Executive Profile: Danny Damman

 in Amsterdam is a mandatory stop on practically any significant European tour. Last year alone it hosted names like Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Ed Sheeran, Nicki Minaj, Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga.

The building is visually stunning, even in such a place as the famed capital city of the Netherlands. The exterior is basically one enormous LED display, capable of scrolling the upcoming events across all four walls. It hosted the MTV European Music Awards soon after it opened in 2012.

We asked Danny Damman, director of commercial affairs, a few questions.  This interview is drastically shorter than other executive profiles because Ziggo Dome execs asked to have the questions emailed to them so they could be translated to Dutch, then answered, then translated back to English again. We then translated it a little more.

Naming rights partner Ziggo is the largest cable operator in the Netherlands, providing cable television, broadband Internet, and telephone service to residential and commercial customers.

See Also: Executive Profiles Archive

Can you please help us with the basics?  When did the arena get built, and why?  How did it get its name?  Does it have a theatre setup? 

The Ziggo Dome is a venue built primarily to host live music performances with an ability to welcome 17,000 visitors. Since opening in 2012 it has welcomed artists such as Madonna, Pearl Jam, Lady Gaga, Sting, Muse, Radiohead, Swedish House Mafia and Beyoncé.     

Everything, from the catering to the seating facilities, has been designed to offer the best experience for both fans and performing musicians. Although the Ziggo Dome has a single purpose design it can easily be adapted to host any kind of event. The Ziggo Dome has offered seated family events, large-scaled dance events and even sport events.

What is your venue capacity?

For dance events it’s 12,500 with a maximum capacity of 17,000.

Why do so many important artists play it?  Is it because of the location? What do you as a staff do to make sure to draw so many big names?

The Ziggo Dome doesn’t organize and operate the events. It’s our duty to activate our core values, such as perfect acoustics, a grand yet intimate environment and a perfect live experience, and convey that to our potential tenants.  In addition, it’s important that even after signing a contract, we do help the tenants intensively in communication and organization of the event.

We will do everything within our power to make the event successful.

The 360-degree LED façade around the venue makes it possible to, one, show our agenda (calendar of events) to passersby but also, two, broadcast a concert on the walls of the building (without sound). Those visuals are really eye catchers and the LED façade has become some kind of landmark, representing the Ziggo Dome. In 2013 we hosted the MTV European Music Awards.

Why do artists want to play at the Ziggo Dome?

Location. Being that Amsterdam is the capital city of The Netherlands, Beyoncé and Katy Perry visited the Anne Frank House, Prince rode a bike through the city (as most of the inhabitants ride their bikes every day)  

The load in and load out can be done very easily and quickly because of the loading deck behind the stage. Last weekend, we’ve host Nicki Minaj, The Script twice and Paul Simon & Sting. Our load-in makes that possible.

Please tell us how you got started in the business.

I used to play football at AFC Ajax Amsterdam. Unfortunately, I never made it to the first team. But, I always had the intention of working for the club. This opportunity arose when Ajax moved to a new stadium, the Amsterdam ArenA.

I went to work for the stadium in the function of Event Manager. I was responsible for the organization of all football games at the Amsterdam ArenA (Ajax and the Dutch National Team –  Nederlands Elftal -) and later the large pop concerts such as Tina Turner and U2.

What would you say could be improved?

It depends on how you look at this; it may vary per type of event.

For dance promoters, there are lots of opportunities and possibilities in organizing a dance event – for example, in football stadiums, arenas, open air facilities. In this case, the competition is much bigger than, for example, concerts with a potential ticket sale of 10,000. Apart from that, there is a local and an international market. We, however, don’t make some kind of competitive analysis.

You should always rely on your own strength. Every day we look into our company to see how we can improve ourselves. To us, this is a much greater value than studying how other venues operate and comparing us with them.

What is the one thing (or three things) that the Ziggo Dome does that makes it an important stop on a tour? 

Amsterdam is a beautiful city with a rich history. There’s plenty to see and activities to do after a show. More importantly, with 16 million inhabitants as potential customers, of which 2.3 million living in the immediate area around the Ziggo Dome and with one of the best international airports, we offer a great market potential. Our brand awareness in The Netherlands is 91 percent. Fortunately, we have built a great reputation over the past few years, right after the opening of the Ziggo Dome. Our acoustics are outstanding.

Our best unique selling point is the total live experience, which we offer to all our visitors: a before, during, and after experience. In other words, the three phases a fan will experience around a concert: the tickets purchase, the actual concert and the after-party – or the happiness one will experience after a show.

We have, for example, a hotel situated right next to the Ziggo Dome. The entrance of the hotel borders the square where the Ziggo Dome is situated.

The hotel has its own restaurant and bars inside and outside as well. It’s an example of how we welcome the fans with open arms. In short, we will give your visit to your biggest idol some extra shine!

What would you say could be improved?

We are always busy with improving things, no matter how small the subject is.

Our biggest priority now is the backstage area. Despite the fact that we have only been open three years, this area will be totally renewed.

A freight elevator will be built in and all backstage floors, including the dressing rooms, will have a metamorphosis and a complete new look and feel.

For example, there is a brand new meet & greet room, the so-called Legends Room.

(place photo of the legends room here. Caption it “Legends Room”)

What can the artist expect during the visit? 

A famous Dutch saying is, “Just act normal, that’s already crazy enough!”

It means it’s not always necessary to do everything over the top. The strength can be in small things, a bit like “less is more.”

After the summer, there will be a real Amsterdam experience made at the backstage areas. What and how? That’s our little secret for now. We’re already looking forward to the reactions of artists and management.

So far, any favorite concert and why?

Pearl Jam! This was the first international concert at the Ziggo Dome, three years ago (June 26-27, 2012).  We saw that everything ran smoothly within the building and in the organization. This was a huge relief as well as satisfying. I was so intensely happy! Eddie Vedder was rocking the stage like he always does, with dedication and passion! It’s going to be hard to ever surpass this concert in my mind!

Anything else?

We noticed that, after winning two so-called ‘SponsorRingen’ awards (Sponsor rings) with naming rights partner Ziggo, the partnership worked and was appreciated by not only visitors but with our business partners. We are trying to build up long-lasting relationships with our partners in a way that both brands can reap the benefits of each other’s core business.