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February 29, 2024 96 mins

Dayna Frank is CEO of First Avenue Productions. She's also the co-founder and first President of the Board of the National Independent Venue Association. We discuss her involvement in the passage of the Save Our Stages Act and the formulation of the new TICKET Act and the ins and outs of getting things accomplished in D.C. as well as concert promotion in the Twin Cities. Dayna is a powerhouse, she gets things done!

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:08):
Welcome, Welcome, Welcome back to the Bob Leftstets podcast. My
guest today is Dana Frank, President and CEO of First Avenue,
also president of the board of NIVA, the National Independent
Venue Association. So Dan and tell me about this new
legislation about ticketing, the Fans First Act.

Speaker 2 (00:32):
Thanks, Bob, I'm excited to be here.

Speaker 3 (00:35):
We have introduced at the end of twenty twenty three
the Fans First Act, led by Senators Cornyn and Kloeshar
with Senators Luhn, Welsh.

Speaker 2 (00:46):
Wicker and Blackburn.

Speaker 3 (00:48):
It's a real, no nonsense, no brainer ticketing legislation that
you know, attempts to get tickets into the hands of
real fans at fair prices and to cut down on
some of the predatory and deceptive practices and has some
transparent measures that everyone seems to like, like all in
pricing and reinforces the Bots Act, and is one step

(01:12):
of the puzzle that will go a long way towards
really protecting our fans and making sure that people who
want to go to the concerts actually get the tickets.

Speaker 1 (01:22):
You say, one piece of the puzzle. What might the
other pieces be?

Speaker 3 (01:26):
Oh, there's a number of different legislative solutions, you know,
in terms of ticketing, and you know, everyone after Taylor
Swift last year, seems to think they're an expert in ticketing,
and so a lot of folks had their own, you know, solutions,
you know. So this is what we think is a
bipartisan kind of no brainer, first.

Speaker 2 (01:47):
Piece of the puzzle.

Speaker 1 (01:48):
So tell me about some of the elements in the act, right.

Speaker 3 (01:52):
So first, we have all in pricing with itemization, which
is important I think in our industry and with the
artist groups, so that fans know, yes, what is the
total price they're going to pay for the ticket, but
also what are the fees and you know, what's the
face value and what's the artist charging for the tickets.
And then we also have some protections against predatory and

(02:14):
deceptive practices like I deceptive websites and folks that are
creating Facebook groups, you know, kind of presuming that they're
the official ticket sellers or the artists when they're not.
We have some reinforcements to the Bots Act.

Speaker 2 (02:30):
We have.

Speaker 3 (02:33):
An opt in solution so when people buy on the
secondary market that they can opt in to receive communications
from the artists and from the ticket sellers directly. So
in terms of canceled shows or moved times. You know,
it's a huge problem where we're hosting a show, we
don't know sometimes forty to fifty percent of the ticket
buyers who are actually coming to the show, so we

(02:53):
have no way of communicating any kind of changes in
the shows with them. And so we also have a
study that would go more in depth into some of
the other issues within ticketing, like you know, how many
how many tickets that are resold on the secondary market,
how many of those are by brokers, and how many

(03:13):
of those are by folks that just can't get a
babysitter and can't go to the show.

Speaker 1 (03:17):
Okay, let's try to drill a little deeper. So in
terms of deceptive advertising, let's say your tickets are on
ticket Master. Just to make it simple, when you Google frequently,
that's not the first hit you get something from a
broker or something. So how would this legislation address that
if at all?

Speaker 3 (03:37):
Yep, Yeah, So it has a ban on using IP
either venue or artist or promoter IP in organic search
and advertising and promotion. So you know, if sometimes you'll
Google and you'll see the venue or the official website.
Sometimes it comes down even on like the second page
of Google and so the first six, seven and eight

(04:00):
hits are all resellers. And so this would say in
organic searches, promotions marketing, things like those Facebook groups that
folks create and say, oh, get your official tickets here, Well,
that wouldn't be allowed anymore. And there's pretty stiff penalties
when it comes to enforcing the act so that it
actually is 'enforceable.

Speaker 1 (04:20):
Let's talk very practically. So now I'm searching for tickets,
will I see the authorized reseller first? Or is it
just that the other ones it will be clearer that
their secondary market? What will I actually see if I'm
a relatively unsophisticated buyer.

Speaker 3 (04:40):
So you will still see the Google ad words the
purchased words first, and so that might be a secondary seller. However,
if you know, I don't want to presume that everybody
has their SEO optimization down, but the first or second
should be the official seller below that adds the purchase ads.

Speaker 1 (05:04):
Okay, tell us a little bit more about secondaries not
being able to use primary ip.

Speaker 3 (05:12):
Yeah, so things like like I said, those Facebook groups,
or things like using the venue name to advertise or
the artist's name to advertise you know, we have to
allow for them to actually advertise what it is they're selling, right,
they have to be able to use that name. But
in terms of like advertising and promotions, that would.

Speaker 2 (05:33):
Not be allowable.

Speaker 1 (05:34):
Can you give me an example.

Speaker 3 (05:37):
Yeah, you know, if they're sending out an email blast
in the header, it's like buy all of your first
avenue tickets here, right, So what would be allowable is
like a ligne listing and a description of the actual product,
but not the use of that IP in overall marketing
and promotions.

Speaker 1 (05:55):
Okay, Now you talked about enforcement, about the previous Botch
Act enforcement there and what would be different today.

Speaker 3 (06:06):
Right, So you know what when we first started thinking
about legislative solutions for ticketing issues, what we heard really
clearly is there has to be pretty stiff monetary penalties
because anyone from state ags to official you know, government officials,
without financial penalties, there's very little motivation or resources to

(06:30):
go after a perpetrator. So we have in the bill,
it's believed, don't quote me on this, I believe it's
one thousand dollars a day up to ten thousand dollars
per ticket for the violation. And so that's a pretty stiff.
So if you're looking at the a violation of an
overall website with thousands of tickets, that number gets to
be pretty pretty strict pretty quickly.

Speaker 1 (06:54):
Okay, It's one thing to have the law on the books,
it's another thing to have it enforced. You know, in
terms of crime, usually ticketing is far from the top.
So what would ensure that law enforcement would actually act
on this?

Speaker 2 (07:12):
That is a great question.

Speaker 3 (07:14):
I think it's going to be the loud voice of
our industry having this law and having the financial penalties
and having you know, also in the law there's a
website that anyone can go to report the violations and
really making.

Speaker 2 (07:27):
Sure that it is enforced.

Speaker 3 (07:29):
But that's certainly been an issue with every piece of
ticketing legislation that's passed.

Speaker 1 (07:34):
Okay, so what is the status of the bill down.

Speaker 3 (07:39):
Yep, So we introduced at the end of December. Excited
to get it introduced. Timing wise, it was like right
before the recess. So we're actively securing co sponsors. We
have a number of whom in the hopper and are
you know, really excited by the momentum and hopefully we'll
be able to introduce the new co sponsor soon. And

(08:03):
there's also a piece of legislation in the House called
the Ticket Act that has the similar provisions of the
Fans First Act. And also, I forgot to mention spec
tickets everybody, I think in the industry. You know, if
you don't know what a spec ticket is, it's when
they astronomical amounts on the secondary markets twenty thousand dollars,

(08:24):
ten thousand dollars, maybe even one hundred dollars.

Speaker 2 (08:27):
But it's when.

Speaker 3 (08:28):
Somebody has posted a ticket for sale that doesn't actually
exist yet, right they're posted before the actual on sale
or in seats that don't exist, et cetera. So this
would actually make the practice of spec tickets illegal. It
would allow for a concierge service, which would allow for
a consumer, if they can't get online at you know,
Tuesday at ten am, to be able to come out

(08:50):
quote unquote hire a broker such to go and secure
the tickets for them. But the listings would have to
be separately from tickets, the pricing would have to delineate
between the sur and the ticket fee. And so excited,
very excited to ban this much hated practice.

Speaker 1 (09:06):
Okay, let's go back. You know you're very familiar with
the legislative process. Many people are not. Let's go back
to the beginning and with Klobatar, who's your state senator, Minnesota?
How did this legislation come to be?

Speaker 3 (09:24):
So we started seeing after reopening, I would end of
twenty twenty one, really beginning of twenty twenty two, amongst
the NEVA folks that are drop rates just weren't really recovering.

Speaker 1 (09:37):
Wait with just a little bit slower because there's a
lot of things going on. Tell us about NIVA.

Speaker 3 (09:43):
Sure So, NIVA as the National Independent Venue Association, we
came together late March early April after the COVID shutdowns
had completely you know, ended our business and our ability
to generate any revenue whatsoever, and we banded together both
for knowledge sharing and community and trauma bonding as people

(10:05):
would say, but also to pass legislation that would allow
us the resources to ensure that we're able to reopen
when it was safe to do so. We have, I believe,
about twelve hundred members in every state, every congressional district,
ranging from you know, fifty capacity coffee shops all the
way up to amphitheaters and independent venues that generate the

(10:31):
majority of the revenue by selling tickets.

Speaker 2 (10:33):
That's the qualifications.

Speaker 1 (10:34):
Okay, how did you end up being the president of
the board.

Speaker 2 (10:39):
That is a great question.

Speaker 3 (10:43):
I maybe because no one else wanted to do it.
I was the one that was really passionate about a
federal bill and kind of led the charge on the
advocacy effort. And because advocacy really was the first, second,
and third priority, you know, realizing that there would be
no venues in which to have an association if we

(11:05):
didn't get this bill passed. The four other folks that
were on the board elected me president.

Speaker 1 (11:13):
Okay, let's go back. You're sitting at home, lockdown, there
are no shows. Tell me about the genesis of Neva
and your role in it.

Speaker 3 (11:23):
So it was actually Reverend Moose and Marauder that called
folks together on a town hall I think the first.
The first one was actually a conference call. I don't
even know if anyone knew what Zoom was yet, and
it was I believe, a end of February, first week
of March, to just hear from from folks in Europe
what they were seeing and really kind of give a

(11:43):
warning signal. And so I started joining those early calls
and then when it went to zoom, seeing the other
faces on there and realizing that, you know, these are
all people with families, with lives, with houses, with obligations,
and we were all going to be out of work
and in severe debt with absolutely no way to repay

(12:07):
any of our obligations unless we did something about it.

Speaker 1 (12:12):
Now to what deg we Was there an organization prior
to this amongst the independents?

Speaker 2 (12:19):
Oh, there was no organization.

Speaker 3 (12:20):
I think, you know, people they would talk about with
very you know, with guards up.

