31-Jan-2018 (Wed) Wherein three national corporations control nearly all of San Francisco's live music.

Slim's and Great American Music Hall recently announced that they will be "partnering" with Golden Voice. That's a euphemism for "turning over most or all control of what events go on the calendar". Basically they are outsourcing booking to another company. I'm sure they have their reasons, but this makes me really sad.

I have no intention of picking on the Slim's team, whom I have the utmost respect and sympathy for, but...

I'm here to tell you that monopolies are bad. They are bad for consumer choice, they are bad for ticket pricing, they are bad for artists getting paid, they are bad for your local music scene, and they are bad for our culture as a whole.

To explain why, first let me start with some numbers. Here is who owns what when it comes to live music in San Francisco:

  1. Live Nation Entertainment ($9 billion) ($13 billion)

    • Owns TicketMaster (who sell 80% of all tickets in the US).
    • Formerly a division of Clear Channel (who own essentially all US radio stations).
    • Owns 117 venues, 75 in the US.
    • Exclusively books 33 additional venues.
    • Owns House of Blues (14 locations).
    • Owns their own record label, Live Nation Artists.
    • Books SF Masonic Auditorium (3,500 capacity).
    • Owns The Fillmore (1,200 capacity).
  2. AEG: Anschutz Entertainment Group ($8 billion) ($11 billion)

    • Largest owner of sports teams and events in the world.
    • Second largest music promoter after Live Nation.
    • Own many arenas worldwide.
    • Owns AXS, a concert ticket vendor.
    • Owns Coachella (600,000 attendance).
    • Owns part of Bottle Rock (120,000 attendance).
    • Runs around ten other large music festivals.
    • Owned by a Fundamentalist, homophobic, climate change denier.
    • Golden Voice, a division of AEG

      • Books Coachella (600,000 attendance).
      • Books The Warfield (2,300 capacity).
      • Books The Regency Center (1,400 capacity).
      • Books Social Hall SF (600 capacity).
      • Owns 12 other venues in LA.
      And now:
      • Books Slim's (500 capacity).
      • Books Great American Music Hall (600 capacity).
  3. APE: Another Planet Entertainment

    • Runs Outside Lands (200,000 attendance).
    • Runs (ran?) Treasure Island Music Festival (30,000 attendance).
    • Books The Greek Theatre (8,500 capacity).
    • Books Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (8,500 capacity).
    • Books Fox Theatre (2,900 capacity).
    • Books The Independent [sic] (500 capacity, 21+).
    • Is also an artist management business.

So that leaves us with the remaining independent live music venues in San Francisco:

The Monopoly Man visits DNA Lounge.
  • DNA Lounge (800 capacity) & Above DNA (300 capacity)
  • Mezzanine (800 capacity, 21+) (closed 2019)
  • Bimbo's (680 capacity)
  • Elbo Room (600 capacity, 21+) (closed, 2018)
  • Neck of the Woods (500 capacity, 21+)
  • Public Works (500 capacity, 21+)
  • The Chapel (400 capacity)
  • Rickshaw Stop (350 capacity)
  • Cafe du Nord / Swedish American Hall (300 capacity)
  • Bottom of the Hill (250 capacity)
  • Brick and Mortar (250 capacity)
  • Bender's (200 capacity, 21+)
  • Eagle Tavern (150 capacity, 21+)
  • El Rio (150 capacity, 21+)
  • Thee Parkside (100 capacity)
  • Milk Bar (100 capacity, 21+)
  • Hotel Utah (90 capacity, 21+)
  • Hemlock (80 capacity, 21+) (closed, 2019)

(I'm sure I have accidentally omitted some venues, but I think I got most of the SF venues that regularly host live music by touring acts. I've omitted venues that exclusively host DJ dance parties, because that's a bit of a different business.)

Even omitting all of the massive music festivals, three $17+ billion dollar corporations control somewhere around 80% of all available "seats" for live shows in SF and Oakland.

So what's the problem?

Let's start with a hypothetical.

Let's say you're an agent trying to book a tour for your band. You decide how many days they want to be on the road, how many cities they want to try and hit, and then you start sending out emails to find out what dates are available so you can figure out the routing. Let's say your first call is to some venue in New York, and the talent buyer there says, "As it happens, I also book venues in 15 other cities, so I can put your whole tour on the calendar right now, how's that?" What a relief! So much less work! But then an independent operator in, oh, let's say San Francisco gets in touch with you and says, "I hear your band is going out on tour soon! We love those guys and would like to bid on the show." But then what happens? The corporate talent buyer says to you, "Look, I was giving you a great deal on these 15 dates, but if you want to take your business to my competition instead of taking the full package that I offered you, the price is going to go up. And also, maybe some of those dates are no longer available for you."

