GMP Live is a concert promoter, festival producer, and talent curator based in South Florida.

GMP’s website says, “We create vibrant and memorable live music experiences featuring top-notch talent in several cities across the USA.” After many shows in Miami Beach and Hollywood Florida, including the upcoming North Beach Music Festival (Dec 9th thru 11th), SFL Music Magazine thought it was time to introduce our readers to Gideon Plotnicki, founder of GMP Live.

SFL Music: Hey, Gideon, it’s Tom Craig from SFL Music Magazine. How are you?
Gideon Plotnicki: Hey, how are you?

SFL Music: Very good. Hey, thanks for taking the time today to talk to me for a couple minutes.
Gideon: Yeah, no problem. You catch me in the middle of an insane day. I’ve been on the phone nonstop.

SFL Music: Mondays.
Gideon: Yeah, Mondays is right.

SFL Music: So, how did you first get into the music business?
Gideon: Oh, that’s a loaded question. I grew up around the music business. My father was a owner and president of several record labels in the 80s and 90s. So, I grew up around the industry and always knew I wanted to do something with music.

And as I got towards graduating college and trying to figure out my life, I just gravitated towards it. Eventually, my brother and I, my brother Noah was the partner in the event with me. We started managing a band that we were friends of ours from high school, and in particular, when you’re a baby band it’s very difficult to get gigs or to get good gigs, quality gigs. So, one of the things we did as their managers was start basically acting as their promoters, booking shows, bringing in other bands to play with them, doing trades in other cities, and started gravitating towards that end of things. To me, was enjoyable, planning the events, seeing them, and executing them. So that was the beginning, and once the band decided to break up and not move forward, I decided that I wanted to continue my career in the music business, focusing on promoting shows, putting together events.

SFL Music: Is that when you put together GMP Live?
Gideon: No, no. So, my brother and I, years ago we started our own another business with the intention of putting on a festival in California with a brand-new venue that ended up not being built. After focusing on that for a while and then it didn’t work out. I worked for a company called Live for Live Music for several years, where I eventually became their lead talent buyer, and helped develop some of the things that I’m still working on with them today, like jazz best, late night shows, and concerts in markets Denver and New York.

So, I worked for Live Music for a long time, and then I started GMP Live because I moved to Miami and was trying to do my own thing. And it just fell together, the pieces fell together like this. My wife is from Miami Beach originally and she got a job down here. And so we were going to move from New York and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do from down here in Miami. And GMP Live is basically the brainchild of me trying to figure out what Miami looks like for me is a total life change.

SFL Music: Gotcha. So, when did you start GMP Live then?
Gideon: Started it in the beginning of 2019.

SFL Music: Who?
Gideon: And that was when the first show I threw at the Miami Beach Band Shell was with Turquoise in late April 2019. That was the first GMP Live show.

SFL Music: How did you come about the North Beach Bandshell. I mean, it’s a great venue that’s been underutilized for a long time.
Gideon: Yes, it’s a great story actually. I used to spend a lot of time in Miami on vacation or with my parents who spend the winters down here. And I would drive by this venue that looked cool but didn’t seem to have a lot of shows going on and I had no idea about it. But I always said, “How come there’s not concerts here?” So, I did some research and I found out about the venue, and right after my wife moved to Miami, I stayed in New York for almost a year before coming down to Miami. The first time I came to visit her, I went out with her to brunch with a friend of ours who brought her friends, one of whom worked at the Bandshell, and asked me out of the blue, are you familiar with the Bandshell? I was like, “Oh, that venue that I always see and I’m always so curious about, that’s so crazy you’re bringing it up.”

And she said, “Yeah, we do a lot of world music there, and a lot of international stuff, and educational stuff, and we’re trying to bring in jam bands and funk music as something adjacent to that, that we think fits with our programming.” And I was like, “I could do that.” And that’s literally how GMP Live started was, went out to brunch, made friends with these people who were associated with the venue. And that was on Saturday or that was on Sunday, and on Tuesday I was having a meeting with the whole Bandshell’s team talking to them about putting on shows and that’s how it started, was just, I happened to have a friend who worked there.

SFL Music: Wow, very cool. Yeah, because it’s a very neat venue.
Gideon: Yep. It’s very great venue, it’s classic, but it’s small, and intimate at the same time. It’s a really cool space. And look, since I started doing shows, almost four years ago, they’ve upgraded it so much. They have that new canopy, they have new the platform at the back where they have tables, they have upgraded audio and lights, they have an LED wall in house. The venue has really undergone an upgrade transformation since I started working with them. That is really cool to see. And yeah, it’s a, people just love going there. I don’t know another venue in Miami or South Florida that people actually enjoy going to, in the way that they seem to enjoy going to the Bandshell.

