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Aspen Live: A Family Affair

Aspen Live celebrates 20 years next Dec.Aspen Live, a preeminent music and live entertainment industry think tank and networking conference celebrated it's 19th year this past weekend.  Jim Lewi once again brought together "the Aspen Family"  an eclectic group of agents, managers,  ticket-sellers, venue owners, marketers and live entertainment veterans from all over America, and one guy from Scotland.

Click 4 pix:  Aspen Live, A Family Affair.

As an industry outsider...AspenSpin was again given carte blance access to the inner circles of the music and live entertainment businesses.  Aspen Live has a extensive history of professional collaborations and mutually beneficial relationships built over years of skiing and partying in Aspen.   For many of the attendees #AspenLive is clearly one of the highlights of their year.  They get to break out of their molds, blow out of L.A. or NYC or Nashville or Seattle or Albuquerque or even Denver and let their hair down in Aspen.   Every year a few "newbies" try to crack the code and get taken in by the Aspen Live Family.  It was amazing how well the 5 young, vivacious, pretty and professional women from United Interests / W.A.R. Records of Boulder fit into the Aspen Family...which is composed mostly of grizzled music veterans.

Bob Lefsetz trading barbs with Peter Mensch.The infamous Bob Lefsetz of the influential music  industry rag, The Lefsetz Letter led off with a "sit down" with Peter Mensch founding partner of Q Prime Management.   Mensch, quite the racanteur,  has an interesting story to tell.   His long career in music has been colorful & successful, but he started as a nerdy, friendless, social outcast who's claim to fame was that he had more albums than anyone else in the dorm at University of Chicago.  He managed to score a job as tour accountant on Aerosmith's 1977-78 Draw the Line tour...which Mensch affectionately called the "snort the line tour" where he bonded with opening act AC / DC just as they were hitting America for the first time.  Despite being "the worst tour accountant in history" AC/ DC became his first major management client.  His firm Q Prime is one of the most powerful independent managers in the business.  Suffice to say...he has a good rap.  His motto..."don't get mad, get even."

Ticketing ScienceJim McCarthy, CEO of Goldstar Events had to follow Mensch to the podium.   It was not an easy task. Goldstar has sold over 15 million tickets for more than 10,000 venues since its inception in 2002.  You can sign up for discounted tickets in your market at GOLDSTAR    While e-ticketing and big data are fascinating topics...hearing about the time Keith Richards told Peter Mensch to tell Mick that "he looks like a pooftah" was a tough act to follow. 

Day 2 led off with a meaningful story about how Aspen Live creates opportunities.  Felice Mancini, President and CEO of Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation, a non-profit that provides instruments to schools for their music programs and Emma Leggat, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Stub Hub presented their case study.    Inspired by the acclaimed motion picture about music educator Mr. Holland...the foundation provides instruments and other support for about 4000 students every year.   Ms. Mancini is a tireless networker and clearly passionate about music education. Ms Leggat's goal...to humanize the e-commerce giant.   Last year in Aspen Mancini connected with an influential exec. from Stub Hub to get the ball rolling. Owned by E-Bay, Stub Hub is the 800 pound gorilla in the e-ticket space and the secondary market for tickets.  One year later...Stub Hub has agreed to sponsor The Next Stage Concert Series that produced 5 concerts across the country to benefit Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation.  Click here to watch a very compelling 2 minute film about the collaboration between Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation and Stub Hub and how they are helping 1 kid at a time.

Seth Goldstein on raising capital for the music space.Seth Goldstein, venture capitalist, entrepreneur, angel investor and DJ led a round table discussion about financing options in the music space.  It's safe to say...that while sexy...investments in music are usually a high risk ...rarely rewarded asset class.   I'm not saying it can't be done...but making money in the music world is always difficult.  One  peanut gallery comment that seemed to hold some truth " Silicon Valley hates music because it's in L.A. and Silicon Valley hates L.A.   Another weizenheimer shouted that the music business is "full of flakes".  No one denied it.   Check out Seth's DJ app.  CROSSFADER

Day three rolled out the gargantuan players.  Ashley Bradbury from Facebook gave a very nice presentation about the best way to use Facebook.  It became clear that Facebook wants to control everything you see and that the best way to maximize the utility of the social network is to pay them for placement.   Ashley who seems like a great lady also shared many ways by which you can give your data to Facebook.  My take home... big bro is watching...and  everybody calls him Zuck.

Who wants merch? Rockandrolltshirts.comVivien Lewit, director of Content Partnerships at You Tube (owned by google) led a discussion about monetizing content on You Tube.  You Tube is one of the primary vehicles for music consumption today and many artists are making bank on You Tube.  To provide some perspective on You Tube, 300 hours of video are uploded every minute. That's 12.5 days of vid...every 60 seconds.   50% of those views are watched on mobile devices.  The salient point...if you're a musician...control your publishing rights, partner up with You Tube...write, perform and record a hit vid...and start cashing checks. 

Another year of Aspen Live is a wrap. Next year will be the 20th edition, so expect some BIG, BIG things according to Jim Lewi.  It was a weekend packed with information flow, humongous dinners, late night rap sessions, inside jokes, gossip and brand building and of course all the merch you can handle courtesy of Dean Gelfand at RockandRollTshirts.com   The skiing, the hiking the cooking classes etc etc make Aspen Live a unique and powerful event. As always,  there was an extreme amount of hugging it out at Aspen Live.  If you are crazy enough to want to pursue a career in music and live entertainment...get your a$$ out here next year for Aspen Live.  Join the fam, because as always it was another great jam sesh with the Aspen Live Family.

Click 4 pix:  Aspen Live, A Family Affair.

Best wishes to veteran AspenLive Family member Andy Summers who suffered a terrible injury while skiing Spar Gulch for the "last run".  A concussion, a few cracked ribs and a collapsed lung never killed anyone ( i don't think)  Word has it Andy will be fine after some serious rest and recovery time.  But no crowd surfing for a while.  Positive vibes go out to Andy.    

Just as everyone was packing up to head to the airport...a major POW storm hit Aspen, hense the delay in the publishing of this article.  

Rob Gordon brought some new blood to Aspen Live. The ladies of United Interests / W.A.R. Records

Backstage pass. Getting it done after hours at Aspen Live.  

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