I am FULLY aware that I am seeing a world-renowned band live, Matt. And I do not have a sense of entitlement, but I DO sure as hell have a right to fair prices and not some jacked up corporate ripoff when I used to be able to see the same renowned band for about half the price. I helped pay their way to the top, and I helped make them who they are today.
So don't give me that bullshit about not being able to afford first class on a flight and sitting in a seat I can afford. Because I, as well as the rest of the loyal and dedicated fans, deserve a spot right up front. How dare you tell us otherwise.
Man, can you tell my feathers are ruffled tonight?
Matt Bongiovi talks Bon Jovi, Family, JBJ Backstage and the Biz of Rock
November 6th, 2010 8:03 pm ET
From: www.examiner.com (source)
Based on outward appearances or fan gossip, it might be easy to conclude that Matthew Bongiovi, brother of acclaimed rock star Jon Bon Jovi, leads a life of privilege and influence thanks to riding the coattails of his famous big brother.
To do so largely discredits Bongiovi’s own accomplishments as an entertainment buyer, executive, restaurateur, and driving force behind the BonJovi.com web site and JBJ Backstage Fan Club communication and VIP events.
By any measure, his personal bio is impressive. In addition to his round-the-clock care and feeding of the Bon Jovi fan experience on a variety of levels, he is also a successful co-owner of the 84 Park night club in Stamford, Connecticut.
Bongiovi has had nothing handed to him, and has worked hard mastering marketing and public relations assignments not only for the World’s Hardest Working Rock-N-Roll Band, but also in positions as a talent buyer for Clear Channel Entertainment in 2001.
Ah, good connections because of big brother Jon, you say? Perhap, but it takes a village of drive, determination and talent to also have successful stints as Pauly Shore’s tour manager, General Manager of the renown Comedy Store, a talent buyer for the House of Blues and of course, Tour Manager for four Bon Jovi world tours.
Whatever Mama and Papa Bongiovi fed their boys, excellence in entertainment runs through their veins like pockets of exquisite gold hidden deep within the earth. Though mined differently, both shine brilliantly in their own fashion; and, one thing for certain: Matthew Bongiovi is not his brother’s keeper.
Bongiovi is more than the sum of his parts.
Sure it’s easy for fans of JoviNation to maybe sit back and conclude that because Matt is from la famiglia, all he does is fly first class, hang with groupies, charge everything to the Bon Jovi corporate American Express card, and occasionally host a web chat or VIP fan experience Meet-N-Greet.
Maybe for good measure, we think, he gets to rack up some awesome Frequent Flyer credits jetting hither and yon around the globe with Bon Jovi.
To think thusly is to grossly underestimate this family-centric, loyal, and enormously talented entertainment industry pro. Bet most fans a Richie Sambora guitar pic or a Bon Jovi busted string that Brother Matt has his own impressive career accomplishments, and one guesses there would be precious few winners.
So, Matt was kind enough to share some of his time out on the road with this Examiner, to dispel Rumor, Innuendo and Legend with an Exclusive Interview:
EX: How much of an age difference is there between you and Jon; and did you tag along a lot during the formative years of the band?
MB: "There are 12 years between Jon and I. I always thought Jon was a rock star as a kid since I always remember him playing. My earliest memory was when he was playing his high school battle of the bands. The school gym was packed. I remember him bringing me on stage to play with the horn section at the time and people going nuts. It might as well been Madison Square Garden."
EX: Social network gossip on Twitter and Facebook has you running everything behind the scenes from the social networking presence to the JBJ Backstage fan club VIP meet-and-greets and events. Is this accurate?
MB: "Our mother started the Fan Club some 20+ years ago out of our house. She grew it to be one of the largest of its kind. About 5 years ago Mom stepped down and Jon had a choice to make. He could close it down, sell it off or bring it to me.
At this point I had an idea of the power of the net and knew in order for this to work and be taken to the next level we had to streamline the entire process. With a $5000 budget it was up to me to try to bring this club to another level.
I called on Rob who has been helping my mother for years to pick his brain. Rob was getting into the business of making web sites. He knew his limits as well but also knew where to get help. We created it from nothing. Leading up to the Lost Highway tour we recreated the entire experience.
Human nature for the most part does not like change. People are scared of it. My mother was scared to change from what she was doing. I knew it was time. The band was about to reach another level in their career and I knew I had to be ready for it. "
EX: Like many fans, I’ve watched the site morph into a fabulous kind of Bon Jovi ‘Central’. Was it hard to take it to the next level?
MB: "As our memberships grew and the demand became higher I also was smart enough to know my own limits. There were any bumps in the road in the beginning for me but as the fans never gave up on their favorite, I was not about to give up either.
