2023 Impact 50: Mike Smardak

Outback Presents

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Mike Smardak, President Outback Presents

Outback Presents President Mike Smardak takes his place on Pollstar’s Impact 50 for the second consecutive year, as his company continues to punch above its independent weight promoting a bevy of concerts but continuing to make especially notable inroads in comedy touring.

And the company, which operated for many years as Outback Concerts until 2019, continues to grow in leaps and bounds. It acquired Robomagic Live – the concert promotion company founded by industry veteran Rob Hallett – in May 2022 and opened a new Mid-South division, headed by Everett Ramsey and Hardy McBee, with offices in New Orleans, in January. Outback then named industry veteran Jason Miller to head up its Northeast Division as GM in February.

Together they join industry veterans and core personnel Danny Eaton, Amy Helberg, Justin Kujawa, and Andrew Farwell as well as a touring team powered by Walter McDonald.
But the most impactful business success over the last year, despite the acquisitions and important new hires, continues to be in Outback’s live game, particularly in the realm of comedy.

Smardak cites a Nate Bargatze show April 15 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville as an example.

“Brian Dorfman believed this show could be ‘in the round’ and sell every seat,” Smardak says. “Bargatze’s show ended up breaking the all-time attendance record at Bridgestone, selling over 19,365 tickets. It was an epic success for Nate, management, UTA, and Outback Presents.”

That record is no small accomplishment for anyone, let alone an independent promoter.
“In an industry dominated by two giants (Live Nation & AEG), Vaughn [Millette, Outback Chairman and CEO], Brian [Dorfman], and I are optimistic about the current and future opportunities ahead of us,” Smardak says.

“People are more excited than ever to see their favorite artists,” Smardak says. “It is supported by ticket counts we have.”