Concerts in 2021 - Expert Advice for Past Productions Returning

Concerts in 2021 - Expert Advice for Past Productions Returning

TAD-Management-Terry-DaviesPodcast speakers: Savannah McIntosh (Purplepass Marketing Director) and Terry Davies (CEO at TAD Management). Jump to links and video notes below. 


The EventBuzz podcast: TAD Management

 

 

5:52 - Safe protocols for concerts

8:45 - Performances at different times (challenges) 

11:40 - Virtual talent bookings

20:49 - Marketing for concerts 

 

Podcast transcript: TAD Management

 

Savannah (Purplepass):  

Welcome back to another episode of the EventBuzz podcast by Purplepass. I am so excited to introduce our next guest, CEO of a concert production company with over 200 artists bands and acts booked worldwide. They've grown from putting on local shows around the state of Arizona to now offering entertainment options both nationally and internationally.

The company is also well known for their hands on commitment to providing productions from start to finish. And that's why I'm so excited to talk about their journey this past year. events they were able to put on during COVID-19 and ones currently running today.

The word concert hasn't been thrown around in a while. An experience I'm sure most of us are missing right about now. I know I am. So let's jump in and talk about their productions and how they've been hosting safe concerts during the pandemic with tips for other promoters out there listening, who are also ready to get back into the game and put on their own productions again.

Hi, Terry, thanks for coming on to our podcast. We are so excited to have you. Let's get started. How has your week been going so far? I know it just started.

 

Terry (TAD):

It's good. I spent last week in Mexico. So I'm coming down from the vacation mode.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, that sounds good, sounds so nice. So let's just start by having you introduce yourself to our listeners, and just telling them about TAD Management and the support you guys offer and your role with the company.

 

Terry:

Yeah, well, my name is Terry Davies. I'm a CEO of TAD Management. Our headquarters are here in Phoenix and we have offices in New Zealand and Fort Lauderdale, and over in London, over here in Phoenix is where we began very, very small, 12 years ago, doing really kind of small tribute shows, and really just getting that genre going.

And from there, it's just developed and grown exponentially, up until last year that is. And four years ago, we entered into the cruise entertainment industry and now we've become one of the biggest players in that market providing headlining entertainment to the cruise ships when they are allowed to sail again.

 

Savannah:

Awesome. Yeah. Can I ask where you're from?

 

Terry:

Yeah, I'm from Manchester in England originally, but I've actually spent about, gosh, about 35 years of my life in the US. But still, I still hold on to the accent.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, yeah. I just I love traveling. I've been a few places in Europe and Australia. And whenever I hear someone because I think I'm so traveled deprived, I'm like, Okay, sorry. I was so curious. Okay, so how has your life been during the pandemic? Basically, how especially like when it first started, like what happened?

 

Terry:

Well it's crazy, really, we told you, there's two facets of our company, one is cruising on the sea, and one is land. And on land, we normally do about 2500 shows a year, in somewhere in that range, 1500 to 2500, depending on the type of venue. And it just came to a grinding halt and we started getting whispers of it in February, beginning of March, things started to cancel, started to get rescheduled for the next month.

And then it was well, maybe not now. And then, by the time mid April came around, we'd had about 900 shows cancelled just completely pulled the rug from under us just like everybody else. So then, you know, you navigate through the year, and we've been trying all kinds of stuff just to stay relevant and pivoting here and there.

And here we are a year later. Just really saying wondering where we are in the whole scheme of things. Yeah it's has been crazy.

 

Savannah:

Yes. So I know, looking online from what it looks like you guys are currently doing events. Correct? And you were you've done events these past few months, right?

 

Terry:

Absolutely. Yeah, yeah, we've managed to work within the guidelines from each varying jurisdiction, whether it's a local town or the state. And we're doing everything from outdoor shows, big outdoor venues, like golf course, driving ranges, outdoor concerts in places that would normally hold maybe 1000 people and we're putting 250. I'm meeting all the guidelines, but golf card kinda shows and the others are some of the venues that we basically fall under.

So we'll rent the facility and bring all the infrastructure From staging, lighting, ticketing, marketing and so on, and those 1000 seats as, for example, in Lake Havasu, we've got 150 seats in 1000 seater. And we're doing two shows a day. So while it's not what we're all used to, it is 300 tickets and musicians and performers and technicians are out there working, which was really was our prime objective at the beginning of this year to try to get the wheels turning again and get some people employed.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, that's hard to because you do it nationally and internationally. So there's so many different protocols depending on the area?

