Part 2 of our interview with Ted, Steve, and Bryan at AC Entertainment in Knoxville, TN. This was a fascinating look into the world of festival booking and how the entire lineup is curated and comes together.
If you missed it, go back and listen to part 1 of this episode first!
Hey, hey, hey, hey. How y'all feeling? Journey through the stories that define the artists playing Bungaroo. Who are they? What are they? What will you see? The what? Which bands? This year's show is about the What are they? This year, that matters with Brad Steiner and Barry Courter. Really should get used to it. You're going to be hearing a lot of her. Yola is one of the artists I'm most excited about. And it's not only am I excited about her being a Bonnaroo, but she's also somebody that allows me to talk about me. Well, that is the requirement. It is, right. I'm going to guess that's part of why you like me, because I let you go on and on. Yeah, you're you're very docile and you really let me just keep going and going no matter what. Yeah, the way I look at it, it's the old give them enough rope. But you know, you go ahead. I've never been given enough. I'll never find the end of that rope. It's Barry Courter. I'm Brad Steiner. This is the What Podcast, part two of our two parts. Sit down with the guys at book, your Bonnaroo lineup each and every year. Brian and Steve and then a special guest from AC Ted, Ted Heineck, who set all this up and gave us the idea for it, which is awesome. Again, like we said last week, we've ran out of ideas. Well, sort of. Yeah, we're still getting there. They keep making the lineup and there's new people. But yeah, that was terrific of Ted to come up with that. And for those guys, we said it before for Steve and Brian to give us so much time as well as all that insight. It's still I don't know about you, but you know, we left there pretty excited about what we got. But here it is two weeks later and it's still pretty doggone cool. Yeah. And if you listen to part one, we appreciate it. And I'm sure that you had a ton of questions that you probably had. So send them to us. We don't mind it. Love to get your input at the what underscore podcast, whatpodcast.com. Drop us a line. You know, the the list of questions that, you know, I want around to I want to do this again. And hopefully one of them comes back to Camp Nut Butter and we get them a little boozed up and we can get a little more information out of it. Hopefully the plan will give away tacos booze like last year. It worked. Whatever, whatever it takes. So but yeah, I think they will. I'm glad you said that because I think they were I think they enjoyed it. And I think they're willing to do around to. I hope so, because it's not something that's ever been done. I think I don't know if anybody's really ever had this conversation with people who, you know, book. I don't know if there are Coachella podcasts, but I sure as hell think that they're probably not getting the golden voice guys sitting down explaining the booking process. I totally agree for them to give us what they did was amazing. And I think it opens up doors for future what we're going to do in the future. I hope so. If you haven't listened, please go back and listen to the first part of it. There's just so much in there. There's news, there's insights, there's, you know, explanations of the rationale behind all of it. There's so much that we're going to talk about once this part is over. We'll go through the whole thing and we'll recap. But let's get right back into it. Now, where I wanted to start was a place where Brian made such a great point and Steve jumped in. So I'm going to go back to that part first and then just to, you know, set the table and then we'll take off in part two. So here you go. Part two of the What Podcast with the guys that book your Bonnaroo lineup. Harsh reality is we say no a lot. That's what I was going to say. I mean, we have some hard conversations here in, here out, and it all ties in really to a lot of times to what Ted was saying. It's like, you know, we get a lot of pressure and sometimes it's not the right fit for us, you know, us being Bonnaroo. It's not the right timing for the artist. And a lot of times that's a hard pill to swallow on the artist side. But sometimes it's actually it's interesting. There was an example this year. I'm not going to name names, but it was where where we wanted them on the event and they turned it down because they didn't think it was the right look for the artist. We didn't necessarily see eye to eye on where it fit in. And so they were like, well, we're just going to wait and totally respected that decision, you know, and we'll probably have her on the festival next year. You know, just to piggyback on what Steve says, a lot of it is situational, too, because where we are in the process sometimes dictates these decisions because if we're 80 percent of the way booked and we have an opportunity to put an artist on, but we don't have the exact right opportunity that they see is a fit for them on the festival. Sometimes it just doesn't work. So your timing again, just going back to there. There are so many factors that play into why a band does or does not end up on the lineup. But just to put a bow on this, I don't know. It is pretty fun, though, to look back at past lineups and see a bit of a cafe stage. Vampire Weekend played Thursday. Kings of Leon played early a first stop. Yeah, that's why I don't know. You know, Alabama Shades played a cafe. So it is that teeny tiny print at the bottom of the poster. It's amazing. And sometimes you're like, oh, man, do you remember that band? Sometimes you're like, oh, shit, you remember. Like look at that. I mean, I think there's one where the black keys are like the third to last on the line. I think that's where I was trying to go is you've got to take so much pride in the fact that these are artists that are major, major, major stars now. And you guys got to have them in these tiny spots and watch them grow. There's got to be an enormous amount of pride there. But to your point a couple of minutes ago when you said that you don't, did you say something like you try not to do back to back or you try not to do multiple years, you give them a window of three to four years? It's not a hard and fast rule. There's always fluidity there, right? Depending on an artist's trajectory and where they are in their career, it is very difficult for us to repeat year over year, much less two or three years, just because of the sheer amount of artists that are out there in any given booking cycle. There are obviously a tremendous amount more artists than there are slots we have at the festival and therefore, obviously we're trying to present a fresh round of artists each year. I go back to, and I don't want to go backwards, but the year that Dua Lipa did a Thursday night and then turned around and was damn near top of the line of the next year. What conversation happened? There's an exception to every rule. But again, as a general rule, just look back. You don't see a lot of artists playing back to back years, much