Market of champions. Photo by John Gilhooley
Market of champions. Photo by John Gilhooley

Full House

When your favorite band is going to play at the Grove of Anaheim, it's Dennis Argenzia's job to make sure you hear about it.

What's your title and what does your job entail?

I am the director of marketing for Nederlander Concerts/the Grove of Anaheim. Which means that after the talent is booked, I make sure the public hears about it. They book it and I sell it.

Does your strategy change from show to show?

Yes. First an event gets booked. Then I have to decide the target audience that the show speaks to. Say it's Smokey Robinson or the Pogues, there's a slightly different marketing process. Your target market is different. You have to use different media vehicles in different ways to get to them. The bigger the show, the bigger the budget, which means the more you can spend to effectively reach a market. One of the things about a club like the Grove of Anaheim or even the House of Blues is that on a club level the budgets are small. Therefore you have to be grassroots and you have to be creative because you just can't buy a big Sunday LA Times ad. You can't put in a big radio buy to reach a market. You have to figure other ways without spending that money to get your message across.

What are some nontraditional methods you use?

A lot them are street-team-based. For the Pogues I teamed up with tattoo parlors and some local taverns to help us promote and do giveaways. For Russell Peters, a comedian whose typical demographic is Asian and Indian college students, I marketed to students on college campuses. The show sold out. I didn't do any traditional advertising. It all depends on what the show is.

Is there a specific approach to marketing shows in Orange County?

The Orange Curtain does exist. Generally, if there's an Orange County show, there's an LA play as well. Last year for instance we had Modest Mouse and we were the only area play. The show did really well and I was allowed to advertise in Los Angeles. But when there's an LA show you can't advertise your OC show in Los Angeles. So then you're pared down even smaller to whom you can go after. People will drive from OC to LA for shows but people from LA won't necessarily drive to OC for a show unless there's a diehard fan base. However, with our R&B shows, like India.Arie, Will Downing or Kem, the Grove of Anaheim can be set up as a dinner theater. So we do really well serving dinner while you're watching the shows. On those shows we do pull from the LA market where we don't on rock shows. There are some contradictions, too. A punk show no matter where you do it, even in Orange County, is a late-buying market. Comedy is a late-buying market no matter where it is. But for a dinner show or a rock show it's not a late-buying market. It's different between genres, between areas. It's something you just learn from other marketers and by your own trial and error.

Do you have any tips for local bands wanting to promote themselves?

When we'll add a local band, what we look for is a band that's out there promoting themselves at the street level, the MySpace level, and who are promoting their own shows. Those are the bands that I see that get it. They have a built-in system. MySpace has become a big tool for new bands.

Do you have any local favorites?

I'm a music freak. We had Throwrag open for the Pogues. That was pretty cool. There are some local bands I'd love to see on a bill at some point. Darker My Love is a local band that I feel is really good. So is Sky Parade. I'm always out at shows because I love music and that's why I do what I do. I'm first and foremost a music fan. There's nothing I like more than being turned on to a new band that's really good. There are some of us out there who work in the music industry and love music.



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