And I like to stand when I’m doing shows or when I have North Beach Festival, I like to stand by the entrance and hear people and their reaction to the venue the first time they walk in. Because a lot of people haven’t been to the venue before, don’t realize exactly what it is. So, it’s always cool hearing people so excited to be there. So thrilled with the vibes. It’s a really cool space.

SFL Music: Is the primary focus of GMP Live jam bands?
Gideon: Yes, but not, I wouldn’t necessarily say the only. But I do other things, for New Year’s Eve we have Magic City Hippies. I wouldn’t call them a jam band at all, they’re more indie rock. I book some shows with some other artists like Ben Folds or JJ Gray that might be adjacent and has some other stuff in the works that I also would call adjacent. But yeah, that’s been my primary focus, at least as I get things off the ground, that’s where my area of expertise is. So, I have been leaning on that, but I wouldn’t say the goal of GMP Live is to only be jam bands forever.

SFL Music: Right. Where would you like to see it go? Is there another genre of music that’s close to your heart that you’d like to…
Gideon: I live music, especially here in Miami. There’s a lot of electronic music, a lot of DJs, and I like live, so I would be open to any sort of thing as long as there’s a live band for the most part. But yeah, I think funk music, New Orleans, Music Jam Bands are great, but indie music is such a wide net. And there’s all this live electronic music out there. And it’s funny, a lot of bands consider jam band to be a four letter word, right? So even if you or I might consider a band to be in a jam band, they might not see themselves that way.

SFL Music: Yeah.
Gideon: The goal is to put on great high quality live music no matter what the genre, that’s the way I look at it.

You put on festivals and concerts in other cities. Can you talk to me a little bit about those?
Gideon: Yeah, I do. I just did an event in New York called Brooklyn Comes Alive.

SFL Music: Okay.
Gideon: So, I’ve done that in partnership with a few other people. I didn’t start that festival, but I came on in the second year and worked my way into being a partner with them. And, over the past few years I had taken over the event and really spearheaded a growth into a larger event, so it used to be an event that was inspired by New Orleans Jazz Fest. All of the acts were super unique groups of artists that we curated and created specifically for the event.

SFL Music: Mm-hmm.
Gideon: In multiple venues in Brooklyn on the same avenue. So, people go back and forth between the venues to see a whole night… Or day and night of unique stuff. Recently I moved it to a larger venue, and we had some really big bands play, and turned it into a little bit of a different event where instead of having unique lineups, the bands are performing unique shows.

So, either they have unique production, or special guests, or one of something like that. But this past year we just had STS-9, Lettuce, and Medeski Martin & Wood on the lineup. And then, last year we had the Disco Biscuits, and the Motet, and Break Science. And so, that’s a pretty cool event that takes place in Brooklyn. Another one that I do that’s really cool is called Days Between New Orleans. And that’s a growth out of Jazz Fest late night shows that I’ve been doing with my friends at Live For Live Music for quite some time. We started that festival last year and we’ll be bringing it back again this coming year. But that last year we had String Cheese Incident, and Lettuce, and Snarky Puppy, and Rebirth Brass Band.

SFL Music: Wow.
Gideon: Eric Krasno. And that’s a really special one because it takes place on the Tuesday and Wednesday between the two weekends of Jazz Fest in New Orleans. So, it’s in between Jazz Fest weekends, for people who like to be there in the middle of the week, or people who come weekend one and want to stay a few extra days, or people who come early for weekend too. It’s a really special event at a brewery in New Orleans.

SFL Music: Oh, nice.
Gideon: Yeah, so those are the events I have on my deck.

SFL Music: And the Fest by Night is that both weekends of…
Gideon: That’s the Live for Live Music Late Night Series that I still partner with them on that and produce that event with them. And those are all late-night shows during the 10 Days of the Jazz Fest period. So that is late night shows at different venues around the city of New Orleans. And that’s unique lineups that you can only see at Jazz Fest. Almost every single night.

SFL Music: Yeah. Has there ever been somebody come and sit in at one of those that you were just amazed about?
Gideon: I mean, yes. I mean, we’ve had people like Marcus King to show up and play. I will say the ones that I feel about aren’t the ones that show up, it’s the ones that say they’re going to show up and then never do. We had a show once with members of David Byrne’s band. They were playing at the festival, and we had some of his percussion section playing, and we were told that David was going to show up, he didn’t show up. One year during the Jazz Fest 50th anniversary, we did a show called NOLA 50 with some New Orleans legends on it. And we heard after the fact that the Rolling Stones were planning on coming to the show and sitting in with their friends. But, if you recall, Mac Jagger had a health issue, and they canceled their tour dates and didn’t end up doing Jazz Fest.

