This will be another record-breaking year for live music. “I haven’t seen people spending this much money on live music since the late ’90s,” says Tommy Goodwin. Goodwin, who leads field operations at Eventbrite, has over 20 years of experience managing event logistics for major festivals like Governors Ball.
But growth isn’t always good news. Music fans have raised their expectations for which artists they’ll shell out money to see and how they’re willing to buy tickets. In the rapidly shifting landscape, venue owners, promoters, and festival directors need to learn how to appeal to today’s fans to survive.
Over the past decade, large national concert promoters like Live Nation and AEG have been acquiring venues and music festivals at an increasing pace. But this year, they’re moving down-market to acquire smaller and medium-sized venues and promoters in local markets. This has a direct impact on the ability for independent promoters, venues, and festivals to book top-line artists.
“The big companies can buy an artist’s whole tour,” says Eventbrite’s Greg Patterson. “The biggest way for independents to compete is with more collaboration between independents. You’ve got to find informal or formal ways for promoters to work together and buy talent together between markets.”
Independents may not win on their size — but they can win on the unique experience they offer. “The more innovative, independent festival promoters rely on developing an experience, rather than on booking top-tier talent,” Eventbrite’s Tommy Goodwin says. “They’re investing more in the aesthetic, the atmosphere, and the actual culture of an event. And the consumer is looking to for smaller, more boutique festival experiences.”
Across the board, “talent costs have escalated,” says Jim Holt, president and CEO of Memphis in May International Festival. As a result, he and many promoters have focused on bringing in lesser-known talent to round out their festival lineup. “We’ve worked harder on the undercard in addition to the headline acts,” Holt says. “We’re adjusting our format to have a greater diversity in talent and a broader appeal to an audience.”
Eric Barleen, talent buyer at Another Planet Entertainment, agrees that the emphasis has shifted to booking relatively new talent. “More managers and agents are going after artists that have one extremely successful song,” Barleen says. “As promoters, we can, too.”
New talent brings new fans — and those fans don’t always behave in familiar ways. Many promoters have noticed an increase in one-time visitors and no-shows, making it difficult for venues to build a sustainable, loyal fan-base. According to Kevin Arnold, founder of Noise Pop Industries, the shifting fan-base has had unforeseen operational impacts.
Unique bands like the “The Texas Tenors” who are returning to ‘America’s Got Talent’ Stage, 10 Years After Their Big Break are selling out venues throughout the world.
From the construction site to the main stage, these three friends behind The Texas Tenors are reflecting on how they made it to “America’s Got Talent: The Champions” nearly 10 years after their journey started. “Can you believe that? Ten years,” Marcus Collins asked the other members of the group. “It doesn’t seem like it’s been 10 years. On one hand, it seems like 10 years, on the other hand, it seems like 20.”
The three-time Emmy Award winning vocal group, comprising of Collins, JC Fisher and John Hagen, has performed more than a thousand concerts since their big debut on “America’s Got Talent” in 2009, including the National Tree Lighting Ceremony at the White House in 2017.
But the trio remembers a time not too long ago, when they were all struggling to make ends meet in their various, non-music-related jobs. “We were all kind of in a slump, and doing different things, odd jobs. JC and I actually met doing construction together,” Hagen said.
“We were doing construction every day,” Fischer said. “I remember him in there. I was actually laying some tile and he was in there doing some sheet rock. He had this long hair, and he always had his hat on, and then he’d just bust out in song, and I was just like, people need to hear that. I mean he’s got an amazing voice, and he’s in here doing construction with me.”
Collins said he was in telemarketing and customer services before The Texas Tenors took off. “When you call a local company for customer service, that’s probably me answering the phone half the time,” he said. “We were all just doing things to get by and living paycheck to paycheck, and it still feels that way sometimes.”
Hagen explained that all three of them have individually been dabbling in music on the side, but Fischer decided to bring everyone together to form a vocal group of tenors and audition for “America’s Got Talent.”
“I wanted to spend more time with my buddies and that was the only way to do it,” Fischer joked. The Texas Tenors eventually came in fourth place in “AGT”’s season 4, and leveraged the newfound fame to jump start their careers in music. They are even now working on their latest album.
“’America’s Got Talent’ gave us a platform to take what we do and get seen and then we took it, we’ve been running, we’ve been doing all these shows,” Fischer said. “We talk about how that was our platform that launched us out there, and we look back on our time on the original ‘America’s Got Talent’ very fondly.We look back on our past and we don’t take anything for granted, and we encourage [people] all the time to follow their dreams,” said Collins.