So you write back to the small fry, who may have even offered you more money for that particular date, and you say, "Sorry, maybe next time."

Or, let's say you're an agent and you represent a band with a huge draw, as well as a bunch of smaller bands. You're trying to get your bigger band booked on the summer festival circuit, so you're trying to pitch them as big up-and-comers to the agencies booking the festivals. Maybe these guys have been playing 2,000 capacity rooms and you're trying to get them their big break: a late afternoon set in front of a captive audience of 10,000. So while that conversation is ongoing, you are also trying to book a tour for a different, smaller band. You're thinking of putting them in an independent venue who are offering you a good deal, but the festival buyer also books dozens of smaller venues, and you sure don't want to piss them off, because that could mean your job. So instead, you go with the corporate-controlled smaller room as well, regardless of its merits.

"Well that's just business, that's just playing hard-ball." Sure. It's also bad for art, and bad for local businesses. It consolidates control and profit in whatever company controls the routing, even if they don't live in your town. It homogenizes everything.

This is how you end up with venues in dozens of different cities who all have the same calendar. This venue in Portland has the same lineup as that venue in Seattle, just shifted by two days, and so on. Obviously a venue's character is defined by more than just what's on the calendar... but the calendar is a pretty big part.

And those are only examples of how corporate consolidation is bad for the booking side of things. Multi-venue booking agencies also tend to own or have exclusivity deals with ticketing companies as well. Live Nation owns TicketMaster. AEG owns AXS Ticketing and partners with eBay's StubHub. You wanted to use a different ticketing service that you think has better features, or fees, or marketing reach? Sorry, not part of the package. So a monopoly or near monopoly in one industry, booking, squashes competition in another industry, ticketing. That's the very definition of antitrust.

And then there's Live Nation's cozy relationship with their former owner, Clear Channel -- who control the playlists of basically every radio station, and also own most of the billboards.

Plus, much of the time these conglomerates also manage the bands themselves: so in the examples above where the band's agent was talking to a venue's talent buyer? Now they're the same person! And often that company also has a financial stake in a record label. So the same company:

  • Signs the band;
  • Manages the band;
  • Decides how much radio play the band gets;
  • Promotes the band's tour;
  • Owns the billboards in every city on the tour route;
  • Owns all of the venues on the tour route;
  • Sells all of the tickets, merchandise, and alcohol.

Good luck trying to compete against that kind of vertical integration.

Back in 2009, when Representative Bill Pascrell tried (and failed) to block Live Nation from merging with TicketMaster, he said:

Under the proposed merger, the combined company would have control over nearly every aspect of the live music business: artist management, record sales, promotion, licensing, venue control, parking, ticket sales and resales, all the way down to the hot dogs and beer. According to James Hurwitz of the American Antitrust Institute:

"If the combination is permitted, [the merged company] will have a powerful or dominant position in virtually all of the industry's markets. Viewed in combination, the merger will give Live Nation Entertainment unarguable control of most competition within the industry."

The companies, if merged, would be over five times more powerful than their next eight rivals combined.

The proposed merger would create a vertically integrated entity whose power would extend across five of the industry's six main markets. An entrant or competitor in any of these markets would face the merged firm not only as a market rival, but also as a power in other critically related markets. A new promoter, for example, needs artists willing to perform and venues appropriate for staging the event. A new venue needs artists and promoters willing to book the facility. The vertically integrated firm can withhold these critical inputs, and its rival will suffer.

To avoid such problems, an entrant would need to enter the industry on several levels at once, a burden that makes entry far more daunting and costly. The combined entity could therefore use its five-market vertical integration to restrain trade both by chilling entry and disciplining rivals.

I'm sure the Slim's and Great American Music Hall team had compelling reasons for making the deal that they did. I assume it was a matter of survival. Much like DNA Lounge, Slim's has never been a self-sustainable business. They don't talk about it much, but it's not exactly a secret. They only way that Slim's has been able to remain in business for three decades is because of regular, large infusions of cash from their patrons, Boz Scaggs and Warren Hellman. Since Slim's bought GAMH in 2000, the same has been true of GAMH as well.