less every couple, two, three years. Yeah, right. Because of you guys and other festivals, my bucket list is very, very short now. There are a handful of artists that I want to see, but how about with you guys? Dolly, we've talked about, but maybe that you haven't been able to get that you really want to get. There's definitely a good handful. I'm going to, I mean, you do what you want. I'm going to refrain from naming any names just because I like to keep- Except for Dolly. Except for Dolly. Yeah. I mean, you can name them. I'm going to say Dolly. Yeah. Because you never know what we're working on. But yeah, there are definitely some. There's some that we tried that unfortunately we won't ever have the opportunity to book now. I'm trying to think, to me the number one was Prince. I think that that one, again, not for lack of trying. In fact, we came pretty close one time and it just- Pretty close, I mean. Thought we had it. Yeah. Really? Mm-hmm. What happened? Didn't work out. Okay. All right. Yeah. I just wonder what in your way, in my world, I understand what pretty close means, but I don't know in your world what pretty close means. Is pretty close, and this goes for any artist, if they're pretty close. Is it a money thing? Is it a production thing? Is it- Paperworks in hand, but just not signed? No, it wasn't that close. It was just a, I thought we were close to a confirmation. How about that? And ultimately, for a number of different reasons, it didn't end up working. How many of those heartbreakers you have? Even if it's- Happens a lot. Yeah? It's a couple, two, three, five, depending on how many we go after a year. Yeah. You know? Is it because, in the success that you have, is it dependent? I mean, the word's not dependent, but how much of it is so because you have great relationships with management or booking agents or when you have somebody that just needs a little bit more work? Are you willing to go fly and talk to this booking agent or management team? How much of that leg work are you still doing at this point that you were probably doing a lot more five, 10 years ago? We still do it. We definitely still do it. If we have our sights set on a particular act, we will do what we need to do to get it done. And if that's fly, go see the band and go meet them backstage or whatever to tell the story. But yeah, we'll- You never buying anybody a car? You never bought a car and tried to- No, no, no, no. We're way too- We will. We will buy a car. Jay-Z, we've got a car for you. I'll do it. You're definitely not above bribing. Yeah, absolutely not. I was just gonna- and something happens because we have partners. We got a text this week about a potential add-on for 2020 with one of our partners out in LA. What do you think about this idea? Steve and Brian are in there every single day thinking about this. And I think that's a huge part of why it matters. They've been doing it forever. They've got great institutional memory. They really know music. And that's what makes this whole thing go. But they could book the best lineup in the world, but if Jeff and the team don't deliver the experience on site, if Jacob and Ben don't hold up their end and do an excellent job marketing it, it's the touch points across the board with the artist liaisons, with the artist shuttle transport. It's really everything. It's like creating a city for the weekend that then some of us, especially these two guys, are living to build for the next year, a year and a half out. And I think that's really what makes it all work because when you're down there at Camp Nut Butter having a great time, you're having a great time because you don't have to think about all the things that aren't going the way that you would want them to go because somebody's already thought through that and has made it the best experience possible for your camp for that year. And then each year we try to make everything better. So I think we can't lose sight of that. Sometimes I'm not in the heavy booking with Bonnaroo, but I've got a booking background and we all like to think, oh, it's all booking and listen, booking drives the show. If you don't have a great lineup, you're done. But everything else that comes with it is critical to the Bonnaroo fan experience and how they pull through the toll booths and how long that takes and how the search goes and how friendly everybody is and the food and the drinks and the pricing. There has just been a massive amount of thought that goes into all of it. And that's almost 20 years in. That's really what makes it work. I've always said that if your favorite act is on the lineup, it's the best festival ever. And if you're not, it's the worst. Who's your favorite act? We've heard that before. You can say who your favorite act is. You're so millennial, Barry. What are you going to say? No, I usually say that to people who are criticizing a festival. But how do you guys define success? I mean, this lineup has been getting mostly praise since it dropped. But how do you guys define whether you put together a good lineup or not? Are we selling tickets? I mean, I think that's a pretty good. I mean, I don't know. I think that. You said earlier you're probably all of them. We are. Sure. Yeah. Some sell more tickets than others. And that's what I mean. You look at it and say, wow, that was a good lineup. Why didn't it do? And why is this one and not that one? I mean, a lot of times though, we can look back and see maybe on some of the ones that didn't do so well, where we didn't actually deliver the best lineup that we could have or we did deliver the best lineup that we could have that year. But it just wasn't because so much of it is just timing and things like that. I don't know. I mean, before like the day before we released this lineup, you know, Brian and I've been working on this for, you know, well over a year. And we were talking like, like, what do you think? And we're both just kind of like, I don't know. We've been staring at it and looking at it and like internalizing it for so long. And we're like, I guess we'll find out tomorrow. I mean, we think it's good, but you don't take it or like how many people do you actually share it with to let it like get like an outsider view and say, what do you think about this? You do that at all? You don't have teenagers in the house. We run. We run. And it's ideas by like lots of people on the team and the Bonnaroo team, the, you know, staff here. I mean, the full lineup, we collaborate with the team. It's not just, you know, two bros in an office, putting this thing together. We ultimately are making the decisions on what is that line. We're making the ultimate decision on what is chosen or not. But it's a it's you know, there's definitely a lot of team input. Do you guys feel as though as individuals though? Do you feel like you have certain strengths in certain genres more so than you do somewhere else? Like for instance, you might be more of a hip hop guy and you just know it. I think we obviously have our personal likes musically, but it's our job to know all of it. And so we are listening to