Photo by Anthony Gordon
Another Planet Entertainment’s Danielle Madeira loves the flexibility of working for America’s largest independent concert promoter. Madeira was within the first ten employees hired at Another Planet after founders Gregg Perloff and Sherry Wasserman exited the company that would eventually become Live Nation.
“As far as ticket sales, we are third largest promoter in the country and we’re the largest independent,” Madeira told Amplify. “There is AEG and Live Nation and then there is us. Those are global corporations so there’s a gap between the second and third place.”
A large part of Another Planet’s success has also come from their special events department that Madeira helped build in 2009 in the midst of the Bay Area’s growing tech boom. With five venues now under their belt, Another Planet has opened its doors to tech companies and other entities to throw private events that avoid dark nights and bring in big names.
When you are independent “you’re living and breathing the company and it’s been a part of your life for 14 years,” said Madeira. “You go after anything that you think would be a good fit like when I helped get The Muppets to Outside Lands. That came from a wine conversation at one in the morning with a friend of mine who was the executive producer of The Muppets TV series.”
Amplify caught up with Madeira to learn more about how she made her way to live entertainment, her admiration for the Bay Area, and how she has thought outside the box to help grow Another Planet.
What are benefits to being independent?
We’re able to have independent thought. My bosses and I are very much culturally aligned, but if there is a disagreement everybody is given a right to speak their mind. Also, access to decision makers is a hallway away. There is no level of corporate bureaucracy which can be challenging when you feel you can’t make a difference. To me that’s really important because I did work for a corporation and my mindset was that I really couldn’t make a dent no matter how hard I worked. The roles were really set.
With Another Planet, it’s very fluid. I was the seventh or eighth employee at the company. They did their first show in July of 2003 and I started in November. I started as head of marketing and built the marketing department. In 2009, we saw a need and I started with the Special Events department. Now I am a vice president working on business development. I work on bringing in and seeing opportunities for our company. I think I would be more pigeon holed if I wasn’t at an independent company. Everybody wears a lot of hats and that can be hard at times, but at the same time you can make your own mark.
Did you create the special events department or was it a department you joined?
Special events was not there. When we started the company it was just as concert promoters. We were not sole operators, managers, or promoters for any venue. We were just trying to get what we could get. The market at that point was a Clear Channel based market. My bosses left Clear Channel to start Another Planet. They were competing against the things they built. The Greek Theatre (in Berkeley) was our first venue. In 2009, when we starting operating the Fox Theater (in Oakland) we were approached by different companies that wanted to rent out the venue. There became a need for somebody to sell our venues and I worked with the teams that came in and made sure they had a good experience.
The special events department was created from companies wanting to rent out your venue?
We had these properties with the intention of doing concerts, but then we realized we had really special spaces that we could cater to major tech companies like Apple. Apple is one of my biggest clients. They did their product release announcements with us twice and they talked up the venue. Between Dropbox, Apple, and SalesForce we’ve had a lot of people come into our buildings. I’ve been able to grow a lot of relationships and bring clients from the venue side to the production side or the talent buying side. The special events side became venues, talent buying, production, and creating new events.
One of our first clients was Pixar. Pixar had their Up premiere party at the Fox. Jonas (Rivera), the producer of Up, grew up in Oakland and he remembered going to the Fox. So he knew he wanted to have the premiere party there. Fox was the start of it and once we got the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium the special events department really blew up. What we made grew tenfold. It is a booming side of the business.
I got this random call in 2012 when Obama started doing his fundraising. The call was from this young guy at the (Democratic National Committee). He sounded like a kid. He said they were looking into fundraising venues and he said Obama is going to be speaking. I almost dropped my phone. It was probably the most thrilling experience because everyone I worked with at the DNC was amazing. They asked if I wanted to meet the president and, of course, I said yes. So me and my boss, Gregg Perloff, and the general manager of the Fox Ruth Carlton at the time, met him. He did not let us down. He was the most charming, sweet, engaging person. He even knew the history of the theater. He was just as charismatic as you could imagine.
The same guy from the DNC called me back and wanted to do a bigger event. I had a good relationship with the DNC by then. He asked me where and I told him you’re going to do it at the Bill Graham Civic. So we did another event with Obama and it was pretty much my favorite. I taunt the booking department. I say ‘Oh, I’m sorry. I pulled off the biggest rock star booking ever.’
Was Another Planet impacted by the recent wild fires in Northern California?
It has affected my workload for the last three or four months because I was focused on the fundraising concerts we put together with Tipping Point Community. We work closely with Marc Benioff of SalesForce and the (MLB’s) Giants. We all came together and it was an amazing and beautiful experience. Even with our competitors Live Nation, we all put our heads together to figure out what we could do to support the devastation that happened because of the fires. Working with Live Nation was an amazing experience. I love the local Live Nation people like Jodi Goodman. It showed a lot of Bay Area strength, all egos aside.
I had my head down helping plan the Band Together Bay Area concert at AT&T Park on Nov. 9. It was Metallica, Dave Matthews, G Easy, Raphael Saadiq and a collection of Bay Area artists. We were able to give 6,000 tickets to first responders who could bring their families. These were the heroes that were working non-stop for weeks fighting fires. We raised $23 million with all the sponsorships and everything. Right when we were done with that, Benioff had already booked the Band Together Bay Area 2 with Red Hot Chili Peppers and Lucas Nelson. That’s how we were affected. We were able to come together as a community and support.
Are you from the Bay Area?
No. I love this area so much, but I’m glad I’m not from here because I don’t think I would appreciate it as much. I am from Oklahoma. It was a great place to grow up, but I wanted to go some other place. I thought I wanted to work in film production because movies were my escapism growing up. In college, I realized I loved the live music experience instead. I went from working with Steven Spielberg at Amblin copying scripts as a P.A. to moving up here.
What did you do when you first moved to the Bay Area?
I ended up getting a job at Zappos. I met Tony (Hsieh) and I loved Zappos but I didn’t like shoes. I was like ‘Why would anyone buy shoes online?’ I was not much of a visionary on the tech side. Then I stumbled into working for a radio station. I was doing marketing and promotions, but what really got me was when we did concerts. We had artists come and play for us in the studio. That’s when I knew this is where I wanted to be. When Gregg (Perloff) and Sherry (Wasserman) started Another Planet I knocked on the door and did everything I could to beg for a job. Then 14 years later, this year will be 15, we’re here.
You said you discovered live music in college, what school did you attend?
I went to the University of Kansas. There was a bar called the Bottleneck that was a venue as well. I would go there all the time and I worked at the Student Union on campus. That was the organization that brought in films for the Union to show or bands to play. I remember the first time I had to call Frank Riley who was Soul Coughing’s agent. At the time, in 1997, Soul Coughing was my favorite band and I got to pick them up from the airport and that was my first taste of live events and I loved it.