Industry Profile: Louis Messina

— By Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner

Veteran concert promoter Louis Messina is the founder/principal of Houston-based concert promotion company, The Messina Group (TMG). In operation since 2001, TMG has brought in more than $100 million in concert grosses promoting country's heavy-hitters such as George Strait, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, and the Dixie Chicks.

Louie began booking small shows as a high school student in New Orleans. Building a solid reputation, he progressed into club and theater acts in and around New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. In 1975 he moved to Houston and, with longtime friend and mentor, Allen Becker, co-founded PACE Concerts. Under his direction, PACE gained regional and national acclaim among artists, agents, artist management firms and competing promoters. As the company evolved from PACE Concerts to SFX on to Clear Channel Entertainment, Louie established himself as one of the country's preeminent promoters.

In addition to promoting club, arena and stadium acts, he conceived and created the George Strait Country Music Festival, Ozzfest, Texxas Jam, Van Halen's Monsters of Rock and the Fleetwood Mac Reunion Tours. In 2001, Louie left Clear Channel to rediscover the world of concerts as an independent promoter and formed TMG. Because of a non-compete clause with CCE that kept him from promoting rock and pop music, Louie focused on country. With that non-compete now over, he is rockin' again, he says.

"It's all about the artists," said Louie. "Do your job and the money will be there. Do the best job for the artist. I want to build the region. I'm a music promoter. I love all forms of music and have relationships with bands that go way back. I love to see bands grow. I want to get involved with developing bands at the club level and put bands in stadiums. I want to work with bands that want to work with me. I don't want to promote every show. I want to be hands on. I want my turf back."

Last year, TMG and AEG Live entered into a joint venture where Louie was tapped to head up the AEG Live South office. The region includes Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. In this capacity Messina is working with fellow veteran promoter Danny Eaton and former PACE employee Dave Parks, both based at AEG-owned Nokia Live at Grand Prairie, Texas, just outside Dallas.

The TMG and AEG Live joint venture is a three-pronged deal where Louie oversees the South region, TMG acts as the country music arm of AEG Live, and overall, he helps build the company.

In February 2004, Louie was reunited with two former PACE employees who he added to his staff - Ali Harnell, who runs the TMG/AEG LIVE Nashville office, and Brad Roosa, now talent buying from the Houston office. His Houston staff numbers eight, including his son Jeff.

Louie's talents as a promoter are well documented. In 2000 he was nominated by the Academy of Country Music for "Promoter of the Year" and went on to garner the title in 2002. He has received five nominations for "Promoter of the Year" from Pollstar and has been awarded the coveted title of "Talent Buyer of the Year" by the International Entertainment Buyers Association. In addition, Louie has received Performance Magazine's "Promoter of the Year" award four times. He is a member of the board of the Country Music Association, has served as president of the North American Concert Promoter Association, and has been inducted into the Performance Magazine Touring Hall of Fame.

Messina resides in Houston with his four sons.

What did you learn from being a part of SFX/Clear Channel Entertainment?
Being too big is too big

Why did you leave CCE?
I wanted to control my own destiny and be in a position where I could make decisions.

Why did you form The Messina Group and put more emphasis in country rather than rock or pop?
I had a two-year non-compete, I'm rockin' again.

After forming your own company, why did you decide to join AEG?
I like everyone there, and we share the same vision.

What went wrong with this summer's tours?
Greed.

Was it good or bad that to help drive ticket sales, many amphitheaters this summer offered steep discounts after shows already went on sale?
Terrible. Free tickets are never good as it devalues the show. Why buy an admission ticket anymore?

Can ticket prices come down?
I believe ticket prices can come down if we as promoters can prove that lowing prices will sell more tickets and everyone earns more and help reestablish a career.

What is the formula for your over-the-top success with Kenny Chesney this summer?
Great artist, great show, great package, reasonable ticket price. People know going to a Kenny Chesney show is fun and an event.

First Concert attended
Elvis in 1957 at the Municipal Auditorium in New Orleans.

