Friday, February 15, 2008

Another Argument for The Fillmore

One thing that I find has been largely left out of the endless Live Nation vs. IMP discussion is how the introduction of competition to IMP/9:30 Club would be to the benefit of Silver Spring residents with regard to the quality of acts that would perform in the new venue.

IMP’s proposal is for a venue with a capacity of 1400 people, just slightly larger than the 9:30 Club’s – sorry, “Nightclub 9:30’s”, of 1200. I have to wonder that if the IMP scenario were to come to pass, would the Silver Spring concert hall end up as the red-headed suburban stepchild of the IMP family, not big enough to warrant priority over the 9:30 club, yet too small to get the acts that perform at the 16,500-capacity Merriweather Post Pavilion.

Let’s say IMP can book band X for one show a year. Are they going to send them out to Silver Spring or book them at their baby, the 9:30 club? I get the feeling that all the marquee acts that 9:30 now gets will continue to perform in D.C., while the second-tier bands will be shipped out to the ‘burbs.

Now consider the alternative. Like it or not, Live Nation has influence in the industry and has the money to woo top acts. For many in the area, this is inexplicably (to me) considered a negative. If the aforementioned band X is touring the country and is going to make a stop in the DC area, The Fillmore might be able to book that band over IMP’s 9:30 club, and Silver Spring fans will be spared the trip into and back from V Street – not to mention the savings on parking and cost to replace the broken window on your car. Or your car. Or the contents of your wallet. Or the cost of hospital bills after being attacked by eight women! I continue to think that the threat of direct competition is why there is such urgency on IMP’s part to scuttle the Live Nation deal.

Anyone that has taken the most basic macroeconomics class knows that competition is GOOD for the consumer. That’s us. Why does a certain subset of people continue to insist that a near-monopoly in the local concert scene would be to our benefit?



35 comments:

Easley said...

Because its local. Who cares if its a worse deal? Who cares if it will bring second rate acts? Its a Local Business!!!! EVERYTHING NATIONAL IS THE DEVIL! EVERYTHING LOCAL IS AWESOME! Local empty ugly buildings and crack dens > Red Lobster!

Note the sarcasm. Besides, when IMP inevitably shafts us with second-rate acts, the vocal minority of SS will have yet another arguement for why Ike should have "pushed for the Birchmere," which is really what they all wanted anyway. "Stupid kids and their rock music!" "Won't somebody please think of the children!?!"

rd said...

There's so many frickin' people that think everything local is better that I thought you were serious. Thanks for dumbing it down with your clarification.

I say we all start a petition to stop the petitioning... and BRING ON THE MUSIC!

Sligo said...

Oops, I didn't mean to include the word "local" with competition in that first sentence. Now it makes more sense.

b said...

Maybe we should ask Chip Py to get involved. Every time "The Man" tells him no, it gets reversed.

Brent said...

Glad the rest of you are finally standing up to the "local is always better" insanity. Some local is good; some is crap. Same for chains. But I'll take most of the "corporate" presence we have today over many of local (and often sub-par) restaurants and shops we had a few years ago in SS. At least the new stuff is clean and trying to satisfy customers. And the better locals -- Highland Coffee, Jackie's, etc. -- seem to understand what they need to do to compete with the corporates.

Anonymous said...

Let's just bring Burger King to Ellsworth to compete with the other restaurants. It's a proven leader and the competition is good.

Sligo said...

I don't quite get your point, but note that there is already a Burger King in City Place.

Sligo said...

Oh and Burger King is a terrible comparison. Burger King serves the same thing at every restaurant. The equivalent would be that the band that plays at the 9:30 Club would play a simultaneous show in Silver Spring. That, of course, is impossible. Booking bands is a zero sum game.

WB said...

Wow...slow news day, eh?

Why not report on the very interesting Feb 14 letter IMP sent to the County Council which makes the stunning observation that cost overruns incurred by LN in the building of the music venue will be credited and taken off their rent payment...meaning the very likely possibility that LN will pay absolutely no rent during their 30 year lease! gasp. Now *thats* news.

