Panel: 'concert promoter role getting edged out.'

The role of a concert promoter may be getting edged out, according to participants at the "Rock This Town" panel at today's (Oct. 26) Billboard Roadwork '05 Touring Awards and Conference at the Roosevelt Hotel in N.Y.

"Buildings are interacting more with agencies and managers. They will come to us months before a tour," said Mike Evans, senior VP of sports and entertainment for SMG. "Frequently, we'll meet with management to talk about what we can do [as a venue] to enhance the artist's career in that market. That's before a promoter is brought into the mix."

John Meglen, co-ceo of Concerts West (a subsidiary of AEG Live), asked, "Does that mean we eliminate the promoter? I have a problem with that. We want more say in the buildings. So much decision making is being taken off the table."

Venues expressed their concern over their role in the artist development process.

John Moore, talent buyer for The Bowery Ballroom/The Bowery Presents, which also handles the Mercury Lounge and Webster Hall in N.Y., said that he seeks to start bands at the smaller Mercury Lounge and try to "grow them up through the ranks in New York. But, I'm learning that history doesn't matter. When we want to work with them on the next level, they go to the competitor's room."

Marty Diamond, owner/agent for Little Big Man, said that 90% of its roster plays venues that are 1,000 capacity or less, and there's a tendency to "bail" when an artist is underperforming. "There's a false sense of urgency in the record business with any kind of hiccup," said Diamond. "We have to stick to things longer. The passion has been off this year."

Looking ahead, Meglen noted that the sweet spot for many established artists might be the 5,000 to 7,000 seat venues, as opposed to large arenas, because fewer artists are being developed for more large-scale tours.