First concert worked
Curtis Mayfield/B.B. King in 1972. I freaked out. It was my first show as a promoter and the acts didn't show up. I had a building full of 8,000 folks dressed like Superfly and had to call the New Orleans riot squad. I was in a depression for weeks afterward.

First Industry job
PM Productions, a small local promoter in New Orleans. I booked, produced, advertised, hung posters, took tickets - every little thing I could.

Career highlights
Too many.

Career disappointments
Too many but mainly seeing the business turn into a checkbook watching it go from passion to counting dollars and the lack of loyalty. The biggest one is a general one: it's been a disappointment to watch the business evolve into what it has become. When we were at Pace, we were a big company, but we loved what we did, and we made money. The change in the business is it has become a greed machine, and it's lost some of the passion.

Greatest challenges
To bring business back to being about personal relationships and to make live music a lifestyle as it used to be.

Best business decisions
Starting TMG and leaving CCE and partnering up with AEG.

Best advice you received
"Don't be greedy...there is enough to go around...you must be fair to people" -- Allen Becker.

Best advice to offer
Same as above. And be true to your beliefs.

Most memorable industry experience
Starting Pace Concerts.

What friends would be surprised to learn about you
I'm a nice guy besides a bad ass rock 'n' roll promoter who does country music.

If I wasn't doing this, I would be...
…centerfield for SF Giants making believe I'm Willie Mays.

Industry Mentor
Allen Becker.

Louie can be reached at (713) 224-5588; e-mail: louis@aeg-tmg.com

.

