Load remaining images On Wednesday, May 10th, Relix Magazine hosted the inaugural edition of the Relix Live Music Conference, a day-long meeting of the best and brightest in the live music industry that is sure to become an annual affair. The event hosted a variety of highly insightful panels and presentations on talent buying, festival planning, activism, technology, publicity, agenting, and artist management, as well as a truly memorable keynote conversation with highly successful promoters and live music tycoons Ron Delsener and Peter Shapiro moderated by longtime Rolling Stone rock and roll writer, critic, and historian David Fricke (you can see a full list of panels and speakers here).While it would be impossible to recount all of the knowledge imparted by (and to) the attending music industry movers and shakers, we’ve boiled down a few of the most meaningful nuggets of wisdom we learned at the Relix Live Music Conference at Brooklyn Bowl:1) Get off your email and pick up the phone.As the experienced speakers on the “Talent Buying: Where It All Begins” panel explained, in today’s world it’s easy to relegate all of your communications to email, where things are neatly documented and responses are direct and curated. But while that may be convenient from an organizational standpoint, ideas flow more freely through conversation than through written correspondence. More often than not, a call with an agent, a band, a venue, etc. yields ideas for future projects, while an email only addresses specific topics. So unshackle yourself from your computer keyboard and pick up the phone. It makes a world of difference.2) Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks.As the seasoned artist managers on the afternoon’s “Management: Amplifiers and Emissaries” panel articulated, one of the most important traits you can have on the band/management end of the spectrum is a willingness to bet on yourself and your acts. There’s always uncertainty involved when deciding whether to take a guaranteed fee for a show or opt for a door deal, which nets you a percentage of the ticket sales. Door deals have more upside potential, but they also leave you vulnerable to make less money than expected if the show sells poorly. One of the most important parts of managing an artist is deciding when to take a calculated risk, and when to just take the money and run. At the end of the day, you can’t win ’em all, but you can certainly be a smart and disciplined gambler.3) Don’t be afraid to turn down attractive opportunities in service of the big picture.The flip-side of insight #2: Sometimes, success comes down to betting big on the merits of your work. But that doesn’t mean that you can–or should–bet on every play that comes your way. In both the “Festivals: Weathering The Storm” and “Agenting: Offering Alternative Routes,” a theme that frequently came up was knowing when to pass on an offer if it doesn’t fit into your master plan.For example, chasing every festival lineup is a faulty management strategy. You have to use festival bookings in the right way, at the right times. Radius clauses for many festivals may prohibit you from playing your own hard ticket shows in surrounding markets. A lot of bands make their money in secondary and tertiary markets, building fan bases in smaller cities that are off the beaten path routing-wise. While being on a festival admat may be a good look for an artist, a festival gig equates to one single pay day. If you can play 5 sold-out shows in the surrounding markets, it’s likely that you’ll make more and benefit more in the long term from doing that than you would from playing a big-name festival set. If a festival play closes off opportunities that are more lucrative in terms of the big picture, it’s a deal you should probably pass on–no matter how exciting the prospect may seem.4) Always be thinking about what’s next. Always be planning it way in advance.The speakers on every panel were adamant about the importance of planning and foresight. Many of the most successful bands and venues are booked up several years into the future. That means that you can’t be too grounded in the “now”–you have to be focused on the “next.” Always be thinking about where you want to be in the future, and make plans for that future way in advance. That way, it’s easier to see the big picture with regard to bookings, routing, recording, and releases, and to make your plans accordingly.5) Always be editing. Always be revising. Always be creating. Always be improving your product, whatever that may be.For a band, everything the public sees and hears is part of your product–from your studio recordings, to your live shows, to your appearance and presence both on social media and in the real world. As the “Management” panelists stressed, editing is crucial. There’s no time to rest on your laurels. You should always be consciously and proactively looking to edit, revise, fine-tune, and perfect every facet of your product. You should always be creating, adding to your arsenal. You’re not gonna be lying on your deathbed regretting that you wrote too many songs.6) When planning a festival, 1+1 should always equal 3.A sentiment echoed by all of the panelists on the “Festivals: Weathering The Storm” panel was the importance of complimentary combinations. While there are various different factors that give certain festivals their “hook,” at the end of the day, people come for the bands. But the majority of