Speaker 4 (12:27):
You know.

Speaker 3 (12:27):
I kind of made it a habit whenever I traveled,
I would always reach out to the independent promoter, the
club owner in town, just to get a tour and
just to try to learn from them and see what
they're doing. And I feel like I was always greeted
with a little bit of like, are you coming into
my city?

Speaker 2 (12:42):
What do you want to talk to me for?

Speaker 3 (12:45):
And so there was certainly a lot of we knew
about each other, but I don't think there was a
lot of you know, knowledge sharing or real kind of
deep community amongst them.

Speaker 2 (13:01):
And that changed real fast.

Speaker 1 (13:03):
Okay, so now everybody's on a zoom. How do you
organize and how do you set an agenda.

Speaker 3 (13:12):
Very messily. Those early meetings were they were pretty frantic,
pretty desperate, and the way it came together it really
self organized. And I think when you're in a situation
that is, you know a little bit like war, a
little bit like there's no alternative. It really people really

(13:34):
wanted to help and there wasn't a whole lot of
you know, arguments or dissension dissensions. It really was like, Okay,
we need to do this.

Speaker 2 (13:41):
Who's going to do it? Great, you're going to do it.
And also, you.

Speaker 3 (13:45):
Know, again kudos to Rever Moose who was our early
executive director and how real from World Cafe.

Speaker 1 (13:52):
Why don't you tell people who he is?

Speaker 3 (13:55):
He has a marketing firm out of New York called Marauder,
and he was he brought Independent Venue Week across from
the UK, and so he was the just again the
perfect person to really gather everybody because he didn't have
a venue so wasn't seen, you know, as a competitor,
but also was already in communication with all the independent

(14:16):
venues in town due to independent Venueek.

Speaker 1 (14:19):
Okay, so now everybody's talking, how do you set the agenda?

Speaker 3 (14:25):
So really it's centered around we need to get this
bill passed. Okay, what do we need to do to
get a bill passed?

Speaker 1 (14:31):
Well, well, a little bit slower. So I mean, I
remember being on the email thread and basically it's about
getting money to the venues and the people who worked there.
But how did you decide you were going to have legislation,
How did you decide what was going to be in
the legislation, How did you decide who's going to be
the first mover.

Speaker 3 (14:52):
So we weren't even thinking legislation at the beginning. We
were just thinking, Okay, there's going to be another Care's bill.
We want to get in that Cares bill because we
had read the first Cares bill and saw, oh wait,
there's a separate provision for restaurants.

Speaker 2 (15:07):
So that's how we knew it was possible.

Speaker 3 (15:09):
We're like, if they're doing something for restaurants, they can
do something for venues because we don't have takeout. You know,
they went down thirty forty percent, we were down to
zero percent. So we're like, we need something in that bill. Okay,
how do you get something in a bill? You got
to hire a lobbyist. So I called around to the folks.

Speaker 1 (15:25):
I knew who might be well, wha, wha, wha, whoa
a little bit slower. How did you become the point person?

Speaker 2 (15:32):
I think I was. I that's a really good question.

Speaker 3 (15:37):
Maybe just because I was super passionate and you know,
making a lot of the calls and had a vision
and was determined to really get this thing done, and
so just I think de facto fell into that role
of quarterback.

Speaker 1 (15:54):
Oh okay, So basically everybody did they say, Dana, you go,
or all all of a sudden, everybody's doing different stuff
and they said, well, Dana's doing stuff, let's fall behind her.

Speaker 2 (16:05):
I think at that time, no one really knew what
to do.

Speaker 3 (16:08):
So when somebody came, you know, with a plan and
with Okay, this is what we're going to do, it
really you know again, like I said, everybody was really
willing to contribute and willing to contribute where they were
needed and with what was necessary at the time. From
the initial IVW meetings, there were five of us that

(16:30):
were elected to the board, and so each of us
had I think, different interests, and like I said, my
interest was in advocacy and in getting some federal support
for the venues, and so I became the Advocacy Chair,
and we took from the initial emails of people that
signed up for NIVA, through again the great leadership of

(16:52):
Audrey Fick Schaeffer and Gary Witt, I just sent a
mass email to anyone who said they were interested in lobbying,
and so we formed the Advocacy Committee, and then we
broke it down into states because part of the idea
behind going for federal support was, you know, at First Avenue,

(17:13):
we know what we mean in Minnesota, and we know
the relationships we have locally. You know, we have had
nothing federally, but we knew locally help beloved and how
people would be really, really interested and anxious to help us.
And so we just said, you know, there's First Avenues
in every city that had these kinds of relationships. So
we broke it down into a priest and captain system

(17:34):
and said, Okay, you know, we'll have a few of
us that are kind of overseeing the national strategy, but everybody.

Speaker 2 (17:41):
On the ground.

Speaker 3 (17:43):
The really main commitment was to get your local congress
person and your senator invested in our cause and.

Speaker 2 (17:51):
Wanting to help us.

Speaker 1 (17:52):
So how did you end up hiring a lobbyist?

Speaker 3 (17:56):
We got very early financial support from ce tickets. We
had nothing, right, We had a lot of people and
a lot of people with time and willingness to work,
but we had no resources whatsoever. So we got some
early financial support. There were about six of us that
gathered as the you know, kind of de facto selection

(18:17):
or search committee.

Speaker 2 (18:19):
We each kind of reached out to people that we knew.

Speaker 3 (18:22):
I mean, you know, at the beginning, I can't really
kind of overstate how how frantic and how hard everyone
worked and what just kind of a.

Speaker 2 (18:33):
Desperate time it was.

Speaker 3 (18:34):
But it was like, okay, we need a federal lobbyist.
I called to the you know, kind of bigger promoters
that I thought might be doing something in DC. No
one had a federal lobbyist. So I was like, wait,
I don't know anyone in DC. I'm from Minnesota.

Speaker 2 (18:47):
What am I going to do?

Speaker 3 (18:47):
And I'm like, wait, then, I'm thirty club And so
I happened to have been sitting next to Audrey Fixschaeffer
at a dinner a few nights a few months before
and just sent her a Facebook message saying, Hey, you're
a DC do you know a lobbyist? So, you know,
she joined up and and we really just you know again,
everybody reached into their networks, came up with the names

(19:08):
that we could find, and I think are the lobbyist
that we found Ach and Gump the best, Casey Higgins
and it began the best lobbyist in the entire world.
We found them because somebody on a group chain I
was in said that Paul Ryan's office was giving PPP advice.
So I was like, well, I can't call Paul Paul
Ryan's office. I'm from Minneapolis, but I know somebody from Milwaukee.

(19:30):
So Gary Witt, you know, called up Paul Ryan's office
and was referred to Casey Higgins. Uh, and that's how
we we got to Casey.

Speaker 1 (19:38):
Tell us about Casey and his firm.

Speaker 2 (19:41):
Mm. Her firm is.

Speaker 3 (19:44):
No, No, So they're a huge, you know top I
don't know that much about law firms, but a top
firm and really became invested in our cause.

Speaker 2 (19:57):
And I think how.

Speaker 1 (19:58):
Pastora law firm lobbying firm, Well.

Speaker 3 (20:02):
The the lobbyists are are lawyers, so it's a law
firm that also has us.

Speaker 1 (20:07):
So all the lobbyists are lawyers.

Speaker 3 (20:09):
I might be overstating that, but I believe most of
the major lobbying firms are law firms.

Speaker 1 (20:17):
Okay, and so this law firm they're representing NIVA. How
many other clients do they have?

Speaker 2 (20:25):
Oh?

Speaker 3 (20:26):
Oh a hundreds? But thank god the conflict check checked out.
So that was very fortunate for us.

Speaker 1 (20:34):
And so then what kind of an agreement do you
make with the lobbying firm?

Speaker 3 (20:38):
Yeah, yeah, So we had a monthly retainer and they
got to work immediately, I think from our first call,
you know, really guiding the strategy and setting out how
we were going to tell our stories. I I'll never forget.
You know, they did a lobbying one oh one for
NIVA members, like how to talk to your member of Congress,
you know, because most folks had never been involved in

(21:01):
anything like this. You know, we're used to hosting fundraisers
maybe you know, talking to our city council people, but
you know, in terms of federal lobbying, it was all new.

Speaker 1 (21:13):
So, okay, how do you talk to a congress person,
you know, like a real person.

Speaker 2 (21:20):
It would it's pretty surprising.

Speaker 3 (21:23):
And sharing our stories and I was going to say fortunately,
but really it's unfortunately. You know, we had kind of
the most authentic SOB story of all sab stories. You know,
during the pandemic, people were cashing out there for one case,
they were.

Speaker 2 (21:40):
Remortgaging their houses.

Speaker 3 (21:42):
They were doing everything imaginable and anything they could to
just try to hang on one more month, two more months.
So you know, those were the stories that we told.
And on top of that the impact that we have
in our communities, and we were, you know, really fortunate
that we had built. You know, almost every independent venue

(22:04):
has built really strong, deep rooted community relationships. So you know,
I was on a call with a congress person from
rural or yeah, the valley in California, and so it
wasn't just the historic theater on the call. It was
also the director of the Chamber of Commerce, and the

(22:25):
local hotel and the restaurant next door, and they were
all advocating for saveer stages and for helping the theater
because without the theater they wouldn't have any business either.

Speaker 1 (22:42):
Okay, you go to the lobbying firm, we hear all
the time that the lobbying firm writes the legislation. Is
that what happened?

Speaker 3 (22:54):
I think the staffers wrote the the staffers wrote the legislation, but.

Speaker 1 (23:00):
The lobbying firm of the staffers for the elected officials.

Speaker 3 (23:03):
The Senate officials. Yeah, yeah, the Senate staffers.

Speaker 1 (23:07):
Okay, so you have lobbying one on one from the
lobby firm you hire, and do they tell everybody in
NEEDA to talk to their people? Do they say what
the agenda is?

Speaker 2 (23:20):
Right?

Speaker 3 (23:21):
So we organized into a precinct captain system. So the
folks that initially had said they were interested in lobbying
the we all joined on. I think we were talking
three times a week. We were in constant communication, and
so there was one kind of leader for every state

(23:41):
or district. So we had like you know, Northern California
and Southern California, and those folks were responsible for coordinating
amongst all of the NEVA venues in their district. So
you know, it'd be pretty hard to have a thousand
people on a call trying to stay organized and stay productive.
So you know, we again, we had more of a

(24:02):
structured system. So we would talk to you know, Gen
Lyons in New York and then she would coordinate with
all the New York venues to go in and talk
to Senator Schumer or Senator Deliveran.