The Texas Tenors have also used their talent beyond concert halls. They have been featured entertainers on NBC’s The Today Show, Hallmark’s Home and Family and The 28th Annual Cinematheque Awards honoring Matthew McConaughey, to name a few. Other notable performances have included NBA games, the PBR World Championships in Las Vegas and a variety of charity events. John, Marcus ,and JC are always ready to give back and promote awareness for organizations near and dear to their hearts including The Child Fund International, Homes for our Troops and The Mission Project. The Texas Tenors proudly remain self-produced and managed with a commitment to quality, family entertainment for all ages. Whether it be stage, television, recording or multi-media projects, these “three friends with a dream” never forget their roots.
Since their whirlwind debut several years ago on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, The Texas Tenors have accumulated a long list of awards and accolades, and collaborated with some of the most prestigious symphonies and performing arts centers throughout the globe. From Bruno Mars to Puccini, The Texas Tenors treat audiences to a unique blend of country, classical, Broadway, and current pop music with breathtaking vocals, humor, and a touch of cowboy charm. The Texas Tenors’ most recent PBS special, Rise, was released in 2017.
The Texas Tenors are the most successful music group and third highest selling artist in the history of America’s Got Talent! Since appearing on the show in 2009, JC, Marcus and John have released 4 studio albums, 2 PBS Specials, 4 DVDs, multiple singles and a children’s book that have earned them impressive recognition including 3 Emmy Awards, The Gelett Burgess Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature and the distinction of being Billboard Magazine’s 2017 #10 Classical Crossover Artist in the World. Their most recent albums “Rise” and “A Collection of Broadway and American Classics” both debuted at #1 on the Billboard Classical Chart.
These classically-trained, versatile tenors have performed more than 1300 concerts around the world including headline shows in Las Vegas, China and a 24-city tour on the United Kingdom. With three different live concerts “Rise: Live on Tour”, rousingly patriotic “Let Freedom Sing” and holiday favorite “Deep in the Heart of Christmas”, their concerts appeal to all ages and have been wildly successful from performing arts centers, casinos and symphony halls to outdoor festivals and corporate events. In addition to collaborations with some of the most prestigious symphonies in the world including the Houston Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony and The City of Prague Orchestra, The Texas Tenors have performed at The White House National Tree Lighting, Congressional Medal of Honor Ceremonies, numerous charity events, NBA games and The PBR World Finals in Las Vegas.
In 2019, The Texas Tenors will celebrate 10 years together by launching their “10th Anniversary Tour”. They are honored to be included among the top 50 acts in the world and take pride in remaining the same self-managed and self-produced “three friends with a dream”.
The Texas Tenors just as easily could have been called The Kansas Tenors, but their performing name won out due to all three guys having lived at one time or another in the Lone Star State.
Kansas figures a lot into the varied musical influences of John Carl (J.C.) Fisher, who came up with the idea for the group to mix popular classical music selections like Puccini’s aria Nessun Dorma with country hits like John Denver’s Thank God I’m A Country Boy.
Fisher, whose dad at 86 still operates a ranch of almost 90 head of beef cattle, received a master’s degree in music from Wichita State University. He met 1997′s Miss Kansas Jennifer Vannatta at the preliminary pageant for the Miss America competition when she was a contestant and he was a performer. They subsequently married and now live in Overland Park south of Kansas City. Fisher spent several years performing on cruise ships to foreign destinations before settling in Kansas after his marriage.
Friends with similar tastes in music brought him together with John Hagan of Waverly, Iowa, who had an extensive background in operatic performances and who also was living in Kansas. They talked about Fisher’s idea of mixing opera with Broadway, popular and country songs which led to Fisher getting in touch with Marcus Collins, whom Fisher had come to know during their cruise ship days.
Collins of Washington, Iowa, had an extensive background in Broadway and off-way stage productions and had settled in Los Angeles pursuing a career in movies and TV shows. Fisher had Collins fly to Kansas to audition with him and Hagan. That resulted in the trio being formed. They only had been together a few months when they auditioned in Houston, Texas, for America’s Got Talent with their version of (Play Me Some) Mountain Music made popular by the country rock band Alabama.
Their weekly appearances on the show gained them an international following and led to their 2013 PBS TV special You Should Dream, which won three Emmy Awards. Last year their second PBS TV special, RISE, aired to critical acclaim. It was filmed with an orchestra at the 1894 built Opera House in Galveston, Texas.
As if that weren’t good enough for 2017, just last month the trio was seen on the Hallmark cable channel for the National Christmas Tree Lighting at The White House. They not only got a tour of the First Family’s residence along with The Beach Boys, but they also got to see President Trump board the Marine One helicopter and leave the White House.
Another band to watch for is “We Three,” another unique band that focuses in on good wholesome family entertainment.