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Emporium Presents expands with key hires, new location

Emporium Presents, a joint venture with Live Nation, is expanding its US team with a string of hires and a new location.

The new appointments include Kelsey Danca as director of marketing, Megan Unruh as director of ticketing and Jordan Powell as director of production.

In addition, co-founder Jason Zink has relocated to Nashville, TN and is based out of Live Nation’s Nashville offices along with Danca, Unruh, and Powell. Co-founder Dan Steinberg will remain at Emporium’s headquarters located in Washington.

“We are thrilled about adding these new key players to our team and the expertise that they each bring to Emporium Presents,” says Steinberg. “We are all passionate about the events that we do and Danca, Unruh and Powell are no exception to that. We look forward to all of the growth to come from having them on board.”

Zink added: “I am excited to have moved back to Nashville as Music City is a great place to be based. We have always worked with artists, agents, and managers that are based in Nashville and this move will only strengthen those relationships and the foothold we have.”

“I am excited to have moved back to Nashville as Music City is a great place to be based”

Danca previously worked at AEG Presents in West Palm Beach, FL, Hubbard Broadcasting, RadioFX and The Chicago Theatre, and brings over 10 years of experience in marketing to the growing promoter team.

Unruh joins the team from Red Mountain Entertainment, and previously worked at C3 Presents, H-E-B Center in Cedar Park, TX, and Nascar.

Powell has worked as a tour and artist manager for 23 years with several artists including Sugarland, Ben Rector, Jewel, Indigo Girls, Jennifer Nettles, Miranda Lambert, Thomas Rhett, Blake Shelton, Brandy Clark, Tony Joe White and more. Powell will take over leading all production for Emporium Presents.

Founded in 2015, Emporium Presents has promoted acts including Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Dolly Parton, Jason Mraz, The Scorpions, and The Trailer Park Boys.

The company promotes over 400 shows annually across a variety of entertainment offerings including concerts, stand-up comedy, and performances by celebrated TV personalities, and has offices in Washington and Nashville.

Emporium’s Steinberg produces the well-known podcast, Promoter 101, and is a longstanding ILMC supporter and session host.


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Cast out: Steiny on the end of Promoter 101

Along with my co-host, artist manager Luke Pierce, I created the podcast as an evolution of my panel moderation and interviews at events like Pollstar! Live, the IEBA Conference and Aspen Live. It began three years ago, in October 2016, with inaugural guest Tom Ross.

Since then, the show has hosted live music business luminaries including (in no particular order) Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino; Paradigm’s Tom Windish; WME head of music Marc Geiger; Rock Werchter founder Herman Schueremans; agent Lucy Dickins (then at ITB); AEG Presents co-CEOs Toby Leighton- Pope and Steve Homer; legendary manager Shep Gordon; and, in his final interview, late Primary agent Dave Chumbley – and we have more huge names lined up for the run to episode #200.

Dave Chumbley was such a character. It was a very jovial session – we played games, told stories… I had a lot of fun. His family called shortly after he died [in August 2017] and asked for the audio of it, and they played the show at his wake.

People told me afterwards that they were so moved by that interview. I wasn’t trying to build this time capsule looking back at Dave’s life, but we inadvertently created this thing for people who knew him very well.

It’s risky to put yourself out there with a podcast when you’re working in the industry that supplies both the guests and listeners, but I saw a gap in the market for shows made by the business, for the business.

No one had ever done anything like it before. There are a million music-industry podcasts, but they’re all run by guys who never made it – guys who got to open up for a really cool band one time, or headlined a 500-capacity room, but no one who truly understands from inside the industry.

Plus, I’ve always been rewarded for taking risks. I remember a few years ago seeing Emma Banks hosting the Arthur Awards (at the murder-mystery-themed ILMC 29), dressed up in flapper garb, and thinking: Here’s a whole room of agents who are fine with the fact their competitor is hosting these awards, and they’re sat down here instead. And they’ve bought a ticket! But she’s Emma – she’s a badass and a genius, so she can get away with it.

It’s risky to put yourself out there with a podcast when you’re working in the industry that supplies both the guests and listeners

Doing what Emma does – being able to laugh at yourself and being a bit more out there – has always worked for me. Promoter 101 is an extension of that. When people remember who you are and what you do, that’s advertising you don’t have to pay for: I’d get venue GMs buying our shows, saying to me they love the podcast, while other companies are taking out full pages in Billboard and Pollstar

Promoter 101 is a personal project, unaffiliated with Emporium – but the popularity of the podcast definitely expedited the process of Emporium being acquired by Live Nation in late 2018. Incidentally, my Pollstar Live! 2018 keynote with Live Nation president and CEO Michael Rapino is still the most-listened Promoter 101 episode to date.

But the podcast is completely separate from Emporium, and it wasn’t included in the Live Nation deal. It’s a labour of love. I didn’t want them to be responsible for covering a loss leader.