Speaker 2 (24:13):
That's how we organized.

Speaker 1 (24:14):
Okay, Okay, very practically. You have these precinct captains. You
then want to hit every member of Congress and you
want to tell them what story. You just want to say,
give me money or do you go over there with
an agenda? We needed x y Q.

Speaker 2 (24:32):
YEP.

Speaker 3 (24:33):
I believe we hit ninety five percent of members of Congress.
I think we even had a representative from Guam. So
we you know, our motto is no stone left unturned,
because it's you know, easy to sit here in twenty
twenty four and look back and say, oh, of course
we were going to get.

Speaker 2 (24:52):
The bill we had.

Speaker 3 (24:53):
There was no assurances whatsoever that we were going to
get anything, and so we left literally no stone unturned.
If there was anyone to talk to, we would talk
to them. I think one one of our members actually
found out the running route of her senator and put
up yard signs along the running route to get his attention.

(25:14):
And so, yeah, we went in and the kind of
a gender or strategy we followed was, you know, tell
your personal story, tell your economic impact. Gary Witt from
Pop Theater Group in Milwaukee had, you know, came initially
with a staff that he had read in a Chicago
paper really recently before the pandemic shutdown said one dollar

(25:38):
of every at one dollar spent on a ticket in
a small venue equaled twelve dollars of economic impact. So
we used that stat it was it was done, you know,
an official study by the Chicago Loop, so it was documented.
We didn't we didn't make it up, but we used
that number to measure our economic impact and went in

(25:59):
with not only just our personal stories of like, this
is how long I've been in business, this is you
know how much I've mortgaged on my house, this is
how many employees I have, but also you know, this
was my economic impact. This is what I've generated in
revenue and jobs for my community.

Speaker 1 (26:18):
Okay, so you go when you hit all these congress people,
are you just telling a story or do you say
we want X?

Speaker 3 (26:26):
We always had an ask that was rule rule number
one is you know, you go and you tell your story,
but there's always an end with will you sign our letter?
Will you co sponsor our legislation? Will you if you've
already co sponsored, will you call to people and help
convince them to co sponsor? You know, always leaving with

(26:47):
a tangible way that somebody can help us.

Speaker 1 (26:50):
How does it turn from a want hiring the lobbying
firm to an actual piece of legislation. When you're saying
will you sign our legislation, we're just legislation come from.

Speaker 3 (27:02):
Yeah, it was actually the senators we sent out you
know again along with like there's there's so many industry partners,
and thank you again to everyone.

Speaker 2 (27:12):
Everyone.

Speaker 3 (27:12):
I feel like listening to this probably helped in some way.
So we just again, we first sent a letter just saying, hey,
in Congress, we need help.

Speaker 2 (27:21):
We're totally shut down.

Speaker 3 (27:23):
The only thing that's going to get us through is
you to you know, doing a dear colleague letter. So
we had I think forty nine senators send a letter
to leadership saying, hey, leadership, you should take these guys seriously.
And then there was a bill that was introduced by
Senators Bennett and Young called the Restart Act that would

(27:46):
help businesses disproportionately disadvantaged. So you know, our you know,
our thought process was that PPP helped all businesses equally. Well,
we were the most disadvantaged. We had no revenue, We
needed more help than other businesses, and so Restart actually

(28:06):
had a formula that it would help give you grants
based on how much your revenue is down.

Speaker 2 (28:12):
So we love that.

Speaker 3 (28:12):
So we're like, okay, this is we're going to advocate
for this bill. So we had all the NIVA members
sent emails out to their email lists, you know, saying hey,
you can email your senators this way, and along with
some industry partners that also sent emails out to their
email list, we ended up getting two point two million
emails into Congress.

Speaker 2 (28:32):
It was just an.

Speaker 3 (28:34):
Unreal level of support from our customers and concert goers.
And so when those emails started flooding into the offices,
all of a sudden, we started getting a lot of attention,
and Senators Corny and clobush Are actually said okay, I
think it's time for your own bill, and so we
didn't again this it was our dream of all dreams,

(28:55):
but it was generated by them.

Speaker 1 (28:58):
Okay, how does it work with the Senate visa VI
the House?

Speaker 3 (29:05):
Oh?

Speaker 2 (29:05):
Great question. So it has to pass both houses.

Speaker 3 (29:09):
I'm trying to remember my what was the Schoolhouse rock?
How a bill becomes a law. So the bill has
to pass both houses. So we introduced in the Senate first,
and then we had a House companion that was the
same bill, and so when they both passed, then it
goes to the President's office.

Speaker 1 (29:26):
Okay, sometimes the bills are different and there has to
be some kind of reconciliation. That was not a factor here.

Speaker 3 (29:33):
So we actually didn't We didn't pass as a standalone bill.
We passed as part of the package. So the package
passed the Senate and then I believe it passed the House,
but the inclusion was similar. And I'm having to really
stretch into my memory. So yeah, it was end of
December that it ended up. The package ended up going.

Speaker 4 (29:54):
Through December of twenty twenty.

Speaker 1 (29:57):
Right, did you get what you wanted?

Speaker 3 (30:02):
App? I mean we're still in business right as The
ultimate test and how successful this legislation was is that,
you know, we had very few NIVA members closed for
financial purposes and folks are still around to reopen and
to fight another day.

Speaker 1 (30:20):
Okay, just to drill down, what did first Avenue get
from PPP and what did you get from Save our Stages?

Speaker 3 (30:31):
I don't remember the exact numbers. I think amongst our
six venues we got around ten million I believe from
the Save our Stages grants.

Speaker 1 (30:39):
Well, let me ask you a different way. You have venues,
they have operating costs, you have employees. What did PPP cover.

Speaker 3 (30:49):
Oh, PPP covered maybe a month, maybe maybe two months
of our operating expenses, Like it was very insubstantial.

Speaker 1 (30:58):
Then when you got save our State ages, what personage
did it cover that or did it just allow you
to keep the doors open so to speak.

Speaker 2 (31:08):
Yeah, it was able to cover our expenses.

Speaker 3 (31:10):
You know, going back, we were closed eighteen months and
it allowed us to reopen and rehire. You know, rehiring
and reopening is you know, ungodly amounts of expenses. We
didn't have any employees, right, you have to go through
all of the onboarding process, all the rehiring process, all

(31:31):
the cleaning processes, the new filters, some other like you know,
improvements to the room due to COVID et cetera. And
so it allowed us to do that and to then
also when we first came back, there were you know,
there were some losses you know, in the first few
months of opening that allowed us to cover that.

Speaker 1 (31:52):
Okay, So between PPP and Save our Stages, the people
lose money, break even or make money.

Speaker 3 (32:06):
Well, the way the formula worked is you were only
allowed to spend your spend the money on operating expenses.
There's no way to quote unquote make money.

Speaker 2 (32:17):
You know, you have.

Speaker 3 (32:19):
To show the SBA the receipts of what you spent
your money on. So I mean, unless there's no you know,
ethical or realistic way to just kind of pocket money.

Speaker 4 (32:30):
Right.

Speaker 3 (32:31):
In fact, fifty percent of people are still closing out there,
save our stages grants.

Speaker 1 (32:36):
So how hard was it to actually get the money
in your account?

Speaker 2 (32:42):
Fucking impossible.

Speaker 3 (32:43):
I mean it was, you know, we pad that bill
passed and end of December twenty twenty. Some people might
remember this, there was you know, Trump wasn't going to
sign the bill. There was maybe three days of just
absolute you know, heart stopping, continued panic, and then then
he ended up signing it and it became law. So

(33:04):
we were thinking, okay, SBA, will you know, get the
website up maybe mid February at the latest. Well, March
came along and they still you know, didn't have a website.
We had to go, you know, reach out to our champions,
reach out to the White House Economic Council to really

(33:24):
get them to open up the scrint and help them understand,
like there was a time when people didn't think the
bill was real, right, They didn't because they didn't have
the money in their account. They just thought, oh, it's
all you know, it's all a mirage. There's never going
to be any money coming. And in the meantime, the
Restaurant Revitalization Act passed, they were able to get their
money out the door. I think it was a much

(33:45):
simpler equation. So they got their money out the door.
I think maybe even earlier than we did. So mid April,
the website went up.

Speaker 2 (33:56):
The website crashed.

Speaker 3 (33:57):
There was a sentiment amongst the industry, including the performing
arts folks and the museums, that there wasn't going to
be enough money in the bill. So we went back
to Congress and got more money added. And so then
when it finally opened the end of April, the approval process,
because the restrictions were so stringent, you know, you had

(34:18):
to prove that you sold tickets, you had to prove
that you had a PA, you had to prove your
revenues for the past few years. You know. I think
at first Avenue, I don't think we got our the
money deposited in our account until maybe September twenty twenty one.

Speaker 1 (34:33):
Wow. So is there anybody who ultimately got left out.
And there are other people where the steps were so
onerous they just gave up or couldn't figure it out.

Speaker 3 (34:45):
You know a lot of folks we heard actually applied,
or some folks that should say, applied for the Restaurant
Revitalization Act. There you had to have I think thirty
three percent food. So some folks opted to just to
just go for the Restaurant Act. And so, you know,
I think in terms of folks getting left out, I
think it was moral industries like the gyms. I think

(35:05):
maybe they felt left out or I'm trying to remember
who else was advocating at the time. But in terms
of NIVA members, I believe almost all NIVA members were
able to secure grants.

Speaker 1 (35:20):
Okay, so let's jump forward. You talked about the drop
rates going down. Explain for those who are not sophisticated
what drop rates are, right.

Speaker 3 (35:29):
So, a drop count is how we measure what percentage
of ticket buyers actually show up, scan their tickets and
enter the venue. So it's really important, especially to clubs
and theaters who make their money on the ancillar raising
people in the venue, buying beer and spending money in

(35:51):
the venue. So if you sell a ticket to somebody
that doesn't show up, that's effectively lost revenue for us.
So before COVID, you know, we had a no show
rate of maybe five percent, four or five percent. Well,
post COVID, we started seeing no show rates. You know,
initially during Omicron it was sometimes off to a fifty percent.
But you know, once the industry and society kind of

(36:15):
got back to normal life, we were still seeing no
show rates of fifteen to twenty percent, which is a crisis. Again,
if you're relying on those beer sales to pay you rent,
then what.

Speaker 1 (36:27):
Did you do when you notice these bad numbers?

Speaker 3 (36:31):
Yeah, so first, you know, we just went I think
I think I went to Casey and just said, hey,
we're seeing this.