But to your point....the threat of direct competition most certainly is part of the subtext of all this. I think of it in these terms: let's say a Safeway was trying to open up in Seminary Plaza. If you think the good folks at Snyder's wouldn't be fighting it tooth and claw well, then you don't understand what small businesses will do to survive in this day and age.

Sligo said...

I don't consider IMP a "small business".

Sligo said...

And here's my question... if Live Nation pulled out today, would IMP still want to pursue this?

WB said...

Yes, if you compare the financials of the two organizations, IMP is a total mom and pop operation next to LN.

I'll answer your hypothetical with another hypothetical: do you really think LN would be here if they weren't given such a sweetheart deal?

And now with the breathtaking revelation that LN worked a deal where they wont pay any rent for 30 years if very likely costly overruns occur...sheesh. Nobody smells too sweet here.

Mike said...

To Sligo's last question, there's no chance IMP wold pursue this if Live Nation pulled out. Why should they? Seth isn't going to compete with himself.

Personally, I think that not only is competition good for us music fans, it's good for the bands. Right now, if you're a band that can draw 1,000-2,000 people, have outgrown Iota, the Black Cat, whatever, dealing with Seth is the only game in the D.C. area. If I'm a band manager, I'd love to have the choice of venues, as well as two different companies competing to book my group. It's a win for everyone, except IMP.

WB said...

Choice of venues, Mike? I'm assuming you've not heard about a division of LN, created last year, called Live Nation Artists, which, as Forbes described was formed "to partner with artists to manage their diverse rights, grow their fan bases and provide a direct connection to fans through the global distribution platform and marketing proficiencies that have made Live Nation the world's largest live music company."

In other words, exclusive contracts with artists, who play exclusively at Live Nation venues. (Kinda like the good ol' Hollywood days of contract players.)

If you're a LN artist, you don't play at non-LN venues...so I'm not sure if your 'choice of multiple venue arguments' holds up too well.

Is this is a win for everyone? Well it certainly is for folks, say, who enjoy the Disney Channel's Jonas Brothers (who signed up with Live Nation Artists a few weeks ago), but for the general consumer??? I think not.

Gotta love macroeconomics.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see this Feb. 14th letter that IMP allegedly sent.Everything I have seen so far that is being attributed to IMP makes Leni Riefenstahl look like an amateur.

Sligo said...

So if there are artists who don't play at non-Live Nation venues, how does freezing out Live Nation benefit us vis-à-vis concert options?

As much as I hate to be a conduit for corporate propaganda, here's IMP's letter.

Anonymous said...

After reading IMP's Feb. 14th letter I am asking myself why, if the council has already read the contract with Live Nation, is it nessary for IMP lawyers to explain it? Are County lawyers that lame, or are the IMP lawyers putting such a spin on it that it can be worn, right out of the washer.

Also, if Live Nation has groups under exclusive contracts, then we get acts that IMP can get, and the acts that they can't get. Two times good, Rock On Fillmore.

Anonymous said...

I don't particularly care for the lack of transparency with which this deal was made, but I also don't care for IMP essentially trying to bully the county into shutting down its competition. The owner of the 9:30 may live in MoCo--but I notice he does NOT live in Silver Spring. If we are going to be obsessed with local, local, local, is he really local? He's Bethesda, again trying to tell Silver Spring they really know what's best for us.

Anonymous said...

How local is local? Bethesda is local. Come on.

Mike said...

Apples to oranges, wb. If the artist and management chooses to sign an exclusive deal with Live Nation, that's their choice.

In the meantime, other choices could abound. I agree that it appears that IMP, which has never shown any interest in county affairs until now, is trying to plead its "local" connection to bully the public and politicians into killing what we've got on the table.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone told the Ghermezian Brothers that Montgomery County is giving away the bank to get entertainment into Silver Spring? I'm sure they would LOVE to make a deal! And boy will they be upset when they find out they barked up the money tree at the wrong time.

WB said...