SFL Music: Oh, they didn’t-
Gideon: But we were told after the fact that Mac Jagger and Keith Richards were supposed to be at the venue for our late-night show and we’re going to jump on stage with the band. Stuff like that is what keeps me up at night, more than the memories of cool sit-ins. I always tell people that Jazz Fest is unique because we work with 80 or 90 unique musicians throughout the week, and it’s an opportunity to work with a lot of different artists in our community, and it’s just really cool to have that much exposure to so many different talented musicians in such a short period of time.

SFL Music: Yeah. And New Orleans is a phenomenal city for music.
Gideon: Oh, yeah.

SFL Music: Well, with you starting GMP Live in 2019, boy, you’ve been at both ends of the rollercoaster on this thing to have it come to a grinding halt in 2020.
Gideon: Yes.

SFL Music: And I’d like to get your thoughts on what you see for 2023 in the concert business.
Gideon: I mean, I think we’re still in a weird space relatively because of Covid. A lot of people are on tour, there’s a lot of competition. Inflation is very high, costs are high, I know there’s talk of there being a recession. People, their wallets are tighter. So, I think that you’re going to see some events go away or pause. Some artists may decide to tour less and take a wait and see approach. Or people may cut the fat a little bit.

I think it’s an artist-by-artist event by event situation. When you have Taylor Swift breaking Ticketmaster and selling over 2 million tickets to her tour, clearly people have hunger for these things. So I really think the cream rises to the top and I think the ones that stick around are the ones that are going to be around next year to make it through.

SFL Music: Well, I know I’ve read some things in the trades that there’s some talk that some artists that haven’t been out maybe since 2015 or 2016 are eyeing doing some touring next year, because we do seem to be somewhat on the backside of this thing. And in the last month or so, I’ve been out to a few shows and it seems like ticket sales are up. I mean, I’ve gone to a couple shows that I was surprised that it was just a complete sellout, and I thought maybe that’s a precursor to what we might see in 2023. What are your thoughts?
Gideon: I think it depends on the type of show you’re talking about. I think larger scale shows or tours are doing better. Established artists or events are doing great. Coachella’s still going to sell a lot of tickets and do what they normally do. But probably for everyone that is selling out, there are 10 shows that are undersold and struggling. Like I said, I think the cream rises to the top, and someone said this expression to me, and I think it rings true, that right now we’re in a time of, it’s the battle of the hippest. If your show is hip if your band is in right now, people are hungry for it. But if your fans have seen you a hundred times, and you haven’t released a new album, and you don’t have anything new to offer, you might be looking at a reduction in what you’re normally used to. So, I really think it depends on the artist.

SFL Music: You think it’s harder these days for new artists to get recognized even with all the different outlets there are to hear music versus the old days?
Gideon: Yes. I think there’s a lot of noise and it’s hard to break through as an individual artist. You really have to grind, and you have to be almost a social media expert and digital marketing expert. And I do think that it’s hard to be an artist these days for sure. But I do think if have right quality songs, and you’re good at your instruments, and you have a good comradery in your band, I think people really connect to that.

SFL Music: Yeah. Well, I’m sure excited about GMP Live because I really think that there’s a good place in the industry for a promoter like yourself versus a Live Nation and an AEG.
Gideon: I would agree with that, especially here in South Florida, specifically in Miami Beach and Miami. Those two large promoters that you just mentioned are big powerful entities, but they also have a focus on bigger things. And, here in Miami, there’s definitely a space for someone like me. I mean, look, there’s no other promoters of this genre of music that I focus on in South Florida.

So it’s it’s own thing. So, it’s cool to have that opportunity and to really have planted my flag a little bit. Because as an independent promoter, I have a lot more ability to really work with these artists and grow their careers at this level, help them be in front of the right people, be in front of fans here in Florida, it’s been a market that’s been mostly ignored for a long time. And, with some elbow grease and a little bit of love, it should be a much larger market for any genre of music. Miami and South Florida in general is a big population center. So, we should have a diverse offering of music across the board. And I think this is just one area where we’re seeing improvement because someone like me is just paying attention.

SFL Music: And tell me a little bit about how your talent curation plays into that.
Gideon: Well, I think the way that we curated the talent is we really wanted to have a diverse breakdown of the umbrella of the jam and funk scene. And it’s funny because I look at the lineup and there’s things missing, I see the things that are missing more than I do what’s on the lineup. But Lettuce is one of the bands at the top of their game right now, they’re the number one funk band in the world. So, having them is great. Moe is a legacy jam band that I grew up listening to them, and me and my brother went and saw countless Moe shows when we were in college. And so, we wanted to book a band like that that had history and had a dedicated fan base. From there we booked Lotus, and Lotus is electronic, jamtronica, whatever you want to call it. We wanted to have three different genres basically for our headliners. So, we had a little bit of a different feel each day.

