This week on the XLIVE Interview Series we sat down with Tyler Fey, a partner at Feyline. Tyler’s father, Barry, founded Feyline in 1967, and worked with some of the greatest musicians in the history of rock & roll. Barry was the first person to ever bring Led Zeppelin to North America, and worked with acts like The Rolling Stones , The Who, Aerosmith, as well as produced the famed “Under A Blood Red Sky” concert and video with U2 at Red Rocks. After buying the business from his father in 2012, Tyler has since taken Feyline down many different paths, one of course still the promotion of large concerts and they’ve even ventured into promoting destination events with some of the biggest stars of today. Here’s what Tyler had to say about the growth and development of Feyline, how they meet artists, the largest challenges of being a promoter, and what we can expect from Feyline in 2018.
Can you tell us about your father founding Feyline, how he got the idea, how he made connections, and how he was able to bring Led Zeppelin to the United States for their first time?
He would tell me to tell you to read his book “Backstage Past”. As far as how he made the connections and got his start, he would always say he was in the right place at the right time. He of course was a brilliant man and capitalized on all those incoming opportunities, one of which was Led Zeppelin. The way the story goes, Dad had a sold out Vanilla Fudge show in Denver and the agent called to get an opening act added to the bill. Like any good promoter Dad was reluctant to add any expenses which of course come with bringing on more talent. He told the agent “No”, and later received a call from Fudge saying Barry saying “We’ll pay half the fee, if you do”. He thought this was odd, but said okay and that band was Led Zeppelin. But again for better detail and accuracy, go read his book.
When did you join the business, and what new ideas and initiatives have you brought to the company?
We purchased the company from dad in 2012 and reiterated at first as a management company for young and hungry talent. Since then we’ve expanded into many different ventures. Of course we will always promote events and do concerts, it’s in our blood as Feyline. We also have launched Feyline publishing, and a few other ventures.
We’re also very proud of a technology based company launching this year where we’ve partnered with other music industry vets to accomplish the overall goal, can’t reveal all that much about it at this time however.
Selling tickets and promoting concerts must be very different now, compared to 1967 when Feyline was founded. What are some of these changes and how has Feyline been able to adapt?
It’s not even comparable. In ’69 and all the way up into the digital age, promoters had to know more about the markets and fans. The radio was ever so crucial back then, as was print and street marketing, that’s all that promoters had. Now social media has made it immensely different. Not going to say if it’s good or bad, just different. We’ve seen amazing sales due to an artist’s ability to proliferate their brand and shows online. We’ve also seen social media numbers be very deceptive at times. Either way, print, radio and other tactics still are very necessary depending on the size and nature of the event. A lot of it falls on the target demographic and where their attention resides.
Feyline’s Facebook page says your father founded Feyline and “did so by embodying the right ethics and always believing the fan came first.” Can you explain this mindset, how you put the fan first, and how you have maintained this belief and company culture today?
With Dad the people of Colorado and beyond knew they would be safe, and that the highest level of production possible would be delivered every time. One story that comes to mind is dad trying to stop Under A Blood Red Sky from happening because he didn’t want his fans to be rained on for the entire evening. Of coarse thank god Bono and Paul kept the show at Red Rocks but the argument for dad was again the safety and comfort of his fans. After the show Bono and U2 spoke with dad about why he would try to stop the performance and he merely said “you don’t understand, it was raining on my audience”.
This goes to show that no one to him, not even his best friend in the business Bono, superseded the quality of his fans experience.
Al I can say is we often ask ourselves, “What would Barry do
?” and we run with that. Bringing back Feyline with any ethos but would be a disservice.
The possibility to interact with and get feedback from the fans is greater than ever due to social platforms and interactions. As far as at shows themselves the production value has gone up across the board from sound to lighting and beyond. Streaming makes access to music is more abundant than ever, and we at Feyline have plans in place to digitize other parts of the industry as well. You’ll find out more later on in 2018!
What are some of the largest challenges when promoting a concert, and how do you overcome them?
You just never know. You can have the perfect formula and still be off. The standard model for Concert promoting will always be the wild west, this is why gunslingers like Dad and Bill and others saw such success. Eventually there will be a change of the model, and it’s coming. Democratization and digitization has come to every other facet of the music business.
As far as technical and production challenges they’re becoming easier to mitigate with technology.
Feyline, as you say on the website, is in its second generation. Can you explain the two generations?
One Generation started obviously in 1967 with Barry Fey.
The second started in 2012 in honor of the first. Started as management, now heavily diversified and ready for the future.
Is booking/managing international artists any different than doing so for local artists?
Of course, the stakes are higher and the shows are bigger. The level one has to be at to partake on such a level is far more demanding to the artists and the team.
Who are some of your favorite artists whom you’ve met through your job?
Honestly, I don’t look at it like that, I was very fortunate to call a lot of the biggest stars in the world friends of the family. Because of that I look at everyone equally, we all exist in the ecosystem. Those who treat their fans correctly and bring the highest level to them night after night, that’s what I respect and admire.
Not to say some aren’t more talented or that I don’t like some music more than others but as far as my musical taste, I’m an old soul.
What’s next for Feyline in 2018? What can us music lovers expect, and what should we keep an eye out for?
The continuance of what we’ve started mixed with more destination events, bigger shows and the launch of a tech platform that we couldn’t be more proud of.