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FPC Live makes large staff cutbacks

Changes at Madison’s largest concert company will impact 39 employees.

FPC Live, the dominant concert promoter in Madison’s live-music industry, has laid off or reduced pay and hours for 39 employees at its home office on South Livingston Street and at several of the venues it operates. Nearly seven months into a near-complete absence of live music, the move is a bleak indicator. Independent venues have been working together to ask state and federal governments for help, but so far, little has been forthcoming. If FPC, a Live Nation subsidiary, is making such drastic cutbacks, that bodes badly for small local venues without nearly the same resources.

FPC Live CEO Joel Plant informed the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway of the decision in a September 15 letter. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported on the layoffs on Monday. Plant’s letter does not make clear how many employees are actually laid off, or how many will be furloughed, working reduced hours, or receiving lower pay rates. It does specify that the people affected work in many different areas, from bar managers and technical staff to marketers and talent buyers.

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The mass layoff, effective September 20, follows the previously reported July layoff of nine employees at FPC’s Madison and Nashville offices. It’s not clear whether the numbers FPC Live reported to the state include the employees laid off in July. FPC Live management did not respond to a request for comment from Tone Madison; we’ll update this story if they get back to us.

Until COVID-19 hit, FPC Live was having an excellent few years. Madison-based concert company Frank Productions bought the beloved High Noon Saloon in 2017, then merged with Majestic Live, re-branding the new company as FPC Live. The world’s largest concert promoter, Live Nation, bought a majority stake in FPC Live in 2018. Later that year, the company opened its 2,500-capacity flagship venue, The Sylvee, and was using its combined muscle to bring an array of popular touring acts to other venues including the Orpheum, Majestic, High Noon Saloon, and Breese Stevens Field. 

As the pandemic becomes more and more unpredictable, it’s close to impossible for concert bookers to make solid bets on the future. FPC Live and its NS2 subsidiary have booked some socially distanced shows in Charleston, South Carolina. As for Madison audiences, the company has been confined to live-streaming events (including a Lucius performance in July that was billed as a benefit for staff). One exception is this Saturday’s Amplify Open, a golf outing that will also feature cover band Rod Tuffcurls & The Bench Press. That event is a benefit for local non-profit Cook It Forward, and tickets have sold out.

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