Warren Hellman was a great and generous supporter of the arts in many ways, but since he passed away in 2011, I assume the money tap has begun to dry up. Or their expenses have increased and become untenable. I don't know, I'm guessing.

But you only sink decades of your life into a money-losing business if it is a labor of love. I assure you, these folks haven't just been sitting around looking for their big chance to cash out.

Some people, Libertarians and other Free Market absolutists, will look at this and say, "Well this means that independent live music venues are not sustainable businesses in San Francisco, therefore it is right and proper that they should go out of business or be sold off for parts." That's like saying, "Well I guess you just don't deserve to live in San Francisco unless you earn over $150,000 per year: have you tried just not being poor?"

Diverse and extensive entertainment options are a huge part of what makes San Francisco what it is. Or was. Without that, we're just another bedroom community for Mountain View.

I understand that the Slim's crew are soon moving out of their offices in the Slim's building on Eleventh Street, and consolidating into the offices inside GAMH. I assume that they need less space -- and fewer employees -- now that they are no longer booking their own calendar.

If you'd like to prevent DNA Lounge from having to make a similar Faustian bargain some day -- and believe me, we've discussed it -- there's a way you can help: contribute to our Patreon. Show up. And get your friends to show up.

58 Responses:

  1. Tom Sweeney says:

    Thank you! I've been telling people this for years. And recent events have only made things worse.

  2. Dason says:

    This is terribly spot on and a great accurate depiction of what is happening. Thanks for posting this. Super insightful.

    Slims and GAMH needed some juice to compete with APE and Live Nation, and this was the only way they could stay in the game.

    It will be so much harder for any venues outside of APE, Live Nation and AEG to get any touring artists that draw. Even if you out bid them.

    Anything worth tickets (under 1000) is going to go straight into The Independent, Slims and the Great American Music Hall.

    Even beautiful Bimbo's won't be able to access many of these artists.

    The power of the routed tour through AEG or Live Nation. Impossible to beat, right?

  3. Jered says:

    This is awful, and I hate it, and I've been arguing against this nonsense for years, and.... I'm out of outrage and don't know what to do.

    This is terrifyingly awful for art and small business, and yet.... American politics. It's so hard to chew through the straps and get out of bed just to be faced with the systematic dismantling of the fundamental rule of law that I feel like everything else important or interesting is falling through the cracks.

    But hooray for blockchain, I guess?

    Sorry, I have nothing useful to say this evening.

    • Dana Jae says:

      Jared, I feel you. This insightful and downright gut-wrenching detail of the fall of independence and freedom in every aspect of the music business shows how deep the oligarchs dig into every piece of this nation in order to own all of it. This goes beyond the travesty of the current regime in the WH. This has been building for decades and all we can do is sit back and watch, weep, pull our hair out, vomit and wonder what's next. The music artists become indentured servants to these corporate behemoths. America - land of the fee. Fiasco-central.

  4. pagrus says:

    The Independent [sic]

    • pagrus says:

      Replying to myself just because I guess.

      Anyway, it feels silly and insignificant but I try to promote the great local (actual) local radio stations whenever I can. I listen mostly to KFJC but KPOO and KALX are great too. The station that used to be KUSF just got approved to build a transmitter, and I think their new callsign is going to be KXSF.

      They all stream online and in the case of KFJC you can download actual MP3s of shows in the last two weeks, which is handy if there are specific shows or DJs you like.

      • Jeff says:

        KUSF became KUSF-in-Exile, then San Francisco Community Radio and is now transitioning to KXSF. It will be a Low-Power FM station at 102.5, starting (hopefully) April 1st. Can be streamed now on KXSF.fm or on SoundTap or TuneIn.

  5. Remi Barrett says:

    Fantastic post. Frightening times... "no one man should have all that power"

  6. MrEricSir says:

    At some point the previous parent of Live Nation changed their name from Clear Channel to iHeartMedia. They still use the Clear Channel name for billboard sales, but the radio station brand is now known as iHeartRadio.

    Their largest music radio competitor's lineage is even more complicated with a series of deals between CBS and Entercom. Sum up all these changes and we no longer have KOME and KSJO. Meanwhile Live105 (or whatever it's called now) became a tiny shadow of its former self.

    But who cares about radio anyway? Well, today Pandora announced yet another round of layoffs. Music over the internet is no more safe than radio.

