With New Office, JAC Live Expands into New Markets

YOUNGSTOWN – From his new office on the ninth floor of the City Center One building in downtown Youngstown, Eric Ryan can see Covelli Centre and the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre.

It’s a fitting view, because his companies – JAC Management and JAC Live – manage and book shows at both facilities. And while Ryan’s companies will continue to operate the venues, they are also rising beyond the Youngstown market.

Beginning next year, JAC Live will expand into booking concerts and events in other cities. That’s why the company – which had been run out of Covelli Centre – has new digs in City Centre One, which is just a few blocks away.

“From a JAC Live standpoint, this is an opportunity to grow on the national scene,” Ryan says. “We couldn’t expand the business from the building we are managing now.”

JAC Management, which also manages Packard Music Hall in Warren, is also now based in the new office. The move is not only a reflection of that company’s growth but also a preparatory move as JAC Management also expands. The company is close to obtaining its first out-of-market building operations contract.

Ryan, who is president and owner of both JAC companies, will continue to maintain his office in Covelli Centre and will be at the arena for the bulk of each day.

Ken Bigley, vice president of JAC Management, will become director of JAC Live, and will work full-time in the City Centre One office. Jordan Ryan, Eric Ryan’s son, has been named executive director of Covelli Centre and works in that building. 

The younger Ryan is a graduate of Ohio State University and has been working in the entertainment industry “since he was a child,” says Eric Ryan.

As of now, JAC Live only has three employees – Bigley, Ryan and an office manager – but the company could eventually have up to eight, Ryan says.

“We plan to hire a marketing manager soon,” he says. “One day, we hope to occupy three floors of this building.”

JAC Live started promoting out-of-market shows in the last year or so.

“We dabbled in it,” Ryan says. “We did a few shows elsewhere” in Columbus, Cincinnati, Corpus Christi, Texas; Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; Huntington, W.Va.; Saginaw, Mich.; and Moline, Ill.

JAC Management was hired by the city of Youngstown. to manage the Covelli Centre in 2007

Future out-of-market shows will be in venues ranging from theaters to arenas and possibly even stadiums, Bigley says.

“We’ve had enough practice,” Ryan says. “We plan to be selective.”

While the company is contractually permitted to operate out of the city-owned Covelli Centre, even when doing work on out-of-market projects, Ryan says it was best that it find its own headquarters.

The expansion of JAC Live could pay dividends in the Mahoning Valley by enabling the company to land more shows for this market.

“The more we grow as a company, the better it is for Covelli, Packard and the amphitheater,” says Ryan.

The chief characteristic of event promotion is that the promoter assumes financial risk. Companies like JAC Live must pay the artist’s fees for a performance, as well as venue rental, advertising and other expenses, and then attempt to recoup its outlay and generate a profit through ticket sales. It’s a formula that can lead to losses if sales don’t meet expectations.

JAC Live also offers talent buying services, which differ from promotions in that it bears no financial risk. The Canfield Fair, for example, hires JAC Live as a buyer, paying it a fee solely to find and book entertainers for grandstand shows.

The expansion of JAC Live to other markets is the latest step in the growth of the  company since its founding about 15 years ago as Eric Ryan Productions.

Its earliest shows were at the long-gone The Cellar nightclub in Struthers, as well as the Struthers High School Fieldhouse.

In ensuing years, JAC’s growth paralleled – and was largely the impetus behind – the growth of Youngstown as a concert destination. The company promoted shows at the short-lived Eastwood Expo Center in Niles in the mid-2000s.

In 2007, JAC Management was created and then hired by the city to manage Covelli Centre and in 2014, the company received a similar contract from the city of Warren to operate Packard Music Hall. JAC Management also has been managing the city-owned Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre since it opened in June.

JAC Live began branching into large-scale shows three years ago by promoting the annual Y Live concerts at Youngstown State University’s Stambaugh Stadium, which has a capacity of 20,000 as a music venue.

As a promoter, the name of the game is selling tickets, and Ryan says he never lets his own musical tastes determine who he books.

“I just like to put butts in the seats,” Ryan says.

“My favorite thing about the industry is that we provide people with memories,” he continues. “It sounds corny but it’s just the truth. We’re fortunate to work in entertainment in our hometown. It’s pretty cool.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.