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Jeff Miller, Fantasma Productions 03/16/07
Ben Miller, Rock Ridge Music 11/02/07
J. B. Miller, Empire Entertainment 08/22/08
Richard Mills, S.L. Feldman 11/02/09
Linda Moran, Songwriters Hall of Fame (SHOF) 04/05/09
Jesse Morreale, Nobody In Particular Presents (NIPP) 09/20/02
Chuck Morris, Live Rocky Mountains 09/28/09
Mo Morrison, Independent production 05/24/02
Nick Moss, Blue Bella Records 11/30/07
Jim Musselman, Appleseed Recordings 04/14/06
Marc Nathan, Flagship Records 07/01/05
David Neilon, Rising Star Promotions 11/30/01
Don Neuen, Star Coaches Inc. 10/10/12
Dennis Newhall, DIG Music 10/07/05
John Nittolo, John Nittolo Productions 04/13/07
Ian Noble, Metropolitan Talent 05/23/03
Josh Norek, JN Media, LLC 07/05/02
David Norman, Tour Manager 04/20/07
Mimi Northcott, Canadian Recording Services (CRS) 04/11/08
Bill Nowlin, Rounder Records 01/05/07
John Nugent, NY JAM Inc. 11/08/02
Andy Nulman, Just For Laughs 11/20/13
Sal Nunziato, NYCD 06/01/01
Bob O'Neal, Ryman Auditorium 06/28/02
Andrea Orbeck, Prehab Health and Fitness 03/15/10
Heather Orser, Toad's Place 01/29/01
Janet Oseroff, MultiMediaProperties 11/18/05
Marc Ostrow, Boosey & Hawkes 12/05/08
Riley O’Connor, Live Nation Canada 07/24/09
Jeremy Palmer, Buddy Lee Attractions 11/02/01
John Palmer, Megawave Records 08/31/07
Panos Panay, Sonicbids 12/23/05
Julien Paquin, Paquin Artists Agency 04/30/14
Crispin Parry, British Underground 02/24/08
Donald Passman, Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown 04/09/10
Bruce Patron, Overland Entertainment 07/28/06
Alexandra Patsavas, Chop Shop Music 09/27/11
Cheryl Pawelski, Omnivore Entertainment Group 09/26/13
Kerry Peace, Alligator Records 08/18/06
Eric Peltoniemi, Red House Records 12/14/09
Scott Perry, Sperry Media 03/11/05
Lawrence Peryer, Jr., 23 Omnimedia 11/07/08
John Peters, MassConcerts 06/07/11
Holger Petersen, Stony Plain Records 04/15/05
Jon Phillips, Silverback Professional Artist Mgmt/Controlled Substance Sound 08/29/08
Vince Pileggi, Music Inc./Music Inc. Sounds 12/01/06
Eric Pirritt, Endit! Presents / The Fox Theatre 10/17/03
Neil Portnow, The Recording Academy 02/08/11
Louis Posen, Hopeless Records 04/04/11
Stephen Posen, Estate of Glenn Gould 01/23/13
Nadia Prescher, Madison House 06/20/03
Jeff Price, TuneCore 02/28/11
Tom Principato, Powerhouse Records 02/01/08
Roger Probert, Core Records 12/08/06
John "Grinder" Procaccini, JP Squared (JP2) 01/17/03
Mark Pucci, Independent Music Publicist 09/09/05
David Pullman, The Pullman Group 11/03/00
Rod Quinton, Saigon Sound System 04/18/11
Dolphus Ramseur, Ramseur Records 10/19/07
Jack Randall, Ted Kurland Associates 04/05/02
Debra Rathwell, AEG Live 05/03/13
Jeff Ravitz, Visual Terrain 02/08/08
Rich Rees, M.P.I. Talent Agency 09/19/08
John Reese, Freeze Artist Management 08/01/08
Bill Reeves, WRIII, Inc. 10/20/06
Stephen Rehage, Rehage Entertainment 07/30/04
Lisa Reiss, Pearl Productions 08/17/07
Salaam Remi, Composer, producer, musician and label executive. 01/08/14
David Renzer, Universal Music Publishing Group 08/23/09
Alison Richard, Universal Orlando Resort 05/06/05
Kelli Richards, The All Access Group 02/07/12
Gary Richards, HARD Events 08/29/13
Sam Righi, Waterfront Entertainment Group 05/30/03
Jon Rinaldo, Joker Productions 01/02/04
Geary Rindels, Geary Rindels Enterprises, Inc. 12/05/03
Doreen Ringer Ross, BMI 01/18/08
Lisette Rioux, Island Def Jam Music Group 05/16/03
Dave Roberge, Everfine Records & Everfine Artist Management 12/03/04
