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  Industry Profile




Industry Profile: Bob Babisch

— By Larry LeBlanc (CelebrityAccess)

This week In the Hot Seat with Larry LeBlanc: Bob Babisch, VP entertainment, Milwaukee World Festivals Inc.

If you start me up.

If you start me up Milwaukee, Iíll never stop.

Bob Babisch, VP entertainment at Milwaukee World Festivals Inc. really canít stop.

Babisch canít stop grinning ear-to-ear about the Rolling Stones kicking off his Summerfest series event on June 23rd, as part of the bandís ďZip CodeĒ summer tour.

Then spanning 11 days--from June 24-28, and June 30 to July 5th--Summerfest hosts over 800 bands booked by Babisch performing on 11 stages.

Summerfest is supervised by a non-profit board that hires production staff to operate both the venue and main Summerfest event that features regional and nationally-known talent from about every musical genre you can name.

A 38-year-veteran of the event, Babisch oversees an estimated $6 million talent budget for Summerfest.

In addition to leading the music production team during Summerfest, Babisch oversees the music portion of events held on the Summerfest grounds, including the Marcus Amphitheater throughout the summer.

Summerfest was conceived in the 1960s by then Milwaukee mayor Henry W. Maier, and was Inspired by his visit to Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.

The inaugural Summerfest was held in 1968 at 35 different locations throughout the city, including Milwaukee County Stadium and Milwaukee Arena, and its events ranged from concerts to a film festival, an air show, and even a pageant.

In 2014, overcoming unseasonable weather, and road construction projects in the area, Summerfest drew nearly 900,000 people to Milwaukee's Henry W. Maier Festival Park.

With this yearís line-up (see below) expect that attendance figure to be greatly surpassed.

Thirty-eight years at your job?

This will be my 38th festival, yes.

You absolutely have a great job.

I tell my kids that. I get in here 8:15 AM every day, and Iím here (at the office) until after 6 PM. I love every day. After all these years, I still love going to work.

Live music is booming. You have more choices of acts to book today than ever before.

You are probably right, and live music is not drying up. People do like to go out and see live music. They still like live music. They can watch streaming all they want (with YouTube), but itís not the same.

Live is still magical.

No doubt about it. All the people that work at Summerfest will tell you that the buzz is when you are standing on a stage, the lights go down, the place just erupts, the acts walks out, and itís magic. Or during the encore, itís magic and people go crazy. You think, ďI was part of that. I was a piece of making that happen.Ē Thatís why we all keep doing what we do.

Having the Rolling Stones kick off Summerfest on June 23rd is your dream date, right?

That is my dream date, yes.

The Rolling Stones playing the Marcus Amphitheater is one of the smaller venues on the tour.

They are doing major football stadiums, but this will be a fun event for them. And we are adding another day for Summerfest. We will do the (June) 23rd with the Stones, and we will have a couple of stages open so that people can come down. If they have a ticket for the Stonesí event, we will have a party going on from 5 oíclock on. On the grounds there will be two stages open. So itís a preview of Summerfest, if you will.

What can the Rolling Stones or any act expect at the Marcus Amphitheater?

For somebody who hasnít played the Marcus Amphitheater, it is a really cool venue. I had somebody one day tell me that they like it because you can stand onstage, and if you look up, all you see is this wall of people. The amphitheater doesnít slope back slightly. It goes up pretty quick. So you feel like you have all of these people right on top of you, and 23,000 people right there. Itís a pretty cool spot to do show. And itís right on Lake Michigan. Itís a gorgeous venue.

[The Marcus Amphitheater is situated on the southern end of the Summerfest grounds. The amphitheater was completed in 1987 with the principal contribution being from the Marcus Corporation. It is the venue for headlining acts performing at Summerfest. It is also host to a variety of concerts and events.]

Some 800 bands will perform at Summerfest.

About that. A lot of it (the talent) is local and regional. Thereís probably about 100 of those acts that are national. The event runs for 11 days, and we have 11 stages. So thereís a lot going on. And itís in the city of Milwaukee. Itís $19 to get in. You take the amphitheater out of it (the overall ticket price) which are all hard ticket show, itís $19 a day to see all of the bands on the Summerfest ground stages. Not the amphitheater. Thatís a hard ticket venue. Marcus Amphitheater is separate, but for everything else it is $19 or you can buy an 11-day pass for $70 (or a three-day pass at $45)

Then all you have to pay for is food.

