Nederlander Concerts CEO Adam Friedman will exit the company after serving in that capacity since 2006, Billboard.biz has learned. His last day at Nederlander will be Jan. 21; Friedman informed his staff of his decision this morning and a press release is expected imminently.
In an exclusive interview with Billboard.biz, Friedman called his exit “a very amicable parting,” adding that he felt he had achieved the goals he took on when he became CEO five years ago, including “repositioning and re-branding the company to what I consider to be one of the premier boutique concert promotion firms, with the most iconic small to mid-sized concert venues.”
Headquartered in Los Angeles, Nederlander Concerts promotes and produces a wide range of live entertainment across the Western U.S. The firm was ranked as the 16th highest-grossing concert promotion company in the world in 2010, according to Boxscore, and operates and books such venues as the Greek Theatre and the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles, the Santa Barbara (Calif.) Bowl, the Grove of Anaheim, RIMAC Arena and Field at UC San Diego, Raley Field in Sacramento, and the San Jose Civic Auditorium. In addition, the company promotes events at third party arenas, theaters and clubs up and down the Coast, including concerts by such artists as Bruce Springsteen, Jack Johnson, and James Taylor/Carole King.
In short, Nederlander Concerts has more than held its own as a boutique concert promotion firm in an industry dominated by major tour promoters like Live Nation and AEG Live. “I feel like the company has been well positioned to take on the future, but for me personally I feel there’s a dynamic going on that is much bigger than Nederlander or any individual player,” he says. “What I’d like to do is go figure out how to be part of something that will impact not just a small segment of the business, but the business overall. I’m hoping I can be part of some major change that’s desperately needed.”
Friedman comes across as an executive who is disillusioned by the current state of affairs in the concert business who would like to come at these challenges from a different angle. He says his promotion/venue model was built in reaction to a stunted artist development climate with fewer big venue headliners, “but in doing so we remain a small overall player unable to change the trends which are ultimately killing the business.” The trends Friedman cites are “over-pricing, discounting, the secondary market, marketing clutter in trying to reach people, seat saturation — too many venues in every market — poor consumer experiences, and a ton of competition from other entertainment sources.”
Asked if the platform he seeks might be at a large international promotion firm, Friedman says “It certainly could be, but I would have to be convinced, frankly, that the business model and strategy is one that I believed in and one that would ultimately get there, and what I’ve seen so far — without pointing fingers at any given entity, because I think it’s an industry-wide problem — but the reality is everything I’ve seen being invoked today has been a misguided strategy. The concept of discounting tickets after they were priced too high to begin with just doesn’t work. The model has to be changed from the beginning and those to me are reactionary strategies as opposed to creating a business model that works right out of the box.”
For now it appears Nederlander Concerts COO and concert industry veteran Alex Hodges will take on day-to-day responsibilities of running the company.
Friedman started his career as a transactional attorney at Rudnick & Wolfe (now DLA Piper) in Chicago. He moved to the business side of the industry when joining MCA Concerts, a wholly owned subsidiary of Universal Studios (later becoming Universal Concerts which was sold to House of Blues Entertainment in 1999). Friedman managed House of Blues Concerts before he joined Nederlander in 2006 when HOB was acquired by Live Nation.
Established in 1912 by David Nederlander, the Nederlander Organization is privately held and operated by James M. Nederlander and James L. Nederlander who also own and/or operate high profile legitimate theatres in the United States and England. In addition, the company is a major producer of national touring theatre productions.