the acts on every festival lineup also tour on their own, giving potential festival attendees an out: if they can see their favorite new band headline a theater in their home town for 20 bucks, they may decide it’s not worth it to shell out hundreds for a festival pass. The trick, therefore, is to win people over with the combinations, creating lineups that are greater than the sum of their parts (i.e. you can go see bands X, Y, and Z separately, but seeing them all in the same place makes the festival a uniquely appealing experience). Always strive for “1+1=3.”7) Real estate, merch, bowling, chicken, whatever: Establish ancillary revenue streams so you can keep the music alive.Concert tickets are a fickle product, and performance deals are often booked in a way that gives the band the lion’s share of the earning potential for a given show, leaving very small (and often nonexistent) margins for promoters to profit off the door. That’s why it’s important to establish revenue streams beyond the box office. From selling merchandise, to serving food, to putting a bowling alley in your venue, to buying up the buildings so you can control every aspect of the production, you should always be searching for other ways to earn. Help the bands reap the benefits they deserve without being forced to cut yourself and your financial needs out of the equation.As Brooklyn Bowl owner Pete Shapiro explained during the keynote session with Delsener and Fricke, the first time Galactic played the Williamsburg, Brooklyn room, they pushed for a deal that would give them 100% of the door gross, leaving no margin for the promoter to make any money on ticket sales. People thought this was crazy–where’s the upside in throwing a show you can’t profit off of? But Shapiro chose to look at the situation as “glass half-full” instead of “glass half-empty.” Where other promoters may have seen it as a concert with a no-win deal, Pete saw it as Galactic serving as the house band for the evening at his restaurant/bowling alley–essentially free of charge.8) It’s hard to do it right when your main focus is making money.As Shapiro explained in the keynote discussion, the main reason he was able to successfully take over former NYC live music hotspot Wetlands Preserved as an inexperienced 23-year-old in the mid-1990’s–and the reason he’s been able to continue the unique vibes of the room with Brooklyn Bowl–is that he was never solely focused on the bottom line. He simply loved the scene and wanted to carry the torch. So he kept ticket prices down. He payed bands well. He curated the best possible experiences for both the fans and the artists, even if it meant taking a hit on his end…9) To be successful in this industry, you have to be doing it for love.…And the reason he was able to do that (and continues to do it to this day) is that, at the end of the day, he’s in it for the love of the music. Concert promotion and production can be lucrative in certain cases, but in general it’s a precarious business proposition at best. As Fricke noted during the keynote session, the promoter is at the nexus of the desires of all involved parties–the bands, the venues, the fans. If anything goes wrong, the buck tends to stop with the promoter, and often times, the promoter is the party that assumes both the greatest risk and smallest margins for profit. You have to be in it because you love it.Shapiro illustrated this sentiment with an anecdote about his purchase of the historic Capitol Theatre several years ago which reads like a rock and roll adaptation of”Willy Wonka.” At the time Shapiro purchased the venue, the seller had been using the space for wedding and Bar Mitzvah rentals for years, but his wife was pushing him to sell. He had entertained several offers where the parties would put together a deal, get everything nearly settled, and at the 11th hour he would inform them that the price had gone up by $100,000. Most of the would-be buyers would get angry, storm out, and abandon the deal. But that didn’t bother him: he was waiting for the person who would recognize the upside and the magic of the Cap, and buy it anyway–that was the kind of person he wanted running this famous venue. After pulling the same move on Shapiro on multiple occasions, Pete finally succumbed and agreed to the last-minute price hike. He understood the potential of the room, and now one of the greatest venues in the history of rock and roll is back in business and once again hosting legendary musicians–all because he was driven by his love and vision for the music, rather than the weight of his wallet.10) Don’t be a dick.None of the day’s speakers said these words verbatim, but virtually all of them echoed their sentiments in one way or another. First and foremost, this business comes down to the relationships you make and maintain. Don’t get caught up in your ego, don’t burn your bridges, and make sure you keep up your relationships–you never know who you’ll end up working with or needing help from down the line. Be helpful. Be fair. Be understanding. Be conscientious. Be present. Be kind–and only good things will come from it.We offer our sincere gratitude to all those who participated in the planning and production of the inaugural Relix Live Music Conference. Thank you for an insightful and educational gathering of the minds. We’re already looking forward to next year.[Photos by Marc Millman]Relix Music Conference | May 10, 2017 | Photos by Marc Millman