  7. Some noted SF venues that are missing from your list
    - The Knockout
    - The Independent
    - Make Out
    - Amnesia
    - Winters Tavern (Pacifica)
    (I'm sure there are far more that are missing from this list)

    I know this post is about the SF music scene.. but many musicians and music lovers have been priced out of SF, and now live in the East Bay.

    Talking about the 'SF and Oakland' music scene without mentioning any East Bay Venues isn't doing the music scene any justice.

    Here's a small sampling of live music venues on this side of the bridge:

    - Night Lite (Elbo Room is taking over this venue)
    - Oakland Metro Opera House
    - New Parish
    - Yoshis
    - The Fox
    - The Paramount
    - Stork Club
    - Legionnaire's
    - The Sound Room
    - Octopus Saloon
    - The Uptown
    - Eli's Mile High Club

    - Cornerstone Craft Beer and Live Music
    - The Back Room
    - UC Theater Music Hall
    - Freight and Salvage
    - Starry Plough
    - Greek Theater
    - Ivy Room

    All-Ages venues
    - 1234 Go Records
    - 924 Gilman Street

    • jwz says:

      I only did the research on SF venues because A) there are only so many hours in the day, and B) with the exception of The Fox, I honestly can't remember the last time I saw live music in the East Bay, so I'm not super qualified to make that list. However, my "around 80%" estimate was based on an assumption of Oakland having roughly the same number of independent "seats" as SF. That assumption is surely overly-generous, which would push that percentage even higher.

      Talking about the 'SF and Oakland' music scene without mentioning any East Bay Venues isn't doing the music scene any justice.

      If you think that the inclusion of this new data materially changes any of the conclusions that I drew, I'd sure like to see your work.

      A good start would be for you to fill in that list with capacities, ownership, and whether they are 21+.

      • Arya says:

        HI! I work for the Boom Boom Room in the Fillmore. We have been independent and OPEN for 21 years. There are 2 people running the whole company, and they are women. Keep that in mind :)

  8. shermigo says:

    what if we like GV calendars because they book big name artists

  9. The Clear Channel example is spot on. The touring live music scene will be destroyed in the same manner radio was over the last 20yrs. Homogenization of radio killed it and will do the same to live music. By doing so each geography will lose its uniqueness that when coupled with other elements is necessary to creating future art. Radio's entire Raison d'etre was local. Our music scene, or what's left of it due to unaffordable conditions for artists in general, will follow radio's demise. This is a HUGE nail in the coffin of anything other than a purely "commercial" live music scene. There will be no art, just sad attempts at chasing whatever is the flavor of the day. Sad to see Slims and GAMH go South, but I am not surprised in today's America.

  10. akboognish says:

    Very interesting, and sad to hear about Slim’s and GAMH. But I’m not sure I would lump APE in with LiveNation and AEG/Goldenvoice. APE is big local/regional independent but not a national chain. All of the monopoly effects this article talk about don’t apply to APE, which must have similar problems with booking acts that AEG/Goldenvoice and LiveNation lock up with exclusives.

    But I guess the main reason to be so upset with this specific news is, especially if you’re DNA Lounge, that it looks like the wave of consolidation that GoldenVoice and LiveNation went through when they snagged the mid-sized venues (1200-3500 capacity -- Fillmore, Warfield, Masonic, and Regency) now appears to be hitting the smaller venues (500-600 capacity – Slim’s, GAMH, and Social Hall). Now that GoldenVoice has three of those venues, LiveNation is sure to go hunting for their own. Who’s next to go corporate? And will APE be happy with just one venue of that size?

    That said, even if LiveNation does snag a couple or a few smaller venues, there are still a surprising number on this list. They need to be supported big-time, and more acts need to be booking their shows in those spots. And maybe they should be talking with APE first if they are thinking of selling out to GoldenVoice or LiveNation.

    What’s obviously missing for independents are the mid-sized venues, with the Fox being the only nominally independent venue in the area of that size. That's why a lot of us have to trek out to Oakland all the time to see national touring acts by "indie" acts.

  11. Spike says:

    You missed The Armory, which is booked by GV and may be the largest venue in the city.

    • jwz says:

      I did forget that. It had been being booked by Audrey Joseph, but apparently her team got fired yesterday. It sounds like now it will be AEG / Goldenvoice.

