Lauren Wayne, general manager of the State Theatre and Port City Music Hall, is responsible for booking and staging most of the concerts in the state. She said the city provides a wide array of music choices, not only concerts that she puts on, but also live music at bars on a daily basis.

Q: What’s the outlook for concerts in Portland this year?

A: We’ll probably be doing 200 to 250 shows between the two venues and we do shows outside the venues when it makes sense. We’ll do shows this year at the Cumberland County Civic Center and we’ve done shows elsewhere, like the Waterville Opera House.

Q: How do you decide who might do well at a concert in Portland and where they’ll play?

A: If the band has a new album coming out or is getting radio play, we’ll keep them in Portland and if they’re coming back for a second time, I’ll work with someone up north. It really depends mostly on if the band’s coming out with a new album and getting some airplay.

Q: With so many outlets for music, is radio still a big component for deciding who to book for a concert?

A: Radio is still a big part in Portland and Maine and radio is not dead. You can break a band online of course, but in Portland it’s a factor, the recognition matters. WCLZ is a station we work with a ton because their playlist is really diverse.

Q: Do you still book acts that have a narrow audience?

A: I have that luxury of Port City Music Hall. It’s much smaller than the State and our financial risk is much less. I like the idea of helping to develop a band. That comes from mostly listening to a band online and liking them and working with the agents for the bands. For the bands we do here, I have a history of working with agents that I trust and they trust me as a promoter.

Q: Have you had concerts that surprised you by falling flat?

A: We have not had hardly any misses. We’ve done maybe two really big flops in the past two years and that can be the result of a ton of factors. One band had a show in the summer and they got sick and they canceled and we rescheduled them for later, so that’s just timing. They came at a tough period. A lot of the reasons shows don’t sell in other markets during the winter is (concern about) storms, but I find in the winter people are more apt to come out. People are wanting to get out more in Portland.

Q: On the flip side, are there bands that you think might be a tough sell and they attract a lot of interest?

A: There are always really big surprises, probably one every six months, where things just take off and it’s great, I love those.

Q: That probably wasn’t the case with Mumford & Sons (a show Wayne promoted that drew 14,000 people to the Eastern Promenade in August 2012)?

A: We were actually shocked at how fast it sold out. We thought it would take a few days because of where it was, outside. I kept refreshing the page and every time it (the number of tickets sold) would go up a thousand.

We always want to do that (a big outside concert), but it’s few and far between because of the expense involved. It’s very, very expensive, from securing the area with fencing and the stages and the labor and band and logistics of shutting the hill down. It isn’t going to work more than once a summer and there’s only a few bands to sell the tickets to make us feel safe about taking on the risk. And it also requires the right fan base – with Mumforrd & Sons, we had no issues, not one arrest.

Q: Have you lined up another big outside concert?

A: Not yet, but we always keep our eyes and ears open and I touch base with the city all the time. If something comes along, I’m sure it will happen.

Q: Based on your experience, is Portland a big music city?

A: I’ve live a lot of places – larger cities and smaller towns – and I’ve never lived in a city like this that has so much music going on and at so many venues. It doesn’t happen in a lot of places and I’m not sure if everyone realizes how fortunate we are to live in a town full of such a large amount of talent. It doesn’t happen in other places and the fact that we are a small city and it happens here is really amazing.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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