WME’s Geiger Gets Bullish at IEBA Keynote

Marc Geiger, Global Head of Music at

“The business is spectacular. Anybody touching live entertainment, no matter what role, it is the best year you’ve ever had,” Geiger said in a wide-ranging conversation with Ray Waddell, president of media and conferences for the Oak View Group, Pollstar’s parent company. “I think it will continue for a while. We are lucky to be here.”

Rick Diamond/Getty Images for IEBA
WME’s Marc Geiger and Oak View Group’s Ray Waddell speak at the Keynote Q & A: Marc Geiger during IEBA 2017 Conference in Nashville Oct. 17.

But Geiger was not entirely Pollyannaish and acknowledged the many challenges the business faces.

“We have to protect it and obviously there are some things  we have to sort out,” he said, “like the ticketing mess and other things that are still quite the equivalent of what the recording industry had to figure out the past few years. We could kill the golden goose, but the fundamentals that drive us has very little to do with the people in this room, but with consumers and the music they listen to.”

Speaking to a full house at the

He stressed that streaming and the way the fans hear music is important to ticket sales and pointed out that with today’s technology, you can live anywhere in the world and have the same access to artists as anyone else who has the technology. Being able to listen to more music translates into more ticket sales and more merchandise sold.

“Streaming is what the consumer wants,” he stated, adding that once the capability is there to allow the consumer to buy a ticket while they are listening to an artist’s music, it will have a huge impact on the live entertainment business. “We are not seeing it yet, but I think it is one of the things that is on the checklist of improvements that as an industry we can get to.

“If you are listening to a Chris Young song, or watching a video on YouTube, and all of a sudden you hear, ‘You are in Nashville, Chris Young is playing so and so,’ and then you can put your thumb print on it and buy a ticket, that will be wonderful. I think we’re a little ways away from it, but it’s going to happen. As long as we keep making part of our process better for consumers, we are golden, because the threats that would hurt our industry are in the rearview mirror.”

Geiger says that he thinks Ticketmaster is probably in the lead of getting the industry where it needs to be in the respect of ticketing. “They have the most market clout and I think Michael (Rapino, CEO of

Consumers know that when they go to a show, they want to buy tickets in a special row and section, but Geiger sees the way the industry is set up now is anti-consumer.

“I don’t know one person who knows where they are going to be in seven months, nor are they available at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday to buy a ticket.”

Consumers also have the advantage of interacting with artists more these days, on everything from Twitter to Instagram and Facebook, and that of course allows artists to go directly to their fans with information.

“When ticketing goes from you know who the ticket buyer is, to you know who everybody is, and that is handled well and shared with the artist, then it is fair game and everybody has knowledge. The question is, who takes the opportunity and makes the most of it and treats the fans with the same respect that we all want? Once you get data you can abuse it, and we in the industry have to be careful to be sure that we do not abuse it.”

Mobile phones, Geiger noted, have already transformed live music especially with marketing and promotion as fans at shows send information about that show to friends in another town or around the world via social media. He called fans “potential reporters” and when they get the word out about what a great show they are attending and how much fun they are having, with photos and their comments, it makes the others consider buying tickets or going to see that artist live.

Geiger also noted the importance of agents using their discretion when it comes to making decisions on setting up a tour, even after studying the data. He explained the importance of understanding the artist, the market and their knowledge prior to that tour when making decisions.

He also believes the festival market is in a good place and that numbers are up globally and for the most part are doing well. Don’t just look at some of this year’s high-profile festivals that failed (Fyre, Pemberton), but look at the many others that are doing great.

The WME music head discussed the security threats to the business in the wake of the tragedy at Las Vegas’ Route 91 Harvest Festival. He noted that these are dangerous times all over the world and that an increased security presence will help bring comfort to everyone. The promoters, he said, have a new challenge and everyone has to be smart about not fighting those costs. It all has to be done in the interest of safety.