(Bon Jovi performs at Madison Square Garden; Photo by Jason Bookman)
On Saturday, March 5, Bon Jovi’s Live 2011 Tour brought the band to New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Over the course of the tour, the band and its crew have been giving back to college students across the country by giving them the opportunity to participate in the Bon Jovi College Experience, a behind-the-scenes look into the production of an arena concert.
Nine students representing both the Undergraduate and Graduate Music Business Programs arrived at Madison Square Garden at 10:30 AM, just as Bon Jovi’s crew was beginning to load in. Organizing the afternoon was Mike Savas, Bon Jovi’s VIP Coordinator for the tour. Mr. Savas led the students through both the basics of the concert production and the specifics of his job, which focus on VIP ticketing, packages, and treatment. Over the course of the afternoon, the students got a hands-on look into the various components of Bon Jovi’s backstage area, including Jon Bon Jovi’s dressing room, guitarist Richie Sambora’s extensive guitar rig, the tour’s robot-controlled high-definition video monitors, and the Garden’s massive audio system.
(3,500 lb modular video monitors, rotating lights, and some of Sambora’s guitars; Photo by Jason Bookman)
As part of their time with both local crewmembers and Bon Jovi’s own production team, the students prepared exclusive packages for the show’s VIP ticket holders. Included in the $1,500 packages are the fans’ front-row folding chairs autographed by Jon Bon Jovi, autographed posters from the band, and a private dinner before the show. These packages are an extremely important aspect of the show as they not only create a unique experience for the fans, but are also highly lucrative. The group also handed out promotional cards with online merchandise discounts and flyers for Jon Bon Jovi’s charities.
After the concert, the students were asked to report in on their experiences, and with that VeloCity brings excerpts from their reactions below:
“[From this experience] I learned the great importance of merch-marketing and analytics. The discount cards were in the process of being modified to generate the most website visits possible, and the signed lithographs were an example of a relatively cheaply produced item that could be sold as a high-priced collectible which would spur the fan to tell friends about the concert experience. I later visited the Bon Jovi Facebook page, which was unsurprisingly covered with Savas-esque updates and interactive material. Seeing this gave me several ideas for how to promote my own band.” – S.T. (UG ’14)
“The Bon Jovi experience was unlike any other experience I’ve had. It’s one thing to watch a major concert performance and to read about the behind-the-scenes action, but to actually watch the show come together live, to actually stand on the stage, is a whole new, sensory experience atypical of the classroom… I definitely think that this opportunity was publicity driven. The primary focus of our conversations with Mike Savas was on the topic of making an artist money through touring, and how best to capitalize on and grow their fans. I definitely think that we were a part of that plan. Based on the demographic of Bon Jovi fans that day, college students are not among the most populous group of Bon Jovi fans. Simply inviting a select number of students automatically increases brand awareness. For one, this makes Bon Jovi look like a band giving back to the community and two, college students are known for their interaction with social networking and Bon Jovi can count on at least some publicity from those students attending.” – M.F. (UG ’13)
(Each of the set’s 5 LCD monitors is controlled by a 6,000 lb robot; Photo by Jason Bookman)
“I believe that Bon Jovi’s management wanted to get students to experience this for two main reasons: 1) they genuinely want students to learn about this aspect of the business, and 2) because it would provide some great publicity for their tour. Each person seemed excited to share their knowledge about concert management, including their personal experiences of how they began in the industry. They even gave us advice about how to enter the business ourselves… I also believe they wanted to do this Bon Jovi classroom experience, because it would also provide additional publicity for their tour. Having a group of students writing about their backstage tour experience in school newspapers, college radio stations, and personal blogs would increase the amount of press coverage for the tour.” – M.C. (G ’11)
“I observed another ‘life on the road’ moment during the show when I peered to my left to see two crew members embraced in each other’s arms during a slow song. I began to realize that being on tour is not only a professional commitment; it is also a personal one… [The crew] had been at MSG four hours earlier than us and had the bear of a task on their hands to dismantle and pack away everything they had set up. While I knew it could take hours to set up and take down the elements of a live concert, I had no idea that it could require 18-20 hour days for some people. Though arena concerts can boast a high ticket price (which can lead to consumer complaints), I now have the utmost respect for the hard work that puts the value into each ticket. My Bon Jovi College experience was one for the books and I am very grateful for the time and expertise dedicated to us by those who volunteered.” – J.P. (G ’11)