Jovan Polanco - Founder of Swerve Presents, An Independent Promoter and Content Creator with a Focus on Creating a Brand with Culture

Ep.077 Cover - Jovan Polanco.jpg

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This episode was recorded live from Florida International University (FIU) 

When the average concert goer goes to a show, they don’t know the difference between Live Nation, AEG Presents, or whomever else is promoting the show. They are there to see their favorite artists, or go see a great show at one of their favorite venues. Jovan Polanco, is a independent promoter, talent buyer, and content creator that’s looking to change that. As the founder of Swerve Presents, he’s looking to create a concert promotions brand with a culture and personality that fans will remember. In this conversation, we discuss the process of booking a concert, competing in a very competitive environment, strategic partnerships, brand building, and much more. This episode is the first ever live podcast, recorded at Florida International University, in Music Business 101.

To learn more about Jovan Polanco, visit  


Highlights from this Episode
[4:45] About Jovan Polanco
[5:56] Learning how the Music Business works
[7:00] Using content to build a concert promotions brand
[8:36] The Swerve Presents Team
[9:58] Having first priority at venues
[10:14] Dealing with venues and creating partnerships
[11:55] The history and business model of Swerve Presents
[16:25] The booking process
[19:34] Biggest challenges as an independent protomer
[21:33] Dealing with agents
[25:36] Plans for Swerve Presents
[27:22] What gets Jovan’s attention as a Talent Buyer
[30:55] Drawing attention from a market for you events
[33:25] Booking Artist’s that don’t fit the company culture
[38:38] Growing contacts from volunteering at festivals
[41:21] Philosophy on how to learn the ins and outs of the music business
[47:50] Getting to know Jovan Polanco

Quotes from Jovan Polanco
“I was doing other things in school to prepare me for what I‘m doing now.”
“Learning how to market parties, translates into marketing shows.”
“As a independent promoter that doesn’t own venues, your venue deal will make or break your shows.”
“When you’re working with other promoters, definitely have a contract.”
“A lot of times people don’t want to jump on, until they see something is moving and happening.”
“To gain leverage in Talent Buying, I need to book multiple markets.”
“In the beginning it’s all about creating a connection, and get the agent to know who (you) are.”
“Our mission is to change the face of the industry.”
“Most of my first bookings came from meeting the agents at conferences.”
“If it’s good music, and we can get behind it, we should support it.”
“Going to the conferences is super pivotal if you want to do this.”
“When you go to a conference, you should have something you’re working.”
“If I approach a person at a conference, think about how you can add value to them.”
“College creates the environment to learn things on a micro level.”
“If you want to survive in the next 20 years, you need to be putting out content.”

Links to people, places, and things mentioned
Swerve Presents
Florida International University (FIU)
Live Nation
AEG Presents
WRLD Entertainment
Revolt Music Conference
Billboard Booking & Touring Conference
Dan Larson
Okeechobee Music Festival
Lil Uzi Vert
21 Savage
Meg White (Agent at ICM)
Moneybagg Yo
Trippie Redd
Maggie Rogers
Billie Eilish
Creative Artists Agency (CAA)
William Morris Endeavour (WME)
Promoter 101
Gary Vaynerchuck
Short Story Long (Podcast)
The Come Up Show (Podcast)  
Martin Luther King
J. Cole
All You Need to Know About the Music Business by Donald Passman

Jovan Polanco’s Definition of Making It:
“Being able to do what I love full time, and being able to support myself of it.”

Get in touch with Jovan Polanco
IG: @swervepresents
Twitter: @swervepresents

Related Articles & Episodes:
1. Ron Richard - Talent Buyer at One Eyed Jacks in New Orleans - Episode #071
2. Life of a Talent Buyer - Lessons to Becoming a Concert Promoter - Episode #036
3. Dan Larson - The Spectrum of Talent Buying - Episode #023

Ben Weeden - COO of House of Blues Entertainment at Live Nation - Building the Largest Portfolio of Clubs & Theaters for the Most Powerful Concert Promoter in the World

EP050 Cover Ben Weeden.jpg

You can also listen to this episode on iTunes | Stitcher |

Benjamin Weeden is the COO of House of Blues Entertainment at Live Nation for their Clubs & Theaters division. In 2016, his team promoted over 10,000 concerts in the United States. The company owns and operates clubs and theaters all over the United States, and is most known for it’s House of Blues and Fillmore brands. Ben has been with the company literally since day one, having worked along with one of his mentors and CEO of Live Nation, Michael Rapino. In this conversation, we celebrate our 50th episode, and Ben shares a ton of insight and wisdom from his time in the Entertainment Business. We discuss his experience and how he got in, what makes a great talent buyer, what makes his division unique, the most in demand jobs at Live Nation, what his ideal curriculum would look at a Music Business school, and much more.