And I think if you look at the lineup, we are pretty diverse when it comes to the scene, but still leaving a lot, just scratching the surface at the same time when you look at what else is out there that we haven’t done. I’ve been pretty steadfast about not doing any cover bands because I want to focus on original music, but there’s a whole world of Grateful Dead or Fish or whatever cover bands that exist out there that we haven’t been doing. There’s so much else out there. We haven’t done any New Orleans artists at North Beach Music Festival yet. So, next year it’s on my agenda to have a whole day of New Orleans stuff. We just want to bring this genre or this umbrella down here, and feature it as much as we can. And, we’re going to keep expanding that net each year.

SFL Music: Yeah. Well, a decade or more ago, there used to be a lot of crossover here with New Orleans when it came to Sun Fest. Because it’s the same weekend as the first weekend, I believe in as Jazz Fest. And a lot of artists would either play here, then fly to New Orleans and play there, or the opposite. And, I haven’t seen that in a while. I mean, there used to be times where we’d get a Ray Charles here and he would go to Jazz Fest and play the next day. And, I think that’d be something that would be really great to bring back again at the North Beach Festival.
Gideon: Yeah, no, I agree with that. And look, I’ve done a number of New Orleans based shows in Miami and in South Florida, so there’s definitely a hungry audience people who really love New Orleans music. So, that’s one of our agendas for the future is to feature that more on the festival and continue to bring that genre down here.

SFL Music: Well, you guys just had a great one this month with George Porter and John Cleary. John’s one of my favorites, he’s amazing.
Gideon: Yes, he is. I actually told John at the show a little story the very first time I went to New Orleans as an adult. I went once as a kid, but the first time I went as an adult. My friend took me to DBA on Frenchman Street to see John Cleary play solo piano. Maybe it was me and my brother and our friend and maybe five or six other people in the room just yelling out songs and John Cleary playing them. And it was such a memorable experience to go through. So yeah, I’m a big Cleary fan, I think he’s great, what a performer.

SFL Music: Tell our readers what they can expect at the North Beach Festival that’s coming up here in December.
Gideon: What they can expect? Well, you can expect a proper jam and funk festival, with the bonus of being in Miami Beach, in a secluded part of it right near the beach. I always try to emphasize how cool and untapped of a resource North Beach the neighborhood is.

And a lot of people come and they fall in love with it. So I really try and emphasize not just on any one band, but we make this event intimate for the fans, so it’s small, easy to find your friends, never too difficult to get around. We put it in the neighborhood where there’s restaurants, and Cuban food, and they’re right next to the beach. We really try to emphasize those things because we’re a unique festival in December and we’re almost like a vacation for festival goers. A lot of people go to these destination events, whether they’re on cruise ships, or they are in at resort hotels, in either Central America, or South America, or wherever. And those are all amazing, I’ve been to many of them in their incredible events. But they’re certainly not for everyone, from not everyone wants to leave the country, and not everyone wants to spend that kind of money. And we think we provide a somewhat affordable, more affordable option right here in Miami Beach where people can come and experience the city and what Miami has to offer while enjoying a very intimate event.

SFL Music: Well, when I first saw the lineup for it, I thought, “Man, what a great blend of national and regional and local acts.” I really think…
Gideon: Oh, I appreciate that. We hold three slots at the festival back for local bands and want to make sure that we have, when I say local, I mean local and regional. We always want to make sure we have some bands from our local scene. I try and tell the artists and their agents and managers; we have a very limited amount of slots on the festival. We have Friday is an abbreviated day with only three bands.

SFL Music: Mm-hmm.
Gideon: Saturday, Saturday, Sunday. We have seven acts each. So, we hold three slots back on the festival to give to local or regional bands instead of getting bands that may have more of a traditional drop. Because we want to feature the local scene, we want to help these bands get in front of our traveling fans who may not be familiar with the Miami market and don’t know who Electric Kif is or don’t know who Guavatron is.

We want our fans to come and see that not only is South Florida a great place to vacation, but there’s also a vibrant music scene down here. And we have our pickup, the lot of impressive bands that improvise to put on the festival on a yearly basis. And I think that was one of our big things last year we had Electric Kif on the bill and we gave them a really great slot at the festival, probably putting them ahead of bands that might be bigger than them, but we wanted to give them the look, we wanted them to play at Sunset, we wanted them to play in front of our full audience and showcase what the South Florida music scene is really all about.

SFL Music: Right. And are you still doing things in Hollywood too at Young Circle?
Gideon: We are working on it. So that’s a rhythm foundation thing. I just consult with them on bringing in some of the talent, but those are their shows. But I do consult with them on some of the talent. So some of the shows you may have seen there over the past few years with Marco Benevento, or Antibalas, the Wood Brothers, Dumpstaphunk, those are shows that I helped bring in to their series.

SFL Music: Fantastic, Gideon, greatly appreciate your time.

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