“You do what you gotta do. You do it one, so it’s proper for the artist; and two, so it’s proper for their fans,” says a calm and resolute John Meglen in the midst of reassembling The Rolling Stones’ “No Filter” 2019 tour after the 75-year-old Jagger underwent successful heart valve surgery in early April.
It’s a situation that might have pushed a lesser promoter over the edge. “It’s an old adage here, ‘If everybody starts freaking out, do the right things, and things have a way of working out.’ Hopefully by the time you put this out, we will have announced what we’re doing.”
Certainly there’s a lot at stake: The Stones’ European leg came in at No. 10 on Pollstar’s 2017 Year End Worldwide Tours chart, grossing $116.6 million with 14 shows. The trek’s average gross of $8.96 million was second only to Taylor Swift’s $9.58 million.
But high stakes is something Meglen and co-CEO Paul Gongaware have known extremely well over the course of their storied careers: Like for example the duo leaving SFX to jumpstart Concerts West as an independent with not much more than grit and determination; horse trading with Nederlander early on to pick up Goldenvoice; convincing AEG to invest some $150 million in Celine Dion’s ground-breaking Las Vegas residency; and getting Prince into The O2 arena for 21 nights and a Super Bowl halftime show, among other moves that pushed the bar of the touring business to another level.
Meglen and his team continue raising the bar.
“Celine has 16 shows left in Las Vegas,” he says, “It’ll be 1,141 shows, I think.”
He also mentions overseeing Ed Sheeran’s record-breaking tour internationally with Simon Jones, Adam Wilkes and Jim Allison, which on its latest leg started in South Africa and went though Asia.
Meglen, who hammers on the importance of global touring, is able to tick off the impressive revenue for Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta off the top of his head.
“There’s a couple of things I’m working on that I can’t talk about,” Meglen tantalizingly says. “Our intention for Concerts West is to keep being a boutique, quality, touring organization that does all that we can do.”
My pet peeves, anybody who does it because that’s the way they always did it. I hate that. It just drives me crazy. I always look for self-starters. If somebody just does the same thing over, and over, and over again, after a while if it doesn’t get boring to them, it certainly gets boring to me. I need people to be creative, and if they’re not creative, then that’s my pet peeve.
Worst career advice you were given:
Worst advice I was ever given was, “Don’t hang out with the crew. Those guys, you only hang around management and the band.” One guy told me that, literally, I won’t say who. A couple nights later, Paul Gongaware told me, “Look dude if you want to make it in this business, you will treat the guy driving the truck just as well as you treat that lead singer, and everybody in between. every single person out there is so important and so critical, and everybody is important. That’s what I love about our business. When you’re on the road Everybody is equal. Yes, you got the rock stars. After the rock stars, you should be treating everybody the same.
Ten years after The Great Slump, can it happen again?
Yeah, of course it can if we’re not smart. Look, not just our business, but any business. Just when they think everything is blue skies, and we’re right at the top of those businesses that gets hurt when the economy takes a dip because we are a discretionary business. So, don’t forget to save some nuts.