Pollstar Live! Rock ’N’ Roll Fantasy Camp

When David Fishof launched the first Rock ’n’ Roll Fantasy Camp in Florida in 1997, the event lost so much money that he scrapped the entire plan. But several years later he found out that his dream to bring a taste of the rock ’n’ roll life to the general public wasn’t the failure he thought it was.

Everything Fishof has learned from the rock ’n’ roll world is in his latest book, “Rock Your Business: What You And Your Company Can Learn From The Business Of Rock And Roll” to help future entrepreneurs make their own ideas a reality.

Fishof previously told Pollstar his decision to publish the book, co-written with New York Times best-selling author Michael Levin, was sparked by conversations with attendees at his Rock ’n’ Roll Fantasy Camp and their rock-star mentors.

Photo: Barry Brecheisen

A shift in how the general public perceives music industry careers was another catalyst.

“I’ve seen the success of these bands and they really work together,” he told Pollstar. “I learned to be creative because I respect the artists who write songs. [From] the way they collaborate on music, I learned to collaborate with promoters, sponsors and talent.”

And the results of the strategy he shares in his book are seen in real life. Since re-launching the camp in 2002, the brand has expanded to include a corporate version of the camp, a VH1 Classic reality show and a permanent home at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

“I’ve had failures. I’ve had successes. You’ve got to take them all,” Fishof said. “It’s about not having the fear of doing something.”

And the fantasy camp’s success relies on the participation of rock stars like panelists Teddy Andreadis, Vinny Appice, Kane Roberts and Rudy Sarzo.

The musicians, whose collective resumes include playing with acts such as Black Sabbath, Dio, Quiet Riot, Alice Cooper, Yngwie Malmsteen and Carole King, stay involved with the camps around their tour schedules. All agreed that mentoring rocker hopefuls from all walks of life enhances their own lives.

“It’s such a blast to play with people who have never had the chance to play before,” Sarzo said. “Every time we start a new camp, we have a new band so it’s really an incredible experience.”

Roberts said, “The thing that struck me … at my first camp, my first band was essentially made up of four or five executives. They had left their normal, number-crunching lives to access some kind of a dream. … When they returned to their lives, they returned there with something more.”

“It’s a really touching experience, also, for us counselors,” Appice said. “It’s sad toward the end [of a camp] for us, too. We go back to our daily lives, even though we play music.”

Andreadis said each camp is an adventure.  

“We never know what the level of talent will be,” he said. “As counselors, we like to help the bands out, and we help each other out.”

As to the future of sharing the power of music through the Rock ’n’ Roll Fantasy Camp, MGM Grand VP of Entertainment Mark Prows asked Fishof, “How is your company structured to where’s there’s longevity amid everything you’ve built over the years?”

Fishof said that although he’s not alone in the endeavor, how to carry on the legacy is a subject he thinks about every day.

“I want to hand it over to [longtime camp counselor] Kip Winger, who’s done an amazing job as MC, music director and overseeing production, and the guys who take leadership,” he said.

“It’s been hard. I started off as a manager and a producer. I would sell the show and let CAA and William Morris book my shows, then sell to promoters. Now, I have to worry about marketing, promoting, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram… it’s too much. The opportunity to be at the MGM Grand has really propelled me to find the right leader. I’m trying to convince Kip to move to Vegas.

“After 16 years, we’re ready to propel this to the next level.”