Panels moderated by Emporium Presents’ Dan Steinberg might not stay on topic or sometimes even have a topic at all, but who else is going to ask Andy Somers which one of his acts is the least talented?


Photo: Barry Brecheisen

Nate Kranz, Alex Hodges - PT Barnum panel

No, the APA agent didn’t answer, so he elected to take the latter in the game known as “Truth Or Patron,” after the premium Tequila shots “Steiny” forces on panelists if they refuse to answer a question.

Nederlander COO Alex Hodges did answer this one: When are you going to retire? “When the music is too loud, then you know. I’m not there yet,” Hodges said to applause from the audience. He’s spent more than 50 years on various sides of the concert business, and his first concert (as a fan) was Elvis Presley in 1956. Who better to ask whether it’s better to do the cool show or the big-profit show?

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“Cool for a promoter certainly is when the show makes money. That is still cool you know,” he said.

This was the longest period where things stayed on topic.

“Best is when you can accomplish both,” said Nate Kranz of Minneapolis’ First Avenue. “But obviously. It’s cool to make money so you have money in the bank to develop artists. … You can’t really do that if you’re turning down the obvious money-maker shows. I think it’s cool to make money.”

Somers was asked how he strikes that balance with one of his clients in particular, Social Distortion.

“With anything you just play the right thing,” Somers said. “This is a band that has a 30-year-plus career. It’s about sustaining. They play a lot of dates and they’re a working band. There will be cases where I do multiple nights in small rooms so the fans in the back get to see the same show as the fans up front. As far as maximizing money? In any room we maximize it.”

ICM Partners’ Andrea Johnson was asked about taking the crazy money if given the chance.

“No. I mean come on, if some guy comes out of the woodwork and you get an offer for three times what you know your artist is worth, the best- case scenario is your act will play an empty arena and the promoter goes down for tens of thousands of dollars,” she said. “Worst case scenario is you never see this guy again, he goes underground and the manager is pissed at you because that was $100,000 he was counting on that’s now gone.”

And while the panel agreed that, at least a lot of the time, a promoter will deal with a bad agent or manager if it means booking a really hot act, Somers didn’t seem so sure about the other way around.

The risks of working with a bad promoter? “Well, they can fuck up a show I think,” Somers said.