POWER MOVE: Madison Square Garden still racked up $46 million in concert grosses even with nearly half its annual bookings lost due to renovations.
THE RUNDOWN: As a 25-year veteran of the touring industry, Melissa Ormond has proved she’s plenty tough, parlaying her experience on the promotion side of the concert business to become president of MSG Entertainment last year, after serving as the division’s COO since 2008.
Ormond oversees booking and production operations at Madison Square Garden in New York, the adjacent Theater at Madison Square Garden and high-profile Manhattan venues like Radio City Music Hall and the Beacon Theatre. Also under her watch: the Chicago Theatre, the Wang Theatre in Boston and the Forum in Los Angeles, the lattermost undergoing a massive renovation that will soon make it a fierce competitor in a highly competitive market again.
After spending years as the highest-grossing arena in the world, even while undergoing a $1 billion “transformation” that has cost it bookings for about 45% of the year, the Garden still finished seventh in the world in 2012 at $46 million in grosses from 57 shows that drew more than half a million people, according to Billboard Boxscore. Radio City Music Hall finished first again in its category, with the Theater at MSG coming in ninth, the Beacon third and the Chicago eighth.
Ormond admits that working around the Garden’s transformation, expected to be completed this fall, has been challenging. “The downside of having to come offline for 40%-45% of the year for three consecutive years is a big challenge. Everyone’s schedules are compressed, and we unfortunately can’t play every show we’d like to,” she says. “It’s been the best outcome given the circumstances.” Ormond has watched the landscape shift since she started in this business, specifically the digitally driven artist-fan connection. She says, “We all benefit from an engaged artist population.”
Melissa Ormond photo by Axel Dupeux