Therese McKeon / 22 Images – Dan Steinberg and Jason Zink
Live Nation has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Emporium Presents, the concert promotion company formed by Dan Steinberg and Jason Zink in June 2015 when the pair merged their Square Peg Concerts and Sherpa Concerts.
Emporium Presents, with offices in Seattle, Denver and Birmingham, Ala., will retain its name and full staff but now adds the support of Live Nation and its resources as it continues to promote artists and tours throughout the U.S. and Canada. A former office in Nashville closed in July.
With the deal that finalizes today, Live Nation takes a 51 percent stake in Emporium Presents.
“It’s the beginning of an era,” Zink told Pollstar, somewhat tongue in cheek. “We’ll do the same thing we’ve always done but now with a partner with some serious advantages.”
Emporium’s Birmingham, Ala., outpost, which opened inNovember 2016 with the hiring of Todd Coder, formerly of WorkPlay Theatre and
“We’re doing shows down there and growing in the Southeast ,” Zink says. “Todd’s been down there and developing great relationships with a lot of venues. A lot of the shows we would normally do all over the country, Todd is down there doing in that neck of the woods and he adds a lot of stuff that we weren’t doing before.”
Steinberg and Zink founded Emporium Presents after successfully co-promoting major acts like Dierks Bentley and The Black Keys, among many other shows. To date, Emporium Presents has promoted thousands of shows for renowned acts like Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Dolly Parton, Jason Mraz, The Scorpions, and The Trailer Park Boys. Upcoming shows from Emporium Presents include Tedeschi Trucks Band, The Avett Brothers, Straight No Chaser, The Piano Guys, Gillian Welch, Home Free, Ghost, John Prine, and Social Distortion.
Emporium Presents becomes the latest independent promoter to be brought under the Live Nation umbrella, which has been busy in 2018 acquiring such established promoters as the former Frank Productions (now known as FPC Live), Red Mountain Productions, in which it acquired a majority stake in June; and Austin-based ScoreMore Shows, acquired in May.
“It’s entrepreneurs that [Live Nation CEO/President] Michael Rapino likes to partner with and who have skin in the game, as C3 Presents, AC Entertainment and the Franks all do,” Steinberg told Pollstar. “It’s a benefit for both Live Nation and for the partner entrepreneurs who are involved. It’s the same deal that we have. We still have skin in the game, too. We’re still young guys; we’re not done yet.”
As has been the case with Live Nation promoter acquisitions in recent years, Emporium will continue to operate autonomously from its major stakeholder, while taking advantage of the company’s back office and other resources.
“Michael Rapino has been incredibly supportive, but it was really Bob Roux who thought there would be a good home for us there and really championed the deal,” Steinberg says. “Jordan Zachary and Bob Roux are the real architects of this deal and the entire Live Nation team has been very supportive all the way through.”
Roux, Live Nation’s president of U.S. concerts, was the primary instigator of the deal, Zink and Steinberg say. Roux has been a guest on Steinberg’s popular podcast, “Promoter 101,” and tells Pollstar about the genesis of the acquisition.
“Dan and I met at an ‘unnamed’ music industry conference held around the Grammy Awards in New York last year and just started catching up,” Roux says. “We share a lot of common thoughts and ideals about the live business and found ourselves talking about how we could start working closer together. One thing led to another and here we are.
“While Live Nation has a majority interest, Dan and Jason still have equity in Emporium, which is terrific as we work together to grow their business,” Roux adds.
Part of that business expected to greatly benefit from the partnership with Live Nation is Levitt Pavilion Denver, a 7,500-capacity amphitheater located in the city’s Ruby Hill Park and booked by EmporiumPresents since opening in July 2017.
“Our amphitheater in Denver is having the best season it’s ever had,” Steinberg says. “We’re definitely hoping to add to our next season as well.” Adds Zink, “For this [Denver] market, having that amphitheater available to them is going to be a great thing. I think we’re going to do a lot more volume working with them.”
But, for the most part, Emporium Presents isn’t about real estate or regional markets. It’s about touring and artists.
From their bases in Seattle and Denver, Steinberg and Zink have grown the company into a national promoter and it’s expected that Steinberg will expand Emporium’s presence in Hawaii and Alaska from his Auburn, Wash., HQ. But the partnership with Live Nation will surely take Emporium Presents to a new level.
“There’s more touring opportunities and larger [shows],” Zink says. “When it’s all mom and dad’s money, we have to operate in a certain way. We weren’t struggling for cash, certainly, but we can swing for the fences a little bit more, and that’s fun.”
Which brings us to Steinberg’s “Promoter 101” podcast. It was not part of the deal, Steinberg says. However, the founder and host says he will step back from producing and writing news portions of the podcast, which recently aired its 100th episode, as what he calls a matter of fairness.
“After this week, Luke [Pierce, Steinberg’s co-host] will take over the news on ‘Promoter 101,’” Steinberg says. “I will still do interviews but I will no longer be involved in the news. I may now have an inside position on things that can’t really be public and I don’t want people to be uncomfortable about that.
“I certainly need to be in the loop to do my job with my new partners, so it has been arranged that I will step out of that role but I will still be the executive producer of the podcast. It’s not something they requested. It’s only fair.”
Fans of “Promoter 101” should be relieved to know that Steinberg says it will continue without major upheaval.
“I’ve had a little while to think things through and the amount of time I put into the podcast is pretty incredible. Luke is completely capable. In fairness, Luke has been writing the news for the last three or four months … We’re very protective of our podcast and we have relationships to protect; I don’t think a single person has ever thought that the podcast has burned them. We will probably bring in an even larger cast from around the industry; getting different voices on the pod cast is always a good thing,” Steinberg says.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“They gave us some money and we gave them part of the company,” Zink says, noting that Steinberg got one cent more than he did in the final agreement. “Fortunately, that penny wasn’t a huge percentage of the deal.”