Lollapalooza co-founder wants to save independent venues by acquiring them
Back in July, Lollapalooza co-founder Marc Geiger infamously predicted that live music wouldn't return until 2022. In a new interview with The New York Times, he's sticking to that timeline, and he thinks he can help venues survive the extended closure, in the face of no government aid - by acquiring a majority stake in them. Geiger, who was also global head of the William Morris Endeavor Music Division until earlier this year, has founded a new company, SaveLive. "One of my favorite things in the world is to go to a club, be treated well and see an incredible band," Geiger tells the New York Times. "So I thought, 'OK, I’m going to raise a bunch of money and I’m going to backstop all these clubs. I’m going to be a bailout solution for them, and I’m going to call the company SaveLive.'"
He plans to buy at least a 51% share in clubs throughout the country, and "help them expand into regional forces once concerts return at full steam," he tells the Times. He's raised $75 million from investors, and says he's already entered negotiations with multiple venues. "The hope here is to create a network effect," he tells the Times. "To be a long-term backer, helper, grower of these businesses, and enjoy the wins."
Geiger says his venue acquisitions would be "partnerships," and that he's not looking to "flip assets," but rather, in the future, to connect venues in an independent answer to Live Nation and AEG, and get better deals on sponsorships and ticketing. "I believe the artist economy is going to be very big when it comes back," he tells the Times. "Artists will want to tour to get their cash moving again, and people are going to love going out more than ever."
Not everyone is convinced. "Geiger’s solution on some level scares me,” High Road Touring's Frank Riley told the Times. "He is going to buy distressed properties for money on the dollar and end up owning 51 percent of their business. Is that independent? I don’t know. But it does save the platforms on which things grow and where artists are sustained."
The National Independent Venue Association, meanwhile, has been advocating for legislative help for music venues, and they raised almost $2 million for their Emergency Relief Fund through a recent virtual festival. While the House of Representatives included the Save Our Stages Act in a potential COVID relief bill, it hasn't passed the Senate (whose Republicans, alas, have been too busy forcing through a Supreme Court justice to take up so paltry a matter of coronavirus aid), and is extremely unlikely to do so before next week's election.
Read New York Times' interview in full HERE.