Food and beer. You got to make your money somewhere. Vendors and sponsorships.

Summerfest employs nearly 2,200 seasonal employees. How many full-time employees?

Sixty.

All year round?

Yes because we do a little of this and a little of that. Besides Summerfest on the Summerfest Grounds, thereís an ethnic festival almost every weekend. So you have Polish Fest, German Fest and Festa Italiana. They go on and on. We do some shows in the Marcus Amphitheater and we do some shows in the BMO Pavilion when they are available. We do odds and ends around town. We do some things with the Milwaukee Admirals hockey team. We are working with a 2,400 seat venue in Waukegan - the Genesee Theatre - which is just a beautiful venue for 24,000 seats.

Are you using those events as feeders to build up the popularity of acts for Summerfest?

Not really. They are playing acts that we might put onto our smaller stage. Maybe not the amphitheater but they would headline some of the smaller stages. Foreigner and REO Speedwagon were just in Waukegan. They both did great business down there. We are just starting there. This is the second year and we are just trying to get as many acts in there as we can.

Have you been tempted to take on a club?

We have never been tempted to take on a club. That is a lot of hard work. You are there every night. Four nights a week until midnight or 1 AM. Maybe when I was younger I would have thought about it. I certainly would not think about it now.

Thereís always going to be problems with liquor license, the landlord and so on.

Or somebody comes in and builds another club nearby, and all of your acts go there.

How is Summerfest underwritten?

Well, what we do because itís such an inexpensive ticket is we survive on sponsorshipsÖ

On the individual stages?

Yes. For the individual stages, we get a major sponsor for every one of them. They help underwrite it (the event) to a large extent. Almost all of the talent gets underwritten by those guys. We couldnít do it without the sponsors.

And the food vendors?

Right, food and beverage. We run our own operation for the beer.

Does Summerfest receive civic or state funding?

We pay a large rental fee to the city for our lease. Sometimes members of the city public works department and others help us as far as police trafficking and things like that. But, by and large, we pay a huge amount of rent.

Competition for booking music acts in the summer is fierce these days.

Letís start with the Marcus Amphitheater, and we will work our way to the rest of the grounds. The Marcus Amphitheater, for 22,000 to 23,000 seats, is a really complex venue. You really feel like the people are right on top of you. Thatís the charm of that theatre. Getting a major act to play there during Summerfest enhances the visibility of the event, and having a marketing tool attached to the festival is great also. We love to get amphitheater shows. Itís tough. Weíve got competition. Lollapalooza is competition. and thereís Europe as competition because Glastonbury (Festival) starts around the same time as we do (June 24-28). So a lot of acts go over there.

Nearby in East Troy is Alpine Valley Music Theatre operated by Live Nation with a 37,000 seat capacity.

Yeah, there are still a few things that will happen out at Alpine, but thatís not the competition that it was anymore. Dave Matthews played here last year. He normally plays Alpine every year. Now heís going to back to Alpine, and playing there (on July 25 and 26).

You pulled off the only U.S. play of Usher in 2014.

Yeah, we had the only Usher U.S. show last year. We had a great run last year and hopefully it will be good this year as well.

Why did 2014 work so well for Summerfest? Was it because of the strong talent line-up with Usher, Dave Matthews, Luke Bryan, Lady Gaga, Paramore, Fall Out Boy, Bruno Mars, Outkast, Motley Crue and others?

We had a great line-up last year, but I think that you can feel the economy coming back. You have to remember that itís an inexpensive ticket, and itís a great party. When people decide that they have had enough, and they want to go out and have a really good party, itís the perfect spot for them. We can put 90,000 people in here in a day. We can put 100,000 people in here in a day. And they can walk around, and see all different genres of music. We are certainly not genre specific, which is a good thing.

Interestingly in 2014 food and beverage sales increased by 6% over 2013 sales.

Yeah. Food sales were up. Good times are coming back, I think.

Big name acts can play any venue in America in the summer months but bands often specifically route their tours to perform at Summerfest.

Yeah, some do and I love that because itís a big fun event to play. Now if you go onto the rest of the Summerfest grounds, you have national acts playing almost on every night on every stage. You can put 14,000 people in front of some of those venues. Normally they are playing 2,000 seaters, 3,000 seaters. They like coming out here and having a party. People who are paying $19 or getting in free-because you get in here free (with sponsor passes) almost every single dayóthey are not sitting on their hands. They want to have a good time.

