* Member Profile: Ben Weeden '98
Member Profile: Ben Weeden, '98
'98 seems to have been born under a lucky star.
story is one of being in the right place at the right time, combined with the talent and skills to deliver on the opportunity.
After graduating Harvard in 1998 as an economics major, Ben was working in finance at Bear Stearns in New York.
One of their clients was SFX Entertainment
, which was rolling up many of the regional concert promoters, amphitheaters, theaters, and clubs in the US and was starting to do the same in Europe.
was doing seemed so much more fun.â€� Weeden went to work for SFX
in Business Development, and after two months in the New York office, he
was transferred to the London office, which at the time was a very small operation, consisting of only a couple promoters.
was given what most recent college graduates would call a dream assignment: travel around Europe and acquire the major promoters in each European territory.
Most of these had festivals, not venues.
headed up the deals to acquire promoters in Scandinavia, Belgium, Holland, Italy, and Spain; since then, the company has grown to every country in Europe.
When the bubble burst and capital dried up in 2001/2002, SFX
stopped doing a lot of their acquisitions.
"Coincidentally, at the time, a gentleman from the US came over to run marketing for Europe, Michael Rapino, who ended up becoming the CEO of Live Nation/Ticketmaster, " explains Weeden.
Michael Rapino moved further up the chain in Europe, and took Weeden
"I definitely look at Michael as a mentor, and you know, just right place and right time, hard work and luck.â€� When Rapino became CEO of the European division, Weeden helped him run the music business in Europe, and put together large arena tours throughout Europe with Britney Spears, Prince, and the like.
Weeden became the interim CFO of the concert division in North America in 2007, making sure that all the teams under the companyâ€™s auspices started to work together, coordinating budgets with promoters in the field.
In 2008, Weeden
was made COO of Live Nationâ€™s North American concert division.
A year later, the company acquired Ticketmaster
, and divided up their US business into different units: Ticketmaster
, sponsorship, and the concert division.
Concerts were further divided amongst amphitheater/ arena shows and theatre/ club shows.
Weeden became CEO of House Of Blues Entertainment, which encompasses the theater and club division of the company, overseeing 6,000 shows a year in over 40 venues, including 3 comedy clubs.
"We had spent so much time dealing with the amphitheater and arenas, that the theatres and clubs never got the attention they deserved.
Itâ€™s a high volume business.
observes that he
prefers dealing with the smaller shows.
"I find that a lot of the content nowadays is more in the small and middle-sized venues, where all the artists are developing, rather than selling out Staples Center.â€�
oversees a team comprised of 25 senior promoters for the 40 venues, in addition to show marketers, venue teams, and a "farm team,â€� comprised of kids right out of college.
"We bring them up and teach them the ropes of the business,â€� says Weeden
These junior promoters help market, strike contracts, take calls, and create special event nights and recurring programs at the various venues to fill up potentially slower nights.
"In terms of the day to day: Are we booking shows, are those shows selling tickets?
Is the beer cold and are the tacos hot?â€�
In LA, Weeden
also oversees the national touring team, whose job is to buy national tours â€"â€""artists that we want to get behind and add additional marketing power to, and fill the void that the labels used to serve on the marketing side,â€� explains Weeden
"Iâ€™m going to use all the assets we have at Ticketmaster
, Live Nation, and House of Blues, and help sell more tickets.
We believe that we can add more value and get them more exposureâ€¦ We have this marketing machine, with a database of over a hundred million people.â€� By demographically targeting fans of similar artists, Weeden
believes that Live Nation offers a unique service.
If youâ€™re a developing touring artist, says Weeden
, "We can help you start your career.â€� In terms of where the company is headed in the future, Weeden
muses, "There are only so many Friday nights of the year that I can book shows.
I ask Weeden
if anything at Harvard
had prepared him for this life as a significant player in the music industry.
"I majored in economics,â€� he
replies, "but completely fell into this.â€� However, Harvard
came through four years ago, when Weeden
went to meet his Harvard
roommate at Nickâ€™s Martini Bar
, and ended up meeting his
"It worked out very well,â€� laughs Weeden
Indeed, the couple has a 22-month old daughter, and another girl on the way in May.
may indeed have a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
is one of the online judges for Harvard
Check out the finalists at the show and vote on Wed., Feb. 20th in LA!