WBEZ | Jam Productions http://www.wbez.org/tags/jam-productions Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Redbox concert tickets a red herring http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-10/redbox-concert-tickets-red-herring-102899 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1redbox.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p>Coinstar, the company behind those ubiquitous Redbox kiosks that have cornered the DVD rental market and driven many a Blockbuster franchisee and mom-and-pop video store to close their doors, is getting a lot of attention for a new plan to start selling tickets for a $1 fee to live events, including concerts.</p><p>According to <em><a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443493304578034863064068522.html">The Wall Street Journal</a></em>, the company is starting slowly with a limited number of events in one test market, Philadelphia, including a Carrie Underwood concert at the Wells Fargo Center Arena, Villanova University football games and Nascar at the Pocono Raceway.</p><p>Writes <em>Journal </em>reporter Ethan Smith: &ldquo;The promise of just $1 in service fees is clearly a swipe at <a href="http://online.wsj.com/public/quotes/main.html?type=djn&amp;symbol=LYV">Live Nation Entertainment</a> Inc.&rsquo;s Ticketmaster, the dominant force in the industry whose fees can tack on several dollars to the price of a ticket. Those ticketing fees have long been a sore point among some fans.&rdquo;</p><p>A sore point indeed, but Smith is off on the &ldquo;several dollars&rdquo;: In many cases, the perversely named Ticketmaster &ldquo;convenience fee&rdquo; can be $15, $25, $40 or more.</p><p>Don&rsquo;t expect to see Redbox seriously encroaching on Live Nation/Ticketmaster&rsquo;s business, here or anywhere else, however. What the company&rsquo;s plan really is about is a penny-wise, pound-foolish scheme that most smart promoters loathe: papering the house.</p><p>Let&rsquo;s say that, through a combination of poor market research, setting the wrong price point, booking a venue that&rsquo;s too big for an artist to fill and rampant greed on the part of the promoter and artist&rsquo;s management, tickets to a concert aren&rsquo;t selling and the house only will be a third full or less at show time.</p><p>In the days or sometimes hours before show time, the desperate promoter sometimes will dump the unsold tickets on radio stations or anyone else willing to just give them away. The artist doesn&rsquo;t see any profit from those seats, but at least they&rsquo;re playing to a few more warm bodies. The promoter doesn&rsquo;t get any cut of the ticket either, but it still cashes in by collecting a parking fee and perhaps selling overpriced beer and nachos to the &ldquo;lucky&rdquo; concertgoers.</p><p>Again, smart promoters loathe this practice because it ultimately devalues the concert experience and the worth of tickets that have been priced correctly. (How angry is the consumer who paid full price when he or she learns that the next person got in for free?) Chicago-based Jam Productions, for example, almost never papers the house. But the local office of Live Nation/Ticketmaster certainly does, especially for dud shows booked into large, unpopular and inconvenient venues such as its First Midwest Bank Amphitheater in Tinley Park and Charter One Pavilion on Northerly Island.</p><p>Live Nation/Ticketmaster declined to comment for <em>The Wall Street Journal </em>and other stories. But it&rsquo;s not likely to partner with Coinstar/Redbox, since it likes to keep its dubious money-making schemes in-house and since, as Smith pointed out, the fact that Redbox can sell a ticket (even a worthless one) for a mere $1 fee only will raise questions and ire among consumers who deeply resent paying those ungodly steep Ticketmaster fees.</p><p>Remember, too, that Live Nation/Ticketmaster has locked most major venues like the United Center and the Allstate Arena here and in countless other markets into long-term exclusivity agreements that restrict them to selling tickets only through Ticketmaster. (Though, controversially and infamously, this was not enough of a monopolistic and unfair practice for the Obama Justice Department to block the mega-merger of those two companies.)</p><p>The test-market Underwood show in Philadelphia is taking place at a non-Live Nation/Ticketmaster venue (Comcast owns the arena), though her tour is being promoted by Live Nation/Ticketmaster&rsquo;s biggest national competitor, AEG&mdash;and that company is <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443995604578004821257551236.html">having some serious troubles of late</a> and may not be much of a player much longer. Knowledgeable industry observers say the Redbox plan probably never will catch on in a big way with concert tickets, though it might have legs in the theater world, a la the long-running <a href="http://www.tdf.org/TDF_ServicePage.aspx?id=56">TKTS</a> booth in New York&rsquo;s Times Square.