  12. Here's something I've often wondered, say there's a band that just wants public exposure, if they call a venue (independent or otherwise), and ask "hey can we play a few sets there some night? We're not asking for a nickel of the proceeds, we just want to play." Their youtube videos show they're pretty good. Any chance they'd get booked? And yes, the Blues Brothers scene at Bob's Country Bunker is what inspires this question. Carrie Fisher; "I remained CELIBATE for you!" Epic...

    • Rodger says:

      This used to be the model for Bar Bodega in Wellington; they had a "charge what you want on the door" policy, and you put your name down on a list and played.

      Sadly after they moved premises they moved to a more orthodox model and went out of business a couple of years ago.

  13. Danimal says:

    Elbo Room's venue cap is more like 250-300.

  14. Dave says:

    I just attempted to buy a ticket to see the Sword at Fillmore through Live Nation.
    1 Standard Ticket: 28.50
    Service Fee: 13.25
    Order Processing Fee: 4.00
    Live Nation is charging 60% of the ticket price in fees!!

    F***ing Ridiculous :(

  15. Spike says:

    The problem is that what you identify as "the problem" is an effect. The real problem is that the audience is shrinking, and with that happening, there will be consolidation. Despite all the noise about disappearing venues, lots of shows aren't selling out. The shifting demographics - the "traditional" base for music is aging and going out less, younger audiences go to festivals and big events more than more localized events, and especially the resistance of older concertgoers to anything new, echoing their parents and grandparents in their disdain of things they don't find familiar as "not music" - is having a big impact on the size of audiences. And the result is that there has to be consolidation in order to make economic sense for the artists and their representatives. And there will be more loss of venues in San Francisco, and probably other metropolitan markets, as that audience doesn't build. There may be a death spiral as shrinking audiences and less choice force each other into smaller fixed venues and larger and larger festivals. It's not a good thing, but the answer isn't going to be wringing of hands and attacking big promoters looking to stay in business in a declining market. It's only going to change if audiences broaden their interests beyond what's familiar, and that's going to take a lot of work.

    • Thomas Lord says:

      > The real problem is that the audience is shrinking,

      You shouldn't just glibly assert that changes in consumer behavior precede the changes to the production process. Consolidation and the resulting homogenization of capitalist "cultural production" doesn't occur in response to gradual shifts in consumer preference.

      • Spike says:

        Not true at all and it's not "glib," it's based on observation. This is tracking exactly what happened in the "record" business, which consolidated before it became irrelevant. There's an article on the process here - https://hbr.org/2002/12/the-consolidation-curve - and it looks like we are in stage 3.

        • James says:

          Is there evidence that consolidation doesn't cause lack of consumer interest and not the other way around? People usually like some big name acts, but dislike having to tolerate the others far more than their favorite emerging, small, and independent acts. There is no analysis of the particular direction of causation you perceive in the HBR article you cite.

          Another issue is that since the advent of mass consumer media copying and the compulsory royalties scheme instituted to make up for it, those compulsory royalties tend to go to publishers and big-name artists instead of the emerging, small, and independent artists.

          The Copyright Royalty Board (three federal judges at the Library of Congress in D.C.) could change all that and abolish media and publisher consolidation with a stroke of a pen, but EFF and similar organizations that would otherwise advocate for such changes are firmly in the back pocket of the YouTube, Facebook, Spotify, Pandora, etc. companies who want compulsory royalties redistributed in ways which benefit them, not small, independent, and emerging artists.

          • Doug says:

            When I worked for AEG, they did support local independent artists. At sporting events, they often had a side stage set up on the concourse with a local indie band playing. They also had locals sing the National Anthem. They even held open try outs for it. So there was at least SOME support for the local indie guys.

    • Doug says:

      I agree and I think it's largely due to the fact that young people have less money than in the past (less infusion of new customers). This is largely due to inflation. So to really look at the problem, we need to look at where this inflation is coming from. It comes from various places, but irresponsible government spending is key. Making bad loans that are backed by the government is one way. Any time there's a bailout, whether it's a car manufacturer or a bank, that money is on the back of the American people. How do they get the money for a bailout? They "expand the money", which means they put more money (or digital 1's and 0's) into circulation. This causes inflation as soon as it's spent. So 1) anytime someone's talking about "expanding the money", run the other way. 2) in order to combat this we may need to think outside the box a little bit. Ever heard of a senior discount? Why do they exist? Because when people get older, they retire. And when they're living off of their retirement, they have less money to spend. So why not give a newbie discount to make it affordable to young people? Let's say people between the ages of 21-23 get free admission and drink specials. People in that age range would love to go out if they could more easily afford it. Treat them well and you may have gained a customer for many years. Just an idea. I'm sure there's other ideas if people think outside the box and hopefully people can put their heads together and come up with more ideas to help them compete.

