Jacob Smid was born in the Czech Republic, but spent his formative years growing up in Montreal. Smid tells Amplify that he had a reputation as a non-conformist by high school and when his school announced grad night plans he was having none of it.
“I wanted to throw a party for our graduation, because I was the anti-establishment kid and a school party was going to be lame. I rented a two-story art gallery. I booked a band and we had DJs,” says Smid. “We grew up in the far reaches of the ‘burbs, so everybody was like ‘How are we all going to get out to this party? How are we going to get home at four in the morning?’ So I called Greyhound or something and said I needed to rent a bus for the evening.”
According to Smid, all it took for a teenager to rent a bus at the time was a fax machine and a deep voice.
“I sold the tickets to the party and I sold the tickets to the shuttle,” says Smid. “I don’t know if it got missed or lost in translation or if I neglected to tell them on purpose, but there were 27 stops for the bus. The bus driver was like ‘What? Are you kidding me?'”
Everyone managed to get home that night and it solidified Smid’s ability to put together concerts and events. Around the same time, Smid landed a job at a local 2,500-capacity venue in Montreal called The Metropolis.
“They gave me a shot,” says Smid. “They let me do every job once. I was a stagehand one day, I was working the box office the next. I was handing out flyers and sending out offers. It was a full on rock and roll education.”
Shortly after, Smid moved to Toronto as a booker for the Opera House and then started his own promotion company, Emerge, at 19 years-old.
“After growing the business for 12 years we got a very nice call one day from Michael Rapino. He said some very nice things and I ended up going to Live Nation where I spent five years,”says Smid. “I learned a lot and got a chance to develop my skills.”
While at Live Nation, Smid had the chance to work with folks from SFX and eventually took a job there.
“It sounded already like it was going to be a crazy adventure and the reality of SFX ended up being even crazier than I definitely imagined,” says Smid. “It was a wild, wild rollercoaster trip. I’m very grateful for everything I learned in the good times and the bad times there.Unfortunately, I didn’t see eye to eye with the new management and that led to my current adventure at IMG.“
Meanwhile, Smid teamed up with partner Anthony Jouet to from an indie promoter in his former home country of the Czech Republic. Jouet had worked with Smid in Canada before returning to Europe where they decided to try their hand at being the indie promoter in Prague. Smid says he serves as “more of an investment, board member, father-figure to those guys.”
“It has been an interesting evolution. When we started Fource Entertainment nine years ago, the first year we did about 30 shows of the bands that we liked, all international acts. We were trying to bring the music that we liked to the region,” says Smid. “We were already in the top three promoters in the market with those 30 shows and probably had 70 percent market share of shows we cared about.”
With the availability of a wide range of music on streaming services and better access to cross the country due to new highways, Fource has been able to grow international acts in the region.
“Fast forward nine years later and we’re doing 100 shows a year or more in Czech Republic and we have about the same market share. There are more artists that are coming and we like to develop the artists in the market,” says Smid.
Amplify caught up with the svp of music for IMG to find out about five of his favorite shows.
Virgin Festival at Olympic Island in Toronto
Sept. 9-10, 2006
Everything was against Emerge getting the gig. We were the independent, going up against everyone from House of Blues to Clear Channel. Thanks to an intro from Andrew Dreskin, we had a call with the guys from Virgin Mobile on a Thursday and the response to the RFP was due on Monday. Rebecca Teal and I jammed through the weekend on the presentation ahead of the deadline and the meeting that followed. It was a one shot deal and it worked! A huge project for a small team and also for the size of our business at the time. Thankfully Elliott Lefko had just gone to Goldenvoice before then and I was able to convince him to partner with us on the festival. Elliott was a great supporter of our efforts at Emerge when he was at HoB so it was great to get the band back together on the festival. It was a fun journey for the three years we did the event together and it brought our game to the next level. It was also an honor to work with the Virgin brand, which we all admired, as well as to meet Richard [Branson] and get him to repel through the roof of the Sound Academy (now Rebel). The lineup for the first edition still sounds pretty great to me for a two stage festival (in no order): Flaming Lips, Muse, Gnarls Barkley, Raconteurs, Strokes, Wolfmother, Lupe Fiasco, Eagles of Death Metal, Phoenix, Amon Tobin, Massive Attack (replaced by Broken Social Scene after they couldn’t get visas), Alexisonfire, Thirce, Zero 7, K’Naan, MSTRKRFT, Sam Roberts and many more.
The Killers at Air Canada Centre in Toronto
May 7, 2007
We had the pleasure of working with The Killers and Kirk Sommer since they were supporting Stellastarr in 2004. While they did play the Molson Amphitheater in 2005, this was the first time that the team at Emerge felt like we were behind the wheel of an arena show. It was a great rush watching the on-sale and immediate sellout so deep into the five digits.
What was greater than that moment was standing at the front of house when they dimmed the house lights as the band got on stage and feeling the roar of the crowd. The hair on the back of my neck stood up and it was a great moment of pride and huge step in Emerge becoming legit. It was also a great time because the thesis of Emerge, and then Fource, was to build with bands and work with people that shared our vision and passion. Our mutual path with The Killers was the proof of the thesis. We always knew that we weren’t the ones on stage and we were there to help facilitate that connection between the band and their fans. It was great to get to do that with The Killers as our “first.”
Kendrick Lamar at Sound Academy in Toronto
Sept. 19, 2012
One man on stage absolutely rewriting everything I knew about a live rap performance and taking it to the next level. This was a month before Good Kid, M.A.A.D City came out and everything exploded. That night you could feel that Kendrick was a special talent. It was an amazing night. I think I sent Robert Gibbs (agent at the time) about 40 emails during the show – mostly exclamation marks. The energy in Kendrick’s delivery live was like nothing I’d ever seen before in hip-hop. Even the crowd had to catch their breath between songs. The power, the flow, the magic, the energy and the presence. It was a masterclass level performance which, when you think of everything that has come for Kendrick afterwards, is even more mind-blowing. Oh yeah and Drake came out as well… it is Toronto after all!
Oasis at Club Soda in Montreal
March 12, 1995
I had heard “Cigarettes & Alcohol” or maybe seen the video and fell in love with the song. I probably had to spend 25 hard earned dollars on the CD and maybe even $15 on the ticket to see the band play. I couldn’t get my friends to care as they were stuck in the Seattle sound of the time, but this sounded like the future to me. I was 16 years old and I felt like this was one of the shows I couldn’t miss. Luckily, by this point my parents were very much supportive of music and concert consumption. The band played a blistering set for maybe 45 – 50 minutes to a half full house. After the last song, all the guitars and bass were leaned against the amps causing super loud feedback and all of us stood there for 10 minutes taking it, hoping and waiting for an encore. Little did we know that this was rockin-fucking-roll and there would be no fucking encore. It was fucking amazing.
Rolling Stones at Olympic Stadium in Montreal
Dec. 14, 1989
This was my first show. I remember the concussion pyro to open the show like it was yesterday, it blew me out of my seat even though we were five rows from the top of the stadium, which at the Big O is really really far away. The whole thing was a spectacle like nothing I’d seen before and the intensity of everything was incredible. I’m so happy that my parents decided to bring me along to the show. I am certain that at a subconscious level this is one of the reasons that I still love to stand in the crowd when the band comes on the stage and feel the energy in the room. Because my first show was so memorable for me, I often like to ask others about their first show. I’m sure for many in this profession those early experiences are very deep in forming our passion for the business. It definitely was for me!