</p><p>Theatergoers tend to be an older demographic that likes a paper ticket in hand, and theater engagements are long-term affairs, rather than one night only. Yet whatever they&rsquo;re dispensing, those Redbox kiosks are a temporary and transitional technology: Everything they&rsquo;re doing ultimately will migrate to the Web. It&rsquo;s only a matter of time before they disappear just like video stores did, once Big Hollywood finally overcomes its reticence and fully embraces streaming video beyond the point where Netflix and On Demand have taken it.</p></p> Thu, 04 Oct 2012 12:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-10/redbox-concert-tickets-red-herring-102899 Psst! Hey, buddy: Wanna buy a city festival? http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/psst-hey-buddy-wanna-buy-city-festival <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/taste-of-chicago.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-November/2010-11-20/taste-of-chicago.jpg" alt="" title="" style="width: 447px; height: 273px;" /></p><p>Mayor Daley has been talking for some time about privatizing the Taste of Chicago and other major city music festivals in Grant and Millennium parks. Now, with little fanfare, the administration has issued a request for proposals to pawn off its biggest musical celebrations, with responding bids due by 4 p.m. on Dec. 23&mdash;a time when reporters and the public are likely to be paying little attention.</p><p>According to city documents, Chicago spent $2.75 million policing and cleaning up the free festivals last year, with $2.3 million for Taste of Chicago alone. In late October, Special Events Director Megan McDonald <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/cityhall/2841666,taste-cuts-possible-102710.article">told a City Council hearing grappling with the budget crisis</a> that major cuts would be necessary if the city continued to run the festivals in-house.</p> <p>&quot;We can only do what we have the funding to do and what we&rsquo;re able to raise money to accomplish,&rdquo; McDonald said. Yet the lame-duck Daley administration continued to drag its feet on issuing its invitation to privatize the festivals, which should already be in the process of booking talent and vendors for 2011, and which should have their lineups finalized by March.</p><p>According to its <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dps/provdrs/contract/svcs/current_bid_opportunities.html">solicitation document</a>, the city is seeking &quot;event producers who are willing to produce orderly festivals of the highest standards consistent with the reputation of a world-class city, and which are consistent with the concept of providing family-focused events with budget-friendly food and beverages for sale.&rdquo;</p><p>It adds: &ldquo;The City does not require that the Events be produced exactly as the City has produced them, but if respondent wishes to propose deviations from the events as they are currently planned&hellip; that plan should be spelled out in the proposal.&rdquo;</p><p>In other words: Promoters don&rsquo;t <i style="">have </i>to keep these shindigs free, as the city has, for the approximately six million people who enjoy them every summer.</p><p>Up for rent, just like the parking meters that the mayor unloaded, are the <strong>Chicago Blues Festival</strong> (June 11-13), the <strong>Taste of Chicago</strong> (June 27&ndash;July 4), and the <strong>Chicago Jazz Festival</strong> (September 4-5), all in Grant Park, and the <strong>Chicago Celtic Festival</strong> (May 8-9), the <strong>Chicago Gospel Music Festival</strong> (June 5-6), the <strong>VIVA Chicago Latin Music Festival</strong> (September 17-18), and the <strong>Chicago Country Music Festival</strong> (October 8-9), all in Millennium Park.</p><p>Respondents can submit proposals for just the Grant Park concerts, just the Millennium Park concerts, or both. The terms of the winning contract, should the city award one: three years, with two one-year extensions possible, just like the deal the Park District made with giant national promoters Live Nation to run the concert venue on Northerly Island. (And that, too, is scheduled to go out to bid again this year, though there is not yet any documentation about that process available.)