Speaker 2 (36:36):
This is a huge problem for us. What do you
is there? You know, what can we do legislatively about it?

Speaker 3 (36:45):
Because we started, you know, discussing amongst ourselves and realizing
that these tickets are sitting on the secondary market, and
so you know, if you sell a ticket to a broker,
well sometimes they're more invested in selling if they buy
twenty tickets, they're more invested in selling five tickets for
you know, five hundred dollars versus twenty tickets for two

(37:07):
hundred dollars and so that's you know, it again works
out all fine and well for the brokers, but for
the venues, that's a huge problem. And so we started
you know, kind of linking that and linking also, you know,
googling our venues and seeing that sometimes our box office
web pages and our ticket our official ticket sellers were

(37:28):
way down, and our customers were, you know, buying tickets
from folks that they thought were us that weren't really us.
And so that combined led us to go and talk
to Casey and aking Gump and at Pegano and say.

Speaker 2 (37:39):
Okay, what can we do about this?

Speaker 3 (37:41):
Because you know, you don't not everything can be a crisis,
but this, this has the potential to be another oncoming crisis.

Speaker 1 (37:48):
Okay, once again, you have the Senate in the House.
Is this an independent bill or is this part of
another bill?

Speaker 3 (37:58):
Right now, it's an independent bill. We're working hard to
get co sponsors in the Senate. There is a House
bill that is a different bill that's called the Ticket Act,
that has some of the similar provisions like all in
pricing and banning spect tickets and predatory deceptive practices. You know,
we think the Fans First Act has much stricter penalties
and the language within each of those categories goes further

(38:21):
to protect our fans. So, you know, we're waiting to
see what the packages might be March April, you know,
to see about inclusion and to see what we can
do to get it past both houses.

Speaker 1 (38:34):
Okay, what is CO sponsoring AD?

Speaker 2 (38:39):
What is it at right now?

Speaker 3 (38:40):
No?

Speaker 1 (38:40):
What does it do for the bill?

Speaker 2 (38:42):
Oh?

Speaker 3 (38:43):
It shows that we have momentum that we have you know,
people and politicians I should say that believe in this
and that we'll vote for it, and that are invested
in it, and just goes to show general support.

Speaker 1 (38:56):
Okay, you know this is Washington, d C. We read
every day in the paper. People say one thing publicly
and another thing privately. How hard is it to get
someone to go on the record say hey, yeah, I'll
do that.

Speaker 3 (39:12):
How hard is it?

Speaker 2 (39:12):
It's not easy.

Speaker 3 (39:13):
It's definitely not easy. I think that you know, as
independent venues and our partners and the fix the TIXT
coalitionion which includes you know, the performing arts and the
bigger venues and independent ticket sellers and you know folks
throughout the industry, I think we have an important voice,

(39:34):
and we have an important story, and I do think
that we have the right bill.

Speaker 2 (39:38):
You know, we.

Speaker 3 (39:39):
Started with the goal of you know, trying to cap
resale at you know, ten percent above face or you know,
trying to do some more protective measures and realizing the
political and feasibility of it. I think we have the
bill right now that is passable, that is a no brainer.
Like I said, it's an important first piece of the puzzle.

(40:00):
I don't believe comprehensive ticketing legislation has ever even gotten
this far yet. So to show that we can pass
a comprehensive ticketing bill, that this is important and that
does go you know, take that important first step in
protecting our customers. I think we have the right story,
we have the right bill, and we're going to get
to work and make it happen.

Speaker 1 (40:20):
Okay, is the lobbyist the person who's always into the
nitty gritty with the elected officials or do you or
other individuals from the organization actually get into the trenches too.

Speaker 3 (40:34):
So the lobbyists are definitely you know, again, they're most
knowledgeable in terms of like bill language and how to
phrase what we want in the legal terms that make
a bill effective. Certainly, myself and Stephen Parker, the executive

(40:55):
director of NIVA, and the other advocacy committee leadership can
talk in the nitty gritty. I think, however, our voice
is probably most effective as business owners and effective constituents.

Speaker 1 (41:10):
So do you personally talk to Amy Klobitchaw.

Speaker 2 (41:14):
Whenever? I am so lucky?

Speaker 3 (41:17):
Absolutely, I think she's the best.

Speaker 1 (41:19):
Why is she the best? And when you do, how
often would you talk to him? What would be the agenda? Like, hey,
good seeing Amy, Let's talk about the weather, or you
get down into what you're looking for.

Speaker 3 (41:30):
You know, I think she's the best because she absolutely
fights for what she believes in and she doesn't give
up until she gets it done.

Speaker 2 (41:39):
And you know, there's a reason why I think she is.

Speaker 3 (41:41):
The most effective legislator, right And she just really cares.
And you know, throughout the same of our stages process
and throughout COVID, like she really cared about our industry,
She cared about my employees, she cared about making sure
we were reopen, and she, you know, again, like us,
left no stone unturned and did every thing possible to
make sure that that bill is passed.

Speaker 1 (42:03):
Let me recap in the last twelve months. How many
times have you spoken have been one on one with
Amy Klobitchar.

Speaker 3 (42:10):
Oh, less than a handful. No, We're not like having
dinner or drinks.

Speaker 1 (42:21):
Leavis spearheading this bill. Not everybody has the same agenda.
What did the brokers in the secondary market have to say?

Speaker 4 (42:31):
Right?

Speaker 3 (42:31):
So, you know, I do think it's important that before
we even started this effort, we put together the Fix
the TIXX Coalition, which has thirty members you know, from
throughout the industry, from the Recording Academy and the artist
groups that have you know, as important, if not a
more important voice in this than we do, you know,
to the TONDO and to the performing our groups, independent

(42:54):
ticket sellers, like I said, and so I think it's
important to have that coalition again, knowing that the brokers
and the secondaries, they just their resources seem to be endless,
and they've been at this a lot longer than we have.
You know, NIVA has been you know, lobbying for what's
January twenty fourth for four years or so. I mean,

(43:16):
the secondaries have been having these really having these conversations
and have these relationships going back decades or more so.
We definitely are playing catch up, especially on this topic.

Speaker 1 (43:26):
Okay, do the secondaries have their own lobbyists and relationship
with elected officials?

Speaker 2 (43:32):
Oh? Absolutely, absolutely, very strong ones.

Speaker 1 (43:36):
So when you're having this bill, are they literally part
of the mix or are they just going behind the
scenes to the people who are supporting them saying, hey,
we don't want this.

Speaker 3 (43:49):
You know, I'm not entirely sure. I know that they're
running a public campaign. I forgot what their alliance is called.
But you know, again, we think that we have the
right bill. We have a very compromise kind of no
brainer solution that would bring transparency and some you know,

(44:10):
clarity to our customers. And like I said, what we
started out with like on a fire and brimstone of
you know, of the secondary market. We compromise in order
to get something passed. We thought that was really important.
You know, we're not interested in like what they call
a messaging bill, right, which is a bill that's introduced
that has no chance of passing, but you know, you
just you want to get it on the record. You know,

(44:32):
we're not interested in that. We're all all of us
that even we have other jobs. We're running businesses, we're
promoting shows like if we take our time and effort
to introduce a bill, we want to make sure that
it's passable.

Speaker 1 (44:44):
Okay, people think ticketing is easy, but it's very complicated.
I've had my own interaction with the government and even
people who were there dedicated to this, I'm stunned with
they don't understand it. So Congress people, do they understand ticketing.

Speaker 3 (45:04):
It's interesting to me how many, especially staffers that we
talked to, that have their own experience their ticket buyers.
Right there are customers, you know, they're going to shows, and.

Speaker 2 (45:15):
So they have a really good.

Speaker 3 (45:18):
Knowledge of it from the customer side, which sometimes you know,
promoters and venues.

Speaker 2 (45:24):
Sometimes we don't even have.

Speaker 3 (45:25):
That perspective of it as far as like the intricacies
of the market. Some some do, and most of you know,
everyone we've talked to especially is very smart and as
soon as we explain it, they get it immediately.

Speaker 1 (45:41):
Okay, you went undercover to the broker conference. Tell us
a little bit about that.

Speaker 3 (45:48):
Yeah, So I was able to use a friends a
friend's name and credit card and walk around the floor
of the conference and was just totally in shock at
the tools that they have in order to access our tickets,
like on precedented, unimaginable ways to get their hands on

(46:13):
our tickets. As much as we try to, you know,
put ticket limits and put zip code restrictions and put
all non transferability anything we try to do, there's a workaround.
And I was even more surprised walking around and that
they're just advertising it in plain sight, right Like, you know,

(46:33):
for instance, ghost browsers, so you can open up more
than fifty different tabs that all have different IP addresses.
They have you know, there's digital credit cards that don't
have any kind of ZIP code requirements. So you know,
they were literally talking to us saying.

Speaker 2 (46:50):
Yeah, you can, you can.

Speaker 3 (46:51):
We can get you a thousand different credit card numbers
and you don't even need don't worry any zip code you.

Speaker 2 (46:55):
Want, don't even worry about it.

Speaker 3 (46:57):
Their inventory management solutions are way more sophisticated than what
we have, right, Like, they can manage all your inventory effectively,
you know, hide the inventory and post it based on
how many people are buying in the pricing algorithms, based

(47:18):
on what the pricing is across all the different secondary markets.
They have tools that allow that instantly access all of
the pre sale pass codes in one place, and that
can ping are the ticketing companies to actually get pretty
accurate ticket audits. I mean, so we're walking around and

(47:39):
we're you know, saying, hey, we're interested in getting more involved.
We're just kind of starting out, and I said, oh,
let me show you how this works. The company the
sales are actually pulled up one of my own shows
at the Palace and said, okay, here it is. This
show is on this date, and there's eight hundred and
sixty seven tickets available. I'm going, you've got to be
kidding me. So I pull up my own ticket and

(48:00):
I'm like, oh my god, they were probably within ten percent,
you know.

Speaker 2 (48:04):
And then on the right.

Speaker 3 (48:04):
Side, it's okay, here's all the different their pre Selle passwords,
here's when they go on sale. You've been set up
to buy automatically with your you know, ghost browsers, with
your virtual credit cards.

Speaker 2 (48:17):
It's just it's just insane.

Speaker 3 (48:19):
So it became instantly illuminating, you know, why we were
having these drop count issues, and why fans were so
frustrated when they were unable to access tickets, and why
they're paying so much more, you know, in for their
tickets that are actually going to those of us responsible
for making shows happen.

Speaker 1 (48:36):
Is this a winnable war by the ticket company.

