At Pollstar Live! promoter legend Danny Zelisko hosted a panel with the people who have been instrumental in Journey’s continued success: John Baruck (Frontline Management/Artist Nation), Tim Jorstad (Jorstad, Incorporated) and Rob Kern (Rob Kern Production Services). 

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Journey Panel

Baruck decided to pick up the story in the mid-’90s, after the iconic band’s 10-year hiatus. “Irving Azoff put the band together again, I think at Neal [Schon]’s insistence, to make another record and do a big tour.”

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The result was Trial by Fire, which was released in 1996, the last album to feature original lead singer Steve Perry. A tour was scheduled, but Perry hurt his hip and the band decided to go without him. “Jonathan found Steve Augeri selling pants at The Gap in New York City. He had that high tenor voice.”

Zelisko continued: “Remember, this was at a time when superstar bands weren’t necessarily replacing singers. Now it’s commonplace.”

When veteran agent Nick “The Greek” Caris found out that Zelisko wanted to buy dates for Journey without Perry, he called him crazy. But, out of 40 potential cities, Zelisko got eight dates and other promoters sold 32 more.

“The new Journey was born. The music itself took a life of its own, and it will [do so] forever,” Zelisko said.

“Radio stations refused to play the music, because how dare we enter into doing Journey without Steve Perry,” Baruck added. “Turns out, the songs won.” “Journey’s got what we call the dirty dozen. They’ve got 12 songs on the greatest hits record which sold over 15 million copies, and people come to hear those songs. If we make new records, we don’t play the new songs. We go out there, we do our hits, and it always works.”

Baruck cultivated the concept of package tours, putting Journey on stage with other classic rock bands.

“It enabled us to tour more often, a major market tour every two to three years, some secondaries and casinos [in between]. And it worked. It worked all the way through to 2007, when we did the Def Leppard tour and Steve Augeri lost his voice completely.” Schon’s friend Jeff Scott Soto filled in. “He had this little device. When he stepped on it, it changed the octave, so he could sing the high notes,” Baruck revealed.

It sufficed to complete the tour, but it wasn’t a permanent solution. The band found Arnel Pineda on YouTube. Before taking the new guy on tour, however, a warm-up date in Vina del Mar, Chile, was scheduled. “The old guys were just sitting up on stage, strumming their instruments, but Arnel was running around in circles. I was livid. I told Arnel after the show, that this was not what we do. That it was about the songs, the vocals. That he needed to just stand there and sing. I made him cry, and he threatened to go home, as he did probably every day of the [ensuing] tour. We did a 105 shows that year.”

Kern shed some more light on the band package tours. He emphasized that there was no space for politics: “We don’t use terms like opening act or headliner. Everybody is looked after well, everybody gets their time on stage. It’s all about playing these hits, and the catalogue of every band John [Baruck] puts together speaks for itself.”

Eliminating politics entirely isn’t always possible. Some acts like Steve Miller Band will insist on their name being printed on posters side-by-side with Journey’s, and in the same size. “I don’t care,” said Baruck. “It’s all about the show. The band understands that.”

Tim Jorstad, the band’s business manager, shared some interesting numbers: “Back in 1982, 85 percent of Journey’s publishing revenues came from mechanical royalties, which is the sale of music. Today about 35 percent are mechanicals, the rest is set fees and performance revenues.”

Jorstad also talked ticket sales: “From 1999 to 2015 we’ve had two down years. 2010 was completely off, as we worked on an album. 2007 there was very little touring. Some figures are estimates, but there’s very good records from 2004 forwards.“ In the period from 1999 to 2015, Journey sold 4.5 million tickets and generated a box office gross of $270 million. Ticket sales dramatically picked up from 2008 forward.

“This band is reinventing and rebuilding itself. It’s a tribute to smart management, excellent musicianship, strong work ethic, and a great catalogue for which fans are fortunately willing to pay time and time again.” 40 percent of publishing royalties are attached to “Don’t Stop Believing.” 95 percent of Journey’s publishing comes from eight songs.

HBO licensing “Don’t Stop Believing” to conclude the finale of “The Sopranos” in 2007 gave the band a huge boost. Steve Perry, who had to agree, of course, “wanted to make sure that the song wasn’t going to be played when Tony Soprano lay on the floor with blood gushing out of his head,” Baruck remembered. “So Steve went down to the set and met with the director. He knew the ending before anybody else in the world.”

Another licensing deal that “brought us a whole new fanbase,” according to Baruck, was the TV show "Glee." “Young people, who, quite frankly, have no idea who Steve is."

The many DJs worldwide playing “Don’t Stop Believing” to finish their sets, kept the name Journey alive as well, he said.

The most famous person to have ever been refused a Journey license is Hillary Clinton. She wanted the song for her campaign. “We stopped that. We try to stay out of politics,” said Baruck.

Another anecdote the manager shared concerned the search for a new lead singer. “Before Arnel we tried out a tribute singer, who really looked like Steve. He had all the moves. But we couldn’t do it. It was just too karaoke.“

When Pineda finally came over from Manila, after months of Baruck’s lawyers trying to get a Visa, “he brought everybody presents and all of his Journey records, so he could at least get autographs if he didn’t make the band.”

To make sure Pineda was “the real deal,” Zelisko gave him “the treatment,” which included throwing punches and kicks at him, while he was singing in the studio.

“He didn’t miss a beat. We had to hire him.”

“Are you sick of any of the songs yet?” was one of the questions that came from the audience.

While Zelisko joked, “only the ones that don’t make money,” Baruck admitted: “I head to the dressing room from time to time to grab some snacks.“