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L.A. Concert Biz Expo

Reported by Nima Khodai

January 6, 2008

The fast-evolving concert industry was the topic of NARIP’s recent Concert Biz Expo in Los Angeles.

Notwithstanding talent, the most important support system a live act has to propel its career forward is an active, vibrant fan base. During the first panel of the day, “How to Build a Fan Base & Get Booked,” guest speakers broke this down. Many artists do not achieve the success they hope for because they disregard this aspect of the total package. The Agency Group’s Corrie Christopher recalled how she went to check the successful mainstream act Yellowcard out before they became famous, and their fans were singing their songs louder than the band itself. That’s building a fan base!

Using examples of different acts, panelists talked about connecting to fans through online marketing (MySpace, YouTube), or meeting and talking with them after a show, both of which are crucial first steps to success. If treated well, an artist’s first fans base will stick with him, so cultivating local fans using all of technology’s latest tools (not to mention the oldest non-technical one: be good to fans and show them your sincere appreciation), should be an important focus of any emerging artist.

The next topic if the day was “How to Get Bigger Gigs and Work Your Way Up.” Panelists discussed how bands should build local fan bases, and slowly reach out to their local areas as they move up. For an act to climb the ladder to success, it needs a good team, the essential members include a manager, lawyer, booking agent, and possibly a record company. This team, with the combination of artist and fan connections fostered by constant building of the fan base, is the “formula” (if such a thing exists) for moving an act into bigger venues.

After an elegant and delicious lunch, the third panel of the day started off with “How to Go from Medium Venues to Festivals & Arenas.” This panel was similar to the previous one, but on a bigger scale. Speakers discussed artist and fan interaction, with continued emphasis on the idea of cultivating a bigger fan base through personal connections. One example was how Incubus blogged for fans to create videos to submit for an Incubus video contest. Another was Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails offering singles for his fans to remix. These are ways to build a fan base, and once there is a buzz for bands that are growing in popularity and profile, this leads to more opportunities to be booked for arena tours and festivals. In fact, it was said that at most festivals, the bands that play those are already at that point.

The final panel was the most memorable. Spectacle Entertainment Group’s Andy Gould (who manages Rob Zombie) created a stir. Along with The Firm’s Peter Katsis and New Noise’s Brett Williams, speakers on the “Who’s Handling Whom: Top Artist Managers Speak Out” panel reiterated important points.

1. The power of the major label is falling. DIY (do it yourself) is rising.

2. Cultivate a local fan base, and then build it using current marketing tools.

3. Find your audience.

Overall, the L.A. Concert Biz Expo was a memorable experience, for not only was it a great session for networking, but the state of the industry and its future were discussed in thought and intelligent detail.

This is a great time to be in a volatile industry, and for so many top executives in the concert industry (not to mention attendees from all areas of the business) to come together and discuss it was a wonderful and eye-opening learning experience.


Recordings of the panels from NARIP’s Concert Biz Expo are available now in the NARIP Store. Click here to buy now, listen and learn!


See photos from NARIP’s Concert Biz Expo, click here: NARIP Snapshots