A Job Well Done: Medium Rare’s Adam Richman & Joe Silberzweig Set Stage For Boutique Crossover Events

– Adam Richman and Joe Silberzweig
A Job Well Done Medium Rare’s Adam Richman & Joe Silberzweig Set Stage For Boutique Crossover Events
Shaquille O’Neal and Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski were towering figures in their respective sports of basketball and football and, in retirement, their larger-than-life personalities have made waves in the live entertainment industry with Shaq’s Fun House and Gronk Beach Party events now held over Super Bowl Weekend. 
This year each event took place in Miami and the brands were set to expand with Adam Richman and Joe Silberzwieg’s boutique company Medium Rare to produce a new shindig around the NFL draft in late April and an additional event in October. 
Those gigs, like so many others, were waylaid by the COVID-19 pandemic, but Silberzweig, Richman, Shaq and Gronk pivoted to a digital event that garnered more than 9 million live viewers across all platforms. 
The event – Shaq’s Fun House vs Gronk Beach – took the format of a game show, pitting Shaq against Gronk in six live challenges including a game of H.O.R.S.E., jousting, sports trivia, and a cook-off. The whole event was produced in a Florida TV studio, filmed and streamed live, and also featured musical performances from Snoop Dogg, DaBaby, Diplo, Carnage, Steve Aoki and DJ Diesel (Shaq’s performing alter ego).
The event drew in a ton of sponsors and ended up garnering raking in millions in sponsorship, with Grill Mates sponsoring the barbecue challenge and Monster Energy sponsoring the jousting competition. Brand sponsors are an integral part of the regular Shaq’s Fun House and Gronk Beach events, so it is only fitting that this would carry over to the digital event, and the brands were much more than a logo on the screen.
“We take everything Joe and I learned doing these mega-festivals and bring it into a smaller, boutique setting,” Richman told Pollstar. “What’s really incredible is it allows us to bring brands in that want to dip their toe in the water, brands that wanted to [be affiliated] with Shaquille O’Neal or Rob Gronkowski, but couldn’t afford to do it on an annual basis. They can do it around the Super Bowl or around these events and instead of paying Shaq $1 million [for an annual sponsorship], they can pay us six figures and still get great benefits out of working with Shaq and Gronk.”  
“What’s really insane is these little events we were doing were doing bigger sponsorship numbers than a majority of the megafestivals. We’re doing seven figures of partnerships on a 3,000- to 5,000-person event, which is pretty unheard of.”
Shaq and Medium Rare management client Carnage experimented with livestream performances prior to Shaq’s Fun House Vs. Gronk Beach, and Richman said that provided valuable experience and showed the potential money that was there from sponsors. 
Silberzweig said what makes the events and the growth of these brands so successful, though, is the buy-in from the namesake celebrities. “What makes this so unique is these are joint ventures with Shaq and Gronk, they’re not getting a talent fee to participate, they are extremely passionate and driven about these events and we work hand-in-hand with them to curate that,” Silberzweig said. “For Shaq we wanted to create an over-the-top event that brings his personality to life. We started talking about carnival games and performers, and that’s how we came up with the funhouse. We went through the same process with Rob in creating Gronk Beach, inserting his DNA into the event. Partners are really gravitating toward that. If you look at Super Bowl weekend, we had a $2 million sponsorship gross in Super Bowl weekend alone, which is probably equivalent to some of the larger festivals at Live Nation.”

In addition to being a co-founder of Medium Rare, Richman runs Made Event in New York, which puts on the Electric Zoo festival annually and books 120 shows at the popular Avant Gardner venue. Before founding Medium Rare Silberzweig worked with Insomniac, Live Nation and Tomorrowland. 
A key measure of the success of the event – a “party with a purpose” –was its charitable component. Shaq’s Fun House vs. Gronk Beach raised money for the NAACP and the Boys And Girls Clubs around the U.S. – charities selected by Shaq and Gronk – and ended up funding more than 1.25 million meals. 
While producing what ended up essentially being a TV show, Richman said he appreciated the different challenges posed.
“Man, not having to worry about selling tickets right now is the biggest blessing we’ve ever had,” he said. “Joe and I are usually out on the street, basically holding a sign reading: ‘Please Buy Tickets.’ Not having to beg people to fork over their wallet to come to our event was a nice change of pace. It was pretty cool having this free on every platform: YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, Twitch. And it was really nice working with all of those platforms, we have a relationship with each one of them and they all went above and beyond to support this and make it bigger. They need the content and we need the platform, so it’s really a great partnership for everyone,” Richman said. “Twitch did a notification for all their users. TikTok did a blast/push notification, anyone that had TikTok in North America got a notification reading ‘Shaq and Gronk is now live, click here to watch.’”
The Shaq and Gronk brands will continue to expand into the digital arena, the Medium Rare co-founders told Pollstar, and they are planning on working with new celebrities to create digital and real-life events to accompany these strong brands. 
“As promoters and business owners, these are obviously difficult times, but it’s also important to be realistic and plan ahead the best you can. We were planning to do a big event in December, now we’re going to transition, pivot, and hopefully do just as much revenue digitally as we were going to do in person,” Silberzweig said. “We’re really fortunate to work at the intersection of sports and music where there is still tons of interest, tons of brand dollars. While it’s not ever what we thought we’d be doing, we’re excited about this new chapter and challenge and we’ll get back to promoting big festivals and shows soon enough.”
Richman added: “It’s a really interesting time, it’s allowing us to think differently and do things we never thought we’d do. That’s not completely a bad thing by any means. This livestreaming stuff is here to stay. It taught us a whole new side of the business and it’s something we think we’re going to run with for a long time even after live events resume. It is quite exciting from that standpoint, it’s different but it’s not a bad thing.”