Was routing more of an issue 20 years ago when Summerfest wasnít as known?

It was a little tougher. We had fewer stages too. We only had four venues that we were working with. Maybe, five.

You didnít have the Marcus Amphitheater.

We didnít have the Marcus. We had a free stage area. The Marcus changed things. Thatís when we started putting in reserved seats for amphitheater shows. Before that, we just had what was called the old Main stage. We could put 20,000 people in it. Some years were bad, and some years were good. All depending who wanted to work in the States at that time.

There werenít so many festivals in America a few years ago.

Now they are all over the place. Letís face it, thereís a festival around every corner.

Florida Georgia Line will play Summerfest opening night on June 24 and then thereís the Flaming Lips, Sheryl Crow, and DJ Paris Hilton and...

Linkin Park, Keith Urban, the Zac Brown Band, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Kaskade, Bastille, the Kings of Leon, Janeís Addiction, Santigold, Kendrick Lamar, Sammy Hager and the Circle, Aloe Blacc, the Doobie Brothers, Lindsey Stirling, Buddy Guy, Kongos, Gary Clark, Jr., the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and on and on. We hit almost all of the (music) genres. We try to do that every single day.

Why?

We want people to experience different styles of music at the festival. We donít want to be genre specific on any one day. You can see a country show or you can see an R&B show. A hip hop show. A hard rock show. A singer/songwriter thing. We want people to have the chance to keep moving around through the areas and see different genres of music. A perfect example, Harley-Davidson thatís one of the stages (the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse stage), and Harley-Davidson is a sponsor. They tell us that everybody buys Harley-Davidson motorcycles. We want everybody to buy Harley-Davidson motorcycles. So we donít want to be stuck in one genre. We want to do all kinds of genres, and thatís what we try to do on all of the stages.

The internet has opened up so many musical genres to a mass audience. It would have been difficult to have this Summerfest talent blend three decades ago.

Kids today find their music on YouTube. They donít find it on the radio. I have a 14-year-old, and a 16-year-old. The 14-year-old, sheís into Broadway show tunes, and the classics. I have a 16-year-old son who has gone through the Led Zeppelin kind of phase, gone through his hip hop thing, and nowóhe plays saxophoneóhe is now into bebop, Charlie Parker and big band. And heís 16. Thatís what heís listening to. Thatís what comes off of his iPad or whatever he is listening to on a specific day. Thatís the music heís into. Back when I was 16, my parentsí music, I wouldnít have gone near it. So kids have, maybe, experienced it (different music) earlier, which is one thing, but they hear all of the different genres of music, and they try them all. I think that is common in this day and age.

Thereís an explosion of talent coming out of the digital era, and social media is speeding the breakthrough process up. With mobile messaging services and other social media, a music fan can quickly inform hundreds of their friends about a new band.

Last year my son heard something by (electronic musician) Robert DeLong, and he sent out to everybody that he knew about Robert DeLong on Facebook. Then Robert DeLong started to break, and he told everybody, ďI broke Robert DeLong. I told everybody that I knew about Robert De Long. I broke that act.Ē

Look at how swiftly the bro-country act Florida Georgia Line broke. They have been around since 2011, but they happened so quickly.

Thatís true, and the younger the audience the faster that it happens. Itís pretty amazing when some of the stuff finally gets to radio that it has this huge population already listening to it. Itís pretty amazing. College is that way too. College music.

Country has done well for you at Summerfest. Last yearís turnout for Luke Bryan even amazed you.

How fast that happened. Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, and Zac Brown all happened quickly. They are great entertainers, number one. Itís great for them to be out there. They capture a younger audience. You watch the crowd that came to the show for Luke Bryan. I walked out of there, and I said, ďThere isnít a person in here over 25.Ē It was a young generation, and country music is cool for them. Some people are saying that (bro-country) has come up much too fast, and itís (the market) coming back to more traditional (country). I havenít seen that yet, but thatís the story that I hear from a few people.

When you end Summerfest do you immediately starting booking the following year?

Last year at the end of the festival, we already had six shows on hold at the amphitheater. It happens earlier and earlier every year because there are so many acts out there trying to route. Everybody wants to grab it (a show) early. Itís earlier every single year. This year has been a bit tougher. I still have a couple of open dates because thereís so much competition that I am having a hard time finding a couple of amphitheater show. So if somebody has something out there, let me know.

