Last week, mammoth concert promoter Live Nation reported its best financial quarter ever, Billboard reports. In late 2019, a portion of that revenue could be garnered from bookings at the First Security Amphitheater in downtown Little Rock’s Riverfront Park.
The Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau is negotiating with Live Nation to be the exclusive booking agent for the amphitheater after the LRCVB got the go-ahead from the Little Rock Advertising & Promotion Commission. The plan is for Live Nation to produce at least five concerts per year at the venue. Gretchen Hall, LRCVB President & CEO, said it would probably take several more weeks before an agreement is reached. The agreement would be the first of its kind since the LRCVB took over the venue’s operation in November of 2009. (Up until that point, the venue was managed by the City of Little Rock’s Parks & Recreation Department.)
“Exclusive” doesn’t mean that community events wouldn’t continue to happen at the amphitheater, Hall said, adding that the LRCVB was committed to keeping locally organized/produced events on the amphitheater’s calendar. What it does mean, if a contractual agreement is reached, is that Live Nation would have priority in holding dates for ticketed concerts in the amphitheater as soon as late 2019, giving the LRCVB a nine-month window in which it retains priority for booking concert dates. Before that window, Hall said, the LRCVB “would try to protect” any tentative calendar dates scheduled at the venue for 2019. Any contracted dates at the venue will remain intact.
Following that window, though, promoters looking to book a concert at the venue would have to do it one of two ways: If the event was being scheduled less than nine 9 months in advance, the LRCVB would handle the booking as usual. If the event was being scheduled more than nine months in advance, the LRCVB would refer the booker/promoter to Live Nation for approval of the event date.
Live Nation has booked concerts at the First Security Amphitheater in the past, as well as concerts in the Robinson Center — Don Henley and Jason Mraz, for example, and Nov. 3 concert from Ray LaMontagne and The Secret Sisters.
So why now? Hall says the idea’s time had simply come. Growing live music scenes in El Dorado and Northwest Arkansas led the LRCVB to look at ways it could bring competitive talent to the Central Arkansas area and Live Nation could offer access to that pool of artists.
No word yet on which acts could come to the venue in 2019 or 2020, but Hall said the LRCVB has communicated to Live Nation that it’s important the lineup have musical diversity. “We don’t want only one genre,” she said. Hall told us she had no details, either, on what sort of impact any agreements between the LRCVB and Live Nation might have on plans for a 2019 or a 2020 Riverfest, which was produced in 2018 by Universal Fairs, a Memphis-based event company.
The Arkansas Times requested a copy of the Request for Qualifications the LRCVB issued to Live Nation, and an excerpt from that document describes the scope of the prospective promoter’s role as follows:
Scope of Work
LRCVB seeks a firm able to exclusively provide ticketed concerts and other live entertainment within a specified booking window at the Amphitheater. The following are the requirements expected of the selected Responder:
• Promoter will be the sole party to present national touring musical acts and live performances at the Amphitheater within a specified booking window
• Events booked must offer diversity in types and genres of performances
• Promoter will have primary responsibility for marketing the Amphitheater for concerts and will have exclusive control over all bookings more than nine (9) months in advance
• Promoter may also book concerts with less than nine (9) months lead time if the dates have not been confirmed to other users and in coordination with LRCVB
• Promoter will honor the “genre protection clause”-similar music genres may not book eight (8) days prior to and following a confirmed concert booking without written consent from LRCVB and promoter
• Promoter will manage, operate, and maintain the facility immediately before, during, and immediately after its booked events
• Promoter will be responsible for talent, liability insurance (see insurance requirements on page 8), staffing, security (must coordinate with Little Rock Police Department), concessions (alcohol, food, and merchandise), first aid/EMT, box office and ticketing, magnetron staffing, porta-potties, clean-up, and any other event related costs and responsibilities
• “First Security Amphitheater” will be displayed on all advertising and included in all promotions
• An automated ticket service approved by LRCVB must be used for all ticketed events as well as having a day-of-show presence
• Promoter will have a required financial commitment for exclusive booking rights
• Promoter will have a specified minimum number of ticketed concerts each year
• Promoter will have a specified per ticket fee for all tickets sold
• Promoter and any performances must comply with all LRCVB safety & facility polices and all City of Little Rock ordinances
• Promoter must adequately staff all events & ensure all staff is trained in processes including but not limited to: ticketing, ushering, and safety and security…..