 

Terry:

Absolutely.

 

Savannah:

That's where it would be really tricky. What are some of the protocols you guys have been doing, basically, to get everyone in there, just limiting capacity, if you can, going outdoors, something like that.  

 

Terry:

Yeah. We follow guidelines, which are mostly capacity based, you can normally see X amount of people and, you know, take that down to 25%. Some cases, in some some counties in Arizona, it's limited to 50 people. So basically, we've recreated seating maps, where we've got at least six feet, but we work on eight feet by eight feet grids. So we basically create an overhead grid of the space and put eight foot boxes, if you like, 16 square foot boxes, and we were just limited like that. I actually got the idea from Dubai, when I was over there watching the fountains of the Burj Khalifa, they've actually drawn rectangular boxes for people to stand in when they're watching the fountains. And this is very separated.

So we just take the square footage and put the boxes in there and that's how we see that. Also, we now carry all our own sanitizing equipment. So prior to any tech or performance arriving, we sanitize the stage and the backstage dressing rooms, and so on. And then before and between each show, we actually have what we call a Ghostbuster unit, but it's just a backpack full of disinfectant. And we literally go through the entire venue, and spray. So it's just staying on top of those kinds of things. And of course, normal social distancing, and everybody wearing a mask. And that's what we've been doing.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, I feel like now events all have their own, like you said, Ghostbuster crew, they have their own cleaning crews dedicated just to making sure everything is clean and ready to go for every single set.

 

Terry:

Absolutely.

 

Savannah:

Definitely the biggest transition for events. 

 

Terry: 

There's a little protocol we do to which we did read at the beginning, and that was we do not share microphones at all now. We have a full stock of in house microphones anyway. But now we assign them to one person. And all people bring in their own microphone. So there's absolutely no microphone sharing at all, which also will limit you know, this this spread. 

 

Savannah: 

And you guys have been putting on two different, like, you have one show, but two performances, right?

 

Terry:

Most of the time, we've actually got a couple of venues that that have asked for three performances, which is tough on the performers.

 

Savannah:

Yeah. I was gonna ask about that. Because I've actually talked to other promoters, and they've kind of talked about doing the idea. I just wanted to ask if you had any suggestions for promoters that were planning on, or looking into doing the two different performances for the first time, maybe there's anything you've learned along the way that you could kind of tell them because we do have a lot of people that are looking into doing that, for capacity.

 

Terry:

I think the biggest the first challenge is the the economics of the whole thing, you know, just if you just use a hypothetical number of 1000 seats, while the economics of running a venue and making sure the venue makes money, the ticket prices are a reasonable price, everybody's going to get paid, the talent is going to get paid, the promoter is going to get paid, etc. Well, that's easy to do with 1000 seats. But if that 1000 is reduced to 150, now the economics don't work.

And even if you do two shows, you're only at 30% of normal capacity. So that's the first challenge, it's been really difficult. And performers have been asked to work twice as hard and in some cases, cases three times as hard for the same money. And the biggest fear for performers is that's going to be the new normal. That when we come out of this, that prices and fees are going to stay down there. So we've been working on being quite conscientious on making sure we can keep those numbers down and make sure they don't stay there all the time.

So when we come come back, things don't get back to normal. So that's one of the first challenges. The other challenge is everybody wants to see a show at 7:30 but not so at four o'clock, so the evening show always sells out, the four o'clock is usually a second choice. So be prepared for the potential to have the market heavier, or be prepared for lower numbers on your early show. And of course, it depends on the area, the demographic and the type of venue.

We do a lot of we do a lot of concerts in over 55 communities so for for that demographic, you know, going to a one o'clock in the afternoon or four o'clock in the afternoon show is not so bad as those people that are still out there working and needs to do the things at night.

 

Savannah: 

Yeah, that's a good point. I mean, you could, there's a lot you could do, you could do like early bird discounts or specials just to get people interested in the the for the four o'clock showing. But yeah, that is kind of brutal. 7:30 would be prime.

 

Terry:

Yeah. And the discounts are tough to beat again, because of the economics because you're still a total sellout. You still only working at 30% and that 30% number has to be spread over everybody. So it's difficult. 