  16. Doug says:

    I worked for AEG in Los Angeles as a sound engineer for 6 years (2007-2013). They paid us well and treated us well. They paid overtime, double time, holiday pay. They took care of their artists as well. When the recession hit in 2008, Phil Anschutz issued a memo stating that they weren't going to do the mass layoffs that other companies were doing, that our jobs were safe. And they didn't. Instead they held job fairs and hired more security, guest services, and parking attendants. They put money back into the community in a time of need. I also worked at some of the smaller privately owned clubs in LA. They didn't pay nearly as well. One paid just $75 a night, another paid $10/hr. Not near enough to live on in Los Angeles (or San Francisco) and if I didn't have my job at AEG, I wouldn't have been able to do it. Is there room for large companies like AEG as well as small privately owned venues? Absolutely. My point is, I'm not going to spit on one of the only companies that's willing to pay sound engineers a living wage. Most sound engineers these days went to college and got an education, are paying back student loans, worked hard, paid their dues, and deserve a living wage. If AEG offered to open more venues locally, I would be all for it. Sound and lighting techs need to eat too.

    I'm disheartened with the attitude of the [computer] tech industry transplants. They're making enough money to go out to some shows and spend a little of it, and they should. If they don't, places will close.

    The real issue is the rising cost of rent pricing many venues out. Not all big companies are evil. Yes, I know that many are. Look at the local film industry. If Disney didn't buy Pixar and Lucasfilm/Skywalker, we would hardly have any film industry up here. George Lucas made sure to sell to Disney to ensure Lucasfilms survival when he retired and to make sure that people still had jobs without him. I'm happy that Disney is here. They provide living wage jobs for artistic types. I don't see them as this big evil corporation. On the other side, there's the Saul Zaentz center that didn't sell to Disney when Saul Zaentz retired. There's no more big films being made there. And yes, thankfully someone's subsidizing rent for small filmmakers and media production companies, but there's not the same amount of living wage jobs for filmmakers and artists. Had Saul Zaentz sold to Disney, maybe there would still be A list films made in that center with more living wage jobs for artists. When rent is this expensive, I'm thankful that the big companies are willing to provide some art and some jobs for the people that are here.

  17. Doug says:

    I will also say the Bay Areas "not in my backyard" attitude doesn't help. The Marin residents blocked George Lucas from building a film lot. SF blocked him from building his museum in the Presidio. If we want music, culture, and art here, and not just tech, then we need to allow people to build and bring it here when they offer to do so. So instead of worrying about possible noise and parking problems from a club or venue, think of the music, culture, and art that they are bringing to the community.

  18. Doug says:

    One more thing. Phil Anshutz made his money before getting involved in entertainment. It's his hobby. He could close AEG at any time and THAT would really hurt the entertainment industry.

    • James says:

      The demand would not go elsewhere?

      • Doug says:

        Possibly, but he has turned around a number of businesses that weren't working. Again, I'll use the example of Major League Soccer. Pro soccer in the US wasn't doing so hot before he got involved. Or locally, if Slims and Great American Music Hall are "partnering with Golden Voice", they're probably losing money. Would you rather they just close down and we lose two Bay Area venues, or they partner with Golden Voice and stay open. I vote for stay open.

  19. Like many here, (Jim Sweeny, et al) I went hoarse about this over 13 years ago, and for nearly 3 years wrote articles on this, spoke about it at gigs, talked in the community of musicians I grew up in, created relationship maps to show the money trails, and vastly right wing conservative and Dominionist Christian movement who own the majority of entertainment media in this country, and I believe it all fell on deaf ears, and will continue to do so, for one simple reason.

    The majority of Consumers are not willing to change even the slightest of their habits, in the bay area to promote social change or to preserve their access to independent music.

    I say "consumers", (Kind of cold and impersonal) because individuals people, are more than willing to become blind consumers, when a pair of tickets to Coachella, or Jay-z show come into the picture, and many of their beloved "indie" and "Street" bands and artists, proved more than willing to sign with and be promoted by people, who, putting it lightly, would love to see all of us in chains.
    Think I'm overstating this? Look into it.

