Fan-Tastic: Future Beat Offers VIP Concert Experiencesby Greg Brodsky
You’re looking to treat your spouse, a client or even yourself to a once-in-a-lifetime experience: to attend a favorite classic rock band’s soundcheck, meet them backstage and then watch them perform from your front row seat. Cheap Trick? Yes? Peter Frampton? You bet! Since 2012, one of the most successful purveyors of exclusive VIP packages by rock stars is Future Beat.
The Southern California-based company offers these experiences at various price points. Their satisfied customers–concertgoers–are helping their business grow substantially: They did 80 tours in 2014, which increased to 125 in 2016. They expect to do “180 to 200 in 2017,” says Future Beat co-founder Andrew Tenenbaum. His formula? “Keep it small, make it truly exclusive and price it below the market,” he says.
Still, the cost of these experiences isn’t for the faint of heart. But it sure beats paying scalpers’ prices (as well as oft-heard stories of fans being ripped off when purchasing counterfeit tickets). The ineffectiveness with the supply-and-demand of the concert business allows ticket scalpers to take advantage of access and mark up the best seats to the hottest shows, giving them enormous profits that promoters, venues and artists don’t see.
What convinced Tenenbaum that there was a big opportunity to turn the concept into a business? He cites the example of his former college roommate, Scott, a lifelong Who fan, whose wife bought a VIP package. “I got a text on my phone with a picture of him backstage with Roger Daltrey. This from a guy who never sent me a pic when his two kids were born!”
It’s a relationship business and Tenenbaum has years of talent experience, including working with the entertainers Billy Crystal and Robin Williams. His partner, David Berger, operated the (pre-Internet) ticket kiosk at a New England-based record retail chain. He left to join Ticketmaster and moved to San Francisco for concert promoter Bill Graham Productions. This led to a senior position with merchandise company Sony Signatures, where he created their VIP program. The company was acquired by Live Nation, and Berger oversaw the giant’s VIP ticketing division.
Tenenbaum and Berger met and recognized a shared passion, which led to their starting Future Beat.
Future Beat works directly with the artists’ management to ensure that fans, willing to pay a premium price, get a truly memorable experience. “They get an amazing seat and meet the artist at a price that’s often the equivalent of what they’d pay a scalper… for just the ticket.”
For meet-and-greets, they typically limit those to 50 fans. “We keep things small. We don’t want the artists to be overburdened,” but want attendees to feel like they’re getting an exclusive experience. Other categories such as a “VIP Tour Package,” which often includes a premium ticket, exclusive merchandise, a laminate and more, are usually offered to up to 300 customers per show.
I went to the Future Beat site, clicked on the Cheap Trick link and looked for a show on their summer tour with Foreigner and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience. For their July 22 concert at the PNC Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J., a “Silver VIP Lounge Package,” with a seat in rows 4-10, an individual photo op, a pre-show reception (with beer and wine included), a laminate and much more, is $375. A well-known (and legit) secondary ticket site listed the cost of a single re-sale ticket at $325. For just $50 more, a Cheap Trick fan gets a remarkable experience.
Prices do vary for a number of factors. I checked other acts on the site and saw that a June 16 Hank Williams, Jr. concert has a Side Stage + Meet & Greet package for $650 a pop.
“We always price our packages below the market,” says Tenenbaum. “We want fans to feel tremendous satisfaction and never want them to feel gouged. We make a little less money and we’re fine with that.”
Future Beat’s current classic rock offerings include tours by REO Speedwagon, Slayer, Styx, Don Felder, The Zombies and more.
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