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By James Zoltak
If Geni Lincoln, general manager and senior vice president of live events at the Forum, had her druthers, she would be at a concert most every night.
Her passion for live music took hold while she was growing up in Orange County as bands like local favorite No Doubt were rising to superstardom and tours like Warped and Lollapalooza were first making the rounds.
“I knew when I went to college and even when I was in high school that I wanted to work in music,” Lincoln said. “I saw a lot of shows as a kid.”
She began working for Alex Hodges and House of Blues Entertainment at Universal Amphitheatre while a sophomore at Cal State Fullerton, and she remained through its sale to Live Nation. She joined MSG Entertainment in Inglewood, Calif., when the Forum reopened seven years ago, working with managing partners Shelli and Irving Azoff and SVP/GM Nick Spampanato, whom she counts as key mentors. (Irving Azoff is a co-founder of VenuesNow owner Oak View Group.)
It didn’t hurt that she was an Eagles fan, considering Azoff’s long role as the band’s manager. Lincoln said she unsuccessfully pleaded with her mother to let her go see the band’s return to the road, the “Hell Freezes Over” tour, at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre as a 13-year-old in 1994, but she was at the Forum in her official capacity when the band rechristened the arena with six shows in early 2014.
Since the building’s reopening, 434 shows at the Forum have grossed $438,335,817, with 4,743,921 tickets sold, according to VenuesNow box office totals.
The venue ranked No. 1 worldwide in 2018 and in 2019 was No. 7 worldwide and No. 3 in the U.S. on VenuesNow’s Top Stops charts among venues with capacities of 15,001-30,000, based on tickets sold. Top-grossing performances since the reopening include five shows by U2 that took in $9,886,540 in 2015; the six Eagles dates in 2014, with a total gross of $9,879,197; four Bruno Mars gigs that grossed $8,420,015 in 2017; and six Kanye West shows in 2016 that brought in $8,292,767.
The coronavirus shutdown notwithstanding, Lincoln is now poised to continue her programming prowess under a new regime at the Forum as general manager and senior vice president of live events after the venue’s purchase earlier this year by Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer.
“It’s been really amazing, to be honest” she said of the latest transition. “They are a very well-run organization and they have absolutely embraced the Forum team.”
Lincoln says she challenges herself to bring new and different acts to the building while providing fans an extraordinary experience and wishes she could snap her fingers and bring the shows back from coronavirus limbo.
“I have never in my life or career gone this long without being at a show,” she said.
Asked what advice she would give to young people considering a career in the concert business, she said that if it’s your passion, stick with it, come what may.
“Although it’s really fun … and there are magical moments, there are a lot of long hours and a lot of unique circumstances, but finding your passion in it is where you will stick with it” she said. “It’s not one of those jobs where it’s like every moment is just a glamorous star-filled moment, but the special moments are really special and there’s never been a day where I haven’t felt like I’m really passionate about this and what we do. You need that.”
First job in the business?
Working for Alex Hodges and House of Blues Concerts at Universal Amphitheatre in LA.
Biggest career/business success?
It has been a very special part of my career to be a part of the team that has brought the Forum back to become the No. 1 arena on the West Coast and No. 2 building in the country.
I have been extremely fortunate to work for many amazing executives that have made an impact on my career in different ways. Shelli and Irving Azoff – the greatest teachers on everything in this business and beyond. The guidance they have shared with me in regards to perseverance, creativity, negotiation and never settling for the standard will last my entire career.
Nick Spampanato – the best venue knowledge in the business, and a mentor who never hesitated to share all of his learnings and lead with integrity. Rich Best – the ultimate concert promoter and music lover – passionate and dedicated.
Technology most affecting work or personal life?
All of the tools to easily work from home right now and stay connected with our venue team have been incredibly valuable. We’re fortunate to have the technology necessary to continue moving forward as we work diligently in anticipation of welcoming fans back to the Forum.
The rigatoni at Terroni restaurant in LA.
Last live event attended before shutdown?
Two nights of Tame Impala, and Prince Royce, at the Forum.
Plans for the rest of 2020?
Getting creative in the unique circumstances for our business, and preparing for a busy 2021 and 2022 ahead.