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 Presents to ramp up special events output
Colorado- and Washington-based promoter Emporium Presents has hired Rob Buswell as head of radio shows and special events.
Under Buswell, Emporium, majority owned by Live Nation since the tail end of 2018, aims to increase its show production and expand its range of speciality events, according to a statement.
Buswell has owned and operated radio show promoter Pro Events since 2001, producing events and booking talent for nearly 100 US radio stations and working with artists including Drake, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Foo Fighters, Chance the Rapper and Destiny’s Child.
“Rob has been a longtime friend and partner of Emporium Presents. He brings his exceptional experience and relationships to a great team and will help us continue to grow our business,” says Emporium’s COO, Tina Suca, who joined in September.
Buswell will be working remotely from Arizona and can be reached at [email protected]. Led by directors Dan Steinberg and Jason Zink, Emporium Presents produces over 400 shows annually across the US and Canada.
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.
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.
Emporium Presents adds two new talent buyers
Live Nation-owned Emporium Presents has announced that it has added talent buyers Laura Vilches and Danny Cohen to its team.
US-based promoter Emporium Presents launched in 2016 as the result of a merger of Jason Zink’s Sherpa Concerts and Dan Steinberg’s Square Peg Concerts. Live Nation bought a 51% stake in the promoter in October 2018, in a flurry of independent US promoter acquisitions. Zink and Steinberg continue to direct the company.
With the addition of two new bookers, Emporium Presents hope to supplement support for current projects and expand the firm’s show production.
Vilches has worked as a booking manager for the Austin-based Paramount and State theatres. In Seattle, the booker has managed artist relations for major music festivals including BottleRock (40,000-cap.), Governors Ball (50,000-cap.), Lollapalooza (50,000-cap.) and ACL Festival (75,000-cap.).
“Vilches and Cohen each bring years of industry experience with them, and we are thrilled to add them both to them Emporium family”
Cohen joins from multi-purpose, indoor arena Nassau Coliseum (13,917-cap.), where he held the role of programming manager. He has worked as a booking and representative assistant at WME in Beverly Hills and as a talent buyer at United Concerts. Cohen also has experience in artist relations and site operations at several festivals, and in venue management at New York’s Forest Hills Stadium (14,000-cap.).
“Vilches and Cohen each bring years of industry experience with them, and we are thrilled to add them both to them Emporium Family,” says Steinberg.
Vilches joins the company’s Seattle office, whereas Cohen will be based in Denver. Emporium Presents produces over 400 shows annually across the United States and has a growing presence in Canada.
The company has promoted shows for acts including Dolly Parton, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert and Jason Mraz.
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.
Beese: Balance key for venues promoting own shows
The Roundhouse’s head of music, Jane Beese, has spoken of the challenges involved in venues producing their own shows – and the importance of not “pissing off” promoters in the process.
Beese appeared at ILMC’s new Venue Summit on 9 March, where she was a panellist for the Industry relationships session alongside AEG Ogden’s Tim Horton, Emporium Presents’ Jason Zink, Kilimanjaro Live’s Stuart Galbraith, UTA’s Paul Ryan, Ticketmaster’s Doug Smith and chair Lucy Noble, of the Royal Albert Hall in London.
Noble asked all three venue operators (Beese, Horton and Noble) on the panel whether they promote their own shows – and, if so, how much friction it causes with promoters. Noble said part of her role at the Royal Albert Hall is to develop its own and co-productions, which currently make up around 14% of the venue’s total programming. These shows – although still a relatively small part of its business, so “no one should panic yet!” – are good for the venue as “we can control the brand more, have an input on artistic quality and link in our education and outreach programme,” she continued, “and, being honest, we do quite well financially out of them as well.”
Beese said the north London venue welcomes more than 100 shows a year from external promoters, so “balance is important: balance between promoters coming in, corporate events and our own programming, which also includes circus, spoken-word and performing-arts events.”
