Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How to invest in Music Concerts & Festivals

Artists are re-inventing themselves. CD sales are down.  Music is being pirated left and right.  So what's the logically BEST way for an Artist to make money? A Concert!! Fans have NO CHOICE but to pay to see and hear them perform. 

David Vincent of Sankeys in Manchester, England, told Manchester Evening News “Artists are holding a lot more concerts now as they are not making much money from records anymore, so arenas are a growth area."

In the past few years, Mega Concerts and Mega Concert Promoters, like AEG and Live Nation, have shown sluggish sales and lack of profits. However, smaller venues and established concert promoters are seeing quite the opposite.

I spoke with Joe Fletcher, an established concert promoter who has promoted Motley Crue, Rascal Flatts, B.B. King, Hilary Duff, Kelly Clarkson, Korn, Lynyrd Skynyrd, 50 Cent, Eminem, Le Ann Rimes, Black Eyed Peas, Jimmy Cliff, Tori Amos, Snoop Dogg, Ludicris, Clay Aiken, Alison Krauss, Ani Di Franco just to name a few. Joe Fletcher has over two decades of experience promoting concerts. Joe stated that smaller concert venues have been filling up quite nicely.  As he explained, in this economic recession,consumers still want to go out and enjoy themselves, but rather than paying a $150 ticket, they're willing to pay a $50 or $60 ticket to enjoy a nice evening out. 

Horror stories abound regarding unscrupulous promoters taking investor's money and dissappearing.  The key to concert investments is WHO you invest with.  Joe Fletcher is an estabished persona in the concert promotion arena and he has an impeccable record.  Artists respect him, business people respect him, and managers respect him. 

"Pie in the Sky returns" aren't realistic.  One story I read clearly stated that the promoter offered double the investor's money.  When the promoter couldn't pay, investors cried fowl. 

What is great about concert investing is that the investment is very short term, usually around 3 months.  EVERYONE including the Investor(s) gets paid the night of the concert.  Investments range from $25K through $100K, and promise returns of 10% to 15% (realistically).  That would mean that in a year's time, should an investor continue to invest every quarter in a new concert, an investor can make a 40% return, conservatively speaking. 

Concerts do have a lot of costs which include (first and foremost) the Talent (Artist) and the Venue.  Then there's the ticket sales, seating arrangement, insurance, catering, staffing, etc.  These arrangements are coordinated by the Concert Promoter.  This is why the right promoter is the key to making sure the concert is a success. 

Lesson for the Day:  It's not how much you invest, but WHO you invest with. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What makes a company GREAT?

Great companies come from great leadership.  A great company's leadership NEVER forgets what it's like to be an employee.  After all, in the circle of life, whether we're Company Presidents, CEO's, Owners, Secretaries, Managers, Clerks, etc (you get the picture)...we all WORK to please someone else. 

A President/CEO of a company - big or small - works to gain the business of another.  That could be as vast as providing a service for another business or consumer, obtaining funding from an investor or lender, or striving to attain or keep key employees to make the company function.  All employees of a company work to keep the company viable, and feed their families and/or maintain their lifestyle. 

The difference in a GREAT company is that its leadership is more altruistic and benevolent. I read an article in the Daily News on Russell Simmon's new book, "Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All"* Russell Simmons states: "The true self already knows it is a servant. Look inside for results and not out. Look inside for inspiration and not outside. Accept that happiness is up to you and every choice that you make has to come from inside you. You have to be comfortable with it. Don't let your teachers tell you what to do. Note for yourself. If you sit still, you — as one individual — have the power to change your world. Take stock in the self. Operate from abundance, the number of people's lives you inspire by being a good giver." Unfortunately for Russell - NONE of his companies made the "TOP 100 Companies to Work for" list.  Russell should get back to the drawing board and spread some of his love and giving virtues to his employees.

Enterprenuers should emmulate the businesses from the 100 Best Companies to Work For -2010.  The top 5 are:
  1. SAS.  One of the Best Companies for over 13 years, has a laundry list of benefits:  high quality child care at $410 a month, 90% coverage of the health insurance premium, unlimited sick days, a ), a free 66,000 square foot fitness center and natatorium, a lending library, and a summer camp for children, medical center staffed by four physicians and 10 nurse practitioners (at no cost to employees

    Jim Goodnight, SAS's Co-founder founded a culture based on "trust between our employees and the company"  is the only CEO that SAS has had in its 34-year history. Although SAS gave away loads of perks, SAS is highly profitable and ranks as the world’s largest privately owned software company. Turnover is the industry’s lowest at 2%.
  2. Edward Jones.The investment adviser weathered the recession without closing one of its 12,615 offices or laying off a single employee (the British division was sold in October). Salaries were frozen, but profit sharing continued.
    Employee Perks: Telecommuting, 90% health coverage, Job Sharing program, Compressed work week, On site fitness center, subsidized gym membership, On site childcare, Paid Sabbaticals
  3. Wegmans Food Markets.  Rated one of the best groceries in the nation, and a former No.  on the list, Wegmans has never had a layoff in its 94 year history.  More than 4,000 employees, 11% of the workforce has been here for more than 15 years.
    Employee Perks:  Job Sharing Program, Compressed work week, Telecommuting
  4. Google.  The search engine king plans to add thousands of employees to its payroll in 2010. Though a few perks have been cut in recent years, Google last year increased 401(k) matching and added a stock-option exchange program to help employees with underwater options.  Engineers still get to devote 20% of their time to projects of their choosing.
    Employee Perks:  On site Childcare, Job Sharing Program, Telecommuting, On site Gym
  5. Nugget Market.  The tough economy prompted the supermarket chain to help associates by giving them cards good for 10% discounts on $500 of groceries every month.  At one employee-appreciation event, the executive team surprised everyone by washing the cars of all associates.
    Employee Perks:  100% health care coverage

Being an Entrepreneur myself, I certainly plan to have my company encompass all the best traits of these companies - and even better surpass them!