Speaker 5 (48:41):
By the ticketing companies, the dato It's an ongoing battle
between the secondary market brokers and the ticketing companies whatever
it might be Ticketmaster access see.

Speaker 1 (48:52):
You know, is this going to go on forever? Or
is there any way that they can have enough technology
to put a dent this?

Speaker 3 (49:02):
I mean, certainly after walking that floor, it became clear
that we need a legislative solution because any tech that
we can come up with, you know, they can instantly combat.

Speaker 2 (49:12):
Because they don't have the stress or the.

Speaker 3 (49:17):
Financial strain of actually having to put on shows. They
can put one hundred percent of their resources into just
getting our tickets right. So you know, again the you know,
in Minneapolis, we have we're doing eleven hundred, twelve hundred
shows a year, We're servicing customers, we have a busy,
stressful business to then you know, try to also go

(49:38):
above and beyond, and you know, we do the very
best we can while still actually having you know, having
a business at twitch to protect. I do think it's winnable.
I think that this is the story that we need
to tell, and I think the customers, you know, realizing
when they come to the door that they paid eighty
dollars for a ticket that's available at the door for

(50:00):
twenty five right. That happens almost every show, or realizing
that they didn't when the show was canceled they didn't
get a refund because they bought it from a broker
that has no legal obligation to refund them.

Speaker 4 (50:12):
Right.

Speaker 3 (50:12):
I think there's very kind of There are problems that
are becoming more and more apparent that are customer facing
and not just industry facing.

Speaker 1 (50:21):
So you're focusing on legislation to solve this problem. Do
you believe technology can solve the problem?

Speaker 3 (50:33):
You know, I am not smart enough about the technological aspects.
I certainly hope, so all of you smart tech people
listening to the podcast please also another important part of
the puzzle.

Speaker 1 (50:45):
Right, Okay, you go to this convention. I'm just interested, Hey,
how many people are there? B You're an attractive young woman.
Do they say what she doing here? Or are there
are a lot of women there?

Speaker 3 (51:02):
I was definitely one of the only one of the
only women in the room.

Speaker 4 (51:07):
I was.

Speaker 3 (51:08):
I thought I was gonna get called out immediately, because
certainly it was a lot of bros.

Speaker 2 (51:12):
It was a lot of bros. So there were maybe.

Speaker 3 (51:16):
Eight hundred or so, and it seems to be mostly
about the trade floor and about you know, they had
like maybe one or two panels a day right at
nivacn which I'll give a small plug for everybody to
come to the NIVA conference in New Orleans in early June.
But you know, it's about learning, it's about bettering your business.
We have, you know, dozens and dozens of panels throughout

(51:38):
the entire day that they had, you know, maybe two
panels a day, and seemed to be mostly about networking
and discovering the new technological resources available. But you know,
I tried to wear a hat and keep my head
down and just try to learn and glean as much
information as I could.

Speaker 1 (51:55):
Okay, just to be clear, let's say you have a show.
To make the numbers easy, we'll call it one thousand
tickets and we'll say the ticket was twenty dollars and
use your example, and people spend eighty dollars on the
secondary market. Do you find that, no matter how well

(52:16):
the show is doing, it's one thing that the show's
going clean. If it's selling out Okay, tickets are hard
to get, but let's just assume the show is doing
seventy five percent of capacity. Are people still being confused
and paying more on the secondary market?

Speaker 2 (52:31):
Absolutely?

Speaker 3 (52:32):
I mean last I checked, every single one of our
shows was listed on secondary market. So even the ones
at the smaller capacity rooms, you know that maybe were
under half sold. So and without a doubt because of
the way that the advertisements are working that most people

(52:53):
from what I've I believe I read a stat that
forty percent of people buy their tickets by just clicking
the first link in Google right. And so as a
independent venue like we don't have the resources to outdid
the secondaries. You know, if you they you know, buying
up the keywords like events and tickets and and so
you know, when you go to those secondaries sometimes the

(53:14):
tickets are lower that that's you know, their talking point.
But you know, on average, there was a government study
I think it's a it was about twenty seven percent
over face value on average. And so from our perspective,
that takes money out of the pockets of our customers.
And what we're trying to do at the club level
as an independence, we're trying to build a long term
sustainable community and ecosystem of live music obsessed concert goers

(53:40):
that don't just want to go to one show a year, right,
they want to go to concerts as a lifestyle, and
they want to take risks on going to see new
bands and view going to concert the way they would,
you know, go into the movies or go into a restaurant.
And so if you spend you know, twenty seven fifty
percent more, that takes the money out of your pocket

(54:00):
that you can spend discovering these new bands and really
making concerts a lifestyle.

Speaker 1 (54:05):
Now, I believe you said previously that the brokers are
so sophisticated they can even replicate your website.

Speaker 3 (54:13):
Yeah, for a while, I'm not sure if it's still up,
but for a while there was a website called First
Avenue Boxofice dot com. Well that wasn't us. The branding,
the I want to say, the logo. That's another thing
that the fans first act. You know, you couldn't you
can't use logos, you can't use photos of the venue,
you can't do anything to try to represent yourself as

(54:34):
an official seller. So you know you can you could
go to First Avenue, Boxofice, dot com and have no
idea that you're not actually buying from first avenue.

Speaker 1 (54:44):
Okay, let's just go a little bit more into ticketing.
When you look deeply, frequently everybody has dirty hands. You
have the customer who's complaining, and then you say, when
you want to do something what we used to call
paperless or tie it to their phone whatever. They're pissed
off because they can't buy multiple tickets and scalp them themselves.

(55:08):
So what about locking tickets down to individuals? Is that
something that you can do want to do or is
that ship sailed?

Speaker 3 (55:19):
I mean in terms of a knowing who's in the room,
that would be incredibly helpful. You know, sometimes you have
emergency situations, you have bands that are giving us, you know,
stocker lists that they don't want let in. It would
be incredible to have the information for everybody in the
room in terms of trying to get people in the
door quickly. That probably you know, there's a there's a

(55:43):
balance there. But I do also think customers want to
just have you know, four tickets on their phone and
scan them all together and have an ease of purchase
and an ease of concert going as well.

Speaker 1 (55:58):
I guess what I'm saying is, do you view customer
secondary market scalping is an issue you want to address.

Speaker 3 (56:07):
You know, we're mostly concerned with industrial level scalpers. You know,
if somebody bought a ticket, they intended to go to
the show, they couldn't find a babysitter, and they want
to make an extra ten bucks off that ticket. I
don't know if anyone. I certainly don't have an issue
with that. You know, we're at NIVA really concerned though
about you know, again the industrial level scalpers that are

(56:30):
using these really sophisticated tools to build customers kind of.

Speaker 1 (56:37):
On mass you have seven venues. How many different ticketing
companies do you use?

Speaker 2 (56:44):
We use one venu.

Speaker 3 (56:45):
We have a great partner and access at our six venues.
We do promote shows in outside rooms and so you know,
we'll use the ticketing system that those rooms use.

Speaker 1 (56:56):
Let's say you own first avenue. So traditional only a
ticketing company would pay the venue for an exclusive and
that's where a lot of the fee comes from. So
if you're with access, how do you negotiate the fee.

Speaker 2 (57:13):
That was negotiated under very.

Speaker 3 (57:19):
Want? I think we negotiate our contract in twenty twenty,
so very kind of stressful terms. But again, I think
everybody looks for different things in their partners, right, Like
some folks that are maybe more consumed, more concerned.

Speaker 2 (57:34):
With with brokers will go for.

Speaker 3 (57:37):
Some solutions that allow for like a waitlist or you know,
that don't allow people to resell. Some people want the
the reach and the kind of broad marketplace the ticketmaster has.
Some people want to go with whoever the dominant seller
in their market is to try to again get in

(57:57):
front of more eyes. We really and liked the team
at Access. Love Steph Streeter, I love Brian and felt
like they were the best. They're the best partner for
our business.

Speaker 1 (58:08):
Okay, but a lot of the shows you do, the
club shows are the ones that get the most attention.
For fees. It's one thing if you have one hundred
dollars ticket in the fee is fifteen dollars. It's another
thing if you have a twenty dollars ticket and the
fees are fifteen dollars.

Speaker 3 (58:26):
I don't think it's first avenue we have fifteen dollars
fees on twenty dollars tickets.

Speaker 2 (58:30):
I will go. I will go and check that right after.

Speaker 1 (58:32):
I'm not saying that you have specific but I you know,
in terms of markets all over the US, this happens
on a regular basis, right, And so.

Speaker 3 (58:42):
Again, like the fees is negotiated between the promoter of
the venue and their ticketing provider. And so I'm not
privy to how people necessarily set their fees, but certainly,
you know, it's key factor. I would say, when people
pick up a ticketing partner.

Speaker 1 (59:03):
Okay, So let's say first avenue, you own the building.
Let's say for a sake of discussion, the ticket is
twenty dollars. Every shows a little bit different. What would
be the average fee on that.

Speaker 2 (59:13):
Ticket, probably four dollars?

Speaker 1 (59:19):
Okay, so very low. Okay. So club business, if you
go back before your time, frequently was supported by the
record companies. The record companies would buy tickets, they would
put small bands on the road. That's pretty much evaporated.
So therefore a lot of clubs went out of business.

(59:43):
So what is the status of small venues today economically?

Speaker 3 (59:50):
Oh, it's hard, it's difficult. You know, the bands are amazing.
I feel like there is a kind of proliferation of
club level bands and do to streaming, folks have kind
of easier discovery tools potentially in finding bands. But the
economics of a club is just I mean, I don't

(01:00:11):
think it's ever been harder, or even at First Avenue,
I want to say, our costs are up thirty percent
from pre pandemic. You know, everything's gone up due to inflation.
Insurance is insane. You know, just all of the costs
keep going up, and you don't want to pass it
on to your customers one hundred percent because you want

(01:00:31):
them to again, like enjoy going to a show and
feel like they can afford to go to you know,
we like to hopefully get people out to shows once
or twice a month, right, and so you.

Speaker 2 (01:00:41):
Want them to have a good experience.

Speaker 3 (01:00:42):
You don't want them to feel like somebody described a
club they went into that they that have felt like
a money tornado, Like when you walked in the door,
they just you know, they were picking you up and
spinning around trying to get every dollar out of your pocket.
You know, we don't want to We don't want to
do that. But the the strains on running and probably
you know any small business these days are pretty intense.

Speaker 1 (01:01:05):
So what's the overall margin?

Speaker 3 (01:01:08):
I mean, we try to hit six percent profit margin.

Speaker 2 (01:01:11):
That's our goal.