As we finished Lost Highway we started to look for a group who we could partner with. After seeing and meeting with many tech heads we came across Sparkart. We knew that they could see our vision and what we wanted to accomplish.
The original idea was to merge the many sites into one. BonJovi.com became the hub. We now have a team of people who focus on Bon Jovi each and every day.
We all have something that we bring to the table and it is this that makes Bonjovi.com one of the strongest band sites out there. So with all of that said going back to your question of do I run everything behind the scenes? Well I have a great team that works hard. You are only as good as your team. I am the CEO of the project but every football team needs a quarterback."
EX: I have to ask: is that you as the lost dog in the alternate music video for ‘Who Says You Can’t Go Home’?
MB: "That is the first time I heard that one. Hell NO! Sorry, but I can’t even stand that video; made no sense to me."
EX: How do you feel about not being able to please every single Bon Jovi fan who attends a VIP package or JBJ Backstage event? Is it frustrating to work your tail off and think you pulled off a good premium interaction and then hear complaints afterward?
MB: "I don’t hear many complaints after an event or backstage tour. It is leading up to events, trips or ticket on-sales that I hear people start to assume and complain.
You will never make everyone happy but I do my best. The biggest problem again is people don’t like change. It takes time but if you take their hand and show them why change is good they then understand.
There are people out there who feel entitled. I was always taught as a kid not to expect something and I wouldn’t be disappointed.
Ticket prices are always a hot topic these days. Well I’m not here to say if they are right or wrong but it is 2010. The way I see it is there are only a handful of MEGA groups out there and they to me would be U2, Rolling Stones and Bon Jovi.
Even if the critic won’t admit it Bon Jovi sells more tickets around the world than almost any other group. They put on an amazing show never giving less then 150% of themselves. Their catalog spans 27 years and sold over 125,000,000 records.
You are seeing one of the biggest bands in the world. What the band also does is has a ticket to fit every ones budget. You are no more or less of a fan based on where you sit. I am no less of a fan because I am in the upper tier.
People have to know what they can afford and not spend what they don’t have. I want to sit in first class but I can’t. I still will fly but I will take the seat that I can afford. The unfortunate thing is that people will see the top price package and say the band is ripping off their fans. I don’t agree.
You have to ask yourself what you would be willing to pay to see your favorite artist from the front row, get a guided tour backstage and on the stage, put on Richie’s guitar or grab on to Jon’s mic stand.
We give you exclusive merchandise that you can’t buy. You get an item signed by the entire band. You go places that unless you work for the band you will never see. You can’t put a price on this. "
EX: In addition to the many hats you wear on the Bon Jovi side of life, you are also an accomplished restaurant and night spot entrepreneur; how do you handle it all and not lose your wits?
MB: "No idea. I have one night club now, 84 Park in Stamford Ct. I am able to balance them thanks to my best friend and business partner at the club. It’s not easy since I’m still trying to make my mark."
EX: How is the lounge/boutique/nightclub business going these days?
MB: " It is going well. I enjoy it. I better since my bartenders make more then I do! That’s the price of owning your own business though. Big debt to pay off…"
EX: How do you decide when you can leave those ‘other plates spinning’ and throw yourself into Bon Jovi tour management duties?
MB: "When family calls, you don’t look back. You do what you have to do."
EX: In looking at your considerable PR and marketing abilities and those of your brother Jon, what do you attribute the formation of those instincts to that have led you to success?
MB: " I grew up knowing nothing but this world. This is normal to me. I wouldn’t know what it was like to hold a 9 to 5 job. At times I wish I did.
I have to deal with the ups and down of fame without the payoff. My brother is rich and famous not me. I grew up learning from some of the best. As with anything I do I never claim to know everything. I learn every day. You have to keep an open mind to bring yourself to the next level. "
EX: If Jon has the last word on the music side, do you have the final say on marketing, internet communications and logistics?
MB: "I am an employee. I have a voice but far from last word."
EX: So, what’s the next challenge to conquer for Matt Bongiovi? More clubs? Back into music promotion? Internet?
MB: "I would consider working with other artist on Fan Clubs but I don’t think it would be the same. There is still a feeling of family within our club and between our members. You can’t fake that."
EX: Here’s the Million Dollar Question: which business do you like better, music or night spot entrepreneur?
MB: "I love the music business. It has allowed me to do things that otherwise I may never have. I have been able to travel to over 50 countries and meet all kinds of people.
But the thing about owning a nightclub is that it is mine. It is totally up to me if it is a success. It is my way of being in the entertainment business."