    Goldenvoice, (Which I toured under in the 80's when Tovar and santen ran it) the darling of indie music, sold to AEG without so much as a whimper.
    Clear Channel and it's litigation-avoiding device, Live Nation, have slightly darker origins, with the Mays family, and Red Combs, and solid financial connections with ultra right extremist groups and "conservative" think tanks like the "council for national policy", the Cato institute, and hundreds of blind trusts used as right-wing slush money, many of which are connected to the attack on gay marriage here, as well as a number of other political issues.

    When you begin to understand how Dominionism works, and know old money in the us by name, it's fairly simple, but who wants to do that? "Let's have a Bud light, and pass the remote!"

    The dark hand of dark entertainment money moves in Bay Area politics in everything from the attack on small venue liquor licenses by local law enforcement, on behalf of larger venues, to promotions and booking, we, people who order on amazon, (I won't lie, I did it twice. still feel dirty), just want our dammned flaming lips or Kendrick tickets, and are more than willing to look the other way, and to deny our part in what they do with the money.

    Some tools for the beginner:

    Recent article:

    Muckety map detailing political and financial connections on the part of AEG's founder,

    NNDB.com got hacked by people who remove right wing financial tracking data And Philip Anschutz, went to great lengths to hide his ownership of Goldenvoice.
    Clear channel (Now "iHeartMedia Inc" in a PR move that would make Blackwater proud) still belongs technically to Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners, and the media wars continue.

    The only reasonable thing to do is , keep it local, spend local, support local artists, and venues, and hope that people will understand that their blind buying, will eventually kill the once vibrant, quirky, crazy beautiful, and profitable, (which is why it was acquired) music scene in the Bay area.

    I for one salute the DNA, and people like Jim Sweeny who tirelessly do their own thing, and make some really good music available to us, while fighting sneaky underhanded sellout companies with billionaire budgets. Watching some of my fri4nd participate in this, (These companies like to recruit real talent in the admin world) just makes me ill.

    So, going to Coachella this year?

    La Lucha Continua.


  20. Doug says:

    Philip Anshutz has pumped hundreds of millions of his own money into the entertainment industry. Especially during times of economic hardship. He's taken on high risk investments in venues that were losing money and turned them around into economically viable business models (the horror, how dare he keep places from closing). That's what business men do, they turn things into economically viable businesses. He's more of a philanthropist than the "evil empire". He started MLS when pro soccer was hurting in America. One example of him turning something around. He's put a lot of money into making live events a viable business and probably kept them from going the way of the large format recording studio. Keep on with your witch hunt though. I guess some people just need someone to attack or to blame because the world isn't exactly the way they want it to be. Like I said before, he made his money before becoming involved in entertainment. It's not like he needs to be pumping a ton of money into the entertainment business.


    • Um yeah. You are obviously working at goldenvoice, or have ulterior motives in even lurking here with your anonymous handle.
      These are the people who are manipulating the entertainment business and then attacking civil rights with the profits.
      But then, research is oh, so tiring for you, I am sure.

      The bay area music business was doing fine with typical ups and downs present in any economy and a lot of people on the ground, namely bands and venues were provided with decent livings, (not to mention vastly better music, that actually contained socio-political and topical content that might have educated your dumb ass) and the economy was spread out to the benefit of a greater number of people.
      Your argument is the Wal Mart argument, yet you sing it so well. As though it were a poem.

      Be certain to brush your kneecaps off, and wipe your mouth off before going out in public again. Virtue is a horrible thing to waste.

      • Oh. My bad. you DID, (or do still) work for them! Lol

        • Doug says:

          Yes, I did work for AEG. No, I don't currently work for them. It's been about 5 years. You know why Philip Anschutz is successful? He focuses on solutions to problems, while some people focus on looking for people to blame for their problems.

          I'm only here because someone sent me a link to this write up. Thanks for the insults though. Classy.

  21. Nick says:

    Another Planet is both local and independent.

  22. Dave B. says:

    I was working at BGP when a lot of this hit the fan. I even know the origin of the name Another Planet. Clear Channel is just evil, no other way to put it, and the way they forced the sale of BGP to them was insidious. I miss the work environment it used to be. Some people have bad opinions of Bill, but he was always cool to me, and tried to introduce people to different kinds of music.

    • Mark Kraft says:

      I met Bill once, a few years before his death. He was very cool... and his son David was as well.

