|| Print ||
|Articles - February 2011|
|Thursday, January 27, 2011|
Page 2 of 3
Thrasher started putting together shows as a side project at EJ’s, a club he worked at in the mid-90s while playing in local bands. Growing up in Portland, he says he always knew he wanted to work in music and for himself. “I was better at business than playing guitar,” he says.
EJ’s didn’t have live music when Thrasher started but the alternative scene was starting to pop up in Seattle and Portland had its own cumulus of alternative bands on the verge of breaking. Thrasher brought in the Cherry Poppin’ Daddy’s, Hippo and Heavy, and the bands brought in customers. As the bigger live venues in town booked up, Thrasher started signing national bands that couldn’t get in elsewhere.
Slowly, he started booking bands at other venues around town, and three years after his first show at EJ’s, Thrasher set out on his own. At EJ’s, the goal was always to get people in to buy drinks at the bar. When he switched to full-time promoting, the goal became selling tickets to shows. To attract the widest audience possible, Thrasher started throwing all-ages shows, something that’s remained the majority of his business.
He’s also stuck to working with under-the-radar bands at smaller venues, something that has allowed him to take advantage of changes in the music and promotion business over the last decade. The biggest musical acts these days are selling fewer records than ever before and touring has become one of the main ways musicians make a living. That means the concert business, once dominated by big acts playing — and selling out — the biggest venues in town, is now cluttered with not-so-big acts that tour more than ever and play smaller clubs. These days, selling more tickets means booking more shows to a large extent.
“He’s the first one I’ve ever seen that became a strong independent presence based on starting from that format,” says David Leiken, owner of the Roseland Theater and Double Tee, Portland’s longest-running promotion company. Leiken started in the 1970s and has focused on bringing in the biggest acts. “Mike, I think, was the first one to develop his niche in the smaller rooms and create a business model that worked. I would have never wanted to do that necessarily. For me, I look at it and I think, ‘Jeez, that kid works his fingers to the bone.’”
Thrasher has done it by focusing on specific genres and building up his street team so that the Mike Thrasher Presents name is recognizable to devoted fans of indie, punk, metal and electronica music looking to hear the latest buzz band.
“He’s got the best street team in Portland,” Solomon says. “If you’re a punk rock kid you know Mike Thrasher shows. If you’re an indie kid, you go to see what’s the next hot thing coming up.”
The biggest part of Thrasher’s business is promoting, or what he calls community outreach. When he started, selling tickets meant buying print and radio ads. These days it means reaching out to audiences where they are — blogs, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter — and partnering for ticket giveaways with local businesses and groups like Bishop’s barbershops, roller derby team Rose City Rollers and radio stations.
Thrasher prefers to work with smaller bands playing smaller venues that fit 1,500 people, not 10,000, particularly in this economy. “I’m gun shy on arena shows,” he says. “It’s a lot of risk.”
It also allows him to grow with a band, as he’s done with the Killers and the White Stripes, two groups he brought to town when they were largely unknown and worked with again once they hit big. When the Killers first came through town, Thrasher did their show at Dante’s, a small downtown club in Portland. Then they broke and came back, again working with Thrasher, this time for a show at the Rose Garden. When lead singer Brandon Flowers came through Portland in November on a tour for his solo effort, Thrasher put on his show at the Roseland.
Picking the acts on their way to fame and not headed for obscurity is an art in itself, particularly as record sales, which once were a reliable guide, continue to slide. Thrasher says he partly bases it on relationships with agents he’s worked with before and trusts, partly based on record sales and radio play, and partly on Internet success and blog traffic the band generates. “The best indicator is past track record, then solid representation, a good label,” he says.
A promoter’s job involves everything from negotiating with band managers and agents on musician fees (which can range from $100 to $100,000 depending on the group and the venue), selecting venues and setting ticket prices to the smaller details involved in putting on a concert such as getting the band dinner. In the early years, Thrasher was a one-man operation, handling every aspect.
“Early on Mike was at every show. That’ll burn you out quick,” Leiken says. “I have respect for it. I’ve been there and done that. I understand what it means to be in Medford, to close a show, get up at 5 a.m., drive to the next place and do it again and do it six nights in a row like that.”
|OHSU researchers work on AIDS vaccine|
|Lean in? Not Sabrina Parsons.|
|Oregon agriculture - not just a commodity|
|The cable guy|
|Outside the box|
|Federal Reserve could ease stimulus sooner rather than later|
|Measles cases rise in U.S.|
|World mourns Nelson Mandela|
|Supreme Court to decide patent fracas between Google and Microsoft|
|20,000 apply for 400 jobs at Ikea in Spain|
|Twitter names first female board member|
|U.S. fast food workers strike|
Produced by the Oregon Business marketing department
When the Portland-based manufacturing company Glass Alchemy, Ltd. was first nominated for an Oregon State University Austin Family Business Excellence in Family Business award in 2004, husband-and-wife team Henry Grimmett and Susan Webb-Grimmett, were honored and optimistic about their chances of winning.
Some employers have embraced the use of employment arbitration agreements as a way to manage and mitigate the rising costs, risks and liabilities associated with employment-related claims. Historically, employment arbitration agreements require employees to present employment-related claims, such as employment discrimination, wrongful discharge, harassment, or claims for wages or compensation to an arbitrator, in lieu of proceeding to court.
Produced by the Oregon Business marketing department
Boly:Welch was founded in 1986 based on a close connection between Diane Boly and Pat Welch. The two had worked together at another recruitment firm and shared certain core values: passion for their work, a sense of humor, a commitment to their community and a desire to create a healthy, nurturing work environment.
The Oregon New Lawyers Division of the Oregon State Bar recognized two of Barran Liebman’s own at their Annual Meeting and Social on November 1.
Barran Liebman LLP is proud to announce that Iris Tilley has been named a partner with the firm. Iris has been with Barran Liebman since 2009 and is a member of the Employee Benefits practice group. She advises employers in all aspects of employee benefits, including ERISA, COBRA, HIPAA, retirement plans, compensation agreements, and health care reform.
Dunn Carney will host its annual Ag Summit on Jan. 10, 2014 at the Holiday Inn in Wilsonville, OR. We are very pleased to welcome Dr. Sherri Noxel, Director of the Austin Family Business Program at Oregon State University College of Business as our Keynote speaker.