A few weeks ago I was chatting with someone who works security at Slim's. He said something to the effect of, "Goldenvoice is terrible, but our contract with them is only for another year or two, so maybe after that things will go back to normal." I didn't have the heart to say to him, "How's that going to happen when you no longer have a booking or promotions department? They fired everybody!"
Slim's, Great American Music Hall Workers Axed as Goldenvoice Expands:
A year after Slim's and the Great American Music Hall inked a booking agreement with corporate promoter Goldenvoice, [publicist Tanya] Pinkerton, [...] manager Dana Smith and promoter Tracey Buck were also laid off. Goldenvoice, Pinkerton was told by email, already had concert listings covered. [...]
The layoffs came one year after Slim's and GAMH, for years considered two of the city's flagship independent venues, outsourced booking to Goldenvoice, the Coachella promoter that, like competitor Live Nation, has dramatically expanded in the Bay Area. [...] With Slim's and GAMH, Goldenvoice now runs concert promotions at every level -- from a small club to a large festival -- in the Bay Area. [...]
AEG, Goldenvoice's parent company, is owned by Philip Anschutz, a multibillionaire conservative philanthropist with an anti-LGBTQ record. Corporate saturation of the local concert market is also detrimental, critics say, to a healthy local scene of independent venues and promoters, as well as local bands and fans.
Jamie Zawinski, the owner of Slim's neighbor DNA Lounge, is among the local music industry figures sounding the alarm about Goldenvoice and Live Nation. In response to the Slim's and GAMH partnership, he wrote a widely shared blog post arguing that the companies' expansive concert and ticketing holdings are monopolistic and "bad for our culture as a whole." [...]
Since Goldenvoice took over the calendars, venue management left its SoMa office. Anthony Bedard, the junior talent buyer and longtime Hemlock Tavern booker, was let go early last year. The most recent layoffs, according to Pinkerton, reflect Goldenvoice's regional workers taking on more promotions and marketing duties for the venues.
I feel it's worth re-emphasizing this quote from early last year:
[Danny Bell, a Goldenvoice talent-buyer] declined to comment on the details. But he said little to assuage concerns that the company won't continue Bedard's curatorial vision, or that it'll neglect local music. "SF is a great music town. With any strong local music scene, there's a lot of great local acts," Bell said. "Is it a priority? It's tough to say. I think it just naturally happens. I know that we came on up here with one goal -- to do cool shit."
That last paragraph is particularly telling. Here's how I read it: The question put to the Goldenvoice rep is, "Now that you control the music industry in this town, what are you going to do to preserve the music culture that was here before you bought your way in?" And their answer is, "Hey, that's your problem, not ours."
It's the Gordon Gecko model of concert promotion: if at any moment, a thing is worth more money by cutting it up and selling it off for parts, do that. Then move on to raze the next thing.
Please contribute to the DNA Lounge Patreon so that we don't end up being the next venue tossed into the mass grave where SF's music scene used to be.