 

Savannah: 

Yeah, we're all getting creative and trying to figure it out. But it's hard. We're getting there slowly, but it's been a crazy crazy year and then some. I also looked at your guys's website, and I did find an area called the Virtual Showcases. And so you guys are hosting virtual experiences. Is that correct?

 

Terry:

Well, yeah, the virtual showcase is a different thing. So we represent just short of 300. entertainers, whether that be tribute bands to magicians, to female vocalists, to speciality acts again, one of them for the cruise ships. And so normally we will hold at least two sometimes three, what we call our Expo every year one would always be in Phoenix. Last year, we did one in Florida and London a year before in Florida. This year, we had one time for Las Vegas, where many Talent Booker's from around the country and sometimes around the world would fly in to watch 25-30 artists perform 12 to 15 minutes sets over two days in a theater.

That's going away now. So we still needed a way to represent our artists and give them to the bookers for when things get back. That's where the virtual showcase. So we have our own production facility here in Phoenix so we've recorded some of them here and some of them we've taken existing footage and re edited it. And now we present them once a month and those are all on our website and get shown on there.

We've done some virtual shows online, round about I think around about May last year, we went into the the online talk show area and did our own talk show called TAD Talk where we did about 130 episodes with very different people from all over all industries all over the world.

And that was fun. Again, just trying to stay relevant knowing that or watching a lot of things online but as as the year went on, I think the interest in that dissipated and we're all really got our eyes on how do we get back to you know, putting bums in seats as we say and watching the shows in live capacity.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, we're getting close I don't know I feel like we're getting close. So you guys did the virtual TAD Talk which is cool. Do you remember what you know what software you guys use for that?

 

Terry: 

Depends in terms of the production we used OBS which is why the you around it's a free free platform and it's a wonderful way to get things done simply. But like I said, we have our own studio here. So we have an eight camera Blackmagic setup along with an ATEM switcher. So we did all that there put everything through OBS. At one point we used a company called Restream which was allowed us to stream to numerous platforms including Facebook Live, YouTube channel, Twitch, etc.

And that's basically the software we've been using. But now as most things are free we're just using our Facebook page and our YouTube channel to upload that virtual stuff online. I think the the entertainment world if you like never really never really grasped the idea of watching something on the TV as replacing something live. So we I think we're just treading water in that in that area till we get back to normal.

 

Savannah:

Yeah I like to ask that question just because I always seem to get questions from other promoters that are trying to stay relevant and go online. And so everyone uses so many different software's because there's so many out there.

That's why I asked, but I think we're all just like you said, we're treading we're waiting because it right now we have like, we have a lot of theater groups, and they're putting their productions online. And that's great. But it's not the same. It's not ever going to be the same as being in person, in that room with the people around you.

So I think we are all just waiting it out. And waiting it out for about like a year and some extra month now. 

 

Terry: 

It's interesting. I'm in Arizona at the moment, spring training starts this week. And we've got stadiums that seat 11-12,000 people, and they are allowing 2,000 - 2,500 to watch the game. So while that is frustrating for us in the in the entertainment industry, I think that it's a sign that they have to do the same for one industry as do the others. You know, and if, if they can get 2500 in a baseball stadium for a sports game, then they can get 2500 in a baseball stadium for a concert also. So I'm hoping that's, that's another thing that will happen very soon.

 

Savannah:

That's a good point. And like no one can really argue that because I don't even think about that the Super Bowl, there was a people there.

 

Terry: 

Yeah, I had a little wrapped on line as well.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, so it's like, well, I don't mean that's the same. I feel like that sometimes when they kind of like the small businesses have been put through so much. But then we kind of we have Walmart and Target open.

 

Terry:

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, they can I don't think they could anything be any less healthy than walking through a Safeway on a Saturday. But it's also the same with the cruise industry. I mean, if you got me started on there, such an unfair target of that industry, saying that it's the CDC and saying that it's unsafe to sail. And yet the cruise ships are the only reason why they actually know in actual numbers, who had COVID back in March, April, February, or what time and who didn't.

If you were on a cruise ship, anywhere around the world, in that time, everybody knew who was on the ship, who came off the ship, who tested positive, who got sick, who died. And yet you don't have those numbers from Disneyland, or hotels in Vegas or any other mass areas, only the ships. And in fact, when we come back from this, and they things open up again, you're not going to know if you walk through a theme park or you walk through a casino if you're actually being exposed to COVID.

