Q’s With A Pollstar Live! Panelist: Tony Castañeda, Cárdenas Marketing Network

– Tony Castañeda

Negotiations between promoters, venues and agents are at the heart of the concert business. With the landscape constantly changing, deals have to be worked out that manage to take care of everyone, which is, in a word, complex.

Independent promoters like Cárdenas Marketing Networking (who appeared at No. 22 on Pollstar’s Top 100 Worldwide Promoters chart for 2018) have to find creative ways to offer deals that can compete with behemoths like AEG Presents and Live Nation. 

Tony Castañeda, Director of Touring for CMN, will be speaking on the panel “Crafting The Perfect Deal: The Next Era in Venue/Content Relations” and took some time to talk with Pollstar about the nature of his work and how CMN is carving out its niche.

What are most looking forward to about your “Crafting The Perfect Deal” panel?
I look forward to interacting with everyone there [and sharing what we’ve learned]. It’s been good over the last five years. 
When I came back to CMN six years ago we were at a smaller level and we went from producing 50 shows to several hundred in a five-year span, our booking department is doing excellent we because we do a lot of booking in Mexico and Latin America. 

What are some of the things you do to compete in terms of making deals?
Well nowadays the artist deals are getting tougher and tougher. 
The major players, Live Nation and AEG, they own venues and ticketing companies, so it’s easier for them to cut a deal with artists because they have other revenues that we don’t have. So it’s good for us in a way that other venue companies are looking to get our business. 
There’s a little edge there, it helps us get some tougher deals, to get us to a point where we can compete.
Sometimes they come back and offer deals where they only keep 5 or 10 percent and live off these other revenues. That makes it difficult for us. 
We do rely on venues helping us cut expenses and create ancillary profits, which artists may think we get just from the one show, but it’s often because we are working with the venue on several shows, so they can help us with other expenses.
And then the agents, who mostly just want to get the most money for the artists, they’re not really thinking about what is the best “deal.” 
When the big companies come and offer a lot of money, it’s difficult for us to compete with that. But we can offer more benefits like better promotion, better execution of the show, we help with logistics, something that they can’t always do. 
If we get the tour and we can do every single thing to put the tour together, production, logistics. 
What aspect are you most looking forward to at this year’s Pollstar Live! Conference?
It’s very important for us to be out there. 
We’ve been getting a lot of attention in the last few years, because we’ve grown to a level where we are producing several tours throughout the year. We’re getting a lot of calls.
So this year, it’s really important for me to go there and meet with the different players so they can get to know CMN. It’s not just a small company based in Chicago but it’s a global company that produces shows throughout the U.S., Latin America, and all over the world. We own the rights for Marc Anthony and Nicky Jam worldwide. 
Its definitely interesting to go and meet people. Now it’s time for us to say “Here we are, this what CMN does, and this is what we are.”
What were some of your biggest accomplishments this year?
Putting together successful tours, tours that are able to compete at a high level. If you look at the Pollstar charts, we produced a lot of the top Latin tours. 
By the way, we were kind of upset when Maluma was not nominated for Latin Tour of the Year. I would have thought Pollstar’s awards were based on numbers. He did better than some of the tours that got picked. 
What was the live show or shows that most changed your life and why?
Wow. I was part of the last tour of Vicente Fernandez. Personally, that was a really important one. 
I’ve worked with pretty much every Latin artist. I’ve been doing this for 25 years, so it’s been very satisfying for me. I was part of the very first tour Shakira did in the U.S., Cardenas was involved in that in that was a great life experience, to see that type of artist growing. What is satisfying is knowing that you were part of that for the beginning.
Nicky Jam we started producing his smaller shows, Maluma. With Bad Bunny right now is going crazy. Last year we started in small places, now we are doing nothing but arenas. 
Working with Chayanne, Marc Anthony. I’ve known Marc Anthony since the early ’90s and Henry has been part an important of his career. They even shared a room in N.Y. 
That’s what has been really satisfying, to see these artists grow so much. And, again, being part of the last tour of Vicente Fernandez. And Juan Gabriel, we produced the last Juan Gabriel tour and its very unfortunate that he died right in the middle of that tour … 
But in general it’s very satisfying being a part of those things.