Getting big acts to perform in tiny venues | radioinfo

Getting big acts to perform in tiny venues

Tuesday 15 September, 2015
Up on the Roof. Hamish, Andy and Dave Cameron. Photo: Supplied

For the FM networks, everything is highly competitive, including landing the biggest acts into the smallest venues for money can’t buy experiences for a few lucky listeners and big advertisers. Nova has it’s Red Room, ARN gets up close and personal with its iHeart brand and SCA has the grand daddy of them all, The World Famous Roof Top.

“The Rooftop brand has been around for the best part of two decades,” says Head of the Hit Network, Dave Cameron, “The ancestral home being Melbourne until we moved 2Day’s studios from Bondi Junction in Sydney into a building with its own rooftop in the CBD, which was a prerequisite for moving.”

Dave can recall events dating back to the 1990’s at the original venue in Melbourne’s old FOX building with Alanis Morrisette as one of the first acts.

The artist list from just the past few years is impressive enough. 


Ed Sheeran, Hilltop Hoods, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Alicia Keys, Jamie Lawson


Justin Bieber, Birds of Tokyo, Vance Joy, The Veronicas, Guy Sebastian, Imagine Dragons, Jason Derulo, Hozier and Kesha

While most acts have been memorable in one way or another, Dave describes one of the weirdest, “We had Flo Rida in Melbourne a couple of years ago who refused to get on stage until we supplied him with Cristal Champagne (Around $300 per bottle) and bananas. I don’t know why he wanted that match but we had to do a runner to the fruit and veg shop and Dan Murphy’s. Then we found out he didn’t want to drink the Cristal, he just wanted to spray it all over your audience - that was quite an expensive spray.”

The Rooftop or WFR, as it is often called, is no longer a fixed venue. Like Nova’s Red Room it can pop up anywhere. “We’re considering rolling out rural Rooftop tours for less established artists. On top of that we’re also extending the Rooftop brand to be more than music events. Hamish and Andy has used it for spit roasts for eight or nine years. And we’re now looking at partnerships with YouTube etc,” says Dave.

Where once the gold standard of listener promotions was cash giveaways, experiential prizes are now seen as having greater value - something that money can’t buy. “You still need to play the cash game. It’s a quick cume driver,” says Dave, “But for brand loyalty and brand passion, it needs to move beyond cash into great experiences with our shows and with artists that appear on our format.”

Competition to secure artists is fierce. This month the WFR will host Justin Beiber while Nova’s Red Room will treat listeners to 5 Seconds of Summer. What’s it take to secure an act for your network?

“It always starts with them being on a promo tour. The timing needs to be right in their schedule, whether they’re promoting a new album or a new haircut or tattoo. And then it comes down to the reach that we can provide through our company.

“We can provide a great event in Sydney or Melbourne and then turn it around fro national playback in a matter of hours to all corners of the country through our regional stations,” says Dave

Generally, production is the major cost borne by the station in these sorts of deals. Costs can vary from negligible for an Ed Sheeran, who is happy to play solo and unplugged with just his guitar, to extravagant with acts like the aforementioned Flo Rida and the Hilltop Hoods that had to have the whole experience built from scratch inside the Sydney Town Hall.

The big question is, against what account do the bean counters charge the expense? Is it content or is it marketing? “It’s a combination of both,” says Dave, “Obviously it’s marketing of our brands. But at the end of the day, it’s content executions. We give away tickets on air. We create content around the experiences.”


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