My philosophical issue with LN is in their business model. I'm so sick and tired of the fact that you can go anywhere in the united states and see the same stupid chain stores selling the same stupid chain items that are trying to create a same stupid mass-induced happiness. okay..call me a throwback....I can deal with that....but if you folks really think you are going to be getting anything other than what a very large international company wants you to buy, then, be me guest and enjoy tomorrows next version of the Jonas Brothers. It's a good possibility you'll be listening to this stuff for the next 30 years. That's where I'm coming from, and I can appreciate that people will have equally valid other perspectives on this. np

But, more to the larger point and in an attempt to adopt a bit of perspective here: I'm totally chagrined by the attitude that is so prevalent here that "we want out music NOW ffs...so stop the complaining and get the damn hall built."

honest, guys, you sound like 5 year olds in a grocery store throwing temper tantrums because you're told you can't get a pack of gum RIGHT NOW.

wise up, ffs. a) music is not an entitlement. But more importantly: b) this is a business project that has long term effects (30 years to be precise) on the community. Now, I'm assuming, if you have any plans to stay in this community for the long run, you might want to adopt a bit more realistic perspective here...and really make sure this is a really financially sound and solid proposal, one that we all can live with for the next 30 years. This is a process called due diligence...and it's a good one to learn how to do.

so chill the f out for a bit....please? All signs and indications are that this puppy is going through....but let's make sure, we all look at the pros and cons of the deal in a fair and reasonable way. read gilberts article that is discussed on jutp...read imp's letter referenced above. You might not agree with them, but in the interest of fairness, those voices should at least be heard.

Sligo said...

I just got tickets this weekend to see Radiohead at Nissan Pavilion (a Live Nation venue). I don't know what the difference is between Live Nation and another venue management company, but I paid the same as I would expect to elsewhere and that's not going to affect the show for me in anyway. I guess the point is, who cares? If you don't want to support them, don't, but they can book the popular bands. Too bad Nissan is a pain in the ass to get to.

Ed said...

hmmm. I thought this was a done deal, and yet, I received the email below from Live nation today (I subscribe to their concert email announcement list), urging me to contact the Montgomery County Council in support of the Fillmore SS. Why? Have there been new roadblocks set up?

As far as the IMP letter (and Seth's whining generally), I agree with the music fan perspective above (that an IMP-run Silver Spring venue would book 9:30 rejects). But I also have to add two points. First, in response to WB: I agree with your criticism of the proliferation of cookie-cutter, nationwide, corporate entertainment (not to mention the rise of Border's and Amazon to the detriment of independent booksellers, and the domination of the big record labels -- and, more importantly, the physical and electronic distributor networks' monopolizing the marketplace). However, that is the world we live in now, and favoring one corporate entity over another isn't going to change that fact. As much as I would like to support truly independent businesses, the sad fact is that they cannot compete successfully in a marketplace increasingly dominated (vertically) by a few big companies. In other words, a mom & pop nightclub is already at a disadvantage because they can't book artists that have signed on with one of the big booking/promotions companies (which, of course, also own networks of venues). Realistically, the choice comes down to which of the corporate music venue companies you pick from -- and, in that case, I'd MUCH prefer the company that doesn't already dominate the local market for 500-2000 seat rock (and other) shows.

Second, regarding IMP's letter -- what a load. To answer the question I believe asked above -- namely, why is there a need for IMP to explain the terms of the lease between the County & Live Nation -- the answer is simply PR. They have no interest in promoting what's "fair" for "the County and its citizens" -- they have an interest in making money. By interfering in the contractual relationship that already exists between the County and LN. Notice how the last page of IMP's letter says they have no interest in interfering with "whatever non-contingent hard legal obligations [that] already exist" -- they say that because it is AGAINST THE LAW to interfere with contractual relations! On its face, IMP's letter is actionable, and I hope Live Nation has made that point by now. It's outrageous for a disgruntled competitor to try to torpedo another company's deal by threatening the other party (the County), which is precisely what IMP has done -- "reconsider or we'll tell the voters what a crappy deal you've made, selling them down the river, leaving the County unprotected against cost overruns, exposed to liability [which is nonsense -- the County is protected by liability insurance, its own AND the building contractors' AND Live Nation's] and in a position to raise taxes to pay for such a bad deal, etc" Right, I'm SURE IMP would have turned down the same terms if they had ben in a position to take them, right? No, they care too deeply for the public interest to get the best deal they can from the County, as Live Nation did... [that's sarcasm, btw...]

