Consultant eyed to jazz up Jazz Aspen Snowmass | AspenTimes.com

Consultant eyed to jazz up Jazz Aspen Snowmass

Bob WardThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – Jazz Aspen Snowmass is joining forces with a Los Angeles-based entertainment and sports company in an effort to attract bigger and better talent to its music festivals, President/CEO Jim Horowitz said Thursday.The new alliance with AEG Live should help JAS compete for the best musical talent in an increasingly competitive and consolidating music industry. In recent years, Horowitz said, JAS has staged highly successful festivals with A-list bands – think the Black-Eyed Peas, Jack Johnson and Widespread Panic – but other JAS festivals have been criticized and under-attended, owing mainly to the small organization’s struggle to attract marquee names.”The reason for this is to give us a leg up, to compete for the talent that this market really demands,” Horowitz said. “We’re a big deal in a small town, but we’re not a big deal in the industry.”Horowitz characterized AEG’s new relationship with JAS as that of a consultant. JAS is still an independent nonprofit organization and will continue to operate and stage its June and Labor Day festivals in Aspen and Snowmass Village, as well as a late May “sister festival” in Sonoma, Calif. But AEG, which stages roughly 7,000 concerts worldwide annually, will take a lead role in programming the festivals.”This is all about bigger, better talent that’s confirmed sooner,” Horowitz said.AEG Live, a subsidiary of Anschutz Entertainment Group, bills itself as “the second largest concert promotion, special event and touring company in the world.” Its website names Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Bon Jovi, Prince, The Eagles, Dixie Chicks and Paul McCartney among its recently completed concert tours.As an example of the JAS’ recent talent-booking problems, Horowitz pointed to the 2010 Labor Day Festival. Friday night headliner Wilco was booked and announced in midwinter, some seven months before the event, while the deals with Lynyrd Skynyrd and Frey & Walsh, the Saturday and Sunday headline acts, weren’t inked until June. In the end, ticket sales were lackluster.”We feel strongly that with AEG’s track record as one of the nation’s major concert presenters, we will have the opportunity to now be part of the discussion on major artist visits to Colorado and the Bay Area at the outset of planning for the summer season,” Horowitz said.Another major benefit of the AEG relationship will be the ability to forge relationships with major sponsors to support JAS events. In the past, banners with the names Janus and Calamos have waved above JAS stages, but Horowitz said it’s become harder to attract large sponsors.”We have not had major-league sponsors in the last couple of years,” he said. “This should lead to a more stable scenario going forward, where we’re less prone to highs and lows.”AEG was able to inject new life into the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in recent years, Horowitz said, and he hopes for a similar effect in Aspen.He was quick to emphasize that nothing will change about the venues, amenities and operations of the existing JAS events. JAS will continue to operate and book talent for its smaller, jazz-oriented June festival, which is planned again for the Benedict Music Tent. It will continue its music education programs and its winter jazz series at The Little Nell in Aspen. Fundamentally, Horowitz said, the organization is exactly the same.”This is not a merger, it’s not a partnership, it’s not a sale,” he said. “This is like adding a great player to your football team.”For more information on those events, JAS’ new relationship with AEG Live and other JAS events, go to jazzaspen.org.bward@aspentimes.com