Entertainment industry executive’s new role brings him back to source of his happiness: the fans
As Warner Bros. Records executive Ted Cohen walked behind the famed Palladium concert venue in New York City in the fall of 1980, he discovered two music fans with their ears pressed up against the metal loading door, trying to hear Paul Simon. He approached the pair and handed them two tickets.
“Here,” he said, “it sounds better inside. No catch. If you’re going to stand there and listen to the whole show like that, you’re obviously serious fans. Get in there!’”
Over the course of his five decades in the music industry, the longtime music executive, business accelerator, talent developer and digital entertainment innovator made a habit of giving fans in the worst seats some of the best tickets. It makes him the perfect fit for LuvSeats, LLC, where he will now serve as a senior advisor to co-founder Darcy Silver.
“I love the idea of what LuvSeats is,” Cohen said. “If the execution is as good as the 30-second elevator pitch, I know it’s going to find an audience.”
Known for his frank assessments and straight talk — “I’m Jiminy Cricket for whoever I work with,” he said — Cohen began his lifelong love affair with live music managing bands at his suburban Cleveland high school. His career spans the history of the modern music industry, from his days as a local record promotion man to becoming one of the world’s leading experts in digital entertainment technology and mobile applications.
Cohen started out at Columbia Records, where he was mentored by legendary music executive Frank DiLeo — who went on to manage Michael Jackson — and Steve Popovich — who signed the multi-platinum Meatloaf album, “Bat Out of Hell.” In the fall of 1971, after spending only a few months with Columbia, Cohen was recruited by Warner Bros. Records. Three years later, Cohen became the company’s director of artist development, where he worked with Van Halen, Prince, Fleetwood Mac, The Pretenders and Talking Heads during their early/formative years. He also worked with The Who, The Beach Boys and the infamous Sex Pistols.
In 1982, Cohen joined a working group with Warner sister company Atari to explore the inevitable relationship between the music industry and the then-revolutionary advent of personal computers. Cohen became one of the earliest students of how music fans interacted with interactive technology, work which would define the rest of his career.
In April 1984, his 10th year touring with “eccentric” rock stars, Cohen accompanied the legendary band King Crimson to see the rock mockumentary, “This Is Spinal Tap.” On the screen, he saw much of what he disliked about his time in the record industry — and many of his own horror stories. The next morning, he walked into Warner Bros. Records Chairman Mo Ostin’s office and resigned.
Westwood One had just taken its independent radio network public and tapped Cohen to develop their video division, creating concerts to feed to MTV and VH1, and a tour sponsorship department, which launched with a Coca-Cola/Foreigner partnership.
For the next 22 years, Cohen worked with a litany of companies and brands — including Philips Electronics, EMI, Microsoft, Sony, DreamWorks SKG, Universal Studios, the RIAA, Qualcomm, Amazon.com and Napster — as a digital music and media consultant, strategist, product developer and business accelerator.
“Basically, I’ve been on every side of music and every side of technology,” Cohen said.
In 1998, after his keynote at a music tech conference at the Beverly Hilton, he was approached by then-Amazon.com General Manager Jennifer Cast.
“You’re going to be our music consultant,” she flatly stated; Cohen asked why. “Because everything you just said on stage is what I’ve been telling Jeff Bezos about online music for the last six months.”
Cohen spent the next year helping Amazon.com to create and launch its second vertical: Music.
Amazon Music now has 100 million-plus subscribers.
In 2006, Cohen co-founded TAG Strategic LLC, a digital entertainment consultancy — with clients as diverse as Gibson Guitar, LimeWire, EMI Music, Coca-Cola, Verizon and SanDisk — while becoming a highly-sought-after public speaker. That’s where he met Silver, who presented him with the embryonic idea of LuvSeats three years ago.
“I met Ted at X-Live in Las Vegas when I was first exposed to the live entertainment industry,” Silver said. “His keynote speech blew me away with his expertise, charisma, passion and sense of humor. I am so blessed to have his excitement and energy elevate the entire LuvSeats organization and accelerate our growth.”
Even at this stage of his career, removed from his touring days, Cohen has not forgotten why he got into the business: the fans. Still, when he attends music events — even the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas — he spends time out among the throng, handing out extra passes and tickets whenever possible.
“I’ve spent most of my life going through the stage entrance,” Cohen said. “The concept of moving fans, whether it’s sports or music or whatever, from the seats they get to seats they thought they couldn’t afford, is a pretty cool experience.”
LuvSeats was founded in 2019 by Darcy Silver, whose personal mission is to create unforgettable fan experiences at live events by innovating multi-functional consumer-centric solutions that bring fans closer together, closer to the action, and closer to the stars and their brands – nurturing the seeds of loyalty for future generations.
LuvSeats Marketplace enables fans to buy/sell tickets to their sports games, concerts and other events in a safe and secure social platform powered by the industry’s top-trusted resellers. The LuvSeats In-Game Seat Exchange is a peer-to-peer community collective of members who want more control of their seating experience and schedule flexibility.