Lewi In The Round

One of the experiments of this year’s Concert Industry Consortium in Los Angeles was a series of intimate round table discussions and mentoring sessions, with industry vets either chairing a small group or offering their advice to those in need.

Early reports from the gatherings are in the positive. Jim Lewi of LiveWorks chaired a session that he is still talking about.

“I was really bummed,” Lewi told Pollstar. “I really wanted to sit in on Sherry Wasserman’s session. I wanted to sit in on the Goon’s (Mike McGinley’s) session. I really wanted to sit in on Harvey Leeds’ and, at one point, wanted to take my group to Harvey’s group so we could all work together because they were talking about marketing as well.”

The round table discussions were held February 3rd at the Beverly Hills Room of the Westin Century Plaza Hotel in Century City. One of the biggest complaints was that the room got too noisy from all of the ideas being passed around.

Lewi has been one of the industry’s strongest voices for marketing the concert experience. At last year’s Aspen Live Conference, which Lewi organizes, he brought in marketing guru Seth Godin as keynote speaker. For his CIC round table, Lewi continued with the theme, saying banks do a better job of marketing their experience than the concert industry does. He got more feedback from the folks at his table than they got of, well, Lewi.

He came to his session armed with the title “According to Jim,” which was changed at the last second to “According to Me.” It didn’t matter; by the afternoon session, Lewi was just trying to keep the group in focus as they generated their own suggestions. The morning session drew about 15 people, Lewi said, but the afternoon session was “huge.”

Diarmuid Quinn, head of marketing at Warner Bros., suggested a “Club Med” model for ticket pricing, where one price included parking, food, beverage and other “all-inclusive” features. It’s an idea that has been bantered about but not implemented. Promoting print-at-home tickets was also discussed.

How about allowing repeat concert-goers a VIP status? Maybe even give them a key card, like the kind used by repeat customers at a grocery or video store?

“They feel a grudge toward the VIP,” Lewi said. “And what if they had VIP parking that’s just one step beyond the people who actually pay the money for VIP parking?”

Most of all, Lewi and his group (which included at times promoter Jon Stoll, Geffen’s Darren Wolf, Nederlander’s Melanie Davis and members of Tour Design and Music Today) focused on marketing the experience via television ads.

One idea for an ad would show a family heading to a concert, from the front door to the parking lot, and the event staff would be big-name acts. For instance, Tommy Lee would handle parking while Toby Keith helps with security, etc. Another idea was a little less expensive: interviewing concert-goers at the exit, and capturing their excitement.

“We allowed [complaints about the way things are] in the first session a little bit, and I got so mad that I went after one of my friends really hard,” Lewi said. “The word ‘brainstorm’ means there’s no negative comments. I don’t want to hear about how hard it is to park or the parking experience. Let’s assume we can get our shit together and train our staff for creating a better experience.”