I have a ton of students that want to become Talent Buyers or work for Live Nation. Ben Weeden shares some great insight on what he personally looks for in Talent Buyers, and also the need for great promoters. In today’s touring industry, understanding social media, how to place efficient and effective ads on Facebook, Twitter, Instagarm, etc. is crucial to being a great marketer/promoter. Also, Ben talks a lot about analyzing data in this episode. One of the jobs I consistently see posted the most is for data analysts. If you can learn how to make marketing decisions based on data analysis, and then sell tickets, that’s where the money is! If you can do that, you’re going to be very successful as a marketer. I love this episode, and how he shared the importance of getting used to promoting 100+ shows per year to become a good Talent Buyer, and put yourself through bootcamp to get ready for the big leagues with Live Nation.

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Highlights from this Episode
(5:30) Ben’s role at Live Nation
(7:00) New venues, acquired and built
(7:42) Sought out trends in the market
(9:50) Current trends in today’s music business, based on live shows
(13:00) Raising ticket prices for smaller, DIY artists
(14:51) Ben’s start in the business
(21:54) Advice for students aspiring to work in Live Nation
(24:50) Advice for talent buying without wasting money
(27:28) Most in demand jobs in the industry
(28:40) College degrees/classes that add value to the music business
(30:30) Courses for Music Business students
(33:17) Lessons learned from Michael Rapino and other mentors
(36:14) Advice on marketing budgeting for emerging bands
(37:53) Ben’s routine for stress relief and mental health
(41:15) Words of wisdom for future talent buyers/promoters

Quotes from Ben Weeden
“When expanding, population and disposable income are two of the most important data points”
“We’re trying to raise our tickets prices in such a way that it goes up with the inevitable rise in talent.”
“For better or for worse, the price of talent will never go down”
“We got to get better at pricing the house without pricing people out of the house.”
“In order to be a top-notch talent buyer, we generally look for buyers that have been playing with their own money, have been promoting a significant volume of shows (over 100 shows a year) and battling bigger guys [in the business]”
“I’ve got a lot of respect for buyers that go out on their own and carve out a niche for themselves”
“Learning the marketing side is very important because at the end of the day we don’t want just talent buyers, we want promoters.”
“We’re all going to book shows that are going to lose money; let’s just learn from it and make sure we don’t book that same show at the same price again.”
“On average, our senior promoters are booking over 200 shows a year…you have to get time with your family; you have to get time with yourself, you have to get time to take your vacations because this business just never stops…”
“It’s a tough business; it’s a grind; if you love music this is certainly the industry to be in nowadays given the importance of touring…you have to find the experience booking shows…take whatever experience you can”
“It’s a great time to be in this business, it’s only going to continue to grow, and there’s only going to be more opportunities…it is a real grind, you have to be prepared for that.”
“Get grounded on all the different facets, finance, marketing, operations and hopefully find a job at a smaller club, grinding it out and booking at a lower volume cause there is where you’re going to get experience.”

Links to people, places, and things mentioned
Live Nation
Grand Rapids (20 Monroe Live)
HOB Anaheim
Buckhead Theater
Queen Theatre
The Van Buren
Bear Sterns                                                                                                
SFX Entertainment
Robert Sillerman
Brian Becker
Milano Concerti
Michael Rapino
Clear Channel Entertainment
Britney Spears
Neil Diamond
Rolling Stones
Artist Nation
Ron Bension
Facebook Campaigns
Instagram Campaigns
Ohio State

Get in touch with Ben Weeden

Ben Weeden’s definition of making it:
“To continue to learn every day; I learn a lot from the younger people from our team as well as from the people above me. At some point, I would love to keep building and running this division and be thankful that I’m not in investment banking or selling insurance.”

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Episode Credits
Host: Chris Goyzueta
Producer: Jason Trosclair
Executive Producer: ONElive Creative Agency  
Music: Emily Kopp
Show Notes: Manuel Pachamoro

Inside the Life of a Talent Buyer - Lessons to Becoming a Talent Buyer & Concert Promoter

You can also listen to this episode on iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud   

Inside the life of a Talent Buyer. In this episode we feature lessons and insight to becoming a Talent Buyer and Concert Promoter. How to get started, how to succeed, and how to grow with companies such as Live Nation and AEG Live. In this episode, I answer questions about my experience as a Talent Buyer with House of Blues in New Orleans, as well as answer some previous unanswered Facebook questions. This episode also features 5 Lessons from highlights of previous episodes from our Talent Buyer series with Kevin Stone, Wayne Lee, Dan Larson, Allen Anders, and Michael Yerke. Be ready to learn all about what it takes to succeed as a Talent Buyer. 

