Festival experience, PPP loans help make “concerts in your car” a highlight in 2020

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Frazer Harrison / Getty ImagesSniff your carDJ Snoopadelic, aka Snoop Dogg as a DJ, was one of the key artists to play the Concerts In Your Car Series this year, one of the first major drive-in concert series to ramp up during the pandemic.

While in 2020 many were unemployed, forced to wait and see, or had difficulty adjusting, in 2020 some were busier and more successful than ever – such as CBF productions“Vincenzo Giammanco, who normally hosts a dozen lifestyle festival events in Southern California but has turned a PPP loan into a full concert season this year expanding to multiple markets.

“When the pandemic broke out, we had to take all of our staff on leave and it was kind of ‘what’s next?'” Says Giammanco, whose normal year includes Southern California’s Boots & Brews Country Festival. After just noticing the empty parking lot at Ventura County Fairgrounds while driving with his wife, he had the idea to try out “car concerts” there, and it went off quickly.

“We did 161 shows this year, which is way more than the 12 we usually do, so it was quite a deal,” says Giammanco. “All of our suppliers and all of them have come together and it is great that we have created something special.”

Given the shock of canceled shows, the hope of rerouting tours and festivals into autumn, and the general uncertainty, it was not easy to get agents and managers on board early.

“The response was tough at the beginning,” says Giammanco, who started exploratory talks with agents in May with business partner Nick Hartley of Steadfast Co. “Many of them returned to traditional pre-COVID negotiations. It didn’t work, we assumed 10,000 people against 700 cars, a dramatically different business model. It was hard to get off the ground and we didn’t know how to translate it – it just doesn’t sound that cool. “

That meant increasing the production value and upgrading the fan experience to something akin to a normal open air concert, but in some cases with some added perks like your own space and the comfort of your own car. With the stage in the middle and good sight lines from everywhere, the first concert with the Ventura-born SuperDuperKyle would be on June 26th.

“People loved it, it absolutely translated,” says Giammanco. “It was a completely different experience, but one that they enjoyed. As soon as we did one, it started snowing and we got some really great acts. ”These acts with around 35 real hard-ticket touring artists include everyone from Snoop Dogg to Dirty Heads, Beach Boys and Country- Acts like Randy Houser, to the drive-in superstar Kaskade from 2020, which sold out the Ventura venue in 15 minutes, as well as a second one at the Del Mar Fairgrounds near San Diego. “Everyone has the same reaction, they love it. It’s not the same and won’t replace a traditional concert, but it’s back to playing live music for fans in a state where live music is somehow currently banned. People really appreciate the experience. “

With ticketless entry, app-based concessions and toilet queues as well as extensive hygiene measures, the Concerts In Your Car series for CBF has developed from a 2020 long shot to an improvement on 2019.

“From a business point of view, we are over 30% of the previous year’s level,” says Giammanco. “We are very grateful that we were able to survive and turn around and make something that still works. With 10 employees we had to do that, we had to create something and we didn’t have the luxury of sitting it out. “

With the previous venues including a recently added Phoenix venue, CBF is expected to bring in $ 6 million in reopening numbers in the coming months.

“We’re just not going to have regular festivals next year,” he said in December. “There’s no way it’s going to be what it was, and we’re not interested in figuring out how to get 25-50% capacity, it was difficult at 100%. We really want to find out and double that model and open up new sources of income. Every day is a new challenge. I feel like we’re in a boxing match, walking back and forth – we land a couple and then get hit by a couple. It was fun.”

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