Speaker 1 (01:01:12):
Wow, that's really low. What about merch? Do you take
a percentage of merch?

Speaker 3 (01:01:18):
We vary based on the rooms. You know, merch is
negotiated as a deal point between the bookers and the
agents when they're working out the deal.

Speaker 1 (01:01:27):
Okay, because there is blowback, especially from smaller acts saying, hey,
we're there, we're struggling. Why don't we get one hundred
percent of the merch? What would you say to them?

Speaker 2 (01:01:37):
Yeah, I mean I.

Speaker 3 (01:01:39):
Hear that, and I you know, the counter argument to
that is, you know, there's areas in the venue that
are reserved. There are expenses that go along with processing merch.
Like I said, it's a deal point, and we'd like
to view it as you know, we're an ecosystem. We're
in this together to make it profitable for the band,
to make sure that the venues can still stand business,

(01:01:59):
to make sure the customers still have a great experience,
and so you know, it all goes into the economics
of a deal and making a show work for all parties.

Speaker 1 (01:02:15):
There have been all these stories in the media about
younger generations consuming less alcohol. To what degree has that
affected your business To what we do you see it?

Speaker 3 (01:02:25):
We see it hugely. I think I was on a panel.
I was on a music biz panel and kind of
throughout that point when I thought was kind of like
a throw away point and actually get it ended up
getting picked up by by Billboard and had some TikTok memes.
So we're seeing it especially in our younger audience. You know,

(01:02:46):
the older audience, they're still drinking to show to two beers,
two drinks per person, but the younger audience, you know,
the bars are just anemic these days, and so there's
a few diferent theories floating around. One is just edibles,
and it's much cheaper and easier to you know, pop

(01:03:06):
an edible than it is to spend ten bucks on a.

Speaker 2 (01:03:10):
Beer ten bucks on a drink.

Speaker 3 (01:03:12):
The other theory is that, you know, this generation, they
spent their formative kind of drinking education years in COVID,
and so they might not even they don't necessarily.

Speaker 2 (01:03:24):
Know what they drink. They don't know what they like
to drink. They don't know the.

Speaker 3 (01:03:30):
Structure the systems of going up to a bar and ordering,
and that might be a little bit overwhelming, and so
they just choose to not engage at all. Obviously, there's
a mental health or a wellness which is beyond important, and.

Speaker 2 (01:03:47):
Not drinking seems to.

Speaker 3 (01:03:50):
I would say that it's great for your mental health
and wellness, but not everyone seems to agree these days.
So there's a number of different factors that I think
going into effect of seeing our numbers at maybe half
some some shows half two a third of what they
would have been pre pandemic, you.

Speaker 1 (01:04:07):
Just own that or do you think of some other
way to make up the revenue?

Speaker 2 (01:04:11):
You have to make up the revenue.

Speaker 3 (01:04:12):
I mean, if you don't make up the revenue, you're
not going to be in business, right, So, you know,
a lot of folks are I think after after the
Billboard article came out, I got every single NA option
under the sun reaching out, So certainly, you know, increasing
the NA.

Speaker 2 (01:04:27):
Options non alcoholic sorry, yes.

Speaker 3 (01:04:30):
Not alcoholics, so non alcoholic beers, non alcoholic cocktails, root beer,
et cetera. So also we're you know, advertising more like
drink specials to make it easy to order at the bar,
like okay, here's the here's the drink of the night.
You don't need to think about what you're ordering, you

(01:04:51):
don't need to stress out about it. Here, here's two
options that you choose from. And so trying a very
you know, a varied degree.

Speaker 1 (01:05:00):
How did you end up owning and running First Avenue.

Speaker 3 (01:05:05):
So my father was part of was best friends with
the founder named Alan finger Hut. They were they would
actually went to elementary school together, so they were best
friends in nineteen seventy when Alan inherited a bunch of
money and thought it would be a great idea to
open a rock club. And so my dad came from

(01:05:27):
a very you know, working class. His parents owned a
little corner grocery store. He went to the University of Minnesota,
I got his accounting degree, and so he you know,
wor worked on the books and it was kind of
a business confidant to Alan. So First Time Who opened
in nineteen seventy and then was run locally for a

(01:05:48):
couple of years and then run by a company out
of Kansas City with renamed Uncle Sam's untill it then
became First Avenue and the owner's share the operations came
in house, and so my dad was kind of loosely
associated with Alan in the club until two thousand and
four when they had a falling out and they actually

(01:06:11):
were part of an ownership group that purchased the property
in two thousand and so, as part of the legal
settlement for their falling out, my dad ended up with
the property. Alan ended up with the operations. I think
less than a year after that, I want to say,
the operations went into bankruptcy, and so my dad, as
the landlord, was able to purchase the assets at a

(01:06:31):
bankruptcy in two thousand and four. I was working in
Los Angeles working in TV and film production when he
had a stroke in two thousand and nine, and so
I hadn't been home in a while, and I flew
home and stepped in the club and just fell in
love with the main room and what First Avenue was
and what it means to the people in Minneapolis and
the impact it has and everything that it's about, and

(01:06:54):
started kind of working under him.

Speaker 1 (01:06:56):
Then. Okay, so when you were growing up, was your
father just the accountant for the club or was it like, hey,
you can get into the club whenever you want, and
you went all the time and took your friends.

Speaker 3 (01:07:10):
Yeah, sorry, I said that, long story. I did not
grow up, as you know, the daughter of a rock
club owner. Certainly not how my kids are growing up
right where it's a cold, snowy day, let's take a
soccer ball and kick it around the main room. But
I grew up being obsessed with going to concerts, and
actually having my dad involved in the club actually was
a negative for me, because you know, I would sneak

(01:07:33):
out of the house and take the bus downtown and
show up at the club to go to concerts and
kind of like put my hair over my face and
try to hope no one recognize me so that they
wouldn't call my dad to come and.

Speaker 2 (01:07:44):
Pick me up.

Speaker 1 (01:07:46):
Okay, you go to college in New York. People have
no idea how sophisticated Minnesota is, although I will say,
as cold as it is in the winter, that's how
fucking hot it is in the summer. But what do
people not understand about Minnesota.

Speaker 3 (01:08:06):
First of all, it is thirty five degrees today in January,
and it feels like a fucking miracle. So it's not
always cold in the winter people. What don't people understand?
I mean, it is heaven on Earth. I think there's
no better place in the world than Minnesota in like
June July. So what the winter gives us? Yes, yes,

(01:08:29):
it is cold. It is usually exceptionally cold, but it
gives us a heartiness and an optimism and a real
sense of gratitude because then the summer comes and it's
like everyone's in a good mood. You're enjoying every minute
it is. You know, it gives you a sense of seasons.
It gives you a sense of inevitability. You know. I'm

(01:08:50):
raising my kids here and I am so grateful for
their ability to grow up in Minnesota because in a
world where you have everything at the tip of your
fingertips and everything is kind of designed around comfort, I
think it's incredibly important to experience cold weather and to experience,
you know, elements and nature that they can't always control.

Speaker 1 (01:09:10):
To what degree do those two things affect music business,
both cold in the winter and wanting to be outside
in the summer.

Speaker 3 (01:09:19):
So it's interesting we you know, looked at our capacity sold.
You know, shows in January and Minnesota do exceptionally well,
there's not there's not a lot of them, but the
shows that we do have actually end up being you know,
ten or fifteen percent sold above where our shows the
rest of the year are. Like I said, I think

(01:09:41):
having the inevitability of winter and having the experience of
such extreme cold gives people a sense of joy and
a sense of community. And I'm going to mispronounce it,
but Heiger like like the joyousness of being together, especially
in the winter, makes people more willing to go out,

(01:10:01):
more willing to take risks on new bands, more willing
to be a part of the live music community. You know,
we hear all the time that you know, the Twin
Cities punches above its weight in terms of ticket sales
and in terms of interest and events. And I think
a lot of it has to do with the fact that,
you know, we're all here in negative ten degree weather.

(01:10:23):
We all survived it together, and we want to be
a part of something really cool and beautiful.

Speaker 1 (01:10:28):
So you end up leaving New York going to Los Angeles.
How was that?

Speaker 3 (01:10:35):
The weather was great? The weather was fucking phenomenal, you know.
I I went to NYU and I graduated right around
September eleventh, and there weren't in jobs.

Speaker 2 (01:10:47):
And my friend most of my friends had gone to
film school and.

Speaker 3 (01:10:50):
They were moving to LA So I moved to LA
and had, you know, met some really wonderful friends.

Speaker 2 (01:10:55):
I met. My wife had a.

Speaker 3 (01:10:57):
Really beautiful experience, but personally, I'm just being thrilled to
be back in Minnesota.

Speaker 1 (01:11:04):
Okay, your wife is in the film business, which is
really concentrated in LA. How do you manage this?

Speaker 2 (01:11:14):
Yeah?

Speaker 3 (01:11:14):
She you know, I commuted for almost a decade. I
would take the Red Eye out on Sunday and then
come back on the seven fifty Thursday night flight. And
so now we're in Minnesota. She's actually commuting. Her job
works out of New York, so she's going to New
York every other week. And maybe it's a secret to

(01:11:35):
a happy marriage. You know, we've been together maybe sixteen
years and are probably happier than ever before.

Speaker 1 (01:11:40):
How'd you meet her?

Speaker 2 (01:11:42):
We were set up old school?

Speaker 1 (01:11:45):
Really was it instant romance?

Speaker 2 (01:11:48):
It took a few dates.

Speaker 3 (01:11:52):
I was just out of a relationship and she was
newly sober, so we had a few months to figure
all that out.

Speaker 1 (01:12:00):
And what is it like being an out powerful business
woman today is to what degree is their homophobia that
you encounter?

Speaker 2 (01:12:11):
I'm really lucky.

Speaker 3 (01:12:12):
I mean I think going from you know, n Yu
to the film industry to Minneapolis, have not encountered so
much homophobia and and feel like, you know, again, maybe
stepping into a family business and stepping into a thriving

(01:12:32):
business and having such a great team. I feel very
fortunate to have not experienced really that much negative negative
impacts due to gender sexuality.

Speaker 4 (01:12:48):
What about sexism, It's certainly there.

Speaker 3 (01:12:52):
It's certainly there. I remember, you know, a fair amount.
I'm I like to, you know, make relationships and reach out,
and certainly there have been a few missing, mistaken outreaches.
But you know, at least nothing outright that I that
I can recall, which I again feel like I have

(01:13:13):
to just express how grateful I am because I know
that's not a lot of people's experiences.