</p> <p>This of course means that the Daley administration will saddle the new mayor, whoever that may be, with any deal that it awards for the entirety of his or her first term&mdash;just one more gift that it&rsquo;s leaving the city of Chicago and Daley's successor on the way out.</p> <p>Left wonderfully vague in the 96-page document outlining the city&rsquo;s request: How much it hopes to earn from privatizing its marquee summer events. It&rsquo;s more like, &ldquo;Hey, make us an offer... please?&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;&ldquo;A goal of the City is to incur no costs for any event, whether in the way of payments to the Producer or in the way of payment of City services to support the events,&rdquo; the solicitation document notes. In another section outlining how the proposals will be evaluated, it adds: &ldquo;The City will consider financial models deemed advantageous to the City.&rdquo;</p> <p>Um, sure, right. Just like the sweetheart deal that Daley made with Lollapalooza, courtesy in part of its lobbyist and attorney, his nephew? <a href="http://www.wbez.org/jderogatis/2010/10/is-chicago-earning-all-that-it-should-from-lollapalooza/38601">See this blog on&nbsp;Oct. 4:&nbsp;&quot;Is the city earning all that it should from Lollapalooza?&quot;</a></p> <p>Continuing to run the festivals in-house isn&rsquo;t necessarily a good idea. From the point of view of the serious music fan, saying that the bookings at most of them have been moribund for the last 15 years is paying them a compliment that hardly is deserved, especially when it comes to Taste of Chicago and the Blues Festival.</p> <p>On the other hand, against all odds and with a minimum of resources, there are city officials who&rsquo;ve done tremendous things with music of late, chief among them Michael Orlove at the Department of Cultural Affairs. (Note that the World Music Festival he&rsquo;s helped build into a premiere global event is not on the list of events for sale.) And the new mayor might have a different set of priorities&mdash;and much better taste&mdash;when it comes to programming the city music fests.</p> <p>The city held a pre-proposal conference Thursday afternoon, but amazingly, none of the Chicago media covered it or reported which interested promoters attended. (Don&rsquo;t blame this blogger: He was teaching his Careers in Writing class at Columbia College, ironically enough.) But given the scope of what&rsquo;s required to run any of these festivals&mdash;including at least $15 million worth of insurance and a bank account big enough to pay major artists&rsquo; advances and fund all of the city services&mdash;it&rsquo;s not hard to peg the major contenders.</p> <p>1. <strong>The Texas cowboys of C3 Presents</strong>.</p> <p>The &ldquo;three Charlies&rdquo; will almost certainly throw their 10-gallon hats in the ring. The long-term deal that the mayor&rsquo;s nephew helped the Austin-based promoters strike with the Park District for Lollapalooza specifically prohibits any similar festival from taking place in Grant Park as long as that contract is in effect, through 2018. But it also specifically exempts the soon-to-be-formerly city-run festivals. The company already acts as if it owns Grant Park&mdash;it also threw the election-night shindig for President Obama there, as well as several events during the disastrous Olympics bid&mdash;and winning this deal would make that an actual fact. Its ties to the Daley administration are beyond cozy, and it&rsquo;s in just as solidly with at least one mayoral candidate: Rahm Emanuel, whose brother, Hollywood superagent Ari, quietly owns 50 percent of Lollapalooza.</p> <p>2. <strong>The newly merged monopolistic giant Ticketmaster/Live Nation.</strong></p> <p>The local office of the concert industry&rsquo;s Death Star remains hamstrung by the giant albatross of the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park, the sort of expensive summer shed that the industry abandoned a decade ago. Business has not exactly been booming at the Charter One Pavilion that it threw up on Northerly Island, but the company needs to stay in the summer concert game and compete with Lollapalooza and myriad street fairs. Top executives still regret having been edged out of the contract to promote more varied music and cultural events at Soldier Field; that deal went to C3 three years ago, though they have done very little with it. And while Ticketmaster/Live Nation has some political clout&mdash;it was represented in its unsuccessful bid to win the Uptown Theatre by mayoral pal turned candidate Gary Chico&mdash;he has been taking shots at Daley&rsquo;s Board of Education lately, and the blood connection beats the old buddy every time anyway.</p> <p>3. <strong>Chicago-based Jam Productions.