Let's just get on with it (and be happy we're not stuck with the Birchmere... although I'll hop over to college park if Richard Thompson plays there).

Ed said...

oops, forgot to add the email... sorry, here it is:

"Hello Music Fans,

We are happy to inform you that we are currently working with local officials to establish a brand new Fillmore music venue right here in Silver Spring. This locally booked and operated venue will host an eclectic variety of live music including rock, latin, blues, jazz, folk, country and spoken word, and will feature some of the world's biggest stars as well as brand new artists and local favorites.

As those of you who have visited the original Fillmore in San Francisco already know, the club's ambience will pay homage to some of the greatest legends in music history, while also reflecting the local music history of Silver Spring and the surrounding area. From its signature deep red walls, vintage posters, chandeliers and rich wood flooring, to the barrel of free apples at the entrance, seeing a show at The Fillmore without a doubt provides for one of the best fan experiences available.

The Fillmore Silver Spring will continue the long tradition of Live Nation bringing great music to our area for so many years: from The Cellar Door and The Bayou to the Ram's Head, Warner Theatre and the Nissan Pavilion, all in a brand new, state-of-the-art venue. What's more, The Fillmore Silver Spring will showcase local artists, host community events and partner with some of our neighbors like AFI and Discovery to bring unique entertainment offerings to our community. Silver Spring deserves a world class music venue and we couldn't be more excited to grow our presence in the area.

If you are as excited as we are about this new opportunity to experience live entertainment in such a special setting, you can let your local elected officials know. Just click the link below to send an email to the Council President to show your support for The Fillmore Silver Spring: county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov

From your neighbor and fellow music fan,

Ted Mankin
Live Nation"

Chuckles said...

All I know is that my slightly-excessive hatred for the 9:30 Club forces me to hope for any competition at all. I hope Silver Spring doesn't get shafted with more of the same.

Ed said...

ahh, chuckles... while I agree there are many reasons to hate 9:30, there are also some weights on the other side of the balance, to wit: (a) the original 9:30, with it's obstructed-view/I-can't-believe-nobody-was-killed
slam-dancing-into-one-these-pillars dance floor and funky locker room smell; and (b) occasional brilliant shows [e.g. Japanese punk-noise-electronica artiste' CORNELIUS in 2003...

but, anyway, I actually wanted to post something else, tangentially related. new press release from the C.E that obviously refers to the Fillmore brewhaha:

"Contact: Patrick Lacefield, 240-777-6530

For Immediate Release: February 26, 2008

Leggett Solicits Applicants

For Arts & Entertainment Committee

In Silver Spring

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett is seeking applicants for the new Silver Spring Arts & Entertainment District Advisory Committee.

The group will advise the Executive on community issues related to arts and entertainment venues in Silver Spring.

"Throughout the recent process to bring a new entertainment venue to Silver Spring, we told residents that this type of committee would be established. It's important that their input continues to be received in matters relating arts and entertainment venues in their
community," Leggett said.

Resumes should be submitted - no later than Friday, March 21 - to Gary Stith, Director, Silver Spring Regional Services Center, 8435
Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, 20910; or email gary.stith@montgomerycountymd.gov.

For additional information, contact Gary Stith at 301-565-7300."

any takers? ;)

Anonymous said...

It's really a choice of dealing with two devils. The local guys, IMP let the mid-range acts know that they better book at 9:30 or never play again in this town or at Merriweather. Ironic, since IMP complained from its first day in business that that's what Cellar Door was doing to them. The other devil, just as evil, is Live Nation. They control 87% of the large concert venues nationally and also own vast amounts of club space too. Cross them early in your career and guarantee yourselves never to play at a big club, arena or amphitheater. Better choice ?? Maybe Birchmere's management with Rams Head, Rams Head Live and the Birchmere. At least these folks welcome open bookings to all...

Notice of Eviction said...

It is nice learning about this another argument for the fillmore. I think IMP is an excellent idea, and is not a small deal.

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I am excited about about IMP's proposal cheaply for it would be a new venue and hopefully the quality of acts for silver spring residents.

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