6-Feb-2019 (Wed)
Wherein Goldenvoice’s dismantling of San Francisco’s local music industry continues apace.

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."

As I said at the time,

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." \_(ツ)_/

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.

Previously, previously, previously.

7 Responses:

  1. Christoph says:

    “philanthropist with an anti-LGBTQ record”. Wat?

    • Catbot says:

      “Philanthropist” is often a title the wealthy take on when they make donations to avoid paying taxes.

  2. BrianVan says:

    “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.”

    I appreciate how simple and direct (and truthful) this is, and don’t mind sharing it here once more

  3. Danshep says:

    Anybody claiming they want to “do cool shit” needs go gently fuck themselves with a chainsaw.

    The whole VC bro culture is destroying every piece of worthwhile culture they can rub their sweaty hands on.

  4. nooj says:

    The same thing is happening in the “fun, cool” cities that are straining under massive growth. Who knows where they’re coming from, but 100 people per day are moving to places like Denver, Portland, Nashville, and Austin! I’m prepping to go to SXSW again, and I’m noticing that several venues in the past few years have kept their name but given up the ghost.

    Poliça‘s favorite venue in Austin was The Parish, but that place is no longer hosting bands like them. The landlord priced them out to the point that even a restaurant and bar downstairs couldn’t keep them solvent, and they now let “Ticketweb” aka Ticketmaster do all their booking.

    That’s only one venue, but multinational corporations are like cockroaches. Once you get them, you can’t get rid of them.

    Back around 2015, four or five venues on Red River were begging “Save Red River!” The solution was to sell out to music mogul Graham Williams, who used to book Fun Fun Fun Fest until deciding to create Margin Walker Presents in the Summer of 2016. Graham Williams is Austin-based (I think) and concentrates on the big four cities in Texas, so that’s slightly better than AEG, but it definitely trends in the same direction.

    SXSW last year made a major reduction in the number of big acts and “MegaShow Presented by Advertiser” events. It was a welcome change.

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