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The Bowery Presents... Everything
According to the company's website, Live Nation Entertainment is "the world's leading live entertainment and eCommerce company, comprised of four market leaders: Ticketmaster.com, Live Nation Concerts, Front Line Management Group and Live Nation Network." Like you, we have basically no idea what any of this even means—but one thing is clear: it feels awful, like a shining example of the multi-pronged conglomeration we automatically assume is trying to fuck us over one way or another. Someone's gotta be benefiting from all those relationships, after all, and it certainly doesn't seem to be us. Fortunately, while the unnaturally long arm of such a company might be unavoidable in other parts of the world, this is New York. We have a perfectly viable alternative.
Run by partners Michael Swier, John Moore and Jim Glancy, concert promotion company The Bowery Presents got its start booking shows at the Mercury Lounge, the Houston Street venue long known as an integral stop on every young band's path from unknown to known. Then in 1998, they opened the 550-capacity Bowery Ballroom, a venue that to this day pops up just about every time a band is asked to name their favorite place to play. By 2007, they'd made their way to Brooklyn, taking over the spot formerly known as Northsix and reopening it as the Music Hall of Williamsburg. They do shows at Brooklyn Bowl now, too, not to mention Webster Hall, Terminal 5 and the Wellmont Theatre. Or, for that matter, Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Garden. That they can arrange for an artist to perform in front of anywhere from 250 to 20,000 people is perhaps chief among the many reasons they've been so successful here in the city. They now have the ability to cater to artists at any stage of their career, rather than providing a starting point and then ultimately losing them to Live Nation. Remember when Arcade Fire played the Garden? Getting ready to see James Murphy and LCD Soundsystem there in a couple weeks? All Bowery Presents. They've made their presence felt in a major way, and they've managed to do so while maintaining a surprisingly high taste level and keeping service fees to a minimum, at least in comparison to their competitors.
With the number of truly independent traditional music venues at perhaps an all-time low here in the city, you could of course make the argument that Bowery Presents is well on its way to becoming exactly the type of monopoly they first sought to break up—that it's always bad when too much power is in the hands of one company, no matter how benevolent said company seems to be. You could also just be grateful you don't live anywhere else. It could be much, much worse.
The DIY Impresario: Todd P
For those of you who'd rather avoid service fees altogether, there's always Todd P, the city's smartest, most reasonable, and most ambitious DIY promoter. For years now, he's consistently provided local and touring musicians not only a stage, but an audience, too. In a lot of ways, Todd's shows function the same way record labels used to: you'll go because his name is attached to it, just as you once would have bought a record simply because it said Sub Pop on the spine. (Go to toddpnyc.com for a schedule of upcoming shows.)
The Scorekeeper:Ryan Schreiber
You're not gonna like this one, we know. But honestly, it would be straight-up foolish to pretend the founder of Pitchfork doesn't have a huge amount of influence on the bands people of this city decide to go see, regardless of where they're being held or who booked them. (Not you specifically, of course, but, like, all the other people...)
College Radio Stations
To say the city's college radio stations (WNYU, WFUV) are losing power is perhaps being too kind—it's not clear they have any power left to lose, now that everyone thinks they know everything and no one values individual voices as much as they do the generally idiotic hive-mind of the internet. Progress? Not exactly.