Obama Vows Emphasis On Job Creation

President-elect Obama held his third news conference in as many days and announced the formation of a White House panel aimed at creating jobs. Obama picked former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker to head the panel.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Michele Norris. In tough economic times, conventional wisdom suggests people will still pay for entertainment. So far that seems to be the case this year for the concert industry. But as Joel Rose reports, promoters are bracing for what could be a shock in 2009.

JOEL ROSE: Neither the falling stock market nor a light snowfall can dampen the spirits of Madonna fans tailgating in the parking lot before her recent arena concert in Philadelphia. Betsy Kershner(ph) came down from New York City and paid $600 dollars for a ticket.

BETSY KERSHNER: I would spend anything for Madonna, like it's ridiculous how much I would spend. Like everyone is, like, oh, it's too expensive, blah, blah, blah, blah. I'm like, shut up.

HEIDI EVANS: I'm a Madonna articulator.

ROSE: What does that mean?

EVANS: I get everybody together to come to see Madonna every time I go.

ROSE: Heidi Evans is a nurse from Mays Landing, New Jersey. On further questioning, she admits the $200 she paid for a ticket made her think twice.

EVANS: I did waver for a moment, but I am here tonight to party, and that's it. I am here to vogue, damn it. Bring it on.

GARY BONGIOVANNI: Surprisingly, the concert business has been pretty robust so far this year. We're not experiencing a down year.

ROSE: Gary Bongiovanni is editor in chief of Pollstar, the concert industry's trade magazine. But Bongiovanni is quick to add that most of those tickets were sold long before the stock market collapse that started in September.

BONGIOVANNI: The real impact is going to be going forward. It would defy logic to think that it's not going to have some kind of an impact on people's willingness to spend money on things like concert tickets.

ROSE: That's certainly what Wall Street is thinking. Analysts downgraded the stock of Live Nation, the country's largest concert promoter and the one that famously signed multimillion-dollar deals with Madonna, U2, and Jay-Z. This month, Live Nation stock lost two-thirds of its value. The company declined our request for an interview, as did Ticketmaster. The national ticket broker saw its third quarter profits drop 76 percent over the year before, in part because of slower ticket sales. Some independent promoters say they're seeing a modest drop in sales. Seth Hurwitz owns IMP Productions, which produces concerts at the 9:30 Club and other venues in the Washington, D.C., area.

SETH HURWITZ: The really hot acts are still doing great business. They're selling out. What I'm noticing is sort of the not-so-hot acts that might have gotten away with doing decent aren't doing as well. So people are definitely picking and choosing with a little more discretion.

ROSE: Artists may be picking and choosing their venues more carefully too. Alejandro Escovedo played to a sellout crowd at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, a club named after the NPR distributed radio show.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "ALWAYS A FRIEND")

ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO: (Singing) Wasn't I always a friend to you...

ROSE: The club's talent booker, Karl Mullen, says the current economic storm may contain a silver lining for smaller clubs like his and the artists who play there.

KARL MULLEN: They call it the underplay, so to speak. So instead of having to fight to sell a thousand tickets in the market, they will come in here and sell out a five or even a six hundred ticket show.

ROSE: The downturn may have other benefits. Pollstar's Gary Bongiovanni says falling demand could prompt artist managers to do something they haven't in the last decade or so, cut ticket prices.

BONGIOVANNI: The last thing they want to do is put a tour on sale, and nobody will line up at the ticket windows. This is one time to try and leave money on the table and just play it conservatively.

ROSE: That might even go for superstars like Madonna. Her tour wraps up tonight in Miami, and the show is not sold out. For NPR News, I'm Joel Rose.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Ex-Fed Chief To Head Obama Advisory Panel

President-elect Barack Obama took another step to stabilize the ailing economy on Wednesday, announcing the formation of a new board to help formulate and assess the administration's economic recovery plan. Paul Volcker, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve, will serve as chairman of the new advisory panel.

At a midmorning news conference in Chicago, Obama announced that he would form the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, a team of individuals from business, labor, academia and other sectors who will provide analysis and ideas for programs and policies that are helping to stabilize the economy.

Obama said the board would be modeled after the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board created by President Eisenhower and would provide a candid assessment of what is working and what isn't in communities across the country.

"The reality is that sometimes policymaking in Washington can become too insular," Obama said. "The walls of the echo chamber can sometimes keep out fresh voices and new ways of thinking — and those who serve in Washington don't always have a ground-level sense of which programs and policies are working for people, and which aren't."

Obama said the board will report to him, Vice President-elect Joe Biden, and the administration's economic team as they try to "jump-start economic growth, create jobs, raise wages, address our housing crisis and stabilize our financial markets."

The 81-year-old Volcker was Fed chairman from 1979 to 1987, under Presidents Carter and Reagan.

Obama also said economist and University of Chicago professor Austan Goolsbee will serve as the new board's staff director and chief economist. Goolsbee, who has a Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has published numerous articles on tax policy and industrial organization.

Obama said he also plans to nominate Goolsbee to serve as one of the three members of his Council of Economic Advisers.

The other members of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board will be announced in the next few weeks. "I look forward to their contributions to our urgent work to rebuild our economy and restore prosperity across America," Obama said.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.