Darin Lashinsky, formerly a senior VP at Outback Concerts, is leaving that company to form National Shows 2 (NS2), a Nashville-based, full-service concert promotion company.
Lashinsky, a third generation concert promoter, will be CEO of NS2 and will manage all aspects of the company. NS2 will buy, create, produce and promote entertainment in arenas, amphitheaters, performing arts centers and other venues across the country.
Asked why he made this move at this point in his career, Lashinksky tells Billboard.biz, "After nearly 20 years in the business, it's time for me to work for myself. That's the way my family did it." Of his time at Outback, Lashinsky says, "Outback was a great opportunity and I think the world of [Outback owner] Mike [Smardak].
Prior to his 12-year stint at Outback Concerts, Lashinsky worked with his father, Philip Lashinsky, at his Nashville-based concert promotion company National Shows, to which the name NS2 pays homage. The original National Shows was owned and operated by Lashinksy's late father, Philip, and uncle Gary.
At NS2, Lashinsky will promote "everything that everybody knows me for and what I've always done," he says. "I'm not trying to change the way I personally have approached the business and the shows I've promoted, whether it's Keith Urban, Metallica or John Prine. "
Investing in NS2 are independent promoters Larry and Fred Frank of Frank Productions, the Madison, Wis.-based independent concert promoter. Though once known as primarily a promoter of country and family shows, the Frank brothers evolved and have found success in recent years promoting tours, or legs of tours, primarily by hard rock acts.
Conceivably, the two companies could partner and put together a long string of dates regionally or nationally. "The two companies are completely independent, but of course we're going to play to all of our strengths," Lashinsky says.
While the companies each have strong regional bases, "if you look at how both of us do business, there are no boundaries," Lashinksy says. "I've always been that way, and I think that's the independent spirit. If you want me to do a show in Portland, Maine, if I think I can make money, or Portland, Oregon, or South Florida, there are no limits to where I can do business and the guys I do business with know that."
NS2 staff will include production manager/talent buyer Brian Penix, director of marketing Kendall Maffett, and New Media manager Craig Varian.
As for launching a new concert company at a time when the economy is down and the touring business is coming off its most challenging years in a decade, Lashinksy says, "I've obviously thought about this for a long time, and the truth is that sometimes in the worst economic times, people who go out and take a chance come out the other side winning."