictive radius clause in the U.S. concert industry, which has prompted an investigation by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the status of which remains unclear.

Jam usually does not impose any radius clauses on the concerts it promotes. “We’re anti-radius clause and we don’t use them on any of our indoor [concerts],” Mickelson said. “But they’ve become standard on all of these [outdoor] festivals, and we thought that if we had to have one, this was a reasonable one.”

Jam will waive the radius clause for artists playing other shows that it is promoting, Mickelson said; Ray LaMontagne performs a Jam show at the Pritzker Pavilion on June 7, a month before Caravan takes place from July 8 to 10. At least one artist playing Caravan also is playing Lollapalooza: rapper Kid Cudi. Lollapalooza promoters C3 Presents maintain that they waive the radius clause for any artists who ask, though they insist they need to keep it in place to remain competitive.

2. Despite the significant costs of building a concert infrastructure from scratch on a site that essentially is just acres and acres of dirt field, Jam and Ticketmaster/Live Nation are getting no money from the city for the festival. In fact, they will be paying all sales and amusement taxes as required by law.

Under the terms of a sweetheart deal negotiated in part by C3’s attorney and lobbyist Mark Vanecko, Mayor Daley’s nephew, Lollapalooza does not pay any taxes to the city, though municipal law seems to require it to. Exceptions are made if 100 percent of the profits from an event go to a non-profit organization, and the Grant Park festival partners with the non-profit Parkways Foundation to apply for all of its permits and licenses. Yet while the park group does get a significant chunk of money every summer, by no means does it get all of the concert’s profits.

Whether you love or hate the musical aesthetic, there’s no denying that Caravan is a welcome and historic attempt to bring a major musical event to a part of the city that even many lifelong Chicagoans don’t know exists. “It’s exciting that the community is so much behind this,” Mickelson said.

As for the equally historic partnership between Jam and its archrivals Ticketmaster/Live Nation—the giant conglomerate once vowed to “crush, kill, and destroy” its smaller local competitor, and Mickelson was one of the most outspoken voices on Capitol Hill opposing Ticketmaster and Live Nation’s controversial mega-merger—the Jam executive said, “In this world of disharmony, we are bringing some harmony to the South Side.”

Some earlier reports in this blog about Lollapalooza’s shenanigans:

Oct. 19, 2010: Crain's Agrees: Lollapalooza tax deal warrants scrutiny

Oct. 6, 2010: A second look at my Lollapalooza tax math

Oct. 4, 2010: Is Chicago earning all that it should from Lollapalooza?

July 13, 2010: Lollapalooza, liquor sales, and the links to the mayor's nephew

June 29, 2010: What's behind the Attorney General's investigation of Lollapalooza?

June 24, 2010: Illinois Attorney General investigating Lollapalooza for anti-trust

 

Some earlier reports about Ticketmaster/Live Nation:

Nov. 2, 2010: Jam to Ticketmaster/Live Nation: Drop dead!

June 21, 2010: It’s official: Ticketmaster/Live Nation free to devour the concert business

March 18, 2010: Top Justice Department official talks about the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger at SXSW

Jan. 28, 2010: A Q&A with the Justice Department on the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger

Jan. 26, 2010: Looking closer at the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger: What does it mean for Chicago?

Jan. 25, 2010: Meet the new boss: Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger approved

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