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In the Feb. 3 issue of Billboard, local concert mogul Seth Hurwitz laments the declining fortunes of live shows—-specifically amphitheater shows. “I am still waiting for the magic treasure box of money to reveal itself that everybody is so convinced is there at amphitheaters,” Hurwitz writes in the piece, which is unavailable online.
He goes on: “Are they places to print money? No question, on a given night, with a sold-out show, and people drinking like it’s a sleepover. Otherwise, it’s just another show.”
The problem Hurwitz claims is that the latest cure-all—-sponsorship deals—-is a “myth.” “We have sponsorship deals at Merriweather. Negotiated by a slick dude in New York who does this for a living. I know what’s out there. It’s enough to save you from a really bad stiff. Or maybe two normal losers. That’s it.” The agents, he writes, have figured out how to get the most bang for their buck on sponsorships which leaves the venues stuck hunting for cash at the end of a bad night (say, REO Speedwagon on a Tuesday night in August).
Hurwitz says the ultimate cure-all is simple: Forget the idea that these sheds are instant cash cows no matter what they book. REO Speedwagon is still REO Speedwagon. He argues that he and other promoters like him need to start thinking small again and only book shows that matter or put time and care into promoting the bands that don’t sell well. “And the problem is that no act thinks it is the one that needs help,” he writes.