City of Angels
Keeps Soaring To New Heights
VenuesNow’s first Market Focus of 2022 spotlights the sprawling metropolis and worldwide entertainment hub known as Los Angeles. As such, it deserves extra input from LA-based execs across the venue and events business, including high-level venue personnel, promoters, agents and still more. See below for a cross-section of some of the top players in the game, who operate in a critical market.
What opportunities come with being based in L.A. and how do they help you do your job better?
President of booking,
Live Nation Los Angeles
Being based in LA is all upside — it is one of the major epicenters of the world for live music. It is also where our industry lives, breathes, and works and thus we are able to build strong relationships with artists’ agents and management teams who we regularly see at shows most nights in LA, creating some of the best opportunities. Plus, whether it’s a club, arena or stadium, LA is always a must-play at every stage of an artist’s career.
Music Agent, Creative Artists Agency
Simply, being in LA helps me do my job better because it’s a true nucleus of the industry. There is always something happening and so many people I talk to and work with are a short car ride away.
CEO, Nederlander Concerts
Los Angeles has been Nederlander Concerts’ home base for 50 years, and it is very important to be in a huge, major market, and to be able to branch out, as we do. For booking other cities, it helps to anchor a Los Angeles venue as agents and managers route dates.
“Mike G” Guirguis
Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world. Being in LA helps my business because the city is full of people from various different cultures and backgrounds, and the majority of record and film companies are based here. It gives you the opportunity to network with key industry professionals, which is critical to my job. There’s no other place like it.
SVP, Facility and Campus Operations, SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park
Having multiple venues within miles of one another breeds competition, which keeps our team focused and on the forefront of innovation. We are able to collaborate with other venue operators to research events, share best practices, learn about new technology, and navigate COVID-19 guidelines, which is important in today’s environment.
Partner and Co-head,
Worldwide Music, WME
The last couple years have proven we are quite capable of communicating globally from anywhere with technology. In Los Angeles it is very convenient having multiple choices for small and large indoor and outdoor facilities within a small radius. There are also a few airports and many direct flights to required destinations.
EVP, Entertainment &
Development, LAFC and
Banc of California Stadium
Service is selling and we stand out from the pack because we will stop at nothing to exceed expectations for our clients and partners. There are plenty of options for an artist to choose from in Los Angeles, so delivering the above and beyond concert experience is not just critical but mandatory.
How do you position yourself for success in what many consider a crowded and highly competitive market?
While I’m incredibly fortunate to have the success I’ve had, that doesn’t mean I can step back, ever. I position myself for success in a market like LA by having my eyes wide open and having a positive mindset. You get ahead in LA by being willing to work just that much harder — never settle for complacency. LA is a city of tons and tons of opportunity and success comes from leaning in and grabbing those opportunities by the horns, no matter what they may be.
Stan Kroenke’s vision for Hollywood Park is to bring a new level of sports, live entertainment, retail, office and residential to Inglewood. We’re building a true sports and entertainment destination in Los Angeles. The stadium’s footprint has over 35 programmable spaces, and we look to provide diverse programming representative of the local community and for visitors from abroad. We have three venues under one roof with SoFi Stadium, American Airlines Plaza, and YouTube Theater, which is unique to L.A. and able to host an event of any size. Plus, our technology, sound and sightlines are unlike any other venue. We have created a venue for the future, and the team here is extremely dedicated, hardworking, and passionate about creating an extraordinary experience for everyone.
I think it is important to stay curious, surround yourself with good people, work hard and be honest. You have to communicate and you have to make each day count.
I have built my career on two fundamental principles: without the artist and without the fans, none of us have jobs. The promoter team that we have built in our California region applies these principles to every decision we make. It translates into how we approach our relationship with everyone from the venues, to production vendors, to every other aspect of the live show. And this goes for any stage in an artist’s career. I am proud of the work that we do, proud of our team and proud of the core values that Live Nation brings as a company.
I put the proper work and effort into any project or client I represent, and I surround myself with people who share my competitive, passionate vision. At the end of the day, it’s all about the team that’s around you. That’s how we win.
We focus on venues we have and the venues we work closely with. Focus is key. From marketing and booking, to load-in and load-out, we have a superlative reputation — so agents and artists know they can count on us. Our history in LA speaks for itself, but we are moving into the future with gusto.
We are a new building that has an MLS club (LAFC) as our anchor tenant. There aren’t any venues with major success stories in our space, so positioning the building besides an “another MLS stadium” was critical. Also, this is a town full of iconic and world-class concert venues; our angle isn’t to go head-to-head with these other options.
What do you consider the most challenging aspects of doing business in Los Angeles and how do you overcome them?
Having multiple venues in a concentrated area is challenging. Fans have a lot of choices between 11 major league professional sports teams, multiple concerts and live events. We are continually competing for guests’ attention, ticket sales and staff. However, our location on the west side of LA and having three venues under one roof, with flexible capacities, is extremely beneficial. We have strong relationships with our partners to ensure fans have a world-class experience.
It’s hard to find a work-life balance. I haven’t figured the second part out yet but I have been waking up earlier to read some newsfeed, clean up email and ride the peloton. This past Summer I spent some time shelling super early in the morning in Montecito. It was very nice.
