ALABAMA LOVE: Ben Lovett, CEO of tvg hospitality, is interviewed by Saturn owner Brian Teasley at Pollstar Live! (Staff photo)
From Mumford & Sons to venue developer
BEVERLY HILLS, California — Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons says he’s satisfied if any of the venues he’s developed under tvg hospitality, the company he founded with his brother and dad, make a modest profit — as long as they support the surrounding restaurants and bars.
Last May, tvg opened Orion Amphitheater in Huntsville, Alabama. The company currently has seven more venues under development, Lovett said.
At this week’s Pollstar Live! Conference in Beverly Hills, Lovett, 36, announced that he’s partnering with another touring musician turned venue owner. Tvg has purchased Saturn, a Birmingham, Alabama club owned by Brian Teasley, a drummer with multiple touring bands.
The 500-capacity venue has played host to Phoebe Bridgers, Pussy Riot, Japanese Breakfast, Earl Sweatshirt, Animal Collective, Vince Staples, Waxahatchee, Beach House and Big Boi since it opened in 2015. Teasley, who has performed with Polyphonic Spree, among other bands,, now joins tvg as senior operations manager for Huntsville Venue Group, part of the overall company.
Lovett initially formed tvg during a Christmas gathering in upstate New York about eight years ago, and convinced his fellow investors they had a formula for making venues viable.
As he’s done with 300-capacity Omeara, which opened in London, England in 2016, Lovett plans to surround the venues he’s developing with restaurants and bars, bringing music, food and culture together in a holistic experience.
Lovett’s successes in London led him to Alabama, of all places.
One of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s advisers was hired by the city of Huntsville and reached out to Lovett to advise him of the RFP for an amphitheater.
Lovett, who was involved in promoting bars starting at age 16, says tvg’s seven projects in development are of various sizes across the U.S., including one in Los Angeles in which Live Nation as a partner, and others in Washington, DC; Nashville; Detroit; and Austin.
Lovett said tvg is not afraid to partner with Live Nation, AEG and OVG. “They are not the enemy,” he said.
In Huntsville, tvg will support the city’s historic Tip Top Café with their reopening this year.
In Birmingham, tvg will help develop Saturn’s Satellite Bar, which operates year-round as a coffee and pastry service from Birmingham’s Domestique Coffee Roasters.
For Lovett, there’s a special satisfaction in developing and running venues after gaining perspective from a career performing in clubs, amphitheaters, arenas and stadiums.
“We as artists really get a kick out of this venue-promoter live business,” he said.
With Mumford & Sons, Lovett has played about 1,000 shows across the U.S., which has given him a certain perspective on the concert business, he said.
“I’ve been a sponge through the process, I’ve been very curious about the whole thing,” he said. “The creative in me is fascinated by how everything works. I like to break it apart.”
Being exposed to venue operators has him wanting to build venues for the next generation of artists, Lovett said.
“We’re just trying to push the boundaries of doing things better in terms of being a host,” he said.