Meet Metro Concerts Live2/6/2013
The driving forces behind promotion company Metro Concerts Live are brothers Aron and Garrett Wilson. The brothers started Metro Concerts Live in 2010 as a way to encourage and support local venues and bands, and among their staff, their right hand in that endeavor is Todd Kincaid.
“We’re a team here, and everyone plays their part,” Aron said.
For the Wilsons, that part includes signing all the checks. Every decision about which acts to book ultimately falls on them. Once the shows are scheduled, it’s Kincaid’s job to be each band’s first point of contact. The team mentality and shared workload has paid off for the company, but it’s not something that was developed overnight.
“Two-thousand-twelve was probably our busiest year,” Aron said. “Last year, we averaged eight shows a month. But this business is all about developing contacts, and it takes time to do that.”
As those contacts develop, the Wilsons expand and diversify the type of shows that MCL provides. But promoting live, local music in Des Moines comes with its own set of unique challenges. Some of which seem like unnecessary road blocks.
“The thing that bothers us the most about doing shows here in Des Moines is the damn 9 p.m. curfew for all-ages shows,” Aron explained. “It’s the most ignorant thing.”
Garrett agrees. “Every band that comes through here is like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ And it does hurt the scene. I feel like Des Moines is looked at as always the last to (adapt). It just makes us look bad. Here’s this backward town where you’ve still got this curfew.”
Another major challenge for promotion companies in town is one of perception. Both MCL and Sam Sommers’ First Fleet Concerts have been taken to task for a practice commonly referred to as ‘pay to play,’ where local bands are given the chance to open for larger touring acts — provided they can sell 50 tickets to the show.
“The one thing that I would want to say first and foremost is that the local scene is the lifeblood of what we do,” said Aron. “Without them, it would be impossible to bring some of the shows we bring. But I don’t look at it as pay-to-play; I look at it as promote-to-play.”
“There’s been some talk around that it hurts the scene, but it’s actually the exact opposite,” Garrett added. “Let’s say (pay-to-play) went away, so we don’t have locals going out and selling tickets. Then shows would drop off dramatically.”
The Wilson brothers say it’s the perception of greed that bothers them the most.
“We started doing this because of our love for music,” Aron explained. “I think there’s some perception that we’re these evil promoters that take all the risk off ourselves and put it on the musicians, and it’s not that way at all.”
“We don’t have a business relationship with the local bands that we’ve hired for shows. It’s absolutely a personal relationship. Bands know that we’re interested in them; it’s not about the tickets they sell,” he said.
“There’s been plenty of shows where local bands have come in, sold all their tickets, made money, and we’ve still lost thousands,” Aron added. “Sure, it mitigates risk, but it doesn’t remove it. People don’t know what goes on in our negotiations with (touring acts) and what kind of money we have to bring to the table.”
But the Wilsons take the challenges and perceptions in stride.
“At the end of the day, we just want to bring cool shows to town and have everybody do well,” Aron concluded. CV