LA is definitely one of the most crowded and competitive markets in the world. But every time it may seem we are nearing a point of saturation, we are proven wrong again and again. LA fans always push through and fill our venues night after night. And it’s not just clubs, theaters, and arenas — we also have more festivals than any other market in the world, which means radius clauses and numerous other wrenches that get thrown into the mix. It all goes back to following the principles of what is best for the artist.
The promoting business has always been challenging – we are always taking risks and guaranteeing others’ financial reward before our own. LA is home to the largest promoters, but someone in New York City is up three hours ahead of us — every day! Ours is a 24/7 world and we take the challenges as energizers and as motivations. I think paying attention to detail counts and we have a full service team from ticketing to marketing, promoting and venue managing.
The most challenging part of doing business in LA is the distractions. It’s easy to get caught up in nightlife. You have to know how to manage your time efficiently. When it’s time to work, we work. When it’s time to play, we play…. in moderation.
LA’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness – there is always something to do, somewhere to be, somebody to see. It can be exhausting and it can be overwhelming, and overcoming that is a function of ruthlessly prioritizing and knowing when to put yourself first and take a night off. It’s about balance and about being intentional in the decisions you make; it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of the sheer volume of stuff that is happening in LA.
With the Los Angeles venue market’s established pattern of constant growth, when does the market reach peak? Is there a point where the growth ends or business cannibalizes itself?
I can’t predict the future, but every time we say that we don’t need another venue another one pops up and we seem to make it work….
The historic venues in Los Angeles and the ones that have come on board in recent years all have one thing in common, they are busy! I don’t see a complete saturation on the horizon with concerts in Los Angeles, I see more demand for all types of top-tier concerts. The consumer is savvy, they want all of the amenities and luxuries and they know value when they see it. Sure one can half-ass it and open up an ill-conceived venue but, those developers and operators who get it, they will find lots of success in Los Angeles.
This may sound crazy given the venue landscape, but I actually think that we still have a ton of growth opportunities. There are always holes that can be filled in and places we can improve upon. We are very active and not slowing down anytime soon. The more venues a city has, the more it is top of mind for artists to play. More live music is good for everyone – the artists and the fans as well as the community culture and local economy. We’ve seen LA prove this time and time again.
In 2021, LA had 40 million people. It’s one of the most sought-after destinations in the world. I believe there’s no peak in this city. It’s a city that will continue to thrive and lead the way from a global perspective.
There is a huge appetite for entertainment and sports in LA. Venues will continue to be built or be modified to meet the demand and keep up with the latest trends. Today’s guests are consuming entertainment through multiple platforms and want to experience entertainment versus just being a spectator. Therefore, we must be cutting-edge with our offerings on top of what the artist or a sports team is doing.
I am bullish on experiential. It is not uncommon for there to be competing events on any given night but we have a large active population and I think experiential will continue to grow.
One would think the market could peak but it is interesting that the question is not new. Every day someone says “LA is over-seated” yet just this week we needed a specific weekend of dates and all the appropriate venues were booked solid. In any case, for artists up and down the levels of ticket draw, we are consistently finding dates to be tight or unavailable. Perhaps we need to build a new venue, maybe an outdoor venue. Stay tuned.
A three-part question: Your favorite L.A. hangout, place to do business and secret getaway?
Of favorites hangs, anywhere in Hollywood near the office or in the vicinity of Westwood. Some favs are closed forever so I’m looking for some changes, but some are open. In particular, I like Musso & Frank, Le Petit Four in Sunset Plaza, Da Pasquale on “little Santa Monica,” and drinks at Violet in Westwood, also coffee at an agent’s favorite deli. Let’s not forget the Frolic Room next to the Pantages! Love Apple Pan for “what a coincidence?” meet-ups (and there are no coincidences). As the world opens — new secret places are in view, some less secret – maybe the 19th hole somewhere!
So many options. OK, so favorite hangout: My 2 Cents to fill my belly — then off to Church Boutique for some shopping, hikes all over Griffith Park for business meetings. Nothing like fresh air and mother nature. My go-to getaway? Hmmm, skiing in Deer Valley or, for that matter, skiing anywhere with family and friends.
Little Beach House, the SoHo House in Malibu, is my favorite place to hang out in the city, and it’s also my favorite place to do business. The San Vicente Bungalows are my second favorite place, which is very “LA” of me!
I like to do most of my business from the stadium! To see it is to believe it! Haha … outside of that, there is a terrific Mexican spot off of Western, El Cholo, that has been doing it right long before my time. Food is good, margaritas are strong and easy to cozy up in a booth and grind out the last details of a show deal.
LA hangout — Forum Club is one of the best hangs out there and I certainly have a good feeling of the vibe being built in the backstage lounge at YouTube Theater. Place to do business: the lobby in our office in Beverly Hills. Always productive and I look forward to getting some of that action going again when we turn the corner. Secret getaway: running the Silverlake Reservoir or being on the sideline of any soccer field, that’s a little bit of my heaven.
1: I’m a big fan of my neighborhood restaurants such as M.B. 2: Post and Fishing with Dynamite by Executive Chef David LeFevre and Jon & Vinny’s Animal and Son of a Gun. 3: Any place that is not my work-from-home office. Terranea Resort, Rancho Palos Verdes.