You are trying to book artists at their peak touring period.

You know what happened for us? Because we have been around for so many years--we are pushing into our 48th year of the festival--we were always there, and this has always been our time period. Then there been a rise in festivals over in Europe during that summer period, starting in June and July. The festivals that started in the States, all started in late May into early June. The one in Dover (The Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware) now ends on June 21st). So thereís this group of artists that all stay and play those (U.S.) festivals, and then they go to Europe ,and then they all come back for Lollapalooza, and the C3 (Presents) thing in Austin (The Austin City Limits Music Festival) in the Fall. It like, ďMaybe, we should have moved.Ē We are out of that run of dates. Maybe, they are too early for us or too late for us. We get that a lot. We have that problem a lot. That is one of the hardest parts of our business. There are so many acts that we just cannot have because they go to Europe.

Did the American promoter consolidation under the SFX banner that led to Live Nation emerging have an effect on Summerfest?

The one change that is to the good sometimes is that they (Live Nation) have people in Chicago doing stuff for them in Milwaukee now but if they buy a tour they will come to us because we will buy their dates for the tour in the summer. That works great for us and works great for them because thereís another city that they have one of their shows in. So I will buy some of the Live Nation tours that come through. So that works out for us. I deal a lot with Jason Wright (Live Nation senior VP of Midwest bookings) in Chicago. Heís a great guy.

You could argue that the consolidation brought a degree of professionalism to the live music sector.

If you look at the tour managers, the tour accountants, and the production managers that are out there, a lot of them have been around for awhile. Those people wouldnít have been around unless those changes happened. Things became macrobiotic meals, and nice tablecloths. You donít see a case of Jack Danielís (Tennessee Whiskey) on the (tour) bus anymore. Those things have changed because itís a business, and itís a big business.

Do agents still play you off against others promoters of other events to drive up fees?

Sometimes. What I am seeing right now is that we get squeezed out. There are so many of these country festivals, and they all have their mileage clauses. Iíve got one (Country Thunder USA) down near the Illinois border. Iíve got one (Country USA) in Oshkosh. A country act will play both of them, but they will squeeze me out because Iím too close to either one. So I get squeezed out. So that happens a lot and Lollapalooza sometimes will put a mileage clause on there. If you are playing Lollapalooza, I canít get the date which is bothersome sometimes, but what can you do?

Restrictions by those country festivals make little sense because the Summerfest audience isnít likely to go to those festivals.

Yes, that true, but they all need content. Everybody needs inventory, right? So they have to have their big names, and they have to give them exclusivity. I certainly understand where they are coming from. And with the kind of money that gets thrown around now, they have exclusivity on those things.

Meanwhile agents and managers lobby you to pick up their baby bands.

Thatís the one good thing about the festival is that weíve got 11 stages that start at noon and run all day. If itís a true good agent and a good manager, they will fight with you on a million dollar act, and they will fight with you on a $500 act because they believe in that $500 act as much as the million dollar act. They have a love of the business, and a love of the music. If somebody calls me up who sells big acts and says, ďI have a little baby act, and I really need a spot for themĒóWell, Iíve got all the spots. No problem. I will find a spot for them. ďLet me take a listen, and we will figure out where they belong.Ē Thereís some passion in there.

As well, by helping them, you can tuck a return request in the favor bank.

Yeah. More than anything, I like the passion of people on that level, and they are on that level. They will fight for the baby band as much as they will for the big band. I like that.

How else do you find out about bands?

Iíve got some great guys working here. Iíve got Vic Thomas, and Scott Ziel in the booking process, and David Silbaugh is too. Four guys, and we meet all of the time. They are in my office, coming in and out, and we are talking (as a group) at least twice a week. We will sit in a room for a couple of hours, and bang out whatís working, and what isnít working. ďWhat do you hear out there that is new?Ē We will throw something up on YouTube and go, ďYeah, thatís cool. Thatís a cool thing. Letís give it a shot.Ē

In 2013, Summerfest had a crisis when some 117,000 people showed up largely drawn by the headlining act, Imagine Dragons. By evening, it was reported, lines were so long outside the gates that people were let in without tickets. Did that lead you to pushing for more pre-sale ticketing?