Sandy Roberton, Worlds End Producer Management 02/20/09
Ty Roberts, Gracenote 01/31/12
Bill Rogers, BRE Presents 07/13/07
Ian Rogers, Topspin Media 06/01/10
Benji Rogers, PledgeMusic 12/19/13
Dave Rose, Deep South Entertainment 09/15/06
Eric Rosen, Ronald S. Bienstock & Associates 05/25/01
Stuart Ross, The Ross Group 02/23/01
David Ross, President IAAM; Director, Show Me Center 09/23/05
Bobby Rossi, Ruth Eckerd Hall 02/28/03
Michael Rothschild, Landslide Records 04/29/05
Robert Rowland, Red Entertainment 06/13/08
Bill Royston, Mt. Hood Jazz Festival 03/07/03
John Rudolph, Bug Music 05/24/10
Elizabeth Rush, E.R.A. / Elizabeth Rush Agency 08/20/04
Aran Rush, Expo and Foro Imperial 02/16/07
Maurice Russell, Harry Fox Agency 10/21/05
Barron Ruth, Skyline Music 02/14/03
Andrea Sabata, Skyline Music 01/07/05
Numa Saisselin, Count Basie Theatre, Inc. 02/04/05
Ron Sakamoto, Gold & Gold Productions 01/16/10
David Salidor, dis Company 07/20/07
Shaw Saltzberg, S. L. Feldman and Associates 06/21/10
Bruce Allen & Sam Feldman, A&F Music 12/19/08
Mark Samuels, Basin Street Records 06/11/04
Tamara Saviano, American Roots Publishing 07/22/05
Michael Scafuto, Mountain High Entertainment 12/07/01
Steve Schankman, Contemporary Productions 12/21/01
Steve Scharf, Carlin America 10/11/02
John Scher, Metropolitan Talent 11/21/08
Al Schmitt, Producer/Engineer 02/13/10
Bobby Schneider, Tour Coordinator, Third Eye Blind 01/31/03
Jake Schneider, Madison House 04/02/14
Steven Schnur, EA Music Group 07/03/13
Elaine Schock, Shock Ink 02/19/10
Stacy Schott, Mad Booking and Events 08/22/03
Daylle Schwartz, Revenge Productions 08/19/05
Dean Sciarra, ItsAboutMusic.com 11/26/04
Joel Selvin, Author and Journalist 08/07/14
Jay Sendyk, Sendyk, Leonard & Company, Inc. 05/03/02
Peter Shapiro, Ideal Entertainment 04/16/04
Seth Sheck, Access Pass & Design 01/03/03
Jay Sieleman, The Blues Foundation 07/18/03
Anya Siglin, The Ark 03/05/10
Bill Silva, Bill Silva Entertainment 10/19/10
Tom Silverman, Tommy Boy Entertainment 03/06/12
Steve Simon, Clear Channel Communications 05/14/04
Ralph Simon, Live Earth 07/06/07
Ralph Simon, Mobilium 04/12/11
Michael Simon, The Harry Fox Agency 08/14/13
Ron Simpson, RCS Productions 01/11/08
John Simson, SoundExchange 07/15/05
Dion Singer, Warner Bros. 12/07/09
Gram Slaton, The Community Arts Center 02/25/05
Owen Sloane, Gladstone Michel Weisberg Willner & Sloane 10/11/10
Peter Smidt, Eurosonic Noorderslag & manager Buma Cultuur 07/17/13
Mike Snider, Paradigm Talent Agency Nashville 05/17/11
Andrew Snowhite, Musictoday 05/04/01
Bruce Solar, The Agency Group 05/14/14
Michael Solomon, Brick Wall Management 05/25/07
Mark Sonder, Mark Sonder Productions 07/25/08
Steve Sonnier, UIC Pavilion at the University of Illinois, Chicago 09/03/04
Kathy Spanberger, peermusic 06/20/12
Carolyn Specht, CIE USA Entertainment Inc. and OCESA PRESENTS Inc. 03/26/04
David Spelman, New York Guitar Festival 10/01/04
Jason Spiewak, Rock Ridge Music 04/07/06
Dan Steinberg, Square Peg Concerts 11/29/12
Dan Steinberg, Square Peg Concerts 02/18/05
Jeremy Stephan, Ventures, LLC 04/23/04
Walter Stewart, Mars Talent Agency 02/21/03
Gail Stocker, Gail Stocker Presents 11/12/04
Jon Stoll, Fantasma Productions 10/13/00
Jesse Stoll, AEG 06/27/09
Henry Stone, Henry Stone Music 06/24/05
Jason Stone, Live Nation New York 03/31/06
Howard Stovall, Resource Entertainment Group 05/28/04
Cameron Strang, New West Records 10/18/02
Don Strasburg, AEG Live Rocky Mountains 02/27/09