music all day, every day. We are reading, studying, looking, talking to agents, managers, you know, industry folks. I mean, this is literally we live this. And so, you know, Steve might be better at, you know, some of the more indie stuff where as I might be a little bit better at some of the rock pop stuff, but we all know it, you know, and it's not like I'm like having to convince him or turn him on to an artist because for the most part he already knows it and vice versa. So it really if we didn't do that, then it would be hard because, you know, we would constantly be having to say like if I'm not listening to any hip hop and Steve is and he's like, well, why don't you know this? And I'm like, well, I don't want to book it because I don't never heard of it. We really have to have that conversation. Have there been total disagreements? Absolutely. Sure, we want to go over one. No, we don't want to go over on. But yeah, we disagree a lot. Going back to I mean, sometimes we do, you know, sell have to sell each other a little harder on something than, you know, it's not because we don't know the band. It's because we don't want to. But, you know, exactly, because we because we see something that, you know, we feel like we feel very invested in and we want to, you know, but I mean, that but that goes to something interesting because like it's great because it is very collaborative. Like it's not just like, man, like if one person was like booking Bonnaroo or whatever, it's really it makes it really fun and dynamic. And like, I think you can see a lot of the results by looking at the lineup and looking at like when the schedules come out and how you experience it on site that like like it's not just one person sitting there and putting this thing together. It's like ideas and constant conversation and like riffing off of someone else's ideas, you know, doing it in that way. I think really, really, really like, you know, is hopefully clear. And, you know, once you're on the on the festival site and experiencing experiencing like from the first up to the last off, you know, that kind of thing. I was just going to say, like, I think everyone here on the work of Steve and Brian that they're doing, which is so great, is super proud when the lineup comes out. And it's really important to all of us. But there are a couple of factors because the validation comes from, you know, the people that we're all serving, which is the Bonnaroo ticket buyer. Like if they're not buying tickets, this thing is over. So everything that happens is with them in mind to create an experience that they really delight in and love. However, we have no control over the economy. So like in the years where, you know, people don't have as much discretionary income, we're going to see a dip in ticket sales because those fans don't have as much money. And then the other thing, this is what Ashley always says, Ashley Caps, who is the president of the business, he always says we're like miners who are out there, you know, trying to get scarce minerals and resources. Brian and Steve can only mine the artists that are out there in this cycle. And if a couple of them that were really key parts of the overall headline experience don't want to do Bonnaroo or are going to skip it this time around, they're really limited. There are only a handful of artists that can play the elevated headline spots. And I think that's another factor that really ties into the, not the proud part, but the ticket sales part. Because if you can't get whoever just because they're not touring, it's not possible, that may be a factor in your overall sales at the end of the year. That's a great analogy. You're not creating the gold, you're mining the gold. We're just mining it. Yeah, we're miners. The reason why I asked that originally, what's your lineup look like? What's your lane? What is your path going to be on Friday? Because look, Friday to me, and look, I'm trying to keep away from some of the platitudes because I've said them on this show plenty of times, but I mean, you guys are creating such a feeling and such an experience. And I've said this to Ashley, I thought Bonnaroo and Ashley pretty much saved music about 15, 16 years ago. Your lineup, your path, what does it involve on a Friday? I have 16 artists I want to see on Friday. It's the damn near the best lineup day I have ever seen in a festival. And I feel like I've been to damn near all of them in the country. Friday is unbelievable. It's pretty stacked. Yeah, it is pretty stacked. I don't know how we ended up with that. No, it worked out really well. That's probably a better question for my wife, who I usually let plot my path. I think I felt like, sorry to cut you off there, but it just reminded me when I started bouncing off what we were working on for this year with my wife, and as excited as she got, I was like, okay, maybe we are actually onto something. Her lane is definitely, that level of excitement coming from the wives felt pretty good. Have you ever overbooked an artist that, wait, look at this. Overbook is the wrong word. Have you ever booked an artist that you saw was petrified and killed it, or the opposite? You saw somebody that saw a moment happening in their career, they could see it coming, and they were petrified. You didn't expect them to do as well as they did, and they absolutely blew it away. Do you ever have any one of those? I can't think of anything in particular. Do you ever find an artist that just feels like the moment is just too big for them? What do you think, Doug? Never. You don't think so? I wouldn't say it if it... No, I understand, but I wonder for you guys as music professionals, if you look at an artist and you're like, ooh. It's really hard to also say, because if you're not a fan of that artist, sometimes you just don't know, and sometimes people are really feeling it who are really into it in the pit, and you've just gotten there for the last 10 minutes and you missed it. It's hard to answer that. The only thing I could say is I think we're really good at programming and slotting and positioning, but we don't hit 100% of the time, and I think that there's definitely been some moments over the years where we looked back and thought maybe we would have done... I would have not put that band on that stage in that time. Does that make sense? The genesis of that question is war and treaty, wherein I don't know if they knew the moment that they were about to have, and they seemed like, oh God, this is the scariest moment of my life, and then they go out there and I feel like they changed their life. I mean, it changed... One of my favorite shows I've ever been to at Bonnaroo, I mean, I'm bawling at the end of it. They're bawling after it. Afterwards, they're just hugging everybody as if they had just had this amazing experience that they feel as though may have just changed their life. I think that's a better way to approach the question versus people not succeeding in the slot that they were given or being underwhelming or something. It's more about those times where it's an act that has gone above