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September 21, 2014

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Six Questions: Paul Davis, Vice President of Entertainment, Hard Rock

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Paul Davis, Hard Rock Hotel vice president of entertainment, is responsible for booking acts at the Joint. “It’s definitely not a case of booking it and they will come like it was a few years ago,” he says.

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Paul Davis is the man behind the music at the Hard Rock Hotel.

As vice president of entertainment, he oversees booking for the casino’s venues, including the new Joint, the $60 million, 4,000-seat concert hall that opened last month with the likes of Paul McCartney and the Killers.

Davis, a UNLV grad, says a lot has changed since he attended his first concert — Blue Oyster Cult at the Aladdin Theater in 1980.

How has the concert scene evolved?

Twenty or 30 years ago just a few venues were doing shows. You had to go to the Aladdin or the Thomas & Mack Center. A lot of acts skipped Vegas. It wasn’t until the opening of the MGM arena and the Joint in the mid-1990s that the floodgates opened.

What do you consider when booking your music calendar?

Diversity and musical legitimacy. We don’t go for pop culture smoke and mirrors. We want real talent. A band like Wilco is a perfect example of that.

Do you go to the bands or do they come to you?

It’s a bit of both. You have to be aware of what bands are going on tour, who’s dropping albums and when. Sometimes it’s calling artists and trying to stimulate them to come to Vegas and play the Joint. Other times managers will call us and pitch us the date and the money.

Why are shows here more expensive than shows in other cities?

Because there are so many venues in this market, when an act comes through, everyone ends up in a bidding war. It’s a fat payday for the artists and you can’t blame them. But, at the end of the day, the only variable thing for us is the ticket price. It’s a bummer, and we do our best to keep that in check.

How has the recession affected the concert industry?

It means choosing more carefully. It’s definitely not a case of booking it and they will come, like it was a few years ago. We pass on certain shows. People are definitely spending money, but you can’t overcharge for a substandard product. You have to charge a fair price and over-deliver.

Have you booked your dream act yet?

I never ever thought I’d be involved in producing a show with a Beatle onstage.

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