Since it started, Promoter 101 has probably cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars! The travel is insane. And it’s not like I can invite people to a Motel 6. So the coffee and tea service alone costs a fortune…

I have received multiple offers of sponsorship for Promoter 101, but I turned them down in favour of self-funding. I live a pretty gifted life and the music business has allowed me some serious comforts. I live a life most people don’t get to – so it’s really the least I can do to give back. It’s my way of paying it forward. I owe it to the industry.

I have a list of about 180 other guests I’d like to interview, but I’d prefer to end the podcast now and go out on a high. I don’t want it to get old and boring. The show’s better than it’s ever been – it’s at its peak now. So, while there are certainly people I’d still love to interview, I don’t know if there’s anything left for me to do. What would another six months add to it?

I feel like I’ve annoyed enough people, I’ve paid it forward – I’ve done my job. People have asked me if I’d consider handing it over to someone else, but it’s not going to happen. I don’t want to see people sleeping with my ex-girlfriend!

The final Promoter 101 shows have aired over the past few weeks, with the farewell episode set for 11 November. Final interviewees include Harvey Goldsmith (10 October), Emma Banks (17 October), Randy Phillips (24 October), pundit Bob Lefsetz (28 October) and Bill Silva (31 October), as well as several surprise guests.


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Emporium Presents hires ex-BSE Global exec as COO

Majority Live Nation-owned US promoter Emporium Presents has announced the appointment of Tina Suca as chief operating officer.

Suca will lead Emporium’s business operations and help support the company’s growth.

Suca joins Emporium Presents from BSE Global, where she held the role of vice president of industry relations. In her position, Suca assisted the booking of all BSE properties – 16,800-capacity NYCB Live (formerly Nassau Coliseum), Webster Hall (1,400-cap.) and the recently sold Barclays Center (19,000-cap.).

Prior to BSE, Suca was vice president for ArenaNetwork, general manager and booker for SMG’s Nassau Coliseum and MSG’s the Forum at Inglewood (17,505-cap.), and general manager at Live Nation’s the Wiltern (2,300-cap.).

“We are extremely excited to have Tina join Emporium and use her vast industry experience and relationships to take us to another level”

“We are extremely excited to have Tina join Emporium and use her vast industry experience and relationships to take us to another level,” says Emporium Presents co-director Jason Zink.

Tina Suca will be working out of Emporium Presents’ Colorado office.

Emporium Presents was born in 2016, as the result of a merger between Zink’s Sherpa Concerts and Dan Steinberg’s Square Peg Concerts. Live Nation took a 51% stake in the promoter in 2018. Steinberg and Zink continue to direct the company.

With offices in Colorado and Washington, Emporium promotes over 400 shows annually across the United States and has a growing presence in Canada. The company recently expanded its booking team, hiring talent buyers Laura Vilches and Danny Cohen.


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Live Nation acquires majority stake in Emporium Presents

Live Nation has acquired a 51% stake in Colorado-based promoter Emporium Presents.

Emporium – formed in June 2016 by the merger of Jason Zink’s Sherpa Concerts and Dan Steinberg’s Square Peg Concerts – is headquartered in Golden, Colorado, near Denver, and also has offices in Seattle and Birmingham, Alabama.

The deal with Live Nation sees the acquisition-hungry concert giant take a majority stake in Emporium Presents, although the company will keep its name, corporate identity and all staff. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Emporium becomes the latest independent US promoter to be snapped up by a major corporate this year, following Live Nation’s takeover of Wisconsin’s Frank Productions and Texas’s ScoreMore Shows shows and last week’s acquisition of PromoWest Productions by AEG Presents.

“Dan and Jason are dedicated promoters, through and through. Their industry insight and strong relationships have grown Emporium Presents into a national promoter in just a few short years, and we can’t wait to see what else they achieve now that they are part of Live Nation,” says Bob Roux, president of US concerts at Live Nation.

“Dan and Jason are dedicated promoters, through and through”

“We are looking forward to collaborating with our new partner, Live Nation, and building on what has already been a great long-term relationship between our two companies” says Steinberg.

“Our overall philosophy is to do right by the artists and do right by the fans, and everything else takes care of itself. We know Live Nation is a prime example of that,” adds Zink.

“This new partnership will present a lot of opportunities for the artists we are fortunate enough to work with.

Emporium Presents promotes more than 400 shows annually, including concerts, stand-up comedy and performances by TV personalities.

Steinberg says a knock-on effect of the acquisition is that he will step back from presenting his popular Promoter 101 podcast, given that he “may now have an inside position on things that can’t really be public, and I don’t want people to be uncomfortable about that”. Steinberg’s role as news writer/producer will be taken over by co-host Luke Pierce, with Steinberg restricting his involvement to interviewing and executive producer duties, he tells Pollstar.


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“I’m a Belieber!”: Peter Mensch buries the hatchet with Justin

Legendary artist manager Peter Mensch used his appearance at last week’s ILMC 30 Breakfast Meeting to put to rest his much-publicised feud with Justin Bieber, telling delegates: “I’m a Belieber now!”

