Live Nation - Looking Back.

Me, the weekend before starting my job at Live Nation. (Photo credit: Arlo Rosner)

Me, the weekend before starting my job at Live Nation. (Photo credit: Arlo Rosner)

It’s been four months since I was let go from my role as Vice President of Social Media at Live Nation.

I have to say being fired is definitely a life changing event. The thoughts and feeling that arose were so complex, I knew it was important for me to pull apart the entangled threads and follow them each to the end. I wanted to be able to put every single thought and feeling into perspective and take full advantage of the opportunity for both professional and personal growth.

After following each thread to the very end, I now know why a VC friend congratulated me on the "accomplishment" of being fired. You see, I was given a gift. The bombshell allowed me the life changing opportunity to discover a new depth to my strength and a deep understanding of my own resilience. I have learned that I don't need to rely on anyone else for my income or stability. That I don't have to be afraid of speaking my mind, standing on a ledge, or striking out on my own. That it was me and always me (and only me) who had my back all along. And that my friends, is freedom -- the kind nobody can take from you or alter. For this, I will forever be grateful.

Beyond this giant discovery, as I unraveled the different threads, I realized I am actually grateful for many things. Here are the top 10, in order of importance:

10. Success! Building an in-house social agency to serve all National tours from strategy to promotions to advertising was no easy task. I took the department from two to nine -- mentoring smart, creative and talented young people into becoming a team that could scale to handle thousands of concerts, support over a hundred marketers across North America, and service the different divisions of the organization from customer service to marketing to sponsorship/ad sales. And let me tell you, we moved mountains. I want to take a moment to say Thank You! to those who have worked with me and for me -- you have touched me with your incredible minds, creative spirits and giving hearts. I am grateful for all of the amazing moments we had together -- especially when high-fives and tequila celebrations were involved ;)

9. Final Approval. Owning the job of controlling all social communications for a brand is an enormous responsibility. Some brands have up to 10 approvers for each social post including executives from branding, marketing, corporate communications, PR and legal departments. I feel a lot of pride in the fact that I was trusted to be the single and final authority in all social communications for both Live Nation and Ticketmaster brands. I believe all brands need to have a single person they can trust in this role since it is such an easy place to falter, and having too many approvers slows response times down at a time when real-time response is critical -- and becoming more critical every day.

8. Key Collaborators. While turning social into a business at Live Nation, many, many teams were necessary to build APIs, integrate technologies, and respond to fans 365 days a year. I am most grateful for the "Social Care" team we developed led by Scott Powell,  Scott Donowho, Eric Showalter, Terry Lilly and Barrett Justice. You guys are a dream team and you deserve to get an award for your dedication and successful integration of social into Customer Service. It is a very tough job to help frustrated, and sometimes angry, people with their problems day in and day out. This team does it with pride, grace -- and smiles.

7. Artist Teams. I mentioned a couple of standout band managers who effectively manage their bands like brands in a previous blog post but there are so many more strong and successful people I had the privilege of working with along the way. People like Michele Bernstein at WME who is tough as nails and sharp as a tack, and all the folks over at grnd(ctrl) who made collaboration not just possible but a pleasure. You guys really do rock and I look forward to working together in the future.

6. Sex Appeal. Working in the entertainment industry opens doors, and even more so when the the company is the biggest of its kind. Working at the company, allowed me to easily initiate and build relationships with giant players across social platforms, publishers, vendors, and management companies that would have been much more difficult as an independent consultant. The people I met during this time have become some of my closest friend, allies and resources. These relationships have been such a huge value to both me and my clients -- so Thank You!

5. Resources. I have been privileged throughout my career to have worked with many companies who have been early to invest in social. Having enough resources to be able to build systems and tools to scale social the way I always knew it could and should be done was a dream come true. I was able to invest in technology to everything from developing simple tools that allowed for 100 plus marketers to build quick, turnaround promotions to launching cutting edge apps and building a robust unified digital dashboard. The experience and knowledge of how to get this done from INSIDE a large corporation has put me in a very unique position to consult the biggest brands in the world on Social Business. For example, I know social must graduate beyond the purview of the marketing department to reach the full vision of Social Business. (Read my Forbes article on the subject here). For this insight, I will forever be thankful.

4. Volume, volume, volume. One thing Live Nation has in spades is volume. While this creates a very big challenge for execution, it is an incubator for developing expertise. Volume means more opportunity to try, test, fail, learn and try again. As a proponent of the fail fast methodology, I now recommend high-volume execution as a means to hone in on perfection. It really is *the formula for success.

3. History. Many people don’t know the history of the company, but I always found it fascinating. Live Nation is a business created from many, many successful local businesses. This means there are many strong leaders in places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Canada, and New England, just to name a few. When I began developing an agenda for a  weekly call with the local teams of people who have been brought up by the concert greats like Bill Graham, Ron Delsner, Rick Franks, and one of my all time favorites, Don Law, the insights were invaluable. Talk about music history. Those wanting to get into the music business -- forget college, get a little time in with any of these guys and you will learn the lessons of a lifetime.

2. Variety. The parent company Live Nation Entertainment has a little bit of everything -- ticketing, promoters, venues, VIP packages, merchandise, sponsorship and artist management. While building social across the business, I was able to understand how each of these businesses work independently and together. I was able to both learn and teach how to apply social to a vast array of different use cases from how to integrate a sponsor into a product launch to how to build a social team for a b2b business like Ticketmaster. It is rare to be able to work with such a large variety of businesses inside one company, and for that experience to have come during such a lucrative time for the development of Social Business -- it was an opportunity of one in a million.

1. Data. The volume of fans that go to concerts creates a ton of data. As any smart digital professional would do, I measured everything. Being able to measure and gain insights against so many efforts, across so many platforms, with so many people is the way to develop best practices. And since understanding the correlation between data and social levers, is the number one way I have been so successful in my career to date, this is the number one thing for which I am grateful.

In the end, I have identified a clear path to execute the full vision of a social business within a large organization -- a path that every company must go down and every startup must carve out. 

I also discovered we are all still at the very beginning of the possibilities.

There is opportunity to create dynamic, social experiences that bridge online and offline events, content that invites ongoing exploration, and engagements that light people up both mentally and emotionally.  This is the next stage of engage and I can't wait for the ride. And now, I am confident I am up for whatever it may bring ;)

By Gretchen Fox, Social Architect at grtchnfx