Barbara Strauss, Sovereign Ventures 05/12/06
Richard Stumpf, Cherry Lane Publishing 08/07/06
Patrick Sullivan, RightsFlow 10/25/11
Bernie Swain & Harry Rhodes, Jr., Washington Speakers Bureau 12/07/00
Dean Swett, Paramour Group 06/14/02
Jake Szufnarowski, Rocks Off 05/02/08
Marc Tanner, Chime Entertainment 12/22/06
Donald Tarlton, The Donald K Donald Group 04/12/02
Tess Taylor, Los Angeles Music Network 08/09/02
Race Taylor, WPLJ - New York 10/27/06
Race Taylor, WPLJ - New York 10/27/06
Chris Taylor, Taylor 03/15/09
Peter Tempkins, DeWitt Stern Group 03/16/01
Peter Tempkins, Momentous Insurance Brokerage 03/27/09
Lisa Tenner, Tenner & Associates (EAT'M) 08/06/01
Jeremy Tepper, Diesel Only Records 10/10/03
Allan Tepper, Bicycle Music Company 09/28/07
Martin Terefe, Kensaltown Studios 05/31/11
Milun Tesovic, MetroLeap Media 10/18/09
Jerry Thompson, Promoter Line Inc. 03/05/04
Jose Tillan, MTV Networks Latin America 12/02/05
Jon Tiven, Hormone Studios 08/05/05
John "J.T." Toomey, 25/8 Management 11/15/11
Livia Tortella, Warner Bros. Records 01/10/12
Phil Tripp, IMMEDIA! 01/19/06
Claudio Trotta, Barley Arts Promotion 11/26/01
Chris Tsakalakis, StubHub 01/11/10
Ben Turner, Graphite Media 05/10/10
Steve Vai, Favored Nations Entertainment 04/26/02
John Valentino, Fantasma Productions 04/18/03
John Valentino, AEG Live SE 11/01/10
Don Van Cleave, Coalition of Independent Music Stores 04/09/04
Casey Verbeck, Partners in Music 06/06/03
David "Boche" Viecelli, The Billions Corporation 04/18/10
Ray Waddell, Billboard Magazine 08/27/04
Rob Waggener, Foundations Recovery Network 03/07/11
Jim Walczak, Racine Civic Centre 06/03/05
Jeff Walker, The AristoMedia Group 08/16/10
Carla Wallace, Big Yellow Dog Music 11/04/05
Russell Wallach, Live Nation Network 03/20/12
Steve Walter, The Cutting Room 10/24/08
Neil Warnock, The Agency Group 05/02/09
Diane Warren, Realsongs 08/14/09
Butch Waugh, RCA Label Group Nashville 01/10/03
Lauren Wayne, The State Theatre 05/09/12
Ken Weinstein, Big Hassle Media 04/22/05
Bruce Weinstein, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts 02/15/08
Larry Weintraub, Fanscape 05/18/01
Pam Weiser, Momentous Insurance Brokerage 10/11/11
Kevin Welk, Welk Music Group 01/24/12
D-J Wendt, Dmand Management 05/09/08
Alison Wenham, Worldwide Independent Network 02/13/09
Bill Werde, Billboard 08/03/11
Joel Whitburn, Record Research 11/13/09
Judd White, Tour Manager/Accountant 02/13/04
Jeff White, In Ticketing 12/16/06
Fenton Williams, 04/04/08
Del Williams, Right Arm Entertainment 04/18/08
Bryan "Birdman" Williams, Cash Money Records 09/13/11
Paul Williams, ASCAP 10/19/11
J.P. Williams, Parallel Entertainment 10/03/12
Kurt Willms, Green Room Productions 09/20/03
Chris Wilson, Heartbeat Records 03/02/07
Tony Wilson, Factory Records/In The City 06/01/07
Tom Windish, The Windish Agency 07/26/10
John Wiseman, XL Touring Video 05/05/06
Thom Wolke, Twincloud.com 02/08/02
Michael Wood, City Lights Entertainment 08/08/08
Nigel Wright, Independant Record Producer 11/07/03
Dusty Wright, CultureCatch.com 07/27/07
Jeremiah “Ice” Younossi, A-List Talent 09/20/09
Gail Zappa, The Zappa Family Trust 10/02/14
Ron Zeelens, RAZco Visas 04/20/01
Rick Zeiler, Sidney Frank Importing Company 06/04/04
Danny Zelisko, Live Nation 06/19/09
Hillary Zuckerberg, Brick Wall Management. 07/09/04
Steve Zuckerman, Global Entertainment and Media Summit 03/22/02
Paul Zullo, Muze 01/23/04
Nanette Zumwalt, Hired Power 02/03/06

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