and beyond and the experience and the changing... That moment, like you said, war and treaty, that was a moment that was changing for the band and you, et cetera, et cetera, and I can think of Japan droids on a Thursday night years ago. That band still is like, they hate festivals. The only festival they want to play is Bonnaroo because they still, to this day, tell me that that was their number one, maybe their favorite show of all time. I was there and I watched it and it was insane. We put that band on a Thursday night and who the F knew who they were. I can't tell you how many comments from artists we get that Bonnaroo is their favorite show of all time. Another one that comes to mind that I'll share that this is one I'm really proud of because she's had a long and storied and amazing career is Sheryl Crow. In Sheryl Crow, we still get comments from that camp that that was her favorite show she's ever played and that's, I don't know how many shows Sheryl Crow's played. That makes us proud, but again, to me, it all goes back to the fans because we have the best audience in the world and if they're not showing up and being enthusiastic for every single show that we're putting out there, then artists aren't responding in that way and that's what makes it. John Prine last year, I mean, he danced off the stage. Paul Janoway talked about that there was a goal of his to play and we watched him come out early and stood at the front of the stage and just smiled. We learned a lot. We did learn a lot. It was a great conversation. We've got a little bit more left for you and then we'll wrap up the whole thing here in a second. But first, we want to jump in and say thank you to some Patreons because our Patreon thing, you know, we walked into it really nervous and it turned out okay. One, two, maybe a family member. We didn't offer a family membership, by the way. Yeah, we should have. You know, I don't know if it's worth pointing out, but I think it's unbelievable. We sold out the upper tiers first. Right, the $20 a month thing. I had no idea. You guys are awesome for doing that. It's amazing. Let's go through a couple of them. David Grimes, Leslie Condor, Frank Swanson, Phil Hanley, Dustin Gehrig, Chloe Howe. We'll have some more to announce a little bit later on in the show. The thing that is amazing about the Patreons is the conversations that they are having offline. And we're having a conversation with just the Patreons, so our Lord Taco, our buddy Lord Taco, our Lord and Savior Lord Taco, created us a chat group inside the Patreons. So not only do you get the rewards that are on each tier that are available, like a mixtape from one of us and a t-shirt and all that kind of stuff, but you also get in on our little secret conversation. Maybe we drop a little hints of knowledge through it in the next few months. I think you and I are both continually surprised, amazed, whatever the word is, that the level of, what do you want to call it, interest, love, year round, that all of us have. It's not just you and me, obviously. Right. It is true. I was having this conversation the other day with someone. Come September, maybe August, there isn't that much to talk about when it comes to Bonnaroo. Yeah, sure. We do like to take a few months off, but it does feel like seven to eight months out of my year. This is a driving conversation. Somebody on Reddit, I think yesterday, pointed out 21 more Fridays. Oh, I don't want to talk about it like that. I just can't talk about it like that. That's very weird. For you and me, it's 21 more Wednesdays. I know. It's a lot of work. It's a long week, but it's great. Hopefully, this will start our mostly every week show up until the festival. We'll take some weeks off here and there just to give you a heads up. From here on out, you can probably expect a new show every week. Let's get back into it. Part two continues now, the What Podcasts with the guys that book your Bonnaroo lineup, Brian, Steve, and Ted from AC Entertainment. So let's jump right in. I've always wondered because one of the things that Bonnaroo is known for the thing that is is so of their brand as a super jam, how do you book that? How in the world does that happen? Do you have to find the right person who's willing to just take it and run with it or do you have to specifically go and find the artist and add it to a contract? It's not the latter. It's more about finding an act that's going to embrace what we're trying to achieve and that can, you know, wants to really put in the time to put together a special moment and wants to present that to Bonnaroo. A lot of it is relationship based. For us, it's, you know, Sylvanesso is an artist that we've wanted to do something special with for years out there. I remember the moment I had a conversation with their manager about the fact that they were even considering the toying with the idea of doing the interpretations of their music with a full live band. My brain immediately went to, hmm, wonder if we could do something special. So even then I kind of had immediately I thought super jam. And so I think a Sylvanesso super jam might be one of the most unique things that you guys have come up with. And now that I know it's with a full band, now it starts to make sense. And I heard of that the other day, but that is such a weird pull. But I love weird. And so they did a short run of this in November of 2019, this past year. And we presented the show at the Ryman and I remember seeing the show in that moment and I knew we had a home run because it was one of the most impressive and dynamic and beautiful and incredible shows I saw last year. And I just think I cannot wait for that to play at Bonnaroo and to have it be a super jam which means there's going to be some fun things up our sleeves. It's going to be an amazing moment. But they got to come up with the friends and family. Well, they call in favors. We do it together. It's a collaborative effort. Similarly the Grand Ole Opry. We work very much hand in hand with the Opry team on crafting a Bonnaroo moment for the Grand Ole Opry. It's the same thing with the super jam. It's very much in collaboration with the festival and with us. Obviously the artists really drive it, but we're bringing a lot of ideas to the table when we're really working with them. We're using our relationships, the band's relationships to try to come up with some pretty amazing special moments and special guests. Have there been occasions where maybe guys have played and then seen a super jam and said I want to do that? All the time. All the time. I can't believe. Oh yeah, yeah. Yeah. And that's really, whether organically is the word or not, a lot of times the super jams almost come together in that way because we have artists that we book and they're playing the festival and we don't think of them in that way. But then they'll reach out and say, hey, have you thought about so and so? They might want to do the super jam. We think, oh, that's really interesting. And so we go, yeah. Or everyone talks about super jam. You never know who's going to be interested. And sometimes