Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cicero's: Shirtsleeve Stained

Congrats on the RFT for updating their online stuff.  It's awesome and quite easy to navigate the web version now, check it out
I remain a client of the RFT for the purpose of promoting shows at The Wolf Public House from time to time.  I still must admit, though, that this west side reader tends to peruse the editorial side of things with a "what will turn my stomach most this time?" furver. I am indeed a reader, nonetheless. 
I loved the blog post Buyer's Remorse: Cicero's cans its booker and publicist.  It showed up this past week in the RFT's January 12th issue.  I was directed to it by a couple of folks who thought the story to be..well...strange.  They wanted my opinion on it. 
Now, I say this without any opinion on talent buyer, Mike Cracchiolo nor (publicist) Kenny Snarzyk.  Both seem to have relevant doings in the music scene in St. Louis.  I don't know either of them personally and have never done business with them, so who am I to criticize, not my intent.  You can find lots of stuff about them by clicking on the links, so do what I did and fill your head with some pretty significant social media placement on behalf of somebody.  There, I said it.  There is a huge point being made right there.
I will say that I find it strange that the duo appear in the article the way that they do.  And for whatever reason, a story is told of bewilderment upon being relieved of their duties from buying (and I assume promoting) talent for Cicero's, down at the Loop.  In this case I would ask if music promotion was part of the deal.  Because if it was not, it should have been.  Was there some sort of confusion.  Snarzyk is a publicist, no?
Who hasn't been to Cicero's?  The place is a standout for all sorts of things, and music has been a part of the vibe there since I can remember.  My opinion of the room is that it is one of the best 200 seat venues in the city--that it has been a haven for token gigs by artists wanting to get stage time in front of their people prior to the change--that it has always personified that which the consumer would expect in a progressive atmosphere filled with fans usually from an invite list of the talent performing or show promoted by (somebody). They do some big shows, lots of small ones, different genre's; a melting pot of stuff along the way since like the early 80's. That is about the way I would sum it up. 
So when the RFT announced through (what's become a) fabulous public relations presence, that Cracchiolo and Snarzyk would be taking over, of course things would change.  Off they went on a journey to seek out and collect a schedule filled with a ton of premium out-of-town music, rotating in and out, often with multiple stops in St. Louis.  Yes, multiple stops means dilution. And too many performances can can be dangerous if you lean on the same audience over and over.  Less is more in 11/12.  I know this. 
My guess is that the usual took place in regard to a mature venue handing over the reigns to outsource opportunists for what ever reason, usually burnout on being in the game.  My guess is that Shawn, the venue owner of many years, saw what a lot of other venue owners see when outsourcing booking/promotions:

  • That there is always a tendency to focus on the top line, not the net.
  • That the booking becomes opportunistic from the onset with the use use of cash flow generated by the house/facility.
  • That there is a tendency to overbook and lean on core audience. 
  • That a ton of energy goes towards the booking/promotions agents branding and less about the venue and the music branding and the experience, more about the booking/promoters.
  • That booking/promotions agents are only as good as their most recent or their worst show.
  • That the tendency for all outsourced agents lean toward self promotion. The RFT article reeks of it. 
  • That good booking/promotions agents make decisions on what will fill the room and when in the best interest of the venue. Why book at all during playoffs?
  • That the best booking/promotions agents have stakeholdership.
  • That a data base of loyal-out of-town talent is not all that hard to seek and find.  They often come to you when you put it out there. Yes, it is a pain in the ass. 
  • Musician loyalties are important to the venue and distancing the relationship is dangerous for the long term.
I think this article tells a story different from what was implied.  Perhaps, as one of my friends said, "do they think they are bigger than the music"?--that the article is little more than a spin in their direction--a first bite towards saving face on a deal that wasn't amicable from the start--a follow up later with an even higher road approach as not to burn a bridge.  Hell, that one reeks of even more indulgence.   

Well, you gotta admire the grabbing of space on behalf of Cracchiolo and Snarzyk as "the best bookers", one might ask if proper tone was set for the concept of WIN/WIN.  Cuz that is where the real money is.  That is where the money always is, long term, long relationship oriented stuff, ifyouknowhatimtalkinbout.

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