‘Society’ Is Very Metropolitan

Metropolitan Talent Presents LLC has inked exclusive concert booking rights at the Upper West Side home of the New York Society for Ethical Culture, a 95-year-old concert hall overlooking Central Park.

The booking deal marks John Scher’s first since re-entering the concert promotion biz after a five-year hiatus, courtesy of a disputed non-compete agreement first with Covanta Energy (formerly Ogden Entertainment), and ultimately with Clear Channel Entertainment.

The 850-seat venue, with its hand-carved oak paneling and stained glass windows, recently underwent $1.5 million in renovations.

Metropolitan’s first show under the new deal will be June 23rd with King Crimson leader Robert Fripp.

A New York judge ruled in March that Scher’s non-compete be lifted, though the breach of contract issues at the core of the dispute are still being litigated.

In the meantime, Scher got back to work.

“I spent a lot of time being one of the big guys on the block,” Scher told Pollstar. “What we need to do to be successful, period, is to do things in a little bit different way. Sometimes that’s something as simple as being able to market more creatively … and try to create opportunities for the artists that you work with that the bigger companies aren’t.

“In the case of the Society for Ethical Culture, it’s a matter of finding where you think there’s a hole in the marketplace and how you can best serve it.”

It was also a case of the venue hiding in plain sight.

Located one block away from Lincoln Center and facing Central Park, the Society has long presented chamber music and other more refined fare. But Scher’s partner, Al Cafaro, found they were interested in presenting pop music concerts, too. It wasn’t long before they sealed the deal.

“Clearly, we want to be creative and do things you need to do with good talented people,” Scher said. “Where was the hole in the market? Where is there a lack of venues? You might think that in New York City that couldn’t possibly be.

“But in this city, there hasn’t been a proper, sit-down venue with reserved seats, with good acoustics and all the amenities this building has. There really isn’t anything quite like it.

“It’s fascinating. It’s a 95-year old building – and it’s just extraordinary.

Deborah Speer