06/24/2017 by Dave Brooks
Comcast Spectacor’s in-house concert promoter is parting ways with the venue management company to start his own independent concert promotion shop.
Brock Jones is leaving Spectra Presents to start 191 Touring, a Nashville-based touring outfit that will team up with other independents to present tours and book shows. Jones is a longtime music professional who served as VP of booking at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville before going on to run Comcast Spectacor’s booking department, first helping Spectra book its large network of venues before starting the company’s in house concert promotion company. Jones said the idea to create Spectra Presents came from the company’s founder Ed Snider, who passed away in 2016.
"He had an incredible entrepreneurial spirit and working for him was a really good experience,” Jones tells Billboard. “I enjoyed trying to put touring content in our buildings and trying to promote shows in markets that are very, very challenging.”
That included bringing concerts to some of Spectra’s smaller buildings in the Midwest, trying to make a concert work on low margins and high production costs.
“It was the single most challenging moment of my career, trying to get shows to work in places that were not typical touring markets,” he says. “For instance, if you're doing a show with an act and you go to Des Moines, and that act costs $50,000, you're going to do well. And then you're going to go down the road to Tuskegee, Oklahoma, and do the same show, you've still got to pay $50,000. There's no discount from the artists. And so, it's challenging because your margins are so small. You can lose $20,000 to $30,000 easy, because there's just not a lot of headroom there."
Jones' decision to leave Spectra comes as parent company Comcast Spectacor is refocusing its venue management and hospitality business. Earlier this month, the company spun off Paciolan to a Comcast-controlled private equity fund and recently announced the purchase of Chef Jean-Marie Lacroix’s Brûlée Catering to shore up its catering business.
Jones' new company 191 Touring is named after his childhood Idaho home along Route 191. He said he plans to continue work he began at Spectra, co-promoting a Lee Brice touring with Brad Garrett at Police Productions. He's also working on several I Love the 90s Dates with Jim Cressman at Invictus Entertainment and helping with an exclusive booking deal for the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts in Virginia Beach with Darin Lashinsky at NS2.
“There's just not enough promoters out there, frankly,” Jones says. “There’s regional guys but there's not a list of promoters who can walk into an agent's office and be able to pull together a 15 or 18 date tour across North America. It's a very short list.”
And Jones tells Billboard he will continue to work with his former company and its global network of facilities.
“The relationship that I have with Comcast Spectacor today is very good,” he says, adding that he plans to bring a number of potentially successful shows to their facilities “and continue to do great business together.”