it's such reaching out and saying, hey, Billy Idol, will you come do this? Or hey, Brittany Howard, will you come do this? Or sometimes it's them going with, hey, I'd like to participate in this. Anybody on the spot ever decide to do it just on the fly? Great question. I'm sure that's happened. I'm sure that's happened. Those shows are very planned. It's not like in the moment, hey, let's do this cover song right now. They're rehearsed. They're thought through. They're obviously very improvisational in nature. But there's a lot of planning that goes involved. There's rehearsals that are involved as well. Who on this lineup specifically, we've talked about Lizzo earlier, who on this lineup best represents your brand? Wow. There's a lot of them. It's hard to say any one band necessarily. I think that really at the end of the day, everybody that's on the lineup represents the festival and what we're doing. Yeah. I mean, is Tame Impala more on brand for Monoroo than Tool? They're both representative. Because that's a tribute to the brand itself. That's what I think is so strong about this lineup is that it's just strong from top to bottom. What did we call it? Heavy? It's just heavy. It's heavy with good stuff. It's insanely well-rounded. And you guys should be celebrated for it. It makes our life a lot easier because we have a lot to talk about. But you guys should really... And back to the point that you guys made earlier, the way that you can look back on a lineup is unbelievable. The way that you can backwards convince yourself. Well, lineup was great, but in the front of it, you're like, eh, wah, wah. Again, it's never... We say this on the show all the time. It is never about a lineup. And I know Ted is right and I know most people, I get it when they say that lineup creates dollars. But the beauty about Monoroo is it's almost insulated from the ebbs and flows of an industry, the ebbs and flows of a cycle or a financial crisis or whatever because you've got an experience that is unlike anything else on the planet and you've got a brand that is as strong as you can find that's connected to its audience. At least we like to showcase that on this show. We appreciate you guys giving us this time because this is not something that's happened I think ever. So this is a pretty big deal. Can't thank you guys enough. It's been a lot of fun talking to you and we enjoy it. Honestly, we are such nerds about this, we could literally talk about this all day. All day. We could meet up at Camp Nut Butter. We'll have a Camp Nut Butter meet up. Meet the bookers. Ken Weinstein was a guest last year. We couldn't get him to leave. We could not get him out of camp. That sounds about right. That was terrific. Ken's the best. Oh man, Ken Weinstein owning camp is really one of the highlights of my weekend. I mean just shooting off one liners that everybody, you know, it's a really invigorating experience. He sent us a letter afterwards and said, it was like a radio show. Well that's what I do for a living. That's great. Thank you guys so much. Guys, amazing. Our pleasure. Anytime. Thanks for coming up to Knoxville. Can't wait until June. Well, where to start? There's so many places. First off, thank you so much for joining us and going through that amazing master class as to how a lineup is booked, how a festival is built, not just a lineup, but how a festival is built with Ted, Brian, and Steve from AC Entertainment. They could not have been more generous and gracious with their time and their information. First off, let's thank the rest of our patrons that signed up in the last few weeks. Dan Sweeney, Lucy Young, Linda Doles, Chelsea Davis, Jason Hazelbaker, and Ella Watson. Thank you guys so much. Let's get into it. Let's recap what we've heard over the last two weeks. If you haven't listened to part one, I don't know how in the world you missed that. So go back and listen to that and come back to the recap. I guess we can start with the news. The news that they gave us. And the more I listen, when I listen back to it, I realize they give us a lot more news than I thought. Like, for instance, King Gizzard are going to be playing late night. There's still some conversations back and forth as to what stage that they're going to be on. I don't know. They didn't give us any sort of hint and they didn't want to push because they had already dropped that piece of knowledge that they probably let slip. The second piece of news, they have tried on Dolly. They've tried Dolly a lot and they do it every year, it seems like. Yeah. Yeah, that shouldn't surprise anybody. I'm betting you could probably make a list of all the acts that we want to see and they probably tried. Yeah. Stones. They got U2, they got McCartney. I was interested to hear and I'm betting it was McCartney that took him five years. I bet he was one of those that took that many years to get, to negotiate. I found it fascinating how much that type of thing, that networking, that friend making, that whatever you want to call it. It's not just sit in a conference room and come up with a list and call an agent type of thing. It's get on a plane, get on a car, go see the show. You get on a car. Get in a car. Sorry. I know. It's funny that you say that because you and I have both been in a room booking a festival and that's exactly what certain festivals do. We have been part of a booking process years and years ago for a festival and it literally is show up to a conference room, give us some names, we'll make some calls. They don't go out and do the legwork that it takes, the relationship building that requires years and decades almost to try and build. Then on top of it, a lot of festivals, the reason why they die and go to that festival graveyard is because maybe they don't have the infrastructure built to have those relationships that can get you through ebbs and flows of the music cycle. Well, I would add to that a little. I don't think that's 100% right. I think the festival that you're talking about- I don't really shoot for that. I shoot for about 75. I'm a solid C-student. I think the festival that you talk about is a lot of relationships, but it gets more to the question you ask them was, are there package deals? If I take A, do I get B and C or you have to take B and C or if I get A this year- That really surprised me. I think that happens in the festival you're talking about that you and I have both been involved in and that surprised me that they don't do that kind of thing like you ask. Here's the thing. Normally, if somebody were to tell me that, I would just not believe them. But I have no reason to not trust everything that they're saying. They were so forthright and accommodating and open. They basically let us walk in there and play on their computers, essentially. Pretty much. We took over their room, the TV, the computer. Walked in Ashley's office, milled around, moved around some stuff, cleaned his windows. The only thing they weren't going to give were things that hurt them professionally. They weren't going to say anything bad about anybody. I really tried. I tried. I know. I'm