Las Vegas, February 2000
I attended the Concert Industry Consortium 2000, organized
by PollStar Magazine, which was held at Bellagio in Las Vegas
in early February.
SIN CITY: It was pretty much what I expected; which
is to say, a lotta flash but not exactly my cup of cappuccino.
The flat desert, hemmed by distant mountains all around, has
an allure and beauty not unlike the showgirls: striking yet
somehow unreal. The Strip is a remarkable site.
This property is latest and greatest in Vegas, at least until
the next one is completed. Owned by the undisputed King of
over-the-top, Steve Wynn, it had to outdo in every way his
previous endeavors, and it does. It's a very nice hotel by
nearly any standard. Design savvy is everywhere. It was not
endlessly expanded and/or patched together, it was conceived
and built as a giant whole. 3500 rooms, a casino big enough
to hold more than two super-Wal-Marts, convention and show
facilities, multiple pools, and a shopping arcade to rival
Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
The first (but not only) attention grabber is an 8-acre
lake fronting on the Strip that offers a spectacular fountain
show, with water rising as high as 200' feet in stunning patterns,
computer-synchronized to music and using laser lighting and
other special effects that are truly mesmerizing. These shows
go off every 15 or 30 minutes, and there are many different
shows. I hated myself for thinking of this, but I'm sure the
planners did: it reminded me of a human-created version of
Old Faithful. It was that level of attraction. As a traffic-stopper,
interesting about Bellagio is the way it heralds its offerings.
Next door at Caesar's Palace, a sign bigger than my house
promotes an upcoming title fight. The Mirage (another Steve
Wynn creation) has a huge video sign trumpeting Siegfried
& Roy. Across the way, a sign for George Carlin. Down
a bit, Wayne Newton, and so on. At Bellagio, the lighted signs
read: "Monet" "Cezanne" "Degas"
"Picasso". And inside, a marble-walled gallery emulating
the famed Uffizzi in Florence features major original works
by the artists listed on the marquis.
Unfortunately, I didn't get to see the resident stage show,
"O" by Cirque du Soleil which I'm told is absolutely
astonishing. It incorporates a huge stage and large pool,
high-wires, gymnastics, and costumes and production of Broadway
EVENT: This was the eleventh annual CIC. All previous
conventions had been held in Los Angeles. It is the premier
annual gathering of live-music industry senior executives.
PollStar (Poll=promoters on-line) Magazine is the primary
trade publication for the concert industry. A weekly magazine,
it provides current box office results for shows of all sizes,
plus routing information for most touring acts, industry news,
It was certainly appropriate for this gathering to take
place in Las Vegas. Guaranteeing an artist $1000.00 or $250,000.00
isn't all that different than dropping bucks at the craps
ATTENDEES: The people who attend each year are the
top promoters from around the country, plus agents, artist
managers, record companies, and talent buyers. In recent years,
the concert industry has seen heretofore unimaginable consolidation.
This led to a certain camaraderie and a sense of exciting
challenge. And as at all insider confabs, there was a lot
of grousing about one's lot in life. There were many legitimate
issues and a few real off-the-wall complaints.
& PANELS: There were separate meetings for Record
Company execs, Arena Managers, Artist managers, and the like.
Workshops were offered on subjects such as "Indie Promoter
Survival Strategies," "Country Music Touring,"
"Latin Music goes Mainstream," "The role of
colleges in Artist Development," "Club Tours: Beyond
the Bar," "International touring perspectives,"
"Record Company Tour Support in the new century,"
and "Casino and hotel Talent-buying Strategies."
I participated in a panel about "Creating a Special Event"
and attended one on advanced internet strategies. Panel discussions
took place on "Consolidation" and a very lively
one entitled, "Introduction to Whine Appreciation."
A fascinating session was about "The Art and Pain of
Settlements" and featured 3 CPA's, a promoter and a talent
buyer. To give you a sense of the participants, the CPA's
involved were the business manager for the band U2; and the
tour accountants for Phish and The BackStreet Boys.
KEYNOTE: Last year, this speech was given by Bob
Sillerman, head of SFX, the mega-conglomerate that is eating
up all the major promoters, venues, and ticketing companies
in all the major markets (for instance, he bought Don Law
Presents, Boston.Com, NeXT Ticketing, Great Woods, Harbor
Lights, Tea Party Productions, etc. for $90 million). SFX'
actions were -and still are-making major tremors in the way
music business is done. This year, the keynoter was a guy
most of us didn't know: the upstart manager of Korn, BackStreet
Boys, Limp Bizkit, and Ice Cube. His message was that despite
temptation, we should be leaving money on the table so that
there's still an industry to support us in five years. To
me, it seemed very obvious; but it's a message that clearly
needed to be heard in that room full of industry bigwigs.
AWARDS PARTY: This was held at the House of Blues/Las
Vegas which is part of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. The awards
ceremony was hosted by HOB founder Dan Aykroyd and his Blues
Brother partner, Jim Belushi. It featured several hilarious
video segments written and produced by comic Elayne Boosler.
Surprise award presenters included Mr. Las Vegas himself,
Wayne Newton. Examples of awards included "Club Tour
of the Year," "Most Creative Stage Production,"
"Theatre of the Year," "Talent Buyer of the
Year," "Small Arena Tour," "Large Arena,"
"Best New Venue," "Artist Development Executive
of the Year" and so on. After the awards presentation,
we enjoyed a buffet dinner and a terrific show by the Blues
It was a great experience to take part in the CIC again:
to connect in person with my counterparts at the top level
of the business, make new contacts, and share experience with
those at my level from other parts of the country and world.
I found the sessions confirmed what I knew, more than they
taught me, but there's a value to that, too, especially when
you work in an out-of-the-way corner of this big land.
As always when I travel, I was glad to come home.