In this edition of my blog series feature Behind the Art, meet Jodi Goodman—top notch concert promoter. Starting in the club scene, Jodi worked her way into the coveted position of President of Live Nation Northern California. It doesn’t get any bigger than that.
Behind the Art: Jodi Goodman
President, Live Nation Northern California.
What is your position at Live Nation?
President of Live Nation Northern California.
What all does your job entail?
Booking shows, overseeing the development of new business, and piloting strategies for making budget.
What are some of the artists with whom you have worked?
I have many years at this, so, fortunately, I have a long list of acts and shows I have promoted. I have highlights, mostly from realizing how lucky I was to have had concerts with so many of the legends many who are gone: Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, David Bowie, B.B. King, Prince, The Eagles, Nirvana, Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison.
What prompted you to pursue the business side of music? How did you happen into it?
I was always a fan of music and the concert experience. Even at a young age I was drawn to buying records and going to shows. I fell into an opportunity to start a rock format in a club I was bartending in during the late ’80s, and it became a quick success and launched my career as a promoter.
Who’s the first artist that got you started? What’s the story behind that?
It was really the club that got me started more than an artist. Storyville, as it was named, then put me front and center with established agents and managers, and I was soon a trusted ally and popular promoter for the acts.
As a woman in a male-dominant business, what gender-based obstacles have you encountered and how have you overcome them?
It’s a hard question in a way because certainly not many women were in high positions, but still there were strong female club buyers, agents, and managers at the time I began, so I did not see a real line in the sand. When I got to a bigger promoter office it was more obvious that there kind of was. You just had to be very bold, confident, and show your stuff, and be very patient for a top line position. The wait was clearly longer as a woman, but also in this business it’s a very insecure business, so giving up a piece of your action and sharing was not a popular way of doing things.
Was there a particular moment when you felt you’d “made it” as a music industry professional?
Probably when I was re-hired from a former company that I’d left due to the limitations of growth. I went to a competitor which risked alienation from the biggest promoter in the region. It was a bold move but put me in a stronger position, so when I was asked to return it felt then that I was finally taken way more seriously as a valued professional in the field.
Whether for business or just for pleasure, what makes you want to research an artist that’s unfamiliar to you?
Strictly for discovery of a sound, song, or new experience. That is always a feel-good proposition.
Marin County. It’s calming beauty is arresting.
What is your morning routine?
Email, coffee, email, shower, email, dress, email, car.
What constitutes a productive day at work for you?
Finally talking to the person I have had phone-tag with for three days, finally getting the offer out I meant to the day before, and finally getting the answer I was hoping for: “Your show is confirmed.”
Is there anything unusual about your workspace? What do you keep on your desk? What’s the view from there?
Our office space is amazing! It won an Architectural Design award three years ago. It looks very dot-com/art gallery-like. It’s the nicest LN (Live Nation) office in the country—that’s a fact! My desk is clean: computer, some files in a stand, one pile of papers to reference, Bridge School Benefit mug, two small speakers. My view is a busy street in Potrero Hill.
Please recommend three songs (any genre, any artist) and tell us why you like them.
Black Hole Sun—Soundgarden. I am a big Chris Cornell fan, and his voice in this song always makes me stop dead in my tracks and listen, no matter in what situation I am hearing it. It demands to be present.
Going to California—Led Zeppelin. Well, this is my favorite band, and this song has personal resonance for me, and it’s just one of the most romantic songs ever written in my opinion.
I have a tie with two Kate Bush songs:
Running up that Hill. Love her sound but this song is very spiritual and inspirational to me…you can feel the desire.
And Don’t Give UP—Kate Bush with Peter Gabriel. You can feel the love and hope moving through this song, musically and lyrically.
As I’m also an author, I’d love for you to recommend three books and tell us why you like them.
I am not a big reader with my limited time and choices I make, but these are memorable for me:
What is the What—Dave Eggers. An incredible autobiography of one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan,” showcasing life’s ironies in a backdrop of sadness, cruelty, strength of the human spirit, innocence, and fate.
The Alienist—Caleb Carr. This book is a psychological thriller set in late 18oo’s Manhattan. A great read that had so much realism in the writing. It felt like watching a great epic film in black and white.
The Plot Against America—Philip Roth. This is a story based on an alternative history if Lindberg became President in the ’40s instead of Roosevelt. It’s a chilling perspective of what life might have been, as seen through the eyes of the Roth family, citing much of the anti-Semitic tone of that time.
Do you have an industry friend who helps and inspires you?
Helps, not really, but inspire—yes, and sadly the industry just lost him to cancer.
Do you play a musical instrument? If so, which one(s), and for how long have you played?
I played bongos and drums in college.
Do you have any superstitions?
No but I believe in Karma.
What phrase do you over-use?
Do you have a funny story related to your job, whether it be booking a show or at one of your shows?
I think so, but then I would need to embarrass myself.
What is something about yourself that is essentially unknown and maybe even surprising?
I promoted one of the last shows Frank Sinatra ever performed. His manager told us that night, “Sadly it’s coming to an end.”
What advice would you give to an aspiring musician?
Nothing they don’t know already.
What advice would you give to someone interested in getting into the business side of music?
Really know deep down you have it.
It’s a hell of a time to be a promoter or musician/artist. The industry is as fertile and open for opportunity as it’s ever been.
B.B. King, Caleb Carr, Dave Eggers, David Bowie, Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Kate Bush, Led Zeppelin, Live Nation, Luther Vandross, Miles Davis, Nirvana, Peter Gabriel, Philip Roth, Prince, Roy Orbison, Soundgarden, Storyville, The Eagles, Whitney Houston