with you. There's no reason for them to have misled us about any of that. It's strange though, when we think about especially the Cafe X, the lower card, the undercard stuff, how they wouldn't come along with some sort of management. I'll just use this for an example. If I have Mom & Pop Records and I've got an up and coming artist that I really, really want to get an exposure and I think this is their moment, I say, hey, can you put blank on because I'm giving you one of my better artists of Mom & Pop Records. My logical brain cannot think that that's possible. But if you really believe in your brand and if you really, really think that you are the pinnacle and as good as you think that you are, you can say no to that. That's brave. That's really, really brave. I re-listened to that interview and that whole part of the conversation is what stood out to me and you have more of an insight into it because of your line of work. As a newspaper guy, I'm getting whatever's coming to town or whatever's hot at the moment. That idea of being able to look ahead six months, 12 months, 18 months and say, we're going to have a new album out then, we're going to be touring or we're not. This is June 2020 is a good time for us or a bad time for us. That's next level kind of stuff that I didn't think about. I know this is a sidebar and it may be a conversation for another day. One day when we don't have much to talk about, we start talking about the industry. Like you said, being the line of this that I am in, it really worries me that they can predict it that far out. Not the bookers, but the industry in general because it almost feels like it's being set up and it's already predetermined. You go back to this Grammy thing that happened over the past week and a half and how she accused the Grammys of rigging the whole process. When you really, really want to think the worst of all of this, you wonder how much of this is predestined, already made up to be successful no matter if it's good or not. That's an industry conversation and that's something that even in my industry freaks me out a bit. It's that you can predict it so well. The reason why you can predict it so well is that they already know. That scares me. Yeah. You and I have had many, many conversations indirectly about this. You said last week talking about Lizzo that they told you she would be doing arenas. Some of that I'm sure is just looking at data, but some of that is you tell me. They know how much money they're going to put into an artist. They know or not. That's a good point. They wouldn't put as much money into insert artists here unless they knew specifically the ROI was going to make sense in the long run. The way that they can manipulate what is successful and what isn't I think is the point that I'm making that scares me the most. When I say they, I mean they generally in the industry like the overlords where you think that maybe only two or three people run the entire music industry. That's where it gets really, really scary. One of the things I've noticed, I mean I've been doing this 31 years. I used to get box loads of albums and CDs hoping that we would review them. The last several years it's trickled down to just a handful and it finally dawned on me the ones that I was getting were the acts that are big or going to be big. You know what I mean? They quit sending me the hope force. They were just sending the ones that did blow up and became big. You know what I mean? It almost feels as though as a buyer of the product, it almost feels as though I have no control here. It almost feels matrix like. I know this feels like a very weird conversation to go into but it does freak me out a little bit. Well, except I can bring it back to Bonnaroo and the cafe stages. That's what I think they've always done very, very well in the entire time I've been going is I always felt like it didn't matter that anybody on that line up was going to have a hit record or not. They were just going to be good. You know what I mean? That's good. I mean they actually said that in the chat. They know what they're putting on a stage is quality and they know they're going to have an audience there. It's now on the artist to make something of that moment. I started to say during that interview and I didn't but they have earned a huge level of trust. Yeah, well see this is where I just don't believe them. I will straight up say I don't believe them. Look they can be as humble as they want to be. Nobody's that good? They can be as humble as they want to. They have broken artists. Now I know it takes a lot of people and a lot of effort and a lot of foresight to know exactly when your moment should be on the artist part, bringing it on stage. I get all of that but they have got to look in the private moments at each other and be like you know what, if it wasn't for us I don't think they'd be where they are. Come on. Oh yeah, it works both ways. That's a huge get to be able to play Bonnaroo on your resume. No question that opens. That at least gets you a return phone call, right? I would think. Now what you do with it is on you. But I mean there have been acts that you and I have walked up to and been like uh-uh. Maybe it's just not for me. That's sort of what Ted said. When we asked, I basically asked the question, who has not delivered? Have there been artists that just they don't bring something that fits the moment? Where this is like they, if they say this is the moment that you get to make your next step, this is going to be your opening to a huge audience. Who didn't bring it? And what do you feel when you see them not bringing it? You know the answer Ted gave was everyone, everyone brings it. That was politically correct. Which is, you know, I guess. But we, but I think his overall point was the better one when he said it's not just about like them bringing it. I know it's on the artist to seize the moment. They didn't, look there are plenty of artists that we watched and said that's just not, but that was Ted's overall point I think. Sometimes they have seized the moment, it's just not for you. Yeah, no question. That there's somebody in the pit that is going crazy about this. The fans that have shown up for that band love it. And it's just not ours. It's not our recipe. That was his point was that maybe you just did walk up and you missed the whole lead up to that and maybe you, you know, you've been there all day. So your head space is different than somebody else. Sure, no question about that. Let's go through some of the other news that they broke. So they've tried a lot with Dolly and they're going to try again next year. They've got King Gizzard late night. The other one that I thought was interesting and we talked about a little bit is that they listen. They listen to the surveys, they listen to the reddits, they listen to the reactions of the audience and the crowd and their people mean a lot to them and they do not want to disappoint them. The other thing that I thought was the big one, really the big one was that they had prints. Yeah, they thought they had prints. They thought