Why Outside Lands Looks Juicy to Big Promoters

Categories: Business, Media
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By Peter Jamison

We reported this week on the ungainly turf war that has erupted among bureaucrats and entrepreneurs over the future of Outside Lands, the popular three-day music festival whose inaugural run was overseen in August by Berkeley-based Another Planet Entertainment. Despite the event's success, the city has now asked Another Planet to compete against other interested promoters to host Outside Lands next year, submitting qualifications for the consideration of Recreation and Park Department officials.

Another Planet is up against a lot of out-of-town talent. In addition to the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and C3 Presents, the international promoter Live Nation recently met with city officials to express interest in hosting the event, according to Rec and Park Deputy Director Rich Hillis. Live Nation also argued against Another Planet pulling down the gig in the first place.

Another Planet is a local outfit; company president Sherry Wasserman told SF Weekly that the opportunity to put on a major concert like Outside Lands is "our lifeblood." Live Nation, by contrast, hosts 16,000 concerts in 57 countries annually, according to the company's Web site. Why can't they let this one go to the home team?

Part of the answer lies in boilerplate corporate strategy. When it comes to market share, big companies -- or small ones, for that matter -- never like to give an inch. But Live Nation's aggressive pursuit of a large local job makes even more sense in light of the company's recent market fortunes.

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The Business Sheet reported this week that Live Nation's stock price had "tanked" over the past year, going from $14.13 to $3.83. As a result, the Sheet named Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino one of the "Biggest Media Losers" of 2008 -- with his estimated $8.3 million loss, Rapino came in 17th out of 24. (We're sorry to report that some of the top slots went to newspaper moguls, including New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. at number 9, number 6 Sam Zell of the Tribune Co., and number 2 loser Rupert Murdoch.)

Bottom line: When you're losing big, the smell of success attracts -- even when the success, as in the case of Outside Lands, belongs to somebody else.


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