Nate Dorough and Irving Ronk, the joint owners of Fusion Shows, both came from their own separate booking agencies. Irving Ronk started with his company North Lawn Music out of Lansing, and Nate Dorough started with Livingston Underground operating out of Howell in 2004. After Livingston Underground began booking shows outside of Livingston County, Dorough realized he needed to come up with a new name, and became Blue Collar Booking. Blue Collar Booking and North Lawn Music collaborated together on a couple shows with Portugal the Man and the Ataris. They realized after those shows they did together in Lansing that they could both profit from a partnership.
“We both had really similar ideologies…we had a meeting and said, look, this is silly us competing with each other. Why don’t we combine forces, do half the work and get double the spoils,” said Dorough. After this, the two companies combined and became Fusion Shows.
There are many steps and people involved to make a show successful. The booking agent is the person that makes concerts happen. A band, or the band’s booking agent contacts the concert promoter and lets them know that they are interested in doing a show in a particular area at a particular time. The promoter then finds them a venue and lets them know the cost of the venue and the price of tickets.They also let them know how much money they will get for lights,
catering, and anything else that the band might need. Promoters are constantly competing with each other to see who can offer the band the most money. After all the offers are in, the booking agent will let the promoter with the best offer know that they will take them up on their deal. Then it’s the promoter’s job to advertise for the concert, make sure the concert goes smoothly, and then pay the band. What ever is left over goes to the promoter.
Fusion Shows has nine venues that it works with on a regular basis in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Pontiac, Howell, and Frankenmuth. These span from the 1100 capacity Crofoot Ballroom to more intimate settings like the Howell Opera House with a maximum capacity of 200 people.
Fusion Shows promotes shows for a wide variety of music, with their target audience being the under 30 crowd. One of their biggest events of the year is an example of that diversity. That event is BLEDfest.
BLEDfest was started by Ben Staub a.k.a. “Big Love” when he decided that he wanted to educate people about different genres of music that they might be missing out on. He came up with Big Love’s Educational Festival, or BLEDfest for short. What started out as a house show, quickly expanded into a festival with an attendance of a few thousand. May 28th was the seventh year for the festival. The festival now takes place in the Hartland Performing Arts Center.
“People can go see a folk acoustic stage at the same time that Every Time I Die [a hardcore metal band] is tearing limbs off of people’s bodies and clubbing them to death with them,” Dorough said.
Fusion Shows is constantly trying to expand. They have promoted bands as large as Dashboard Confessional, but they also still book local high school bands. One of the things that sets Fusion Shows apart from other bigger concert promoters such as Ticketmaster is their fee-free ticketing. “We’re the only reputable and legitimate company that offers fee-free ticketing,” says Dorough. That means if a show says it’s $12 in advance, you can actually get your ticket for $12, there are no hidden extra fees.