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Managers For Coldplay, Beyonce Discuss Ticketing, Label Roles


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Some of the industry's most influential artist managers gathered today at the 6th annual Billboard Touring Conference and Awards in New York to discuss their ever-evolving roles in overseeing their artists' brands.


Billboard editorial director Bill Werde led the panel – which included managers of acts like Coldplay, Beyonce, Dave Matthews Band, Motley Crue, My Morning Jacket and Trisha Yearwood - through a civil discussion that touched upon topics such as industry consolidation, the role of record labels in artist development, and one of the conference's more polarizing topics - secondary ticketing.


“I think [secondary ticketing] is a disgusting bottomfeeder practice and I’d like to see it eliminated. It’s unacceptable,” said Mike Martinovich,

manager at Flatiron Management. Flatiron manages My Morning Jacket among other artists.


Releasing tickets directly to the secondary market tickets is bad business as it affects an artist’s core fan base, according Allen Kovac, president of 10th Street Entertainment. “That’s just bad business,” Kovac said. “It’s 101 bad business.”


The one heated moment in the one hour-plus long panel came as Kovac called out Ticketmaster for its practice of withholding an artist’s fan data from management. Ticketmaster president Dave Butler, who was in the audience, responded by clarifying the ownership of the consumer data collected.


“It’s the venue and promoters’ data,” Butler said. “And if they agree to share that with you, we will give it to you.” (Butler and Kovac were seen speaking after the panel ended).


Consolidation over the last few years has radically altered the touring industry’s landscape. How is it affecting artists?


"The benefit I've found is having a consolidated marketing department," said Dave Holmes of 3D Management. Holmes used the example of now being able to talk to one person in Live Nation marketing instead of different representatives at each show. Coldplay, Interpol and Jenny Lewis are among 3D's clients.


"The problem with consolidation is you lose independence," said Kovac. He pointed to a list of consolidated industries and the pressures associated with heavily leveraged companies. "That's why Live Nation is in trouble. Warner is in trouble. Clear Channel is in trouble. They got their money out but now your artists are being leveraged to create revenue streams to get out of the mess."


"I think that's bullshit," Vector co-president Ken Levitan said, arguing that negotiating the right deal in a partnership can allow a smaller company to retain independence while being able to draw on the scale of a larger company. Vector Management became a partner with mega-firm Front Line Management a year and a half ago. Levitan said his company now has access to more tools that have helped his artists, but his division feels no pressure to use them. "For me, for my clients, it has worked out fantastic," Levitan said.


As record labels have downsized over the past few years and now offer fewer services with fewer people, they're also asking for 360 deals or other participation in an artist's revenue. Panelists agreed that bringing more services in-house and more strategic thinking was needed as labels' influence wanes.


"There used to be a lot more people at the labels, a lot more depth in the departments, and the labels were able to move the meter more regularly," said Bill Botwin, CEO of Red Light Management. Red Light manages the careers of artists such as Dave Matthews Band, Tim McGraw and Sum 41. "I think it's important for management to take a lead in the process. You need to know about strategic partners, you need to be talking to them regularly."


Ultimately, Beyonce’s manager and father Mathew Knowles said success in today’s market comes down to the same thing it did 15 years ago – good relationships. "There's no exact way to do this. But what works is building solid partnerships."



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