AEG Live/Goldenvoice’s SVP Susan Rosenbluth made her way into the live event industry from a couch. After Rosenbluth’s then boyfriend, now husband Roy Rosenbluth, snagged a job as the parking director at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, she went to speak to the House Manager about a position and started selling souvenirs at the iconic venue.
“I sold souvenirs for a couple of shows and then they realized I was capable of more so they put me in charge of the souvenirs,” Rosenbluth told Amplify. “I would do the souvenirs and at the end of the show I would sit on a couch and wait for my now husband to finish the parking.”
Rosenbluth realized that sitting on a couch for an hour or an hour and a half every evening was an inefficient use of her time.
“The smartest thing I probably ever did in my career was going to the General Manager at the Greek, Bob McTyre at the time, and said ‘I sit on that couch for an hour every night. I think you should put me on minimum salary and let me do more. Then you’ll get your best use of my time.’ He agreed,” Rosenbluth said.
She began working with two other women to pay bills, handle payroll, and take care of all the artist settlements.
“That’s how I learned how the business runs from that point of view,” she said. “I realized I really enjoyed everything about the Greek. I told the GM it was my goal to be the House Manager and be involved in theater management. Over time he promoted me and when he left, they put me in charge.”
At the age of 24, Rosenbluth was the General Manager for the Greek Theatre and began running concert operations for Nederlander Concerts in California.
Amplify caught up with Rosenbluth to discuss her current role at Goldenvoice and why she’s referred to as a generalist.
How long were you with the Greek?
I oversaw the Greek and eventually I oversaw all the operations for the concert side of Nederlander Concerts in California for 13 years.
What was it like running such an iconic venue in Los Angeles?
There were a lot of memorable moments. There was Peter Gabriel body surfing to the mix machine and back. That was the first time I’d seen that happen. There was a Genesis concert where the audience wouldn’t leave the auditorium even after the stage hands went on stage and started breaking down the sets. They didn’t want it to be over.
There was a fire during a reggae fest half way through the show on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend. The fire was above the Greek, far away but not that far away. The fire department wanted us to evacuate because if the wind shifted there wouldn’t be time. We went on stage, talked to the producer of Reggae Sunsplash, figured out that they could all do the show the next day. So we told everyone to come back at a certain time the next day and we did the second half of the show on Memorial Day.
Did you have any interest in live entertainment prior to the Greek?
I did. I was theater major at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. I realized about halfway through that process that I wasn’t going to be an actress and that my forte was in stage management and selling tickets. My college advisor suggested that I get a business degree as well as a theater degree. I did that, which helped shape my future career.
Did you grow up in Texas?
No. I grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Were you interested in live entertainment when you were in Indianapolis?
Well my first concert was the Beatles in 1964. I was very young, but my older brother said to me, ‘You must go to this show.’ It was at the Indiana State Fair. I went to a few other concerts in high school, but I was more interested in theater. I was a stage manager and an actress in the theater in high school.
How did you end up at your current position as SVP at AEG?
In 2003, Randy Philips who was running AEG Presents gave me a call and said ‘We want to talk to you about coming over to Goldenvoice.’ I talked to Rick Van Santen and Paul (Tollett) as well and came over to Goldenvoice. I became Senior Vice President and General Manager. I love the energy of Goldenvoice. Goldenvoice has an energy in its staff that’s really special. It’s a great place to work.
Do you think the business is getting easier or harder for independent promoters?
I think that cream always rises. An independent promoter can’t just assume that it’s harder. If they are passionate about what they do and good at what they do, they will be able to make a living. The big companies can’t do everything and can’t be everything to all people.
Do you see any challenges ahead for the music industry?
There is an evolution in ticketing that is interesting because of the premium tickets and the various ticket companies and how easy it is to sell tickets online. In Europe, ticketing is done somewhat differently than it is done in the States. It will be interesting to see how that effects ticketing in the U.S. I hate the bots and I’d love to figure out how to get rid of the bots. I don’t think the general public understands that. Sometimes they paint us with a brush and get upset that they couldn’t get tickets, but they are over here on a secondary site.
You formed AEG’s Latin promotions division?
While with Nederlander, I worked on my first Latin concert in 1984. It was a young man at the time named José Luis Rodríguez, El Puma. I did that with George Pinos. That went well and ever since then I have been involved in Latin promotions. I noticed at Goldenvoice that there was no emphasis on Latin music so when I came to AEG I said ‘This is one of the things that I’m well-versed in so I’d love to help you guys develop a division.’
Has that been successful mainly in California or across the country?
It has been successful across the nation. Certainly California and Texas are two states where there is an emphasis. Probably the top four markets for Latin music are Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Miami, but there is also a lot in Texas.
You also work with a lot of genres outside the primary ones?
I’m known as the generalist, meaning I’ll promote Yani which we have coming up at the Greek Theatre. I’ll promote K-pop. I’m working on Lindsey Stirling at the Microsoft Theater. She is doing a Christmas show this week. I am a generalist talent buyer.
Do you enjoy having that diversity in what you promote?
For me, it is the right fit. Some people are really good at some primary genres or primary and secondary. I like the challenge of doing something new and different and making it work.
Have you seen a growing demand for any particular genre?
There’s no question that rap, hip-hop, and urban music are definitely crossing over into all other genres. You see influences of hip-hop in Florida Georgia Line and other genres of music.
You were also involved in the recent South Korean boy band, BTS’s tour in the United States?
Yes. AEG, Goldenvoice promoted their tour in the United States. We sold out every arena which was great. It was so much fun to see how talented these young men are. I’ve been in the K-pop community for a while and I knew some of the people involved in the tour, so I knew that their popularity was growing. So I approached them and worked things out.
Are there any acts right now that you are personally listening to?
My personal favorites from my youth are James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. Currently I like Migos and Kehlani. I tend to like R&B ballads. I also like Sublime. I wish that Bradley Nowell hadn’t passed away. I’m pretty eclectic in my personal taste. I love Maná.
If you could travel in time to see any act, who would it be?
I would have wanted to see Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall in 1961. She did an album from the show and for the longest time it was in the top three live album in sales. I grew up with that. My dad would play it every Sunday and he would play George Gershwin “Rhapsody in Blue.” I have an appreciation for the standards and orchestral music and Broadway tunes. Although, Led Zeppelin would also be on my list to see.
Do you own any piece of music memorabilia that you’re proud of?
I’m not really much of a collector. I am more of a collector of the memories than of actual stuff.My Beatles ticket was stolen when I was in high school out of my purse. So I don’t have my Beatles ticket.