Speaker 1 (01:13:18):
Okay, so your father has this stroke. Are you coming
back to Minneapolis to run the club reluctantly? Or are
you saying this is what I want to do, or
you say, well i'll manage it for a month. What
what goes for your head?

Speaker 3 (01:13:32):
I was just stepping in to make sure, you know,
nothing got messed up while he was sick. And really
my thought process was, okay, there's you know, two big companies.

Speaker 2 (01:13:43):
I wonder who I'm going to.

Speaker 3 (01:13:44):
Sell this to because I was pretty happy in my
career and I just met my wife and pretty settled,
and so I was like, okay, I wonder you know
which liven sure e g. I wonder this will this
will be fun. Who's who's going to be the highest better?
And again, like I said, I just stepped to the
main room and kind of the impact of what First
Avenue is, what it means, the legacy that it carries,

(01:14:07):
just was really intense. And so you know, when I
met these folks, and I think one of the quotes was,
you know, I said, okay, well, if you're interested, why
do you come to Minneapolis, see the room, see what's
going on. And they said, well, I don't just see it.
A club's a club. My guys say it's good. And
that was the moment I said, Okay, I'm just going
to have to do it. This can't happen.

Speaker 1 (01:14:29):
And you have a sibling too, right, yep?

Speaker 2 (01:14:32):
I have an older sister. She's not involved. She's in
Hood River.

Speaker 1 (01:14:35):
Organ okay, and to what degree she involved? Financially?

Speaker 2 (01:14:41):
I own one hundred percent.

Speaker 1 (01:14:42):
Okay. So this is a sophisticated business. People think, oh, yeah,
you sell tickets, you open the door, you make money.
So your father is out of the picture for a while.
You're there how do you come up to speed and
what mistakes do you make?

Speaker 3 (01:14:59):
Oh, every mistake, every mistake under the book. I was
lucky that my dad ended up recovering within a few months,
and so I really got, you know, to learn under
him and to watch him manage. But in terms of
I also I am not a talent buyer, and that
I think is the hardest job in the world, and

(01:15:20):
really the quarterback of the music club world. So I
again was so lucky to step in the most incredible
team at First Avenue, Nate and Sonya and Ashley just.

Speaker 2 (01:15:32):
Really really incredible, incredible folks.

Speaker 1 (01:15:37):
So how long does a concert buyer last at First Avenue?

Speaker 3 (01:15:42):
How long?

Speaker 2 (01:15:43):
Like how long are they in the venue?

Speaker 1 (01:15:45):
How long before they move on?

Speaker 3 (01:15:50):
Hopefully never the concert buyers? I mean, the thing about
Minnesota is people we call it a boomerang state because
people who grew up here, even if they leave, like
like me, they tend to come back. And once people
move here, they tend to not leave.

Speaker 2 (01:16:07):
Because it's it's.

Speaker 3 (01:16:08):
So amazing, as I've talked about before, and so we
have our customers, you know, from the time that they
first discover live music. I'm fourteen fifteen, We do you
know the rock and roll Playhouse for kids? You know music,
So we try to get them at age two, right, we'll.

Speaker 1 (01:16:25):
Tell us about the rock and roll of playhouse.

Speaker 3 (01:16:28):
Oh it's really amazing, you know, working with the Brooken
Bulf folks. But so it's Saturday or Sunday mornings a theme,
so Taylor Swift for kids or you know my son.

Speaker 2 (01:16:39):
I have a nine year old son.

Speaker 3 (01:16:40):
He's obsessed with Green Day, Like it's all all he
listens to, all he ever wants to play. It's just
his the beal and end all of his musical experience
right now. So we did the you know rock and
roll Playhouse plays Green Day and it was all punk
music and kids showing up in mohawks. It was the
most fun. And really kids just get to come and
run around. I think our theory is, well, they can't

(01:17:01):
do any they can't do much worse damage than drunk
people can do, so this won't be that big of
a deal. And you know, like I said, we see
concert going and we see the live music experience as
being a lifestyle.

Speaker 2 (01:17:13):
Not just something you do, not just you know, not
just something.

Speaker 3 (01:17:18):
To avoid your everyday life, but really like as kind
of the heart and soul of what makes life worth living.
So the earlier that we can introduce kids to that
experience and have them see the joy and the positivity
and all the amazing things that live music can do
for your soul and for your well being, the better.

Speaker 1 (01:17:38):
So let's say, first avenue to make the numbers work,
how many dates do you want a year?

Speaker 3 (01:17:45):
Yeah, so in the different venues, you know, we have
different KPIs you try to hit.

Speaker 2 (01:17:49):
I think first.

Speaker 3 (01:17:49):
Avenue tell people what that is key performance indicators, so
you know, metrics, metrics.

Speaker 2 (01:17:56):
That we try to hit.

Speaker 3 (01:17:58):
So we have you know, the seven Street End Tree,
which is our two hundred and fifty cap room. You know,
we want to do three hundred and twenty days. We
want to effectively. I think last year maybe we did
three hundred and sixty days, So we want to be
open almost every day. The main room, which is fifteen
hundred and fifty capacity. Most well known were Prince Shop,
Purple Rain and Still you know, carrying on the legacy

(01:18:22):
of the Replacements and Whoscredo in Soul Asylum and all
the amazing bands of the Minneapolis scene.

Speaker 2 (01:18:30):
That's fifteen fifty.

Speaker 3 (01:18:31):
We want to do maybe one hundred and eighty one
hundred and ninety shows a year. We have a Palace
Theater which is twenty three hundred. It's a ga floor
and a seated balcony. You know, maybe we're trying to
do sixty shows a year there. So we vary it
based on the room.

Speaker 1 (01:18:45):
So you come to Minnesota, you have one venue, how
do you end up with seven venues?

Speaker 2 (01:18:54):
It turns out.

Speaker 3 (01:18:55):
Running a venue is really hard and a lot of
people don't like to do it. So, you know, I
stepped in in two thousand and nine. We had first
avenue in the seventh Street Entry, and we were booking
a lot of shows outside of our venues. You know,
we want to be we want to be able to
service artists at every stage of their career when they
come to Minnesota, if you're just starting out, if it's

(01:19:18):
your first play in the state of the country, all
the way up to like building your fan base here,
giving you a solid home base and helping helping them build.

Speaker 2 (01:19:27):
Their career and their fan base. So, you know, we started.

Speaker 3 (01:19:30):
Doing shows at rooms around town, and we were doing
a whole lot at this this venue called the Turf Club.
So you know, the economics of the business. If you
don't oh, if you don't have the inside, it's pretty
hard to make it work. So we just met with
the owner and he said, you know what, I got
two bars, and my wife says, that's one too many.
So we bought the Turf Club and then we uh

(01:19:53):
the cityct polishly came to us and wanted to open
the or renovate the Palace. Theater had been dark for
maybe years. I'm didn't get my numbers wrong, but they
wanted to They wanted to renovate it. They wanted a
local partner to help promote it. So we stepped in
along with our great partners from Chicago, Jam and Jerry Michaelson,
and we worked on the renovation that opened in twenty seventeen,

(01:20:18):
and then the we were doing a bunch of shows
also at the fine Line. Those folks didn't want to
operate anymore, so they came to us. We have a
thousand seat historic theater called the Fitzgerald in Saint Paul.
You know the radio station. They didn't want to own
that anymore. So we kind of became, I think the
go tos of when people didn't want to operate their

(01:20:41):
venues anymore. I think we were seen as good operators,
good local partners, try to operate, you know, ethically.

Speaker 2 (01:20:48):
And well and.

Speaker 3 (01:20:51):
With the full way to the community of mind. So
that's how that's how we grew and then were developing
an amphitheater. Will start construction soon hopefully, and so that'll
be an eighty two hundred boutique urban amphitheater right on
the Mississippi River in a neighborhood called North Minneapolis. It's
a really kind of marginalized, disenfranchised community. So that project

(01:21:15):
is aiming to be more than just a stage and
seating area, but really generating renewal and revival for the
local community as well.

Speaker 1 (01:21:25):
Okay, you're the operator to what degree in these cases
do you own the facility?

Speaker 3 (01:21:33):
We own all the buildings. We have one lease, but
we owned the properties for the others.

Speaker 1 (01:21:38):
Okay, and Jerry Michaelson as your partner in one theater.
Where did the money come for the rest of the places.

Speaker 3 (01:21:46):
It came from loans and it came from you know,
we I am fortunate in that, you know, money is
not my as an owners, my motivator, and so I
put all profits and all revenue kind of back back
into the companies.

Speaker 1 (01:22:12):
Okay, you talk about building an amphitheater. Generally speaking, amphitheaters
are controlled by Live Nation and even people in markets
where they or not have had hard times. So how
do you plan to compete?

Speaker 2 (01:22:27):
That is a.

Speaker 3 (01:22:28):
Great question, all the more reason to come back on
your podcast in three years and I can give you
the update.

Speaker 1 (01:22:34):
Okay, then let's flip the story over. You like to
be the Minnesota partner for all these acts that used
to mean, well, you know, you played them in the club,
you played them in the Excel Center. That doesn't really
happen anymore, right.

Speaker 2 (01:22:47):
No, no, it doesn't.

Speaker 3 (01:22:50):
And I think maybe we're the you know, fortunate or
not fortunate to not have that kind of arena backdrop.
You know, we kind of started with Fresh Eyes a
decade or so ago, but certainly, you know, listening to
your podcasts and knowing the history of the industry, that

(01:23:10):
that has been an impact for sure.

Speaker 1 (01:23:13):
And you're an independent there in the Minneapolis area. If
they don't go with you, what's your competition.

Speaker 3 (01:23:21):
Live Nation and the other We have other independent venues
in town also, but Live Nation has competing venues at
most levels.

Speaker 1 (01:23:29):
And so how do you end up getting the talent
as opposed to Live Nation.

Speaker 3 (01:23:35):
I think a combination of ky, you're going to make
me reveal all my secrets.

Speaker 2 (01:23:41):
I don't know if I can do that.

Speaker 1 (01:23:42):
No, you know, no way, you don't say anything you
don't want to say. But is it because you're more localized,
or you have a better sales bitch, or the numbers
are better? Generally? What gets you the talent?

Speaker 3 (01:23:58):
Like I said, I'm not a talent buyer, But I
do think that we have the best team of anyone
anywhere in the country. I mean, I just can't say
enough amazing things about you know, everyone who works at
First Avenue works there because they really care, you know,
because they love the place and they want to see
it succeed and they want to do the very best
they can for the mission. And I also think we

(01:24:20):
you know, we have the best rooms without a doubt.
I don't I wouldn't want to, you know, operate a
room that I didn't think was the best venue of
its size in the market. We go out of our
way to treat people really well. We are the local guys,
you know. We are committed to this community. We're committing
to doing everything we can to nurture and sustain the

(01:24:41):
concert going community of the Twin Cities. And so I
think the you know, bands get that. Some don't, but
you know, a lot of bands want to.

