CIC 2009

The 2009 Concert Industry Consortium, Jan. 28-30 at L.A.’s Hyatt Century Plaza Hotel, is in the books and, despite the uncertain economic climate, more than 1,000 delegates came together for two-plus days of frank discussion.

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Attendance was down about 20 percent from last year’s record, but if a sold-out hotel and packed panel rooms is a sign of success, CIC 2009 made the grade. And it was certainly successful in its mission: to bring the industry together to network, learn, complain and ultimately move forward.

As always, panels featured a mix of professionals, pairing promoters with agents, secondary ticket marketers with managers, and production whizzes with venue GMs.

The popular roundtable discussions gave everyone a chance to table-hop and industry leaders gave graciously of their time to mentor future generations. Maybe more than ever, the career center was a popular stop.

Arny Granat welcomed delegates to the conference. Don’t call it a keynote, he said.

Arny and Jerry Mickelson co-founded Jam Productions in 1971 and have become one of America’s largest and most fiercely independent promoters. In addition to producing concerts, for which he’s been named Pollstar’s Talent Buyer of the Year.

A packed Los Angeles Room at the Hyatt Century Plaza Hotel turned their undivided ears to Arny March 29.

The speech itself was quite serious, given the challenging times facing the industry as well as the rest of the American economy.

Arny said he wasn’t there to “pontificate” to the rest of his colleagues in attendance; there were plenty of people who could do that, he added. And while he said he didn’t want to live in the past, it is important to visit it once in a while.

With that, he ticked off a list of names — the legendary and the not so much — but all of whom built the industry from a seat-of-the-pants operation into what we have today, making particular note of the two industry powerhouses: Live Nation and AEG.

Granat’s theme was that things will change, yet the core of the business remains.

“The live industry is an integral part of our lives,” he said. “The live experience can never be replaced or duplicated, though we’ve done our best to mess it up.” He may have used a different word than “mess.”

Granat threw a spotlight on ticketing, especially with Live Nation stepping up to challenge Ticketmaster for dollars and industry supremacy.

“Ticketmaster and Live Nation have a chance and responsibility to make changes to make the experience more acceptable to the patron,” he said. “We need both of these companies, as well as agents, managers, artists and promoters to stand up and make a difference.”

He pointed to Ticketmaster’s introduction of paperless tickets to capture some of the dollars lost to scalpers. But he also called on them to create a “level playing field” for patrons from all financial backgrounds who want to purchase quality seats.

“There is no parity for the fans. One common mission is to pull back all the crap. Listen to, nurture and respect the consumer. They are the only ones we must answer to.”

Granat talked about the importance of diversification, pointing to the success of Jam Theatricals, which has won three Tony Awards, and Jam Exhibitions, which toured the “Bodies” exhibition.

“We’re doing a ‘Bodies’ show. Dead body parts. Cadavers. We made more on dead bodies than we ever did on live ones,” he only half joked. “The riders were much easier. Meet and greets were a cinch.”

Though Granat rejects the word “keynote” for his speech, it was anything but a stiff.

“The good news is we’re all still here. One of the great mysteries is how. We’ve been fortunate to have done so,” he concluded. “We are all part of the same family, but now we need to refocus and be creative and respectful. We may not be on the same team, but we are all in the same league.

“There’s always room for improvement. We can’t remain inert; we either go backward or forward. Keep the faith, have hope. This is perhaps our last opportunity. Let’s not mess it up.” He probably used a different word than “mess.”


Previous CIC coverage:

CIC 2009: It’s A Wrap

CIC Archive

Concert Industry Awards Archive