May 8, 1962 is a day I will never forget. It was the first concert I ever promoted. I was in college at the time. I attended Youngstown University. Today it is called Youngstown State.
During registration, I complained about the $35 per semester student activity fee that we had to pay. I thought students should receive more than just tickets to the school’s basketball and football games.
When the Director of Student Activities asked me what I thought we should receive instead, I replied, “tickets to concerts.”
The director told me that the school had no experience producing concerts and if I could put together a proposal she would consider it. “And by the way, who would you suggest. We don’t want any trouble,” she cautioned.
I knew if I wanted the school to bring in concerts, I would have to suggest something safe, since I knew the school would never consider a rock concert at that time.
After I thought about it, I said, “The Four Freshmen.”
“I like that,“ she said, “if you will put the whole thing together, the school will pay for part of a student’s ticket.”
It would be my risk. If I sold a lot of tickets, I could make money, but if I didn’t sell enough, I would have to pay for the loss. Even though The Four Freshmen didn’t have a hit record, I thought enough people would pay to see them – enough to at least break even. But that wasn’t to be the case.
The tickets were only $3.00. I was selling them in advance, but not many. On the night of the show, I needed to sell another 300 tickets to breakeven, but that didn’t happen. I lost what seemed like a fortune-$900.00
On my first venture as a concert promoter, I paid to take a course in Concert Promotion 101. It cost me $900.00.
I lost money on the next two concerts, but I didn’t give up. Two years later on September 14, 1964, I beat out a lot of well-experienced national promoters and brought The Beatles in concert to Pittsburgh. This made up for all my previous losses.
Did you ever lose money taking a risk? Did you give up? Let me hear your story?