Koplik Defends Fair Bid

Veteran promoter Jim Koplik recently wrote an op-ed piece for the Syracuse Post-Standard defending Live Nation’s relationship with the New York State Fair.

Live Nation was awarded a no-bid contract for the fair and has, by all accounts, successfully booked this year’s concert series. But not all are happy.

Other promotion companies not given the chance to bid are obviously irked. And the term “no-bid” has inspired a lot of local newspaper stories suggesting that taxpayers were charged a premium service for Live Nation’s shows.

Koplik, chairman for Live Nation’s Northeast Region, explained that the fair’s concerts grossed a record $4.4 million this year and sold more than 85,000 tickets, the highest ticket sales in the fair’s history.

The former talent buyer for the fair, whose salary was north of $120,000, is now replaced with an eight-person Live Nation team, which would certainly cost more if the fair paid their salaries, Koplik said. Talent for this year (as of August 26) cost $3,395,000, down from last year’s $3,464,000.

“Six of the 11 concerts at the fair are Live Nation tours,” Koplik wrote. “Journey, Def Leppard, Brooks & Dunn + ZZ Top, Toby Keith, Jonas Brothers, and Rascal Flatts with Taylor Swift. It is likely that the fair would not get these tours if Live Nation wasn’t booking the venue.”

Koplik disputed a report that a Toby Keith guarantee was $500,000, saying the cost was $400,000 with three support acts – more in line with other fair guarantees.

“It was reported in an August 14 Associated Press article the fair agreed to pay Live Nation $165,000 to advertise concerts,” he wrote. “Live Nation was given a broadcast budget of $165,000. Live Nation is not being paid any fee for planning and placing advertising. Marketing services, along with talent buying, event management and ticketing are included in the $6.50 per paid ticket fee.”

Live Nation also drastically reduced the amount of comped tickets, Koplik added. And although Live Nation was given a rent-free concession stand at the fair, it still has to pay the fair 25 percent of sales and costs associated with labor, product and other expenses, giving LN a concessions profit “far less” than the implied $200,000 annually.