1.   Kevin Stone
2.   Wayne Lee
3.   Dan Larson
4.   Allen Anders
5.   Michael Yerke  

Highlights from this Episode
What are the 3 criteria Chris looks for to book a band (06:00)
How to make a judgment call on under age crowds (07:50)
What to offer to performers to appeal them to your venue besides money (08:45)
Making great music or having a social media following. (11:05)
 Segment 1: Kevin Stone (13:25)
In a Time of crisis who are the Talent Buyer go to people (22:00)
What is the Golden rule to negotiating (23:40)
What to do if you have to put the number out first (26:15)
How Chris’ stays up to date on his markets the best he can (27:30)
How to remain in the smaller local scene as you grow in your career (29:00)
Segment 2: Wayne Lee (30:05)
How often to give a marketer a raise (38:00)
Important characteristics of a Talent Buyer (40:30)
How Chris stays organized (42:41)
How to stay in the loop with music industry and talent buyer buzz (44:10)
Segment 3: Dan Larson (46:35)
Daily Activities of a Talent Buyer (54:10)
How Chris stayed personable with performers (58:15)
Why local support isn’t regularly featured on tours (59:58)
Best way to get in touch with a talent buyer if you haven’t played at the venue (1:02:50)
Who led Chris on his journey to becoming a talent buyer (1:04:10)
Segment 4: Allen Anders (1:06:45)
Biggest yes and no that a Talent Buyer can do (1:17:10)
How to attract the attention of an entertainer or performer (1:19:50)
It is important to grasp a charity or cause early on in careers (1:22:45)
How to get into this line of work and how to get an internship with Live Nation (1:24:00)
Segment 5: Michael Yerke (1:29:30) 

Quotes from Chris Goyzueta
“Try to purposely sell out. It creates buzz.”
“If they aren’t willing to promote themselves, why should I promote them?”
“Having history, and having a good venue.”
“When they are at your house, you’re inviting a guest into your ‘house’. “
“Go the extra mile. A lot of promoters don’t do that.”
“The music comes first.”
“Social media matters, but it’s not the only thing that matters.”
“Playing the long game is always going to win.”
“Don’t be the first to put out a number.”
“Be involved in the scene. Go to shows.”
“Pick up the phone and call people.”
“As soon as you get lost in organization, you fail.”
“Make sure you say hi to everyone.”
“Find a way to build common ground.”
“Every show you play take it serious and like something you care about.”
“Whether it’s a charity or a cause, you should find a community to pour in to.”

Links to people, places, and things mentioned
Kevin Stone
John Legend
Sonny Schneidau
Wayne Lee
Childish Gambino
The Civil Wars
Dan Larson
Allen Anders
Ari Herstand
Michael Yerke

Places & Things
Live Nation
Full Sail
Florida Theater
The Social
CID Entertainment
House of Blues
Hype Machine
Sound Cloud
Spotify Viral 50
Billboard Heatseekers
The Plaza Live
Okeechobee Festival
Drunken Monkey
Rock for Hunger

Kevin Stone - Program Director and Talent Buyer of Florida Theatre on Philosophies of Booking Concerts

You can also listen to this episode on iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud  

This podcast interview is with Kevin Stone, Program Director and Talent Buyer for The Florida Theatre in Jacksonville, FL. This is my first conversation with a Talent Buyer. One of my kind! My experience in the industry, has been booking and promoting shows since 2006. Shout out to Emily Kopp for introducing me to Kevin Stone. This was a wonderful interview, and the first one where I personally feel like I’m finally hitting a good groove. Still have a long way to go to the 10,000 hours to greatness in my podcast journey, but this conversation and the stories by Kevin, has made this one of my favorites so far.  

Kevin Stone, the program Director of Florida Theatre in Jacksonville, FL. He started his journey in the entertainment business when he graduated college in 1999 from a college in Toronto Canada. After many years on the road, he landed at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, FL where he became the Director of Entertainment. While at Ruth Eckerd Hall he started a concert series with the Tampa Bay Rays where they promoted many amazing concert from which he will share some stories in this conversation. In 2013, he became the director of programming at Florida Theatre, a beautiful 1,900 capacity historic theatre, bringing all kinds of amazing concerts and events to Jacksonville, FL

Kevin is a man of service that gives back so much to the live music community. This was a really fun interview, and I’m excited to bring this to you for two episodes. I hope you enjoy my conversation with Kevin Stone.  

Kevin’s Definition of Making It:
It’s not 100% dollars and cents. It’s being able to come to work every sing day and knowing you love what you do, and getting to make a difference in the community. 

The Show Poster from when Elvis Presley performed at the Florida Theatre in 1956. 

The Show Poster from when Elvis Presley performed at the Florida Theatre in 1956.