What Happens in Las Vegas Will Be Happening in Madison Square Garden

Las Vegas has long been a place where popular acts (musicians, magicians and others) who are still popular, but probably beyond the peak of their popularity, can do very well.

It’s done by creating a monument to their achievements and success and marketing a location as the place that you can go to find them anytime. Celine Dion may not be recording many new hits, but she’s got enough fans and enough of a catalog that when you put millions of people in one place (the Las Vegas Strip) who are looking for something to do, her “sit-down” show is a winner.

I thought for several years that this would be a brilliant idea for Michael Jackson, and when he announced his series of shows at the O2, I felt those were a prelude to a Vegas residency. Of course, his death preempted all of that, but if he had lived, I feel very confident that would have happened, and it would have dwarfed everything Vegas had seen up to then. Michael might have made more money from Vegas shows than anything else he’d done in his career, and that would have been saying something.

Besides, wouldn’t you want to see that show?

Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 11.54.59 AMIn a similar vein, Billy Joel will be playing at MSG “as long as there is demand” once a month. Like Vegas, New York brings in millions of tourists, and they are all looking for something to do. Obviously, MSG is a gigantic house (compared to the Vegas venues, which are more like 2,000-4,000), so once a month feels very doable. If it’s priced right and sold properly, my view is that this show could go on for at least two or three years, if not indefinitely.

On a smaller scale, I think there are opportunities to create this kind of show elsewhere. Take a popular person or thing, and give it limited but reliable and ongoing exposure. Celebrate it; do it up big. Talk to the people who really like it, and tell them that this is the best place in the whole wide world to see whatever it is.

That’s got Selling Out potential in a sustainable and incremental way.

Anybody want to make a guess as to how long Joel’s show goes? I’ll give a $100 Amazon gift certificate to the person who’s closest.

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  • I will be very curious to see if New York can successfully execute the “Vegas show” model. In Vegas, we’ve seen so many productions come from New York and fail. They may last for a few years if they’re lucky but most can’t make it. I feel that it will go the same way for “Vegas” to go to NYC. Not to say that Vegas is the sole originator of the extended headliner but as you said, Vegas has been known for headliner residencies since the Rat Pack and Elvis days just as NYC has been known for Broadway. In my opinion, Billy Joel could maintain a residency in NYC if he brings something different to the table, other than just a concert. The thing about Vegas headliners is that they don’t do their Vegas show anywhere else, even if they’re still touring. My most educated guess based on the information I have, I’d say it lasts 1 year.

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