Marc Geiger, former global head of WME, has launched a $75m (£58m/€64m) partnership plan to ‘bail out’ struggling concert venues in the US, which have been economically decimated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an interview with the New York Times, the veteran music executive, who was also a cofounder of the Lollapalooza festival, explained his plans to invest in small venues and build an indie touring network to revive the live music sector.
For the initiative, which is called SaveLive, Geiger will use funds secured during an initial investment round to buy at least 51 per cent equity in dozens of music clubs across the US.
Geiger said he is already negotiating with a number of venues around the country and has insisted he would “not seek to flip assets” despite holding majority shares.
When asked about what he eventually plans to do with this collection of indie venues, Geiger told Rolling Stone: “I’m not prepared to divulge the specifics. But I have things in the agreements that are protective for the venues, their rights, and their futures.”
Despite the $10bn Save Our Stages act and the efforts of organisations like the National Independent Venues Association (NIVA), the outlook remains troubling for many venues. Some 90 per cent of America’s independent music venues expect to shut down within the next few months if they do not receive federal aid, according to a NIVA poll conducted in June.
“Geiger’s solution on some level scares me,” Frank Riley of High Road Touring told the Times. “He is going to buy distressed properties for money on the dollar and end up owning 51 percent of their business. Is that independent? I don’t know. But it does save the platforms on which things grow and where artists are sustained.”
However, Geiger’s primary backer, Jordan Moelis of Deep Field Asset Management, said: “We don’t see this as a distressed-asset play. We see this as a business-building play, a play to be a long-term partner and to be around for a long time.”