The self-professed ‘greatest manager in the fucking world’ said he had two things to say before the interview started in earnest. First off, he paid tribute to Brian Murphy, West Coast president of AEG Presents and Goldenvoice and co-founder of Avalon Attractions, who died on 6 March.

Then he stood up and removed his jumper to reveal a Justin Bieber T-shirt. Five years ago, he revealed, he’d done a talk at the Royal Albert Hall in which he insulted Justin Bieber and his manager, Scooter Braun, by suggesting the Canadian singer’s career would be over in three years. (He also told the Sun he’d “take Bieber to the woodshed and spank him” to instil some some discipline in the wayward popstar.)

“I was wrong,” Mensch said at ILMC. “I will acknowledge Justin didn’t go away… I’m now a Belieber.”

He also paid tribute to Braun for his role in organising the One Love Manchester tribute event, saying he thinks “Scooter is OK”.

Breakfast Meeting host Dan Steinberg (Promoter 101) – standing in for Ed Bicknell, who’d broken his leg – got the questions off to a confrontational start: “Why so angry?”

“I don’t give a flying fuck if you can play live… You always get better”

“Because if you manage bands you’re mummy bird and they’re baby bird and anyone doesn’t help you feed them…” responded Mensch. “You’ve got to lead or follow or get the fuck out of the way.”

The ‘mummy bird’ to Metallica, Muse, Red Hot Chili Peppers and others said he got into management after a stint as “the world’s worst tour accountant,” and in the office still sits next to his “best friend and only friend in the business,” QPrime partner Cliff Bernstein.

“The most important thing a manager can do is get the best music out of the act they can,” he told the room.

“I don’t give a flying fuck if they can play live. We managed Foals for two years and no one had seen them live. It’s all about the music. You always get better at live. Maybe you’re never gonna be God’s gift, but you’ll get better.”

Mensch said there’s one key to choosing the artists they work with: “It’s the music. Someone sends us music, we listen to it, someone says ‘it sucks’, end of conversation. Two of us listen and say ‘that’s a good record’ and on the way to Popeyes Fried Chicken we decide to manage them.

“Like Muse’s third album. The first album sold 10,000 albums, second didn’t come out in the US. We listened to the third record [loved it], went to Bologna, went to see them and said ‘we want to manage you in America’ and they started laughing because they’d had zero success in America.”

“The most important thing a manager can do is get the best music out of the act they can”

He also admitted to looking forward to Mondays, not Fridays, “because I don’t work on Saturday and Sunday.”

“So what motivates one of the greatest managers in the world?” asked Steinberg: “I’m fuelled by hate! I’ve had the chip [on my shoulder] since I was ten.

“We’re the best in the fucking world. We want to shove it down people’s throats.”

So what’s the ideal fan experience for Mensch? “Three hours of my favourite band. I want to have a great time and great sound. I wanna bang my head and walk out feeling amazing.”

However, you’re not likely to see him in any small clubs looking for a new act any time soon. “Most music is crap for me. I don’t hear as much amazing music as I used to. I don’t listen to as much new stuff because I only care about my acts. Cliff listens to a lot more – my feeling is, ‘If I don’t manage you, fuck you’.”


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Small screen: BIG stars!

Around five years ago, Dan Steinberg received a call from his trusted friend TJ Markwalter at The Gersh Agency asking him to put on some shows by the then little-known (at least in the adult offline world) YouTube star Miranda Sings.

“He said: ‘Don’t ask what it is. Don’t even look at the video. Just put it on sale and trust me,’” recalls Steinberg, who runs US-based promoter Emporium Presents. “In the midst of confirming the shows, my marketing director sent me a link to her YouTube channel. I immediately called TJ and I was like: ‘Seriously? Is this a joke?’ He said: ‘I told you not to look at it. Just watch the ticket sales.’”

Sure enough, the show sold out instantly, prompting Steinberg to travel to Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival to watch Miranda Sings perform a matinee concert in front of 2,000 screaming pre-teen girls in person. “It was the loudest show I’ve ever been at,” he remembers. “I quickly decided two things: ‘One, I never need to be front of house for one of these shows again. And two, we really need to get into this space.’”

“‘Don’t ask what it is. Don’t even look at the video. Just put it on sale and trust me'”

Half a decade later, tours by comedy YouTube stars and new media artists now make up between 15–18% of Emporium’s revenue, with the company’s expansion into the non-traditional entertainment sector mirroring one of the fastest-growing areas of the touring business as more and more vloggers, musicians and social media personalities break out of the online realm and into the live arena.

“We’re still living in rock’n’roll and country tours, but YouTube and multimedia sensations are definitely becoming a larger part of our business, and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon,” says Steinberg, pointing to the global reach of Miranda Sings, whose one-woman show – a satirical mix of off-key singing, comedy, lecturing and lame magic, performed by classically trained singer and actress Colleen Ballinger – continues to pack out venues around the world.

Read the rest of this feature in issue 70 of IQ

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