Michael Brill, CEO of D.LIVE, a portfolio of event locations in Düsseldorf, Germany, sat on aPollstar Live! panel on the global venue landscape
, and we took the opportunity to record a video interview at the conference's home, the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, LA.
The 25-year vet in venue management, including 22 years in management positions at SMG Europe, talked about what it take to run a successful venue in 2020, and why he decided to become a founding member of Oak View Group's International Venue Alliance.
OVG is Pollstar's parent company.
Brill opened up about the moment he fell in love with the live business, and why he never feels the need to unwind even after a quarter of a century of working in it.
"Today, the venue is no longer just a shell, which you rent out and hand the key over to the promoter or client. It's far more," Brill said.
According to Brill, ticket buyers were expecting more high-quality entertainment and service than ever from a night out. "The entire journey from driving to the venue all through to the end of the show must be a perfect experience," he said, before laying out how he aims to achieve that at D.LIVE's portfolio of venues.
The German city of Düsseldorf has a catchment area of 30 million people within a two-hour drive. The potential to sell tickets is huge, as is the competition. Six major arenas as well as four major stadiums are within a one-hour drive. "So, we really always have to be a little bit ahead of the game in order to make the promoter happy, in order to get more tickets sold, which is part of our responsibility as a venue," Brill explained.
D.LIVE managed to grow its business by 25% in visitor numbers and 33% in turnover over the last three years, according to Brill, who said, "we're okay in the domestic market, that's something we can stimulate and manage quite well. But whenever it comes to the European market, to the global market, we need more visibility."
Which is why D.LIVE joined Oak View Group's International Venue Alliance in October last year. In an environment of constant consolidation and capital venture companies moving into the picture, it can be hard to be visible in the market. "You have to join up and become stronger than just a stand-alone facility, and this is where the Alliance, we believe, is an ideal tool to access, especially, more than the domestic market," Brill explained.
Talent booking, sales, sponsorships, event concepts, data exchange, media partnerships – these are just a few of the areas in which OVG can help D.LIVE's business, according to Brill, who added, "you have to try to open doors that maybe in the past you didn't even know existed, or you just didn't have the key to."
Brill also talked about navigating costs, ticket prices, the new 24/7 booking mentality and maintaining your mental health during all of it. Check out the full interview below.