TIPCON Booking Consortium

Exclusive: Theatrical presenters and performing arts centers have joined forces to create a concert booking organization called The Independent Presenter’s Concert Network LLC, or TIPCON for short. And to show they mean business, they’ve tapped industry veteran Michael Farrell to head acquisition of talent and properties.

TIPCON comprises members from the Independent Presenters Network of Touring Broadway Shows (IPN) and the Performing Arts Centers Consortium, and its goal is to deal primarily with concert promotion at select venues nationwide, according to the group’s announcement.

Farrell brings a 36-year music business resume to the table going back to his start at the William Morris Agency in 1969, where he rose to the level of senior agent in the music department. He co-founded ITG in 1981 and represented clients including Pink Floyd, Genesis, Robert Plant, Phil Collins, and Steve Miller Band.

He went to the Agency For The Performing Arts in 1997, spending three years there before moving to SFX before it was acquired by Clear Channel Entertainment. At CCE, he handled U.S. touring responsibilities until he resigned in 2004. Most recently, he agented for Phil Collins and booked the artist’s 2004-05 North American tour.

“I am very excited to be part of TIPCON,” Farrell said. “This organization will clearly generate more opportunities for both artists and these venues, and give everyone involved the ability to create and implement more valuable touring properties.”

Farrell’s primary role will be to collect information on what acts are touring and available for 1,500- to 3,500-seat theatres, letting the members know who’s out there and then going back to the artists’ agents with package proposals from interested venues.

“In today’s times, our first goal is to be able to get information about touring properties early,” Farrell told Pollstar. “There clearly is great interest from the venues that do a lot of Broadway – the IPN – to do more and different kinds of programming. They’re really open to ideas.”

He said a theatre isn’t going to be aware of everything going on in its marketplace and TIPCON will help increase communication about availability of venues and artists.

“It’s going to make a big difference to everyone,” he said.

More than 20 venues and promoters are entering TIPCON’s fold as inaugural members, including: The Bushnell Center for Performing Arts, Hartford, Conn.; Dallas Summer Musicals, Dallas; Denver Center for the Performing Arts; The Fabulous Fox Theatre, St. Louis; Jam Theatricals, Chicago; NC Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Charlotte, N.C.; Playhouse Square Center, Cleveland; Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Tampa, Fla.; The Wang Center For The Performing Arts, Boston; and Weidner Center for the Performing Arts in Green Bay, Wis.

“It’s a new market for everybody. It’s a new way to do business,” TIPCON President Gina Vernaci told Pollstar.

Vernaci is the director of programming for the Playhouse Square Center, where she’s been since 1984.

“It was really fantastic that [Michael Farrell] was available because we know agents and we like agents, but we wanted someone also with experience on the other side of the equation – on the manager/agent side of the equation,” she said.

Aiding in that effort is Jam Theatricals’ Arny Granat, whose long career with Jam Productions on the concert promotion side gave him an idea for filling seats between theatrical productions.

“Being that I’m not just a theatre producer but a concert promoter, and being part of this organization, I realized that its strength would be in numbers. All these people were saying we need more programming that wasn’t theatrical; there’s still dark dates,” Granat told Pollstar.

“So, I said we should all put a unit together, put up some money, and hire someone that is independent of all of [the rest of TIPCON’s membership]. Then that person can go out and represent the entire organization.”

Granat pointed out that though there are about 20 firm members and TIPCON plans to expand its ranks, some members cover multiple markets, giving the fledgling group a presence in at least 30 markets right out of the gate.

And TIPCON is looking for artists of all stripes who are affordable for the venues comprising the group as well as those who are interested in an intimate, lush concert environment.

“The artist you’re looking for is the one that would fit the mold, say a country act like Vince Gill or a jazz artist like a Diana Krall,” Granat explained. “There’s nothing you can’t do but it has to be something that fits the marketplace if it sells 1,500 to 3,500 seats and plays a lot of secondary and tertiary markets.”

TIPCON has hit the ground running and is seeking artists to perform at all of its venues.

“At this juncture, it’s a lean mean fightin’ machine.” Vernaci added. “If an artist needs 40 cities and there are 20 of us, a significant portion of the package can come from us.”

Farrell can be reached at 305-899-1009 for booking inquiries.

Deborah Speer