The music industry has come a long way since Andrew Tenenbaum, partner and co-founder of Future Beat, was first listening to the classics on his mother’s table radio.
“A 1960s table radio in a Queens apartment kitchen, that’s all we had in the house. It was AM and that’s all you could listen to,” Tenenbaum told Amplify. “Now I have four kids and they have every song ever in the palm of their hand with great audio. There is no interference when it rains outside.”
The industry veteran has been involved with music from a young age. His father worked with groups like The Platers, The Tokens and The Letterman, and went on to manage Woody Allen, Apple Corps and The Beatles. Tenenbaum’s position in the industry also evolved, beginning when he worked as a lawyer for major management firm MBST.
“[MBST] was the Rolls Royce of management companies at that time, so you develop great relationships. It just evolves with some of the clients and all of a sudden I’m on a team managing some artist,” Tenenbaum explained.
“When I got into the management business in the early 90s, there was a very healthy business in touring and recording. Everyone got signed with record labels and you put great tours together,” Tenenbaum said. With the changing landscape of recorded music, “It’s incumbent upon the artist and the team to find ways to make the economics of it work so you can have great music and it gets played and everyone can get paid.”
While working for MBST, Tenenbaum was on the management team for Robin Williams, helping put together merchandise packages and more for the comedian. The merch company asked if Williams would be interested in doing meet and greets with fans.
“We presented it to Robin and he said it sounded great and ‘I’d love to meet fans. That would be terrific,'” Tenenbaum said. “Robin really enjoyed it. He was only obligated to stay in a meet and greet for so long, but he would stay forever.”
Through that partnership, Tenenbaum met his Future Beat partner, David Berger. The two decided to create their own VIP company not long after and create the ultimate experience for both the fan and the artist. Future Beat provides packages with meet and greets, special merchandise, preferred seating and other perks for fans of 21 Savage,2 Chainz, Emmylou Harris, Mary J. Blige, and a roster of other musicians and comedians.
Amplify recently chatted with Tenenbaum to discuss five shows that gave him that greater experience music fans are always seeking.
Frank Sinatra at Carnegie Hall in New York
I have my parents to thank for taking me in November 1981 to see perhaps the greatest entertainer of all time, Frank Sinatra, and at a legendary venue, Carnegie Hall. I was very into rock music at that time, but Sinatra was a throwback for me. He defined what performance is about regardless of musical genre. And seeing him perform late in his career in Carnegie Hall made it all the more special.
Bruce Springsteen at the Palladium in New York
I was a young kid and by then had graduated from the standards I knew from my mom’s radio on WNEW-AM to the great era of rock music on WNEW-FM and WPLJ in New York. Bruce Springsteen had just burst on the scene and I was hooked. I had the opportunity to see one of Bruce’s legendary shows during his run of sold out Palladium shows just as he was becoming a legend and household name. It was the Born To Run tour and Bruce was famously on the cover of Time and Newsweek at the same time. It was a historic moment for Bruce and for the music and I got to be there as it happened.
Frank Zappa at the Palladium in New York
A friend at New Rochelle High School loaned me Zappa’s “Apostrophe” album and I played it so much I scratched it and had to buy him a new one, and of course one for me. It showed me how rock music could be sophisticated, and of course outlandish. I desperately wanted to see Frank play live. Radio reports said Frank was sick with the flu that day and the show might get canceled. But the show went on. I think it was simulcast for radio. Frank did things with music that impact me to this very day. It was even more impactful during the many years I spent as a consultant to Gail Zappa (Frank’s wife) and the Zappa Family Trust.
Robin Williams at Copacabana in New York
Comedy may be a deviation from the five shows theme, but well-justified in the case of perhaps the greatest stand-up comedian ever, Robin Williams. I was a kid at that time. My dad was Robin’s business manager and took me to the Copacabana for Robin’s taping of the Grammy-winning “Reality … What a Concept.” I am sure my dad had a few difficult moments having his kid hear some of the things Robin said. For me, Robin was the epitome of the performer who gave it all he had. He gave every last bit of himself and his unique talent to his audience. By the time he left the stage his tank was empty. Every time. This was as important a lesson in show business as it is in life.
Elton John at recording of “Live By Request”
Shortly after 9/11, I was invited by the producer of “Live By Request” to a show where Elton John would perform 90 minutes on live television. There was that unique intimacy of seeing an arena/stadium-size performer in a room of 100 people. The hook on this show was that people would call in requests for the guest artist to play. Elton played many of his huge hits and then something happened I will never forget. A caller explained how she had just lost her fiance in 9/11. They were to be married that week. His favorite song was “Rocket Man,” which was their first dance. Elton understood the gravity and seriousness of this situation, the caller’s pain and what the moment called for. He visibly went into a zone to deliver the strongest emotional performance I had ever witnessed. He wasn’t just singing. He was bringing comfort to the caller and everyone that watched. When the song was over, there was complete silence. Applause was not appropriate. Not a dry eye in the house.