2022 Impact 50: Michael Smardak

Outback Presents

smardak.michael copy

Building during COVID wasn’t easy, but some were able to take chances, precautions and work nimbly to do just that. “Vaughn Millette, Brian Dorfman and I will always be proudest of the company’s ability to pay our staff in full throughout the entirety of the pandemic,” says Michael Smardak, president of Outback Presents, a longtime independent promoter that has ramped up with a slew of major tours across the country. “We were also able to grow the company throughout this unprecedented time, adding forward-thinking industry veterans who will be crucial in the development of our business including Danny Eaton to head up our Dallas/Fort Worth office, Amy Helberg to head up our Atlanta office, and Walter McDonald to head up our new Touring Department.”

With Outback known for also promoting high-profile comedy tours, Smardak says the performance art of comedy is a serious matter.

“The unregulated treatment of comedians is a major problem in the industry,” says Smardak, adding that Outback’s Brian Dorfman and brother Andrew Dorfman have created “Comedy Gives Back,” a foundation dedicated to streamlining proper treatment of comics. “The focus is improving basic needs for quality of life, assisting with everyday living expenses, health and dental insurance, and providing resources for mental health.”

Smardak says the return to normalcy is apparent not only in ticket sales and lack of refunds, but one other key metric. Fans “are actually coming out to the shows, because they feel safe to do so,” he says. “The more shows return, that confidence will continue to rise.”

Going forward, Smardak sees a continuing sophistication and evolution of dynamic ticket pricing.

“With the standardization of pricing programs like Ticketmaster Platinum and AXS Premium, promoters will need to take it a step further to maximize the show gross to keep revenues on the main platform and limit losses to the secondary ticketing market,” he says. “We are confident in our abilities to dynamically price our shows with our team of Carole Miles and Jenny Reid, they are the best at what they do.”