Mike Brown, Vice President, TempleLive

Mike Brown
– Mike Brown

The Disruptors

Executives behind the ideas that disrupt the industry in positive ways.

Mike Brown
Vice President, TempleLive  

In the challenging times, TempleLive’s Mike Brown has had a tentpole year. He not only led the uphill battle cry in trying to bring the live business back with a May 18 show, the first ticketed, socially distanced comeback show with Travis McCready, at his Fort Smith, Ark., Masonic Temple venue, but subsequently he announced a major partnership and expansion plan and is aggressively seeking new business opportunities. He just chalks it up to good business sense.

“We’re deep in this industry to the tune of 20-some million dollars in these venues if not more,” Brown says, referencing his Masonic Temple venues which include Ft. Smith, Cleveland and Wichita, all owned by parent company Beaty Capital Group. “So do you just quit, or do you figure out how you have to grow? Because if you don’t, you’re just going to tread water forever and you’re not going to get anywhere.”

That moving forward includes a multimilliondollar partnership with the Dream Hotel Group out of New York to develop a 207-room boutique hotel adjacent to Temple Live’s 2,500-capacity venue in Cleveland, which he explained in pure business terms.“If you take a 2,500-cap room that does 60 shows a year, even at 70% sell-through, you’re bringing in more than 100,000 a year to the building. Out of that 100,000 they’re all going to want to eat before a show. If they’re coming from out of town they’re sleeping somewhere after the show. So why not make it the one-stop shop?

You go to the show, you get dinner, you have drinks. after the show. So why not make it the one-stop shop? You go to the show, you get dinner, you have drinks. If you want to stay and make an extended weekend, you’ve got pools, you’ve got gyms— everything you want to do is right there.”

Brown’s business acumen and entrepreneurial drive may be matched only by his passion for music, which began as a young enlistee. “I was a member of the KISS Army when I four,” he says. He went on to start a DJ business in junior high, a fly-by-night venue called Padre at the University of Tulsa and worked as a DJ at an alternative rock station. Life took a detour into different businesses, including cell phones and hotel development before his real passion found him.

It’s only fitting that he cites an American icon, albeit a fictional one, when asked how he plans to proceed. “We’re just going to have to adapt and overcome like Gunnery Sergeant Highway says in “Heartbreak Ridge:” ‘You Improvise. You adapt. You overcome.’”


The show that Changed your life?

ZZ Top’s Afterburner tour. They started off with the dashboard of the Eliminator car. Then they transitioned the stage, and it moved to the Space Shuttle. And there were lasers and girls and cars. It was everything a 15-year-old would want to have in their life: fast cars, spaceships, fuzzy guitars, hot girls. That was kind of the, “Holy shit, this is amazing” moment. And then you go to shows like Nine Inch Nails at Cain’s Ballroom when you’re 18. And you’re hanging out with the band and you don’t even know how you got there. And then seeing Ashley McBryde in Nashville at Basement East. The first show that we we had at the venue with Joe Nichols opening up TempleLive in Fort Smith on Aug. 25 1017. 

Artists to watch break it in next year.

Illiterate Light are fantastic. I saw them at Basement East the Saturday before the tornado hit it in Nashville. Cody Jinks has kind of already done it, but not really to the mainstream. I think that Hardy is one of the most entertaining guys out there and is a phenomenal songwriter. Paul Cauthen is super talented guy. I’d love to see  Reignwolf blow up. If you’ve never seen a live show from him, it’s one of the best you’ll ever see.

Technology most impacting your daily work or personal life?

It’s got to be what’s in your hand all the time: your phone. I don’t know how we functioned before those. Instant communication, email, everything you need is in your pocket now. Spotify I use every day when I look at a new artist or even an artist I’m aware of and want to know what their streaming volume is across the board. I really wish Spotify would share the data with venues they share with artists.

Best live show you saw this year?

Tanya Tucker was great at our Wichita venue. It was way more than I expected. I got to know her. We hung out and did tequila shots on her bus. She has her own tequila brand. All of our Cody Jinks shows are great. Rival Sons, when they took the stage in Fort Smith, I was blown away.  I’d never seen them live before and they were special.

Your favorite venue to see a show at and why?

Growing up in Tulsa, it has to be Cain’s Ballroom because it was a part of my life forever and through the different iterations But now, I’m leaning towards the smaller club venues, the 200 and 250 cap rooms. I’ve seen some great shows at the Grog Shop in Cleveland at Kathy’s place. It’s just that small kind of basement feel, low ceiling, phenomenal artists. You know the history that’s come through there. Anywhere that you can be up close and personal. But Cain’s is probably where I’ve seen more shows than anywhere just because of where I live.