by Jack Silbert
photos courtesy of The Agency Group
Maybe you know Eddie Clemens from the softball field; he’s been a player/manager for Mulligan’s co-ed squad for the past five years. When not fielding grounders, Eddie, age 31, is a Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for The Agency Group, one of the world’s top talent-booking firms. (The Agency Group represents more than 2,200 performers, including the Black Keys, Dolly Parton, Nickelback, and everyone in-between.) Eddie took out his earplugs long enough to talk to us about the concert business.
Growing up in North Jersey, were you always a music guy?
My parents got me into music. I played the drums since 4th grade. I was in the Bergenfield High School marching band, and marched in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade. And I was always going to concerts. So I’ve always been musical; I never thought I’d have a career in it!
So how did you get into the business?
I went to Quinnipiac University in Connecticut for marketing. The summer going into my senior year, I interned with AEG Live (major booking agency that also manages venues). I then helped out at AEG throughout my final two semesters, and they offered me a tour marketing coordinator job.
And how did you end up in Hoboken?
Right after graduation in May of 2006, I moved to Hoboken. People ask me all the time, when are you moving to the city? Why aren’t you living in Brooklyn? But I love Jersey. I love Hoboken. And it’s faster for me to get to work in midtown than it is for people on the Upper East Side or Brooklyn or Queens or anything like that. I love the city… but I like getting out of the city every day.
You were at AEG for seven years. What’s your role now at The Agency Group?
The opportunity at the Agency Group opened up to start and run their tour marketing department; they’d never had one. After 18 months, they promoted me to Director of Marketing. And in January of this year, I was promoted to Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for worldwide operations. It’s been a whirlwind three years. I don’t sleep much and I’m on a plane way too often, but it’s good!
Do you interact directly with the artists?
Absolutely. We’re the conduit between the promoter, manager, artist, record label, publicist — we make sure that everything is happening. We travel throughout the country, meeting with the band and manager to strategize. Of 40 dates, they’re not all going to be perfect, unless you’re Taylor Swift. What’s going on in Boise? What extra can we do there to help sell tickets? Or this show in New York is sold out, so we can go bigger next time. What can we do now to build demand?
You deal with acts across every different genre and fan base. How do marketing strategies differ?
You have to know the artist and audience, knowing where to spend money and where we shouldn’t. I worked the recent Brian Wilson/Rodriguez tour. That’s a lot of Sunday [newspaper] print ads, and Good Morning America, and The View. But if I’m targeting the band A Day To Remember, which is massive in the rock world, I’m not doing any print. It’s all social media and web driven.
How has technology impacted your industry?
I think that’s one of the toughest parts of my job, being on top of all of the digital and social-media changes. Three years ago, Spotify didn’t even exist, and now it’s one of our main tools to help market tours. When I first started, it was radio, TV, and print. Now, if I see a marketing plan that doesn’t have Facebook, Twitter, or Google/YouTube ad spending in it, I’ll be, like, “What are you guys doing?”
And how have the economics of the business shifted?
When I first started, artists went on tour to sell records. Now, the artist goes on tour to make money: ticket sales, VIP packages, merchandise — not as much from album sales. Endorsements are a huge thing. We have a band, X Ambassadors, that has a full Jeep campaign, and they’re taking off. They’re getting money to help support their tour and grow the audience. The radio and album sales come later — it’s reverse.
What are some of the biggest trends in touring these days? I’m noticing a lot of music-themed cruises….
We have a sold-out Paramore cruise in March of next year. And festivals have become insanely abundant, and they’re massively important. They pay better than local promoters can, because they sell more tickets and can charge a higher ticket price; sponsors are coming in as well. It’s also a way for some younger developing acts to get in front of a mass audience.
Hoboken has a proud history as a concert destination, from Maxwell’s, to Mumford & Sons and Bob Dylan at Pier A. Now there’s discussion of a performing arts center by the train station. Does another venue here make sense?
I love Maxwell’s, seeing bands that two years later you’d see at Terminal 5 and then the year after that, on the main stage at Governors Ball or Coachella. I would love to see another venue here. It’s more of a fifth borough than Staten Island! There are so many people here. It’s young, it’s influential, you can see it at the Arts & Music Festival and the diversity there. And it’d be convenient for me — it’s nice to walk home and not have to take the PATH or bus home late at night!