Tradeability: B-Again, if money isn’t an issue, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Encarnacion on the move as the trade deadline nears. He’s on pace for a better season in 2019 than 2018 by WAR and is also likely to notch more than 30 longballs this season. Encarnacion is a perfect DH/backup first base option on the trade market, should a team be jonesing for some power in the lineup. He has a team option for 2020, so a receiving team would have to deal with the option or buyout ($5 million) if they want to move on from Encarnacion and his parrot. Jerry Dipoto has a vivid imagination when it comes to baseball rosters. His constant re-imagining of the Seattle Mariners over the past four seasons has earned him the title of Guru of Tradeology, something that you certainly cannot learn at any online university and is a totally real thing.MORE: Watch ‘ChangeUp,’ a new MLB live whiparound show on DAZNWith reports surfacing that the Mariners are having a fire sale, Dipoto is going to possibly, maybe, potentially finally build a roster, present or future, in his image. Even though the Mariners are scuffling, they have plenty of players who could make an impact on playoff-hungry teams.Using a highly complex formula — which is about as confusing as Dipoto’s roster re-imaginings, so good luck trying to figure that out — that includes production, contract, position, depth of position in the farm system, durability, trade market and personality, we’ve come up with a player’s tradeability grade.Take your seats, take out your notebooks and pay attention: Class is in session. Today’s lesson, the Seattle Mariners. This is Tradeology 101. Do not @ me.Mitch HanigerPosition: OutfielderContract: Arbitration eligible through 2022; free agent after 2022Tradeability: A-While it seemed pretty pie-in-the-sky that Haniger would be on the move before the season, if there’s truth to the reports that the Mariners are in full-blown fire-sale mode, Haniger is one of the most intriguing trade options on the Mariners.Haniger, 28, has been one of the more underrated players in baseball over the past two seasons. While his power numbers have dipped a bit in 2019, he’s still been worth 1.5 bWAR through 59 games, so he’s on pace for a great season. He’s also coming off a 6.1 bWAR season in 2018 (157 games), his best season to date.Haniger won’t hit free agency until after the 2022 season, so his prime years are under team control. He only loses points because he doesn’t have a long history of production: His 2018 season was the first he’s played a full year, while his 2017 was injury riddled. Still, Haniger is a plus defender and a plus bat when he’s right, so should a team need a starting caliber bat with good power and a controllable contract, this is your guy.Kyle SeagerPosition: Third baseContract: Two years, $38 million after 2019; $15 million team option for 2022Tradeability: C+Corey’s brother has been a solid player for Seattle for eight seasons, playing good defense and being a serviceable bat as well. In his eight Seattle seasons entering 2019, Seager was worth 28 wins per Baseball Reference, with a .258/.324/.440 slash line to go with it. He’s got 20-plus home run power and plays a serviceable third base, perfect for a team looking for a good midseason reinforcement to anchor a lineup.The key to moving Seager would be to eat money on his contract: He’s making $19.5 million in 2020 and $18.5 million in 2021, numbers that don’t necessarily agree with the player he’s been the past two seasons (2.7 bWAR in 2017 followed by 0.8 bWAR in 2018). Perhaps the biggest obstacle in trading Seager is the team option: Should Seager be traded, the team option for 2022 transitions into a $15 million player option, a number he would most definitely pick up. Trading Seager for prospects is likely something the Mariners will explore, but they’ll also have to deal with the lack of organizational depth at third base: As of June 3, the Mariners only had one third baseman in MLB Pipeline’s top 30 prospects, Joe Rizzo, who has yet to play above High-A ball.Domingo SantanaPosition: OutfieldContract: Arbitration eligible through 2022; free agent after 2022 Tradeability: B-With regular playing time, Santana got off to a hot start, hitting .292 with an .842 OPS in March/April with six home runs in 31 games. In May, he took a step back — he hit just .237 with a .749 OPS and 34 strikeouts in 93 at-bats.Santana, a righty, is very good against right-handed pitching, not as much so against lefty pitching, with an OPS 80 points lower vs. lefties in 2019. This is odd for Santana, who showcases roughly the same OPS vs. both lefties and righties in his career (.795 vs. righties opposed to .815 vs. lefties).Those numbers aside, Santana has a 112 career OPS+ with 30-homer power and a 3-WAR ceiling in a full season. If a team is looking for more pop out of right field, Santana is the guy, but when looking at teams that could be in the playoff hunt, outfields are loaded, so it’s hard to see where Santana goes if he’s traded after a short stay in the Emerald City.Edwin EncarnacionPosition: First base/DHContract: $20 million team option for 2020; free agent after 2020 Good morning, class. Please take your seats. It is I, your totally legitimate and credible professor, Dr. Joe Rivera.When we last met, we discussed the San Francisco Giants and their potential fire sale. I hope you took notes, because today’s lesson is something of a recurring one.