MUSIC LESSIONS WITH LEGENDARY CONCERT PROMOTER PAT DICESARE
By: Chris Groblewski
“You gotta be crazy to want to work in this business right?” Pat says as he laughs. He’s joking, but not really. The music business is a crazy business, it defies logic. Booking agents screw up, then call you and yell at you for their mistakes. If the show gets cancelled as the promoter you’re stuck with the bill. If you ask for compensation, you’ll never get another act from that agent again. That’s just how it is. Pat has seen it all. If you’re read his book Hard Days, Hard Nights you know what I’m talking about. He practically invented the stadium concert. But you’ll never hear him gloat about his success. In fact, if you have the pleasure of speaking with Pat, you’ll find that he’s got a lesson for every situation that can arise and more often than not, he’s got some valuable information you can learn from.
I met Pat for the 1st time about two years ago. I had a funny thing happen to me. I had 3 different people say to me in a 2 week period “Do you know Pat DiCesare? You should meet him.” I thought that was interesting that 3 people unaware of each other, said the same thing to me. It’s like it was a sign. So I looked Pat up on Facebook and shot him a message. I asked him if he’d meet me for lunch, if nothing more, so that I can pick his brain. I didn’t know him, and he for sure didn’t know me. But he said yes. So I met Pat for lunch and I guess the rest they say is history. We’ve been working together on many things over the past two years and without a doubt he has hands down been the most influencial person in my music career. I can’t thank him enough. He’s taken me under his wing and given me great advice. Like this gem I use every day. Like most musicians, I want to be compensated for my time. I had an offer from a club owner in Cleveland for SuperMonkey to headline but she couldn’t come up with the money we needed as a band to at least cover our expenses. So I passed on the gig. When I told this to Pat he said “You have a venue in Cleveland that wants you to headline?! That’s great!” I couldn’t have been more confused. “How is that great, they won’t come up with a fair guarantee and I can’t pay my band?” I said. Pat replied “You gotta quit worrying about the money and just focus on being a great band. If you can do that, the money will come. Let’s think about this, how can you leverage this opportunity to create another opportunity where you can make money?” I was enlighten. So I booked the show with no guarantee at Pat’s advice and started to think outside the box. I also told everyone in my band what Pat said and next thing I knew, everyone was focused on being a great band and not the money. I put out an ad, I found some local Cleveland acts that wanted to open for us that were willing to presell some tickets. The owner of the club gave me contact info for all of the influential music bloggers, writers, critics in Cleveland. The next thing I knew I was driving to Cleveland to do an interview with the Cleveland Scene magazine. I meet with their staff, who did a great write up for SuperMonkey & SuperMonkey Recording Co. I sent that write up to my former college Kent State, and next thing I know, they did a whole write up on me as one of their successful graduates, who has turned his marketing degree into a career in the music business. I was also able to use these articles to help book SuperMonkey in some better clubs in the city, radio, & TV appearance’s because now people had heard of SuperMonkey. Same deal for Philadelphia, as a matter of fact, the owner of Legendary Dobbs liked SuperMonkey so much, she was nice enough to write me a letter of recommendation that I use every time I am breaking into a new market and anytime I want to play in Philly, I just let her know what date, and its mine. We’ve played Philly 3 times and each time we’ve made more money than the last time, and we’re now at a point where we have to start looking for a bigger venue. All because of that one thing Pat DiCesare told me – quit worrying about making money, focus on being great at what you do and the money will come.
Pat is a wealth of knowledge and my greatest resource. If I have a question or a situation that I don’t know what do to or how to react, I call and ask Pat for his advice and he’s always there to take my call. Sometimes he calls me and asks me for my advice which blows my mind. Everyone in Pittsburgh knows his name from owning the Stanley Theater to all his years running DiCesare-Engler Productions. Two years ago, we didn’t know each other and today I’m glad to call Pat DiCesare my friend and mentor. I’m not sure what I’d be doing if I had not met Pat. Probably working a job somewhere that I hate instead of doing what I love which is playing guitar and making records.