But you will know exactly on a cruise ship. If you're actually going to be in contact with it with a contact tracing. If you actually go on there testing negative and come off testing positive. The cruise ships are actually going to be an amazing vehicle for us to know accurate numbers. That's a whole other podcast going on.

 

Savannah: 

Yeah, good point on that too, because yeah, the cruise ships were hit hard, especially in the very beginning.

 

Terry:

Yeah, it's terrible. It's, it's it's crippled that industry like no one would believe but not the ships too. There are cruise ports around the world, places like Skagway and Alaska, that is on the brink of complete devastation, because most of the income that comes into that town is from cruise ships. And now it's been gone for two years so they're on the verge of not having a town anymore.

 

Savannah:

Yeah that's so sad. And yeah, I could go into this all day because you have cruise ships you think about, okay, it's now you're affecting the employees, you have the performers, they're all out of work.

And then I always think about the schools being like, shut down. I think about the seniors when it was there last year, and everything they missed out on seniors that were waiting for like sports for...

What is it called?

I can't think of it when you have, you know, like athletes to get to college. I am blanking that is so bad. A scholarship, a scholarship! 

The athletes are like, depending on those scholarships, and then it's just like now what?

 

Terry:

No, exactly. I mean, that's so bad. There is a whole argument and again, the hypocrisy of sports and I'm a big sports fan. But if you can allow 2000 people in for a spring training game, you can allow 2000 then to watch your kids graduating from high school? Yeah, you know, so. 

 

Savannah: 

Yeah, it's crazy. But yeah, I could get into a whole other thing with that. Okay, we'll switch it up. I had one more question for you guys, because I know you guys are kind of a one-stop-shop, you do everything you you help set up from start to finish you also offer like marketing advice, correct?

 

Terry:

That's correct.

 

Savannah:

So I wanted to just ask you really quickly for event promoters listening, should they be taking a different approach on marketing their events when it comes to COVID, or during this time, or while people are still unsure about events? So how, like how have you guys kind of changed your approach during the pandemic?

 

Terry:

How our approach has changed over the last two or three years, but not sure anything's to do with the pandemic, the the importance of social media now can't be overstated. In the old days, you'd buy a billboard or newspaper ads or radio ads.

And for us, that's nearly gone. Just about 90% of our marketing budget goes on social media, and on easily accessible ticket purchases. So the use of QR codes is, is front and foremost. For us. Every single poster that we put out now has a QR code, that's a direct link to a ticket purchase. That's the single biggest thing people walk around with the phones in the hand. So how better to get in to buy a ticket and to say click here and say yes. So that's really the only change, as far as marketing concepts now, that nothing's really changed, because we've only just started pulling them back up again.

But yeah, that's really all that's changed in the marketing area.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, I agree. And it's tough to because people that are super traditional, and they don't really want to make the change to everything being online. Like you said, everyone has their phones in their hands. It sucks, because I kind of wish our society wasn't like that. But to grow, you got to evolve with what everyone's doing. You gotta be on social media right now. If you're not. It's not gonna you're not gonna make a profit. 

 

Terry: 

Marketing has been all about been all about getting to the masses. And I mean, I'm 62 so I grew up in the days of, there was no cell phones. And, you know, you pay phone and even things like party lines where you'd share a telephone line with your next door neighbor. But now, if you want to reach the masses, I mean, you can if you've got a decent following on Instagram, Facebook, whatever, you can reach a million people in 24 hours.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, it's insane. Social media is wild, the influencers, all that stuff is just it's it's a crazy, crazy channel that you could use.

 

Terry:

Yeah, exactly.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, I think that's it. Thanks for talking and taking your time out to talk with me. And if there's anything else you want to put out there to let other listeners know, other event professionals, any advice you might have, you don't have to but.

 

Terry:

Yeah, I mean, just just don't, don't get this illusion. You know, this is a, it's just that's a big speed bump, but it is just a speed bump, we'll come out of this and that will be a new normal, some things will be worse, some things will be better, off, things will be the same and just stay really, really positive.

 


Video notes and links

TAD Management: 

About TAD

 

Equipment mentioned:

 

Blackmagic gear

ATEM switcher

 

Streaming software: 

OBS Live 

Restream 

YouTube Live

Facebook Live

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