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Marc Geiger returns with plan to save US small venues

By | Published on Thursday 29 October 2020

Marc Geiger

Following his departure from talent agency WME this summer, Marc Geiger has announced his return with a new company called SaveLive. Having raised $75 million, the company will acquire majority stakes in small music venues around the US to help revive the live music scene post-COVID.

Speaking to the New York Times, Geiger says: “One of my favourite things in the world is to go to a club, be treated well and see an incredible band. So I thought, ‘OK, I’m going to raise a bunch of money and I’m going to backstop all these clubs. I’m going to be a bailout solution for them, and I’m going to call the company SaveLive'”.

The aim, he says, is to buy stakes of 51% or more in dozens of clubs around the US, helping them to weather the COVID storm until the live music scene returns to full capacity – which will be 2022 at the earliest, he reckons. In the process, he hopes to build a national network of small venues.

“The hope here is to create a network effect”, he says. “To be a long-term backer, helper, grower of these businesses, and enjoy the wins”.

Negotiations are already underway with a number of venues. The fear of agreeing to such a deal on the venue’s side, though, might be that the ultimate plan here is to actually sell the acquired premises off to developers once the pandemic is over.

Such fears would probably make independent venues nervous of considering deals of this kind under normal circumstances. There are also concerns that Geiger is taking advantage of businesses left in dire straits by COVID-19.

However, co-founder of SaveLive, John Fogelman, tells the NYT that his company is very much viewing these deals as partnerships, rather than acquisitions. Meanwhile, primary backer Jordan Moelis of Deep Field Asset Management insists: “We don’t see this as a distressed-asset play. We see this as a business-building play, a play to be a long-term partner and to be around for a long time”.

For many smaller US venues, this may seem like the only option. Particularly as efforts to secure extra government relief Stateside as the COVID crisis extends have been stalled by Donald Trump until after the presidential election. A revised version of the Heroes Act, which includes $10 million in grants for small venues, was passed by the House Of Representatives at the beginning of this month, but is yet to get the support of Senate or the President.