Who The F**k Is Arthur Fogel? World Premiere Movie Review


T-Mak World has extensive coverage of Canadian Music Week here

March 5 2013 – Canadian Music Week (CMW) is a multi-faceted festival that runs in Toronto, Canada every March. Last year T-Mak World saw and reviewed 34 bands and interviewed 10 more. This year we expand our coverage to movies! Yes it is true, CMW features a movie festival as part of its programming and this year it is entitled Canadian Music Week FilmFest 13. The three day film festival runs from March 21-23rd and features 8 films that all screen at the TIFF Lightbox. The full schedule can be seen here. Advanced tickets are priced at $10 each and can be purchased online at www.ticketfly.com or through www.cmwfilmfest.com. Day of screening tickets will be available at the TIFF Bell Lightbox box office.
Who the F**k is Arthur Fogel? Well let me answer that: Arthur Fogel is the chairman of global touring at Live Nation and regarded as one of the most powerful guys in the high stakes concert biz. The description on the film’s CMW page reads:

(The movie is) the insider story of today’s multi-billion dollar pop music industry that is struggling to survive the meteor-like impact of massive technological change that has affected it like no other business on Earth… and one man who is trying to save it.)
In other words as Internet based piracy has totally decimated music sale revenues for musicians, concert experiences (which can never be pirated or stolen) have become the path to incredible wealth for artists. In a capitalistic supply and demand based model, if there is demand the cost will reflect the level of demand. This is clearly the reason why these days it costs close to $300 to get up close to see a concert that is sponsored by a big box retailer. Fogel is clearly a force in exploiting the demand for live music and maximizing the profits of the artists he represents as well as his employer Live Nation.
From the opening scenes featuring U2, Rush, Madonna and The Police it is very evident Fogel is a dude with clout. This might be the perfect movie to have its world premiere at Canadian Music Week, as Fogel is Canadian whose career experience gained roots through the Canadian Music industry.
The documentary starts to settle in with Fogel and his mom reflecting on his career path choices and the journey begins. The movie is a fairly linear biopic of Fogel’s life. The viewer is taken on a journey with brief snippets in the life of Fogel from a drummer in a local Toronto band, to a night manager at a club called The Edge in Toronto, to a road manager, to promoter at CPI, and all the way to head honcho of tours at Live Nation.
The make or break point was the late 80’s when Fogel decided to promote a band on every date in their world tour. This unorthodox approach was a major risk because promoters up to that point were very territorial and there were clear boundaries. The band in question were The Rolling Stones, the other option for the Stones was Bill Graham – the legendary San Francisco promoter that basically was the biggest promoter of the last two decades. The business plan that Fogel gave the Stones was astronomical and the concert landscape changed from that day on as the Stones played to over 3 million fans in 20 countries and grossed $170 million on that tour.
A large portion of the movie is spent on U2 and the events leading up to their record holding $750 million grossing 360 tour (which incidentally just happens to be one of the worst concert experiences of my lifetime due to Bono’s megalomania and its insane immensity – so much for artist/fan intimacy, but I digress and I am sure many of the 7 million enjoyed that tour). Madonna and her concert growth is detailed as well and the immediate reaction is that Fogel is not just about rock, but his formula for tours can apply to other musical formats just as easily. The Madonna segment drags on a bit too long as it focuses too much on her and not really what Fogel contributes to her success. The other main segment that is chronicled is The Police reunion tour which of course was a glowing success, and the in fighting between the band is laid out to bare. All extremely interesting insights in the concert business. Aside from celebrating Fogels’ successes we also get a glimpse of his failure particularly with the 2002  “Guns N’ Roses” riot when Axl didn’t show up for his own show.
The most interesting part of the movie is the segment on digital piracy and how the Internet and in particular Napster decimated the whole music industry. How do you compete with free is the question posed and music industry people reflect in retrospect on what a mistake it was to not embrace and work with Napster, and instead fight it – a fight the music industry not only lost but got knocked on their asses in a first round knock out.
The most thought provoking element I see with what this movie is presenting is the future. In the traditional music business, musicians’ commercial success used to depend on the record companies. They would develop and promote the band and generate demand through very defined and limited channels like radio, magazines and retail outlets. The tour would happen to promote and sell more of the given band’s album. With the new paradigm shift the driving factor is the tour and the album is unfortunately irrelevant. Record companies used to spend money to develop new artists, touring companies and promoters are not doing this (in part to technology fragmenting the channels). The movie ends with the question of who will be filling the Staple Center in 20 years after Muse, The Foo Fighters, and Coldplay are all figuratively finished. 
Rock stars that are interviewed and featured range from Geddy Lee of Rush, Martha Johnson of Martha and the Muffins, Bono, Adam Clayton and Edge from U2, Madonna, Andy Summers and Sting of The Police.
Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 – A compelling documentary about the man that invented the current global concert landscape. Excellent live and interview footage from a variety of musicians and a movie that puts a humble Canadian in the best light possible. The real question is “how the f**k did I not know who Arthur Fogel was till now!” Must see for music fans but please Mr Fogel can we somehow get back to $17.50 (or even $75) floors concert tickets ;-)
Director: Ron Chapman
Running Time: 93 Minutes

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One Response to Who The F**k Is Arthur Fogel? World Premiere Movie Review

  1. Stephen Tiffney says:

    With ya on the concert ticket prices…sure would be nice

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