We have always pushed the pre-sale. That situation that you are talking about was, I think, that we had another act that had a more traveling audience that was playing at another stage. All of those kids came down to buy tickets at exactly the same time. What we did was just open the gates for a little bit of time to let a lot of people in without tickets for free to get rid of some of that crowding at the gate, if you will.

Local media reports pegged the crowd outside the gate at 5,000 to 7,000 people.

It wasnít that number. We have an in-house security team here. Bill Wesley is the security chief, and he has been with us for 25 years. They have got it down pretty well. We are happy with the security situation that we have here. He does an excellent job. That was one of those situations where people just wanted to buy tickets which is a great problem to have. What we do now is that you can buy a ticket to our event, go on our website with no additional charges, just pay the $19, and just download the ticket. Leave home, and come on down. People do that all the time because life is so much easier if you can walk up to the gate, and walk in.

Still, pre-sale remain a small percentage of your overall ticket sales.

Yeah, and we pitch the advance sale everywhere. A lot of sponsors get tickets. So they have tickets too. We try to get the tickets out as early as we possibly can. The interesting thing is that itís good for any day. Thereís no specific date written on that ticket unless you buy an 11-day pass or a three-day pass. Then (with single day passes) you can only punch it once.

The attendance for 2014 was nearly 900,000. How people are likely to on the site on a given day?

Iíd say we average between 75,000 to 80,000 a day. You will have a day when itís chilly and thereís only 50,000 people on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. Then you will have 100,000 people on a Saturday. We are comfortable at anywhere between 85,000 and 100,000.

Has crowd congestion been a problem? There was a local media report that it took a half-hour for an ambulance to get through to someone in 2013.

I donít know where that one (story) exactly came from. We have ambulances on the grounds. Not only do we have ambulances, we have golf carts rigged out like ambulances. You can get from place to place in a heartbeat.

Summerfest has had very few problems over the years.

Yeah. One of the good things having a permanent facility is that you can lay it out in the safest way. We lay it out so we know how a fire truck can get through the grounds. We lay it out so we know how emergency vehicles can get through the grounds. The fastest way that security can get through the grounds. One of the other good parts of having a permanent venue is that we have cameras everywhere. We know whatís going on. We have a security base that has probably 15 or 20 monitors up at any given time watching the grounds in case of something is happening. Then security can get there in a hurry.

You are continually asked about great Summerfest performances over the years and you have cited early sets by Peter Gabriel. Those photos of Usher at Summerfest last year look pretty cool.

That was all very cool. Then there was the year when Pearl Jam was having a battle with Ticket Master, and they canceled something like 7 days out. We basically just begged and said, ďGuys, we are the lowest ticketing fee in the country. We got to have it. We have to do it.Ē They came back, and did it, and it was just magical. The audience was digging it because they knew that it almost didnít happen. I think the band was digging it because they knew it almost didnít happen. They had two sell-out shows. We did 50,000 people in the two days and it was just magical. Then there was Pearl Jam and Tom Petty a few years later. That was magical. Tom Petty is always magical here.

Any behind-the-scenes moments that stick out?

There are moments that you remember, and there are a lot of them. A lot of moments when we had floods on the grounds because of rain at the last minute. You try not to remember those, but they do happen.

What contingency funding does Summerfest have in place other than insurance? Say the weather blew out everything for more than a year?

We have been putting that (a back-up fund) together for all of the years that we have been here so we are confident that if anything bad happens for a few days that we could take care of it all. We have never had an experience where it rained for 11 straight days. Then weíd have to build an ark, I guess.

Could you take a hit for two or three years if things went totally awry?

Yes, we could.

Are you from Milwaukee?

Iím from just a little north from here, Sheboygan.

What is your background before Summerfest?

I was living in Milwaukee, and I was studying in the theatre department at the university here, and I needed a job. I got a job at a record store here in 1973 or 1974. It was at 1812 Overture. The first night or the second or third day I was, I was standing around because I didnít really know anything about it yet.óThey also had a concert company called Daydream Productions. Their runnerís car broke down, and they had a Sha Na Na concert. They said, ďDo you want to be a runner?Ē So I said, ďYeah, Iíll be a runner.Ē So I did that . They said, ďWell you did alright so why donít you keep doing that.Ē So I did that, and I did the record store for awhile. Then, the entire crew that was running SummerfestóI did a part time thing here in 1977 and 1978 as a stage manager--they were all leaving to start ChicagoFest.

