Michael Maietta of CEG Presents Interview: How I Got Here Part IV with Dave Paul

Posted by Billyjam, April 9, 2012 05:03pm | Post a Comment
This is part four in the ongoing guest Amoeblog series with Dave Paul called How I Got Here that has already featured interviews/profiles on Robbie Kowal of SunsetSF promotions company, Michael Krouse of the Madrone Art Bar in San Francisco, and Dave Paul himself. The series profiles various folks in the entertainment industry ranging from doormen, DJ’s and promoters to venue owners and others. Upcoming interviews will include Nic Adler from The Roxy in LA, Anthony Sanchez of Runaway Productions in Portland, LA based Arizona DJ Z-Trip, and SF DJ/promotor Ren Salgado of True Skool. This latest interview is with Michael Maietta  of NYC based CEG Presents (Creative Entertainment Group) who as band manager and concert promoter has some engaging insights on the music business including his story on the reason for the success of the always booked band Badfish who work with promoters and club owners rather than what he sees as the "more common working relationship of band vs promoter." A must read for anyone who puts on shows whether big or small.

Guest Amoeblogger Dave Paul: In the early 1990s, while attending Syracuse University, you worked at Creative Concerts producing concerts by the likes of Phish, Stanley Jordan, Joe Cocker, Bob Dylan, and Allman Brothers. How did you get that job?

Mike Maietta: While at Syracuse I bartended a few nights a week and the owner of that bar was also partners in a concert promotion company called Creative Concerts. So I showed interest and starting working with that company as well as the bar.

Dave Paul: How did you meet Howie Schnee and form CEG?

Mike Maietta: I joined forces with Brett Radin who the day to day manager for a band called The Authority, a NYC band that was blowing up in the same scene that yielded Spin Doctors, and Blues Traveler. Brett was partners will Music Unlimited on managing the band. Music Unlimited was David Graham's company, son of the famous Bill Graham and Howie Schnee was working for that company. That is how I first met Howie.

Dave Paul: In the beginning of CEG what do you think were some of the biggest obstacles being a new company?

Mike Maietta: Making money. Managing bands is not a very good way to make money we found out. Even with The Authority starting to do real numbers and make money, it was hard to make it work so we started to promote concerts as well to help pay the bills.

Dave Paul: I know there's no standard, but what would you say the percentage should a promoter make from a show? Obviously if the show does poorly it's usually the promoter who takes the hit. But when a show does well, how much does a promoter make?

Mike Maietta: When you get to the big leagues it is pretty standard, 85/15 is standard deal. But in the club and smaller levels, it is the wild west. It is truly gambling. Sometimes we make a big bet and offer a band a flat guarantee that is more money than that band has ever made which makes it easier to do a flat deal. That is a way to make a lot of money as a promoter. A little more risk but much higher upside. Every situation is really different and thus all deals are not the same. I truly believe that if a promoter takes bigger risks, they deserve bigger rewards but at the same time, if there is little to no risk, the band should make most of the money.

Dave Paul: That makes me think of an interview I was reading in Billboard with Randy Phillips of AEG. He said "If I believe enough in the commercial viability of an artist, why wouldn't I want to make a guarantee so I can make a bigger back end? It's the same amount of work, whether you make the guarantee of not." Monetarily what has been your best show, and worst show, and why do you think they ended up that way?

Mike Maietta: When gambling, whether it be betting on concerts or football games or anything, it is very important for you to have a short term memory. If you lose a lot of money you need to forget it very fast and not let it affect the way you go about making your next bet. That holds the same and ever more when you win big. Some people make a lot of money on a show and then start to get offer happy and start making bets that maybe they shouldn't but they do because they just had a big win. I really don't remember my worst loss on a concert but I know for sure it was not a huge loss, less than $10K for sure. And why did it happen? It's the same reason everytime…not enough people bought tickets [laughs]. I do shows in NYC so there is always a hundred other things going on that same night as my show and sometimes it is just too much competition that night. A bad date I would say is one of the most popular reasons why a show would lose in NYC.

Dave Paul: You have done management in the past and currently manage Badfish, a Sublime tribute act that does massive touring. What do you think are some of the key steps that you and the band have taken to make them so successful?

Mike Maietta: Putting aside the obvious, that the band is very good at what they do and hard working, the main reason why Badfish has becomes a huge business is because the band works with promoters and club owners and gets into business with them, as opposed to the more common working relationship of band vs promoter. I think the way that happened is because a concert promoter is their manager.

Dave Paul: Over the years marketing & promotions has changed a lot, especially with Facebook, Twitter and online presence in general. What do you feel are the best ways to promote a show?

Mike Maietta: I will admit that I am way behind on the social network stuff. I do have a Facebook account but I would say that I go on to that page maybe once every 6-8 weeks and when I do its usually to take out an ad to promote a show. Not that I am against it, I just don't have time. But they are all good ways to get the word out for sure as millions of people are doing it. The bottom line is that the best way to promote a band or show is word of mouth. When someone sees a show and is blown away and wants to tell everyone they know about this amazing thing they just saw. That is the best way to promote a show. All of these social networking outlets just made spreading that word a lot easier so that is for sure a great thing.

Dave Paul: How far out do you start your promotions campaign for an event?

Mike Maietta: Very good question as I think the old model is just dead now. The old model being announce X weeks out, go on sale with big money being spent on the on sale for marketing and try to break big. That is still the best way for arena shows but not club shows. As soon as you can announce, get it up on the website and on sale. Why wait? The more time it is out there the higher the chances that someone will discover the show and want to come. The longer time someone can buy a ticket and then have more time to get more friends to come to the show with them.

Dave Paul: I've noticed in NY a lot of the bigger clubs and venues do two different shows a night on the weekend; an early event and then a late (11pm -12 midnight) event. I've never come across this before. Is this unique to NY?

Mike Maietta: Rents for real estate in NYC are pretty crazy... unlike anywhere in the US I would think. So to make it work, you need to try and be open longer to cover the nut. I do a lot of shows at BB Kings in NYC and they do more shows that any club in the world I think. On Saturdays they do a brunch show,then a 6pm show , then a 10pm show and sometimes a 12am show, and that is just the main room. They also have the smaller room going as well. It is pretty crazy but the reason why is they are in Time Square in NYC, their rent has to be $250,000 per month.

Dave Paul: Chris Zahn does a lot with you, how did you two meet and and what is his role?

Mike Maietta: Chris Zahn used to book The Wetlands and the first band I managed, The Authority, used to sell out the Wetlands as that was their home town gig. He does not have any official role at CEG, he is just our good friend. But if we ever have a show that needs something special/different, he is our go to guy. If you need a burlesque dancer that is 3 feet tall and can moon walk the length of the stage, if that exists, Zahn has booked it before. [laughs]

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Phish (5), Dave Paul (17), How I Got Here (2), Mike Maietta (1), Blues Traveler (1), Spin Doctors (1), Joe Cocker (3), Stanley Jordan (1), Phish (5), Bob Dylan (63), Badfish (1), Interview (341)