These days Thrasher mainly works in the office, negotiating deals with agents and leading marketing efforts. His company employs four production managers, six office staffers and three marketers.
Thrasher’s team, like other promoters and venues in town, is working harder than ever to sell concert tickets.
Scar Symmetry plays a show at the Hawthorne Theater in December 2010. Thrasher is an investor in the Hawthorne.
“I can see from my vantage point better than most,” Roseland owner Leiken says. “I can see when people are spending money and I can see when they’re getting choosy. Right now they’re getting choosy. The kid going to multiple shows six months ago is now going to one.”
Thrasher has responded by cutting back on the number of shows he does from a peak of 511 in 2008 to 382 in 2010. While the change was partly due to the economy, he says at their height, “We were competing with our own shows.”
He also has negotiated lower ticket prices with bands, sometimes by getting groups to play smaller venues that are more likely to sell out, lowering his risk. The latter can work out better financially for both parties, he says. Fans are sometimes willing to pay more for tickets to see their favorite group in a more intimate setting and it can boost the image of the band, which is more likely to quickly sell out a smaller club, he says.
When the Black Keys came to Portland earlier this year, they originally wanted to play Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, which seats 2,700. Because of a scheduling conflict, Thrasher booked them two nights at the Crystal Ballroom, which seats 1,500 and is less expensive. Both shows sold out the first week, which encouraged the band to return for another show in December.
To make sure that show sold out, as he does for every show, Thrasher turned to his street team.
“This is a guy that’s been around and he’s built himself up from nothing,” Solomon says. “He has not just built a name for himself but Mike Thrasher shows, people know Mike Thrasher shows.”