      I used to do radio promotions with KSJS, and was surprised as to how easy it was and how friendly and how much of a family BGP was, at heart. And a lot of that comes from the top down.

      I have actually heard some things in the past about people at Golden Voice being fairly human, and good with the artists they work with. Guess we'll see...

  23. Geoff Smith says:

    This is all so scary and disheartening.

  24. Mark Kraft says:

    I'm a neighbor of GAMH, and can confirm that Slims Presents have had issues with revenue, to the point they were discussing the possibility of getting rid of GAMH a few years ago. (This would have been awful for my neighborhood, btw. They are good neighbors, and help make an area on the border of the Tenderloin safer and more secure.)

    They have two clubs, however, and I don't think it's impossible that they could essentially turn over some of the booking to Goldenvoice, while still doing independent booking shows themselves in the future. And as for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Dawn Holliday handles the booking on that independently, and is no longer in charge of Slim's/GAMH.

    This is a very San Franciscan problem, in large part because the history of this kind of venue/promotions syndicate first started in San Francisco, near the end of the last century, with the Orpheum Theatre. It's actually kind of a cool story, even if it's about another lousy conglomerate.

    Orpheum originally opened as a S.F. opera house in 1886. They soon found that there was also money to be made by booking the nation's growing crowd of vaudeville performers, though. And, as vaudeville grew, they made a LOT of money doing this.

    Unfortunately, San Francisco was so far removed geographically from the rest of the nation that attracting quality acts was difficult and expensive. They had the idea though that by offering more opportunities to perform -- a circuit of several theaters on the west coast -- they would entice more performers to come to The Orpheum from the east coast and Europe. Hell, they could even buy a theatre in Los Angeles... it was a growing city, even if San Francisco was more grand and there was no good reason for any famous celebrity to go down there, at the time.

    So, they started the Orpheum circuit... the original vaudeville circuit. And they made a lot of money and kept growing and growing, to the point where they merged with other theater owners. And it was through that circuit that many actors and performers first visited Los Angeles. People noticed it was very sunny and well-lit with good weather most of the time, so a lot of the early motion picture companies started flocking there... soon, this led to growing competition for the Orpheum from all sorts of theaters, who showed movies.

    So, in 1927 they merged with the east coast's Keith-Albee circuit, and formed a huge circuit, with over 700 theaters nationwide.

    Meanwhile, the Radio Corporation of America, a subsidiary of General Electric that was founded on the back of the Marconi Wireless company, was also having issues with the growth of the motion picture industry. They wanted in... and they wanted their new RCA Photophone technology to be the leader for sound in motion pictures.

    So... another merger. Radio Keith Orpheum. You might have heard of them.

    So yeah, it will make booking harder for DNA, but historically speaking, it's kind of to be expected...

    • Mark Kraft says:

      Perhaps it would be a good time to look at what independents are in L.A. / Portland / Seattle, who have a compatible ethos.

      Perhaps you can all work some deals there, in order to get artists in at multiple venues.

  25. JG says:

    Yep. At the very top levels of the live venue business, even powerful OZZY manager, Sharon Osborne has been forced into playing venues not of her choosing.

    "Sharon Osbourne, wife and manager of Ozzy Osbourne, has gone public with her objections to AEG Live's attempt to "block book" Ozzy's final routing by requiring the "No More Tours 2" to play Staples Center in Los Angeles if it booked The O2 in London on the same tour cycle.

    In a letter, addressed to (AEG Live Chairman )"Mr. Marciano" on Sharon Osbourne's letterhood, she wrote: “Shame on AEG for bringing artists into a power struggle you’re having with your competitor, Live Nation,” Sharon wrote to Marciano. “[W]ithout the artists there would be no AEG, no Live Nation, no promoters, agents or managers. The artists should always come first. Never forget that!”

    The letter was accompanied by an unsigned copy of a “Staples Center Commitment” document that outlines AEG’s “new booking policy” which essentially stipulates that if Ozzy Osbourne pencils in dates at The O2 in London for his recently announced farewell tour, he will play Staples Center at least once if he does any shows within a 25-mile radius of Los Angeles.

    The letter comes in context of ongoing competition between industry titans AEG and Live Nation, in which Billboard reported Neil Diamond’s agent Marc Geiger was “squeezed” by Irving Azoff to play the Forum in the L.A. market if the artist wanted to play Madison Square Garden Arena and J. Cole was similarly pushed to play Staples Center last year."

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