</strong></p> <p>Through the &rsquo;80s and into the&rsquo;90s, the local concert promotion firm started by Chicagoans Jerry Mickelson and Arny Granat booked the Taste of Chicago and occasional stages at the other festivals for the city, and that was the last time when the lineups were consistently good, with memorable acts ranging from Barry White to the Replacements. Their relations with the current administration have been contentious at best for the last decade; the Daley administration clearly favored C3 and Live Nation. But &nbsp;having paved the way for Lollapalooza with successful concerts such as Radiohead at Hutchinson Field, Jam would love to get back into Grant Park&mdash;and stick it to their bigger, badder, better-funded competitors C3 and Ticketmaster/Live Nation in the process.</p><p>Asked via email if Jam would respond to the request for proposals, Mickelson wrote,&ldquo;We are looking at it but have not made any decision at this point in time.&rdquo; The same question was posed to C3&rsquo;s top Charlie, Charlie Jones, and Ticketmaster/Live Nation&rsquo;s Midwest honcho, Mark Campana, but neither responded.</p> <p>As for other interested parties, the second biggest national concert promoter Anschutz Entertainment might consider making a bid, though with the exception of a handful of generally dreadful national pop superstars, its annual presence in the local concert market has been minimal. And after that, it&rsquo;s anybody&rsquo;s guess.</p> <p>You say you booked a few shows at college or the local VFW Hall and might want to get into the game? <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dps/provdrs/contract/svcs/current_bid_opportunities.html">As noted earlier, the documentation can be found online here.</a> Or just start by filling out the first page of the paperwork below and sending it to the Bid and Bond Room, Room 301, City Hall, 121 North LaSalle Street, Chicago, Illinois 60602. And remember: You have to do it by 4 p.m. on the day before the night before Christmas!</p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-indent: 0.5in; line-height: 200%; text-align: center;"><img src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-November/2010-11-20/Form.jpg" alt="" title="" style="width: 377px; height: 486px;" /></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 22 Nov 2010 12:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/psst-hey-buddy-wanna-buy-city-festival Jam to Ticketmaster/Live Nation: Drop dead! http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/jam-ticketmasterlive-nation-drop-dead <p><p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p><div style="text-align: center;"><img width="431" height="431" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/ticketmaster_no_full1_0.jpg" alt="" /></div><div>&nbsp;<strong><br /></strong>Quietly and with no formal fanfare, <b>Jam Productions</b>&mdash;Chicago&rsquo;s biggest independent concert promoter and one of the few of any size remaining in the U.S.&mdash;has begun to sever its longstanding relationship with <b>Ticketmaster </b>and, in the wake of that company&rsquo;s mega-merger with archrival <b>Live Nation</b>, at long last followed the lead of many concertgoers in giving the much-hated, consumer-gouging ticket broker a defiant middle-finger salute.</div><div>&nbsp;</div> <div>This blogger first noticed several months ago that the vast majority of concert tickets being sold on <a href="http://jamusa.com/">Jam&rsquo;s Web site</a> are no longer being made available via Ticketmaster but through the alternative ticket seller etix.com. But Jam officials were and have been reluctant to talk about the shift.</div><div>&nbsp;</div> <div>This morning, Sun-Times pop music critic Thomas Conner <a href="http://blogs.suntimes.com/music/2010/11/concert_promoter_jam_sues_tick.html">broke the news</a> that Jam filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court on Monday asserting its right to sell tickets at the three local venues that it owns&mdash;the Park West, the Riviera Theatre and the Vic Theatre&mdash;however it chooses, despite long-term deals with Ticketmaster.</div><div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Ticketmaster was an independent company when Jam signed its exclusivity agreements for those venues in 2006. But in a move that remains one of the most controversial in the history of the concert business, the Department of Justice earlier this year approved Ticketmaster&rsquo;s merger with the monopolistic giant Live Nation&mdash;which once publicly vowed to &ldquo;crush, kill and destroy&rdquo; Jam, as well as many of the other remaining indie promoters in the U.S.