they had prints. The crown jewel. Now I know everybody's crown jewel now is Daft Punk. At this point it's just a joke. But the fact that, you know, prints was this close. Now I pressed and I asked, you know, what does this close mean? Because I honestly don't know. I mean, I don't know what this close means. I mean, you could, you could say that you're this close to booking Jesus. Yeah. You know, I mean, we almost have, we just missed him. But he, excuse me, but looking in his eyes, I could tell how close they were. Yeah. Now I don't know if that, you know, made it to the air and I don't know if you felt the weight of him, but I looked in his eyes and I asked him, what does this close mean to you? And he made me feel as though it was there. It was there. I asked if it was, you know, just not a signature or paperwork and it didn't get to that level. But I think, I think it's some degree at that level, a handshake, you know, yeah, I'm coming. If Prince wants to come, same with Dolly. We've laughed about that many, many times. It's all up to Dolly. If she wants to come, she'll come. If she doesn't want to come, it's not because they're not willing to, you know, give her whatever she's asking. Mark this down for if one of them comes back to camp, I want to know if I, I know they're not going to answer. I want to know how much that offer was. Maybe even was off the record. I've got, if it's, if it's double digits, man, would they ever offer double digits to somebody? You know, that's a lot of money. What I would want to know is how often the number is the deciding factor. Interesting. You know what I mean? Cause I'm going to guess for a lot of those bands, if they want to play, it's not about the money. We'll see. That's what they said. They want to, they want somebody to want to be there. Yeah. Is there an easy way out of the money conversation? Because you know, if you love me, if we're in a relationship, if you love me, you'll want to be with me. I shouldn't have to force you to want to be with me. We just like, we can get out of the money conversation pretty easily if you don't want to come here. Yeah. I call it stupid money. You know, there are many, many stories over the years I've heard of, I'll give you for an example. There's a local high school here that has more money than, than they should. And they book acts to come and play and they wanted to have James Brown. Well, he doesn't want to come play a high school as you can imagine. Excuse me? This was years ago. What kind of story is this? Well, no, what I'm saying is, so he asked for stupid money and they gave it to him. Stop it. Yeah. So that's what I mean. Write down what high school that is. This is the, this is the strangest thing I've ever heard. Okay. I got it. That is insane. Yeah. So that's what I mean. They're stupid money. What would they do with James Brown? They had a senior party. Oh, get out of here. No, they do it all the time. They've done it for years. That makes me want to punch people. You do not get James Brown for your senior party. Some senior party. They had P-Funk one year. Same thing. That's absurd. Yeah. That's what I mean. You know, James's people, no, I'm not going to do that. And then they, then he says, well, I'll do it for this. And they get it. Stupid money. Do you remember what the number was? No. Okay. So that's for something completely out of the left field, thinking that there's no way that somebody, you're wanting them to say no. Correct. It is a no. But if you're stupid enough to pay it, I'm going to come play. And I don't know how much, that's what I mean. I don't think, you know, Dolly, for example, could ask for any number, right? But she doesn't need the money. It's not about the money. Either she wants to play or she doesn't want to play. Now her management probably says we're not going below this number, but it happens. You know what I mean? If they want to play, they'll work with you and give up. And here's the thing. Give up. I think, I think the dirty little secret about all of this is I think that they're working with a lot less of a budget than you think they are. Yeah. That's what I'm saying. Exactly. I think there are probably acts that get, I mean, McCartney, I don't remember what I heard the rumor was what, two and a half, three million? I thought it was five. Five, five million. I don't remember. It's a bunch. And that, to be honest, surprised me because he doesn't need the money. I mean, the guy's, the guy's okay. He's going to make it. Yeah. And I don't know if it becomes an ego thing, you know, if they say, well, what's the highest you paid someone else? Well, I have to have, you know, $1 more than that. I don't know. But I don't think the money in that AA plus list, I think they work. You know what I mean? The other things that I thought were interesting and that I think are breaking news, that it's really two guys. And I know they talk about the team and, you know, the C3 guy that helps with the EDM stage and, you know, the plazas and those get booked, you know, separately. I get it. But that's stunning when it's all said and done. It's really two guys' relationships with artist management, et cetera, that really drive this whole thing. And it's worth pointing out, they've had two good years, right? Well, here's the part they won't tell you. And everybody that's listening here knows the elephant in the room. They know that three years ago, four years ago, wasn't doing so well. And we know why, because it sort of got taken over by other entities. And then when AC decided to, well, I don't know if they decided or not. That's the wrong way of saying it. But once it got put back in the AC's hands, you know, things started to turn around. And now it seems as though the powers that be see how well this works and they're not going to screw with it. Well, you and I talked about, I guess, last week, the fact that they've done it for what they say 12 years, they've learned a lot, you know, imagine bringing somebody brand new and dropping them in a room and saying, book this festival. Yeah. Which probably gets to the three years and four years ago with the old committee of many is a committee of none type of thing. Too many chiefs. Everybody probably had a who knows? We weren't in that room. But yes, I was stunned that it's two people, but it seems to be the right two people. The right two people. And now the more like another thing I wanted to ask when I listen back, how often do you fight? Like, how have I understand that you disagree about artists, but if you don't come in with the right mentality with another human being who is basically your professional crutch. Yeah. I mean, you count on that person to come at you with the same energy to not fight with you, to respect you. How often do those lines get blurred? How often do you get just totally butthurt by somebody else and you just have to stop talking for a little while? Yeah. They said they fight about it. If you're talking about this every day, like if I'm to believe you and you're talking about this every day and you're working on this nonstop and you've got however