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INTERVIEW: Tim Bonito – VP of Talent for BNEG Nightlife

Hi Tim, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

I’m absolutely amazing! 2019 was a massive transformational year both personally and professionally for me. It’s an incredible set up leading into a new decade with new BNEG venues Memoiré at Encore Boston and Big Night Live opening in 2019 and booking 600+ shows. I also have really learned how to master the work/life balance in my life with having my two-year-old daughter and incredible wife.

With many people wanting to be in front of a stage or maybe into the business of music – what draw you into the world of entertainment and nightclubs?

I come from a musical background having played drums in an alternative rock band in my earlier years to transitioning to a DJ in college which has continued for 20+ years. My parents also owned and operated a musical instrument store for 30+ years and I was exposed to the industry (music + entrepreneurship) at a very young age. In terms of the trajectory of where I’m at now it started in 2009 promoting hip-hop and electronic dance shows independently ranging from nightclubs to arena level shows. Over the years my focus shifted to concentrating on the Talent Buying end of the business for BNEG and our incredible venues.

When someone thinks about nightlife in the US, Las Vegas, NY, LA or Miami but Boston isn’t exactly at the forefront – yet – was this a challenge for you?

Yes, it’s always been a challenge to put Boston next to not only Vegas or NY, but the rest of the world as well. One thing about me is I LOVE a challenge! I learned early in my career that we are competing for dates not just in North America, but in Asia and Europe and the entire globe and I needed to make sure we are always one step ahead of the competition. There are only so many weekends in a calendar year and global artists need to make sure they have a coordinated plan for all markets. Recently, Boston has been exploding in terms of jobs and the economy which has brought renewed attention to entertainment and nightlife options. When the Grand opened over two years ago it was the first “built from scratch” nightclub in Boston in 40+ years. Most new nightclubs in the region are typically refurbished spaces whereas everything we have done in the last two years including The Grand, Memoire and Big Night Live have all been new construction.

What has set us apart from the competition in terms of booking artists has been the incredible state of the art production elements combined with world class hospitality. When artists come to town they always know the shows will be amazing with us and they are well taken care of. We pride ourselves in showcasing the Talent and making sure they are happy with every element of their experience.

As a booking agent – is it easier for you to book for different venues rather than just one?

I enjoy booking for several venues at once and have always done this. At one point in my career I was Talent buying for 12-14 different venues and markets. It allowed me to strengthen my agency, artist and management relationships while also understanding the nuances of each market and room. I also got a great sense for what was selling in terms of value for artist fees looking across different rooms/markets from a global view. I always seem to have ten things going on at once and truly enjoy functioning this way.

Speaking of which, what’s the thing you tend to focus or look for on an artist or DJ when it comes to booking them at one of the venues?

There are a few factors that play into my rationale of booking artists including demand/buzz, trajectory, value, quality and finally and probably the most important factor – booking good human beings.

In terms of demand/buzz sometimes there is tremendous demand for an artist which makes my job very easy. When we book “no-brainer” artists like Tiësto or Armin there’s an instant demand and it’s just a matter of striking the right deal for us as well as the artists. I also see this with new artists that have a hit record or are buzzing on social media sometimes – Fisher is a great example of this.

Trajectory is also important to me when assessing new and developing Talent. This part takes a keen ear and eye, paying attention to all aspects of the artist development, speaking to other promoters across the country and just being dialed in to what’s buzzing. This is probably the most rewarding part of Talent Buying when we identify an artist early on that we think are going to be superstars and it comes to fruition. This has happened many times over my career early on with acts like Hardwell, The Chainsmokers and Zedd and more recently with acts like Loud Luxury.

In terms of value and quality there are some artists that are very reasonable with their fees and ALWAYS play an amazing set. This becomes a factor when I have many dates to fill. I typically have go-to DJ’s that we know will come in and rock the crowd and are reasonably priced in terms of fee.

In terms of the people we like to book its very simple – we like to book GOOD PEOPLE. This is 100% a Big Night company mantra. It is so much more enjoyable to work with good people that are humble and appreciate that they get to play music for people for a living.

As we enter a new decade – what are your hopes and mission for both BNEG and New England itself?

I couldn’t be more excited for Big Night as we enter the new decade! With three new nightlife venues built in the last two years and the best team in the industry, we are poised to have a massive decade. In terms of Big Night mission in relation to Talent I would say we want to continue to attract the world’s biggest artists and show New England that people don’t necessarily need to travel to other destinations to see their favorite artist or DJ.

Additionally, we have some massive plans to expand the Big Night brand into many facets of the industry including radio, artist management, consultation and potentially a record label. Ideally by the time the next decade rolls around Big Night will be a household and respected name globally within the industry.

What else is happening next in Tim Bonito’s world?

I really enjoy spending time with my family and watching our daughter learn something new every day. It’s fascinating to watch your own child develop and to be an integral part of that is unbelievably rewarding. I enjoy reading new business books and continuously pushing myself to new limits in terms of my own personal and professional growth. I also manage a few artists currently Black Caviar and partywithray and have become unbelievably passionate about developing these artists and getting them to fulfill their potential. I can’t wait to see how they develop over the next 12-24 months and I believe both of them have an opportunity to be global stars.

For more info, check here or visit the other venues at The GrandShrine and newly launched venues Mémoire and Big Night Live.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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