Veeps’ Joel Madden On Bob Dylan’s ‘Shadow Kingdom’ Livestream: ‘We’re On The Edge Of Our Seats Like Everyone Else’

Shadow Kingdom
– Shadow Kingdom

Joel Madden, the 42-year-old co-founder of livestreaming platform Veeps and frontman of pop-punk band Good Charlotte, is recounting his team’s reaction upon receiving the news that his company would host very possibly the most iconic living artist on the planet. 

“We just laughed. We were like, ‘Holy shit,’” says Madden. “‘If Bob Dylan decides to do a show and we get to present that show, we get to put that show on, that is going to be, for us, a career moment as a platform, and certainly as music fans, to be a part of.’” 
The June 16 announcement of “Shadow Kingdom,” the intriguingly titled Dylan Veeps livestream performance slated for July 18, set the internet ablaze. Like so much of Dylan’s work, it’s raft with possible meanings, especially as the world emerges from this fraught period of global plagues, political peril, social turmoil, deep anxiety and other matters of existential import. And the livestream news set the hair of “Dylanologists,” the Dylan experts who decipher his every word, on fire.
How the enigmatic Nobel Prize winner intends to perform his “Shadow Kingdom” livestream, his first broadcast performance since his “MTV Unplugged” special in 1994, is still anyone’s guess.
“We’re here on the edge of our seats with everybody else,” Madden says. “All I know about it is what everyone else knows: that he’s putting together a show. There’s renditions of songs that go back into his catalog and from his new album [2020’s Rough and Rowdy Ways]. As a fan, I’m super excited to see what that means.”
Whatever Dylan decides to perform, it’ll only cost fans $25 to find out, which will grant access to the stream for 48 hours. That’s a fraction of what one could pay for Dylan’s multi-decade-spanning “Never Ending Tour,” which began 33 years ago in June 1988 and has toured every year since (except, of course, 2020). According to Pollstar’s database, which lists 1,284 Dylan concerts, his averages per box office report are $337,272 grossed and 5,655 tickets sold. Recent highs include a 10-night stand at New York’s Beacon Theatre in late 2019 that grossed $2.94 million and sold 27,198 tickets, which were priced between $60 and $170, and six shows at Multiusos Sanchez Paraiso in Salamanca, Spain, that grossed nearly $2 million from 14,773 tickets sold in March 2018.
Dylan turned 80 on May 24, eliciting stirring tributes from across the globe, though his age has hardly diminished his indefatigable creative output (he’s released seven studio albums in the past 23 years), intensive touring schedule (he plays nearly 100 concerts a year) or headline-grabbing business moves (in December 2020, Dylan sold his entire catalog, some 600 songs, for an estimated $300 million to Universal Music Publishing Group, setting a new benchmark). 
In March 2020, Dylan released a 17-minute opus, “Murder So Foul,” a meditation on the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy and music itself. The track yet again set the heads of fans and Dylanologists alike on fire, who scrambled to deconstruct its manifest meanings. The track closed Dylan’s 39th album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 albums chart upon its June 2020 release, making Dylan the first artist to have a Top 40-charting album in every decade since the ‘60s.
Lifestyles Of The Rich and Famous:
– Lifestyles Of The Rich and Famous:
Joel Madden, Veeps co-founder and Good Charlotte lead vocalist, said that “Bob Dylan is one of my favorite artists of all-time.”
Now, the former SiriusXM host is embracing a completely different platform. The Veeps deal with Dylan, according to Madden, came about organically.
“I forget how we were introduced to the Bob Dylan camp,” he says. “I think we reached out and just had a really great conversation with his team [including manager Jeff Rosen]. It was a really great conversation. It wasn’t a pitch. It was an artistic and thoughtful conversation about what we’re doing and who we are. This is our vision for the future of how fans experience live music. They took that back and digested it. There was a good vibe to the conversation. They understand who we are. Our company is not driven by, believe it or not, revenue. We’re not driven by anything other than believing that how you have success is great art, great experiences and artists being artists. Let them come and do what they do, and you will have success if you support that artistic vision as opposed to making it a marketing effort. We do have to market it, but the art has to come first, that’s what’s really been driving all the things we’ve been working on.”
Madden says this from the back patio of the Beverly Hilton, where he is about to take the stage at Pollstar Live! for a panel about fan engagement, in which his perspective as both an artist and business owner is unique. On first blush, Madden seems slightly menacing: He’s dressed in all black L.A. streetwear with a goatee and tattoos peeking out from his sleeves. On his black baseball cap is the iconic cover image from Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s 1995 classic album Return To The 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version. Madden, however, both in conversation and on his panel, is nothing if not kind, patient, smart and straight-shooting. As fans come by to connect, recognizing him from his Good Charlotte days, one of the most popular bands of the ‘00s, none mention the Dylan stream or Veeps, which is having a banner year. 
The streaming service, which started in 2017 as a VIP experience and touring company offering artists a way to communicate directly with fans, has been at the forefront of the livestreaming explosion over the course of this shut-in year. The platform has hosted some 1,200 events, from Brandi Carlile at the Ryman Auditorium to Architects at Royal Albert Hall to ex-One Directioners Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson, which, Madden says, were two of the platform’s biggest streams, hitting close to 200,000 streams each. His roughly 10-person company pre-pandemic is now up to 40 and counting and, in January, the company announced a major change.
“They acquired a majority in the company in what truly feels like a partnership,” Madden says of Live Nation’s acquisition of Veeps. He then repeats an utterly familiar refrain heard every time Live Nation acquires a business. 
“We continue to run the business the same, but we have more resources,” he says. “And I got to tell you, it’s been the best partnership I’ve ever been a part of.”
Madden knows better than most.
“I worked with Live Nation for a decade and a half and had great relationships across the company,” he says. “So I have a good view of Live Nation.”
He mentions working with Kelly Kapp, Bob Roux and Russell Wallach, among others, and calls Michael Rapino, Joe Berchtold and Michael Abrams “incredible partners and mentors.”
With Veeps crossing the promoter’s many verticals, including touring, festivals, branding, sponsorships, international and digital, Madden says there’s no one person Veeps liaisons with.
“Live Nation is always about being success-minded and executing,” he says. “It’s really, really interesting to come into one of the biggest companies in entertainment and find all these different groups of people who you can call and they’ll help you. It’s an understood thing. We’re all working together.”
More recently, the collaboration has evolved to include Veeps wiring sixty Live Nation venues with streaming capabilities, which opens up myriad possibilities. But, Madden explains, this doesn’t mean the streaming service or promoter would own the streaming rights.
“The artist owns the IP,” he says. “There may be future situations where we buy it, where we’re like, ‘let’s put together a special,’ but that’s going to be a collaboration with the artist.”
Now, less than a month out from Dylan’s “Shadow Kingdom” livestream, Madden is not at all worried about the details.
“It’s a very tight, well-oiled machine,” he says. “They already know how they’re going to execute and so do we,” he says. “It feels exciting. At a time when live is opening back up, it’s one of the most exciting events of the year.”