many venues to book, you've got how many other festivals to book, how often are you guys just like, I got to take a break from you? Yeah. We didn't get to how often, but they did say they argue. That's an interesting question because they do it year round, right? They're already working on next year. That is an interesting question. They're working on festivals, they're working on venues. And here's the other thing that I thought about along the same lines. If you listen, and I thought it was so interesting when I asked, not the question that I asked, but I asked them, what are you better at than- Yeah, the other. What's your strength? What's your strength? What's the genre that you really, really feel comfortable in? And Brian's answer was, we need to know all of it. It is our job to know all of it. And boy, that hit me like a ton of bricks. It's a job. How often do they say to themselves, I'm just tired of absorbing content. I'm tired of listening to music. Again, how often does the job that you have turn you into being soured on the product in which you're representing? Well, again, I mean, you and I are peripherally in this business. I mean, that's similar to what I do as a newspaper guy. I'm not supposed to have a preference. If we've got an act that's coming in that's whatever genre, I have to show the same enthusiasm and energy and interest in writing a story about it. So I kind of get that part of it. I get it. But I am in radio. But dude, when I am out of work, the last thing I want to do is listen to radio. What sucks is I became the reason I'm in radio is because I loved radio and I love listening to it. I love being a radio nerd. Now I can't stand it because it's my daily, my day to day. That I was going to agree with. And then the second is how many phone calls and emails and people like me coming up to them at Moon River and saying, I know who you should get. That's the nice one. How about the label guy or the manager? Here, listen to this CD. You need to get these people. That would get old, I would think. Or how about, again, no kidding. No kidding. How about this? What about if you love a band and you realize who their manager is and then you're like, I hate that guy. I hate that guy and I know how bad this is going to be. I want to know the bad days. I want to know when they argue. I want to know when they get tired of the job. I want to know when they get like they're burnt out and what do they do to get out of that mindset because we think of this, we are so hyper critical about every line on a festival poster. We're so hyper critical of everything that happens on the farm because it may inconvenience us for a second or two or we don't agree with one thing or the other. But my God, there are human beings that have to do this for a living and they are burnt out, they're tired. Some days they're just not in it. Yeah, that's a great point. I always laugh about my job. It beats digging a ditch. I don't work on a roof for a living. Well, I'll give you this. When I tell people I go to Bonnaroo every year, first of all, they can't believe that I can't. That's question number one. You camp in a tent and then they don't believe that it's work. You know what I mean? It's work for me. I love it. I'm having a good time. I'd rather be doing that than digging a ditch. True, true. But you know, it's work. My friends always, my friends and Taco is one of them. All my friends literally look at me as if I do not do anything during the day. I think it's by that, well, I mean, it makes it, I make it look easy. But at some point you do some things for so long, you make it look pretty easy. And you know, that's just the nature of it. And I've done it enough times. You know, I have a routine. I mean, my routine up there is pretty set. But since we've added Wednesday, going up on Wednesday for media day and Monday, it's a long haul. Oh, do not. Do not even pretend, pretend that us being there from Wednesday to Monday is any sort of work. Now, I will even admit that there's no, it's not. Well, I'm not working. Yeah. No, I'm not doing a damn thing. I know two years when I can. We've had interviews with people at camp that I've slept through. Yes, that's true. That's true. That is true. I'm not working. So, yeah, to your point, I mean, this that's what these guys do year round. So yeah, I imagine it does get a little where they just kind of got to say, I need a break. Yeah, I got to walk away. I'm trying to think of anything else. I'm sure there's a ton here to go through, but I think it's probably a good place to stop. I will say one more thing that I find to be really, really hysterical about everybody that works at AC and everybody that's inside the Bonnaroo world, you know, at the top, right? Everybody does this, Quayar does this, all the AC entertainment people do this. Have you noticed how they say Bonnaroo? Yes. Yes. It makes me wonder that we're doing it all wrong. We are saying it wrong. They all say it a certain way. And I actually had somebody not related tell me there is a proper way to say it. Yeah. But see, here's the thing that makes me so if you notice, go back and listen, everybody that we've ever talked to at AC always calls it Bonnaroo. Bonnaroo. Yeah, that's it. We all say Bonnaroo. That's right. You got it. I didn't notice that. But here's the thing that gets me. If it really is the way, because all of them say it that way. It's like they've been told, no, we are going to say it the proper way. And if nobody else does, that's on them. That's their inside thing. Right. Yeah, yeah. No, they don't. They have never once corrected anyone. They've never once said to anyone, hey, by the way, you actually pronounce it Bonnaroo. It's true. Ashley says it that way. And he did tell me in his office just before you came in that this is his favorite festival. This is their favorite festival. Yeah, I mean, I bet. Well, you know, I told him, I said, I always heard Big Ears was because that's kind of his baby. Yeah. That's his that's his genre. But that was, you know, we asked Brian and them if if booking Bonnaroo was different than any others. And they said, of course. So, you know, nothing. No, no, no. Booking Bonnaroo. Bonnaroo. I got to learn how to say it. I do. I like it. It's fascinating that they've never once corrected anyone. But yet they all say it a specific way. Yeah, that's true. All right. It's funny you caught that because I did, too. There you go. All right. That's Barry Courter. I'm Brad Steiner. Next week, we're really, really excited about some things that are happening next week. That's going to sort of like be a nice touchstone from the lineup conversation that we've been having for the last three weeks. We'll announce that via Twitter and Facebook and all of the social medias and even our Patreon chat group. They'll know first. All right. We'll talk to you then. Love you, bye. Hey, hey, hey, hey. How y'all feeling? Journey through the stories that define the artists playing Bonnaroo. Who are they? What are they? What will you see? The what? Which bands? This year? That matter? Brad Steiner and Barry Courter.