One of the big promoters in Milwaukee then was Steve Mandelman.

I used to do shows with Mandelman. Daydream Productions was Alan Dulberg (president of 1812 Overture Record Stores and Music Man, a record wholesale distributor), Randy McElrath who works for Live Nation in Houston now, and Charlie Fain, who went on to manage Sha Na Na. When I left there I went to a company that was working with Ferrante & Teicher. That was Lou Friedman and John Ballard. Then the guys that were running Summerfest, Joel Gast, Lou Volpano, and Tom and Bill Drilias. The head guy here then was Henry Jordan who was an ex-Green Bay Packer (defensive tackle). They were going to go to ChciagoFest and then Henry died and they still went to ChicagoFest. But they called me up and said, ďWe need an entertainment guy.Ē So I started working here in 1978 and I have been here ever since.

A year after Henry Jordan passed away.

About 18 months afterwards.

Milwaukee has so many great venues such as the Pabst Theater, the Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts, Riverside Theater, and The Rave.

Weíve got a lot of things. Thereís also the Eagles Club, and The Rave which is Joe Balestrieri and Leslie West. Remember them? They did Alpine Valley for years. They are here in town.

Of course, Shank Hall is still operating. Last year it celebrated 25 years of music.

Sure (club owner) Peter Jest is still there.

He used to work for you.

Yeah, he did some things here for awhile.

He was your assistant.

He was. There are a couple of guys who have worked here over the years.. Dan Brown, who has an amphitheater in Portland, I believe and does a lot of the production for Metallica, he came out of here. Bob Roux (co-president of North America Concerts, Live Nation Entertainment) is from Milwaukee. He worked with Randy McElrath for awhile.

Who do you enjoy working with?

Oh man, I donít want to do that. I like them all. I like the guys from Live Nation. I like the guys from AEG and Concerts West. I like all of the country guys. I like the guys at CAA and William Morris. I love them all.

Okay, who donít you like.

Thereís plenty of them too, but I canít name them either.

Save that for your book.

Yeah, I will save that for my book (laughing).

Over the years you have performed with the Summerfest crew band.

We had a little band here we doing for awhile. We just havenít had the time recently. I play a little keyboard, a little bit of guitar, and I do a little bit of singing.

Are you any good?

Nahhh. We are all frustrated musicians. They like to take a lead every now and then if you promise to be good. The little band we have there is myself; Don Smiley, our CEO; our head of marketing John Boler; Vic from my department; Frank Nicotera (chief administrative office and general counsel) played drums; and our former IT guy played bass. Of course, somebody brought some ringers in. We never really had a name. A couple of years ago we played five songs at the opening ceremony. We did a 45 minute sets somewhere during it. Someday we have to have a battle of the bands from all of the bands around the country. Theyíd have to bring their own bands into it.

Growing up you were, of course, a music fan?

Right.

Now that music is also your business, are you still able to listen to music without thinking, ďThis band would be so great for our stage?Ē

Oh, sure. I still do that. I will go home, and I get some vinyl. Iím a vinyl guy from my old record days. I have a bunch of that around the house. I like hearing new stuff. I like hearing old stuff. I have satellite radio in my car, and I listen to that wherever I go. Enjoying music is still part of my life. It is no different going to an amphitheater and seeing a major act play there or going to my sonís little jazz show at school or my daughterís orchestra show. I still derive as much pleasure out of that. Itís still cool. You go into a little jazz club, or you watch a folk singer somewhere. Recently I did a (local) TV show, and (Mequon, Wisconsin singer/songwriter) Willy Porter was playing. I could listen to Willy Porter every day. Heís just great.

Larry LeBlanc is widely recognized as one of the leading music industry journalists in the world. Before joining CelebrityAccess in 2008 as senior editor, he was the Canadian bureau chief of Billboard from 1991-2007 and Canadian editor of Record World from 1970-89. He was also a co-founder of the late Canadian music trade, The Record.

He has been quoted on music industry issues in hundreds of publications including Time, Forbes, and the London Times. He is co-author of the book ďMusic From Far And Wide.Ē Larry is the recipient of the 2013 Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award, recognizing individuals who have made an impact on the Canadian music industry. He is a board member of the Mariposa Folk Festival in Orillia, Ontario.

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