</div><div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Neither Ticketmaster nor Jam have commented on the lawsuit. But when he testified at the Senate hearings on the merger in February 2009, Jam co-founder Jerry Mickelson said that the merger meant that, &ldquo;Our competitor would be receiving income from every ticket we sell. That is not something I would relish.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div> <div>When the hearings ended, C-SPAN&rsquo;s cameras and microphones continued running, and they captured the delightfully entertaining moment of Mickelson cautiously approaching downstate native and Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff, &ldquo;the poison dwarf&rdquo; now considered the most powerful man in the music industry.</div><div>&nbsp;</div> <div>&ldquo;Irving, this has got nothing to do with you,&rdquo; Mickelson said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div> <div>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m fine,&rdquo; Azoff replied. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m fine.&rdquo; But the churlish and hateful corporate greedhead clearly looked anything but.</div> <div>Through much of its three-decade history of promoting concerts in Chicago and other stretches of the Midwest, Jam defended Ticketmaster&rsquo;s absurdly overpriced &ldquo;convenience fees&rdquo; as a cost of doing business, even when Pearl Jam declared war on the ticket broker based on charges that Ticketmaster tacked on to several Jam-promoted shows in Chicago in the early &rsquo;90s.</div><div>&nbsp;</div> <div>However, added fees on Ticketmaster tickets to Jam shows routinely were much less&mdash;sometimes 70 percent or more&mdash;than those tacked on to tickets to Live Nation shows, indicating that Jam took much less of a cut from those fees than Live Nation did. Jam also maintained box offices at several of its venues where tickets could be purchased without any fees, in stark contrast to Live Nation, which added the extra costs everywhere except, at times, the House of Blues.</div><div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Convenience, facility, and order fees for Jam shows via etix.com are not cheap: They seem to be adding an average of $11.75 to tickets in the range of $30 to $35 at the Riv and the Vic.</div><div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In comparison, Ticketmaster/Live Nation is adding $11.66 to the $65 ticket for Chris Botti at the Chicago Theatre on Nov. 13; $11.65 to the $61 ticket for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the Allstate Arena on Nov. 26, and $12.08 to the $35 ticket for Cake at the House of Blues on Dec. 14.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>UPDATED:&nbsp;</strong>There are, however, some savings on the etix order fee of $3 per order on Jam tickets since that fee is charged <em>per order </em>no matter how many tickets a concertgoer buys, while Ticketmaster/Live Nation fees are charged <em>per ticket.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Meet the new boss, same as the old boss? Perhaps. But veteran concertgoers would argue that even if they&rsquo;re paying the same fees they&rsquo;ve been paying, <i>anybody </i>has got to be better than the notoriously unresponsive and consumer-hostile Ticketmaster.</div><div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://blogs.suntimes.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?search=ticketmaster+live+nation+mickelson&amp;IncludeBlogs=84">The links to many of my earlier posts on the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger can be found here.</a></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>UPDATED:&nbsp;</strong>The Jam lawsuit also notes that in recent months, several other venues in Chicago that are not owned by Jam--Schubas,&nbsp;Martyr's, and the Aragon Ballroom among them--have pulled out of their exclusivity agreements with Ticketmaster, underscoring that Jam certainly is not the only local promoter dissatisfied with the newly merged Ticketmaster/Live Nation.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Sources say that the giant company's president and CEO&nbsp;Michael Rapino is especially distressed by indie promoters and venues attempting to sever their ties with Ticketmaster--which is ironic and an indication that the firewall the Department of Justice allegedly erected to keep the ticketing end of the new giant's business separate from the concert promotions end is not nearly as strong as the government promised. (Rapino came from concert promotions at Live Nation--not ticketing at Ticketmaster.)</div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 02 Nov 2010 15:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/jam-ticketmasterlive-nation-drop-dead