Mark Cuban is no stranger to the spotlight. The outspoken Dallas Mavericks owner, Shark Tank star and Dancing With the Stars alum usually isn't too far from the public eye. He's no stranger to music, either, thanks to the concert booking of his company AXS. But he's never really combined the two — until now.
Late last month, Cuban's AXS TV announced the month-long "AXS TV Concerts Hosted By Mark Cuban" series, which is about as self-explanatory a name as you could ask for. It kicks off August 11 at The Bomb Factory with a performance by the Monkees that will be broadcast live on the TV station.
"Mark will have a significant on-air presence," says Jeff Cuban, the executive vice president at AXS TV, via email. "Our audience may not always realize it, but each time they tune in to AXS TV they are actually engaged in a symbiotic content relationship with Mark Cuban. The summer concert series hosted by Mark Cuban just happens to be one of the first occasions where we have chosen to call it out."
The lineup — which Jeff Cuban says is "uniquely from [Mark's] vision and tastes" — isn't out to break new ground by any stretch. Joining the Monkees in the five-week series will be a hodge podge of legacy acts, including the Village People, Bret Michaels, KC and the Sunshine Band and Bad Company.
"Legacy acts are awesome," Jeff Cuban argues. "They take people back to happy times, but rock 'n' roll isn’t just about making older audiences happy." He points to the Monkees' new album, Good Times!, which reached No. 14 on the Billboard charts, as proof of aging rock bands' cross-generational appeal. "Rock 'n' roll is always working toward a resurgence that appeals to all demographics."
It's certainly a different approach from the one launched by Another Mavericks Production, the entertainment arm of the Mavs' organization. Earlier this tear, AMP hosted its first-ever concert — also at The Bomb Factory — with veteran hip-hop hitmaker Ludacris. AMP and AXS are separate entities, and Jeff Cuban doesn't offer much explanation on whether there was any effort to keep the two concert concepts distinct from one another.
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"We are all Mark Cuban-owned companies, and often work together to bring great experiences to the AXS TV audience and Mavs fans alike," he says. When contacted for comment, Erin Finegold, the Mavericks' director of corporate communications and events, pointed out that they're "inviting our season ticket holders to attend," but otherwise said the team isn't involved.
The bigger distinction in AXS' mind appears to be to differentiate the summer concerts from the company's existing concert booking, which often takes place at the much larger Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie — although it also appears at The Bomb Factory and its sister venue, Trees.
"We already do concerts and live music festivals better than anyone else," Jeff Cuban insists. The point, he adds, is to expand AXS TV's audience with new types of programing: "The summer concert series being LIVE from a smaller, more intimate venue with nostalgic bands as the headliners, will make everyone watching want to stand up and rock out."
The larger lesson, though, may be that one should never look a Mark Cuban gift horse in the mouth, whether his motivations are entirely altruistic or not. Hell, The Bomb Factory shows are all free to attend, so he can book whoever he wants.