Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Voices Of Live: FATA Booking's Eva Alexiou-Reo Finds New Booking Opportunities | Pollstar News

Eva Alexiou-ReoAmy Bezek Eva Alexiou-Reo
Eva Alexiou-Reo is already an anomaly as a female booking agent in what is surely a male-dominated industry but, add to the fact that she runs her own agency – and started it in 1996 at the age of 18 – and you have a true concert industry rarity.


Her boutique booking agency and management firm, FATA, which also includes agents Chris Swartz and Kalani Summerford, represents artists including Los Angeles band Weathers, alternative pop band Transviolet, nerdcore artist MC Lars, and Leon of Athens, who along with Eurovision Song Contest entrant for Greece Katerine Duska recently pulled off a high-profile socially distant outdoor show in Greece to about 400 fans. 


Alexiou-Reo’s career includes working with bands like Jimmy Eat World, whom she booked at the height of their popularity, Coheed and Cambria, Flogging Molly, Elliott, Hot Water Music, Saves the Day, MAE, Atari Teenage Riot, and many more.


Pollstar: Tell us what you’re doing with NITO, the National Independent Talent Organization. 

I’m on the booking committee of NITO, where part of my responsibility is speaking to the promoters and everyone to figure out anything outside Montana that’s actually opening. It’s been really interesting. I get to talk to people every day and have the most depressing conversations ever. I’m trying to help promoters come to ideas in the areas that are reopening at half-capacity, or 25 people. 


I’ve proposed to some of them slot shows. When The Strokes were doing residencies before their album came out, when they did different markets, DC, New York, Boston and Philly, and played off nights at small clubs – they played the same set, same date each week, same ticket price, $5 at the venues for five weeks. Why can’t venues that have the ability to reopen have slot shows like a residency, like in Nashville? You could have the same artists doing it weekly. Say, Monday an artist comes in, and does the 6-7 o’clock slot, one ticket price, no sound check, just a line check, no ability to sell merch, and can play for one hour for a low, low ticket price, say $5, and then the venue has to clean and sanitize the whole venue for an hour, and then an hour later, again with reduced capacity. I think everyone should have to wear masks, but that’s just me. So you could have three shows in a night. I’m just trying to help people get creative. 


Are venues and promoters receptive to these creative ideas? 

Promoters have been receptive, once I’m able to explain it. Now I’m in the process of digging through to see what venues will do it. I’m creating a database, Margie (Alb├ín) from Do It Booking is also one of the co-chairs on the NITO booking board. Once I’m able to compile a list of people able to do it, I can supply it to the NITO committee and board to see if they can use it. But Margie and I are playing with a master list to see who is interested. I think it would be really cool in a place like Nashville where there’s so many younger artists. Even if you’re doing shows for 25 people at a place like The End, even with 25 people per show with the same staff per night but split up as three different shows and three different ticket prices, sanitizing in between each set, it’s really helping these artists.


Have you been doing any ticketed livestreams with your clients? 

I have had really great livestreaming experience with Veeps, the only platform I’ve used so far. Joel (Madden) and his entire team are fantastic. “Helpful” is probably minimizing how over-the-top wonderful they are, and patient! With Weathers, what we did is we went into The Federal Bar in North L.A. and played to a skeleton staff, just the sound engineer and the band, and the video crew. That one was really awesome. We only advertised for about two and a half weeks and it was amazing, and we kept it up after and kept streaming. We’re thinking about doing another and geo-blocking just the UK and Europe. We’re kind of playing with that.


Transviolet also did one through Veeps, and that was really successful. Both bands, Weathers and Transviolet, just looked amazing. There’s no audience and you couldn’t tell. They’re great. Now, because of NITO, a lot of people are informing us of what options are out there. I have a list of so many livestream services, and our own Tim Borror (co-founder of Sound Talent Group), one of the co-chairs of the booking committee, has a really successful live platform they’ve created. I have a lot of faith in what (colleague Dave) Shapiro and Tim are doing. We’re also trying to figure out if the band MAE can make one happen like the one Underoath did. 