“We’ve had steal shows from us – and that’s the last time we’ll work with that venue”
“Promoters are a huge chunk of our business,” she continued, “so it’s not in our interest to be pissing them off.”
UTA agent Paul Ryan said he “see[s] it from both sides.” “The word ‘balance’ was used – I think that’s a good term,” he explained. “As an agent working across multiple territories, we’ve got to look at what’s good for the artist. Venues like the Royal Albert Hall and Roundhouse are a bit different, but if it’s a standard rock ’n’ roll venue […] there’s got to be a good reason why you’d want to go into a venue directly instead of dealing with a national promoter.”
Noble asked Kilimanjaro CEO Stuart Galbraith if he’d be angry if the Royal Albert Hall bid against him for a one-night show. “Yes!” he replied, to laughs. While “there are a lot of reasons why venues should self-promote in certain circumstances,” Galbraith said going promoter-free only works if the show is a “slam-dunk sell-out. If you’ve got a show that stops at 60% there’s nowhere else to go,” he commented. “That’s where we [the promoter] would make a difference.”
The reason he’d be angry if Kili and a venue both bid on the same show, he added, is because “you’d only bid on shows you think are going to sell out,” leaving the promoter to handle the riskier prospects.
Emporium Presents talent buyer Jason Zink said he’s had venues that have “stolen shows from us – and that’s the last time we’ll work with that venue.”
“Promoters are a huge chunk of our business. It’s not in our interest to be pissing them off”
The discussion also touched on ticketing: specifically the merits and drawbacks of venues operating their own box offices. Ticketmaster’s Doug Smith said it’s up to venues whether they want to ticket their own shows, but by doing so they miss out on Ticketmaster’s “good technology line [and] huge market reach.” “We want to assist you in selling out your venue,” he commented.
Zink said venues have be to sure that if they do go the self-ticketing route, they have the infrastructure in place to deal with demand. “We had a case last year – an arena show – where the website went down for an hour after on-sale,” he said. “That’s not acceptable: if people can’t buy tickets when they want to.”
Beese said the Roundhouse holds on to 70% of ticket inventory, with the remaining 30% going to the promoter. That’s not enough, said Galbraith: “Many venues now are saying you need to give us 60–70%, and then the only tickets that aren’t selling are the venue’s allocation. I have to pay to take them out of the box office, which is wrong. […] Venues are stopping us being able to effectively promote.”
“The proportion held back is sometimes an issue,” agreed Ryan. “As an agent, all I really care about is having those tickets spread as widely as possible.”
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.
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Sweet home Alabama for Emporium Presents
Independent US promoter Emporium Presents has hired former Huka talent buyer Todd Coder to head up a new operation in Birmingham, Alabama.
Emporium – formed last June by the merger of Jason Zink’s Sherpa Concerts and Dan Steinberg’s Square Peg Concerts – also has offices in Nashville, Denver and Seattle.
Coder, the in-house talent buyer for Birmingham’s Lyric Theatre (750-cap.), theWorkPlay Theatre (450-cap.) and Soundstage (800-cap.) and the outdoor stage at the Avondale Brewing Company (200-cap.), worked for New Orleans-headquartered promoter Huka Entertainment from June 2015 to September 2016.
“Professionally and personally, I can’t think of a better fit, and I am beyond excited to get to work”
“I’ve been a fan of Dan and Jason’s for quite some time,” he says. “Professionally and personally, I can’t think of a better fit, and I am beyond excited to get to work. Timing is everything in this business, and the timing here could not be better.”
Steinberg adds: “We’ve known Todd for years and have always thought he was super knowledgeable about this crazy industry, and he is a hell of a guy to sip some bourbon with. I’m pumped to get to do that with him as part of the Emporium team.”
At the time of writing, Emporium’s upcoming Alabama shows include The Black Jacket Symphony performing Prince’s Purple Rain at the Mobile, Huntsville and Tuscaloosa.