Speaker 2 (01:24:50):
Be a part of it.

Speaker 3 (01:24:51):
They see what we've built here, They see the job
that we do. They see that, you know, they know
everything is going to be one hundred percent taking care
of all eyes dotted, all teas cross. They want to
play the best rooms. We just put in, you know,
the brand new state of the art sound system, the
first L two installation in the country. We have, you know,
the best facilities, and we go out of our way

(01:25:13):
to create the best experiences for bands and for artists
and for customers.

Speaker 1 (01:25:18):
Okay, as one goes north in Minnesota becomes more rural,
there is Dluth. You go up north, you know there
are other things. Do you want to expand do you
do shows there? Or are you Minneapolis Saint Paul focused?

Speaker 2 (01:25:33):
Right, we do a couple of shows in Duluth.

Speaker 3 (01:25:37):
I think, you know, we will try to service the
artists wherever they want to play. We kind of we
view our responsibility as making sure that the artist has
the best experience and plays the right room in the
right city at the right town. And so we have
done shows in Duluth. We've done shows, like I said,

(01:25:58):
at outdoor venues, at other folks venues. It's not you know,
in the plans right now to build our own venue.
But like I said, like we want to service the bands.

Speaker 1 (01:26:09):
So if I'm coming to Minneapolis and I can sell
out First Avenue and I want to play more in
your area, how many places.

Speaker 2 (01:26:19):
Can I play larger than First Avenue or No?

Speaker 1 (01:26:22):
No, Like I come, I can sell out First Avenue Minneapolis,
I say, Dana, I'd like to play more in the
Minnesota area. Do you say, well, you know, after you
sell a thousand tickets, maybe de Luthen that's it. Or
are there are other markets in Minnesota that you can play.

Speaker 3 (01:26:38):
Many? Yeah, the Twin Cities are the major metropolitan area.
There is a five thousand capacity Amphitheater, you know, maybe
an hour north. There's Rochester that has the Mayo that
they've got room down there. There's Mankato. So there's other
like tertiary markets that people can play in Minnesota.

Speaker 1 (01:27:00):
And that Amphitheater is that a Live Nation.

Speaker 2 (01:27:02):
Amphitheater, No, that's a man at Amphtheater.

Speaker 1 (01:27:06):
Okay, so you don't do the buying, what do you do?

Speaker 3 (01:27:12):
I do the kind of management, oversight, business operations, new venues,
the amphitheaters is taking up you know, a large majority
of my time, but also kind of staff management, and

(01:27:32):
again like the financial side of things.

Speaker 1 (01:27:35):
Okay, everything's different post COVID. But how often are you
showing up at these venues and at these shows?

Speaker 3 (01:27:43):
Oh? I try to get to four venues a week,
or you know, I try to go out two nights
a week more, you know, in this in the busier months.

Speaker 1 (01:27:52):
And does every employee know you?

Speaker 2 (01:27:58):
Most do?

Speaker 3 (01:27:59):
I'm trying to think sometimes, you know, if we have
a new employee or we have about four hundred employees.
So I don't want to say every single one, but
I like to talk to the employees. I like to
introduce myself, so I try to make sure that that
I meet them.

Speaker 1 (01:28:12):
Are you working seven days a week?

Speaker 4 (01:28:15):
Yeah?

Speaker 2 (01:28:15):
Of course we have all right.

Speaker 1 (01:28:16):
That's why I'm asking. And you know, there's a great
line at Katzenberg at Disney. If you don't come in
on Saturday, don't even think about coming in on Sunday.
But so when do you start and when do you finish.
I mean, is this typical all day all the time?

Speaker 3 (01:28:33):
You know, I am available all day all the time.
I try to eat dinner with my kids every night,
so I try to you know, be home from you know,
six to eight. That's kind of my window. It's my
favorite time of the entire day. It's it's when I
am you know, my most happiest and just you know

(01:28:53):
again seeing them getting filled.

Speaker 2 (01:28:55):
In on their day.

Speaker 3 (01:28:57):
So but yeah, I'll work from eight am to you know,
midnight sometimes.

Speaker 1 (01:29:03):
So what is the future? You're the head of the
of Diva. What is the future of the small venue
in the music business?

Speaker 3 (01:29:12):
You know, I'm super excited. I also, you know, want
to say I stepped down as board president a few
months ago. Andre Perry is the new board president. We
have a great executive director. I'm super excited about the
group purchasing organization that we're rolling out. I think that
the future of the small club is always gonna, you know,

(01:29:33):
lay in the networking communications, in the community of talking
to other folks and seeing how other people are operating
efficiently and in working together. That was you know, the
vision and the the kind of m O behind Neiva,
and I think that is going to be even more
important in the next decade as we continue to hit

(01:29:55):
all these struggles.

Speaker 1 (01:29:56):
Now, the boomers were the first ones who really started
to go to clubs regularly, the blow up of rock
and roll, et cetera. Now is there going into the sunset.
It feels confident about the audience and the acts.

Speaker 2 (01:30:10):
I think I.

Speaker 3 (01:30:10):
Feel confident in club's abilities to adapt to what customers want.
I think that's a really great question because we know
that your generations, they're more you know, focused on the
social media elements and sometimes on like the more.

Speaker 2 (01:30:28):
Flashier show. Is that that's the right.

Speaker 3 (01:30:30):
Word, or like the kind of once in a lifetime experiences.
But I have absolute faith in the power of music
and the power of a song and that live music
experience to totally transform somebody's life and to transform not
only just their like daily experience, but in you know,

(01:30:50):
everything about their continents. And so I think that is
again when I look at clubs like that is the
experience that we offer is for customers to come in
and have that really intimate experience with the artists, get
to see hear their favorite song in three D be
treated really well. And so I have absolute faith in
that experience to transform another generation.

Speaker 1 (01:31:11):
And if you do twelve hundred shows a year or
how many are unprofitable.

Speaker 3 (01:31:17):
Oh man, more than I would care to admit in
a public podcast. But like I said, we're we're We
do shows for a lot of different reasons, right, Like
we all know Minneapolis went through a really hard couple
of years. It's still going through an exceptionally challenging time.

(01:31:38):
I like to keep our clubs open. I think, you know,
giving folks hours to work. I know downtown Minneapolis is
safer when we're open. We want to generate that economic
impact for our city. We want to give people those experiences.
And so we have a lot of reasons to open
and to do you know, local bands, you know, given

(01:32:00):
the experience to like play on the stage, build their audience,
get some local fans to you know, do dance nights
on a night that you know, otherwise we might be closed,
you know. I like the attitude of our company to
be yes, like, yes, let's try it. We want to
be experimental. We're local, we're small, let's take some risks,
let's have some fun. So we're probably more inclined to
do unprofitable shows than other folks because there's a kind

(01:32:24):
of greater mission behind them.

Speaker 4 (01:32:27):
And how big is your private business private events?

Speaker 2 (01:32:31):
Yeah, not anything.

Speaker 3 (01:32:36):
Really not No, We're we're but we're we're doing a
lot of you know, bands and ticketed events are our priority,
and so they're always going to have They're always gonna
have first priority on our calendar. They're always going to
be who we want to cater to.

Speaker 1 (01:32:53):
And then what would you tell to young women if
they wanted to get into this business?

Speaker 3 (01:32:59):
You know, I do a lot of informational interviews and
mostly with young women, and I would say, you know,
my advice is always you've got to work really hard.
Nothing just comes to you. You know, it's fun, but
it's also don't underestimate the time it takes and the sacrifices,

(01:33:20):
and you know the fact that like if you want
to work nine to five and you know, go to
the gym over lunch, and that this might not be
the career for you. You know, I think people you
have to you have to be willing to really sink
your teeth into it and give it all you have.

Speaker 1 (01:33:39):
And you talked about when you first came back to Minneapolis,
when your father was ill about gussing it all up
to sell to live Nation or age. How long do
you plan to do this? Would you ever sell? Do
you see your kids running the business?

Speaker 3 (01:33:57):
You know, my kids, if they want to, it would
be nice for them to have the option. I have
a lot of fun and I absolutely love, love, love
what I do, and I'm really proud of what we built,
and i love my team, and so you know, we're

(01:34:17):
just really again, we're enjoying what we do. We're enjoying
our impact on the community. We're enjoying seeing these bands.
And you know, my favorite thing in the entire world is,
you know, watching the show and watching people. I don't
I'll watch the show, but I'll watch people's faces and
just the change and how they walk into the venue
from how they walk out, And I couldn't imagine doing

(01:34:40):
anything else.

Speaker 1 (01:34:42):
Two best shows since you've been an owner.

Speaker 2 (01:34:45):
Two best shows?

Speaker 3 (01:34:48):
Oh, I'm gonna have to plead the fifth.

Speaker 1 (01:34:52):
Okay, just talk about one or two highlights?

Speaker 3 (01:34:54):
Okay, perfect, that's that's a great that's a great question.
You know, we had the Pretenders and the Entry in September.
That was a bucket list once in a lifetime, just
holy shit. I can't believe I am here right now moment.
I think, you know, Lizzo came up through First Avenue
and so seeing the rise of Lizzo's career.

Speaker 2 (01:35:16):
From you know, when we promoted.

Speaker 3 (01:35:18):
Her album release show to I don't know, one hundred
people or whatever, and then you know, watching her sill
out the main room to then come into the palace
and seeing a true superstar in the making that was
that was a real joy to behold as well.

Speaker 1 (01:35:33):
You are so warm and open and smiling. If we're
there settling a show, are you ever a hard ass?
Or is this who you are twenty four or seven?

Speaker 2 (01:35:45):
Well, maybe there's.

Speaker 3 (01:35:46):
A reason I'm not a talent buyer, right, I'm not
settling that show. I'm buying you a drink and asking
about how your kids are.

Speaker 1 (01:35:55):
Okay, Dana, I know that you got to go back
keeping Minnesodah's Live Entertainment Business. Live has been wonderful talking
to you, and I know that this is just the
middle for you. There's so much left to do. I
want to thank you for talking to my audience.

Speaker 3 (01:36:12):
Thank you so much for having me, and I'm glad
to hear it. I feel like I'm just just getting
started to.

Speaker 1 (01:36:16):
Okay, till next time. This is Bob left sets
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