Let’s hear about the Leon of Athens show. 
Leon of AthensLeon of AthensLeon of Athens and Katerine Duska during a socially distanced show in Greece in front of 400 fans.

The Leon Of Athens show in Athens, Greece, that one was completely socially distanced and seated. It was fantastic. it was a 2,000-capacity venue, outside, summer in Greece outside is very pretty regardless, and the seats were shuffled, two at a time but shuffled so two here, two behind, and two in front, so the ones that would be directly next to each other would be 6 feet apart. You had to wear a mask and there was table service, the booze was brought by a waitress, so no one could leave to go to a bar. Four hundred people were allowed in, that’s it. and it was great. It was beautiful. They’re about to another one, they had the ability to make this outdoor infrastructure work. 


If they didn’t do this show, everything they’ve recorded and done – just like everybody else who has released music during this time period – it’s really difficult. Even though it was 400 people and the last time they played Athens it was 2,500-3,000, it still was worth their time and made sense. Talking to them afterwards they didn’t feel the element was weird, they actually were totally fine with it, and it was very much treated like a live show. The next one coming up, we’re probably going to use a platform like Veeps for a global livestream outside of Greece. 


How about drive-ins? Other types of shows?

The issue with the drive-ins is it only accommodates a specific drawing artist. It’s not workable for artists on the mid level. And it’s really tough to give options to mid-level artists that don’t have the drive-in capacity. The show Leon of Athens and Katerine Duska did in Athens was great. That’s happening in Europe, it’s not happening here yet. The comedy clubs I have seen announcements even in Philadelphia, so that’s really cool. There’s the ability to see who is doing what where. But I also think it’s a question of which artists feel safe performing, too. We’ve had offers from people early on in Texas, for instance, and artists sometimes aren’t feeling safe. No one wants to have what happened with some of the country artists, the agents definitely don’t want to have that reflect poorly on them or that it’s irresponsible when they’re just trying a model – one that obviously the patrons need to be responsible as well and do what they’re asked to not do or do, put your big-kid pants on, don’t bum-rush the stage.


This is considered a male-dominated industry. Add to it that you started your agency as a teenager and it’s not something you see every day.

I started going to shows when I was really young, just hanging out in parking lots where our friends would skateboard, and we would go to the shows eventually. That’s how I met Hot Water Music, that’s how I met Tim Borror who worked at H20 at the time, and I was helping do shows in Wilkes-Barre. Hot Water asked me to help them book shows outside of Wilkes-Barre, and then I never stopped. When I was 18 they were getting big fast, and I had to learn what I was doing. 


Weathersvia VeepsWeathersLos Angeles band Weathers recently pulled off a successful streaming concert on the Veeps platform.

Kevin Lyman at the time was managing The Ataris and Less Than Jake, I think. He still had Warped Tour of course. He’s like, “Do you know what you’re doing?” (laughs). He calls me “Eva-Ava,” I think he still doesn’t know which one it is, 23 years later (laughs). He basically said, “You have to know what you’re doing” and helped me so much. I fell on my face a lot. I was trying to get to know these people. I praised Stormy (Shepherd, Leave Home Booking) and Margie. They were like the holy grail of coolness, they had that fire, I wanted to be that type of woman in the industry, smart and respected and cool. I really loved everything about them. Then I met people who helped me along the way. I’ve worked with some amazing men, Marc Geiger helped me a lot in my career, Kevin Lyman was a lot of help. Not a little help, but “I don’t know what i’m doing!” We didn’t have a class like they do now. I spent eight years part-time teaching music business, and the first thing I would say to these students is, “Oh my god, you have no idea what you’re getting into.”


When I went to college, I was working for Jimmy Eat World - people like At The Drive-In were sleeping on our floors. It was fun. I didn’t know it was going to become a career. 

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