Actor-businessman Marvin Agustin likens producing and promoting concerts to that of owning and running a restaurant.
"Ang hirap magbenta kung hindi mo gusto yung binebenta mo. It's the same way with the restaurant business. Ang hirap pasukin ang isang bagay na hindi mo mahal o hindi mo gusto—mahirap din siguro gawin ang isang bagay na wala sa puso mo," Marvin told PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) and other reporters last March 23 at Sumo Sam restaurant at TriNoma Mall in Quezon City.
At the time of the interview, Marvin's debut project as a concert producer was a few weeks away and tickets to the event were selling briskly.
The actor-turned-entrepreneur is bringing popular American singer-songwriter Bruno Mars to the Philippines to perform at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu on April 7 and at the Araneta Coliseum on April 8.
Bruno Mars popularized the hit songs "Grenade" and "Just the Way You Are."
The 25-year-old musician also co-wrote the songs "Nothin' On You," "Billionaire," and "Right Round," among other chart-topping tunes.
Marvin is a self-confessed fan of Bruno Mars. This eventually helped him decide to go into concert production after years of toying with the idea of financing film projects.
"I've been wanting to launch Futuretainment Inc., una talaga film production ang gusto ko. Medyo four years na yata akong naghahanap ng script. I have read several scripts pero hindi matuloy-tuloy—hindi umusad. Lagi akong naniniwala na kung hindi ukol, hindi bubukol."
GETTING CEBU. It was in 2009 when Marvin became interestd in concert production although the opportunity presented itself only late last year when a friend pitched an interesting proposal.
"Tinanong ako, 'O, baka naman itong i-offer namin sa 'yo tanggihan mo pa.' Sabi ko, 'Sino ba yan?' Sabi nila 'Bruno Mars,'" he recalled.
An excited Marvin agreed to produce the concert and even made a bid to secure a second venue outside Manila. He later realized that holding a concert for a foreign artist in a provincial venue was risky, especially for a newbie promoter.
"Siyempre bilang first-time producer, first-time promoter, sabi ko 'Akin ang Cebu!' Hindi ko alam na napakahirap pala sa Cebu kaya walang nagbi-bid. Walang malaking venue kaya yung income probability mo ang liit, yung margin mo ang liit," he revealed.
Securing Cebu, along with the tedious work involved in the negotiations and pre-production details, turned out to be a learning experience for Marvin.
It also served as leverage for him to convince the people behind the Manila concert to entrust him with managerial duties on both shows since he was already in touch with Bruno Mars's agent and management team.
"So I'm managing both Manila and Cebu," he said. "But in Manila, there are other investors."
BRUNO'S RIDER AND DREAM ACTS. As a hands-on concert producer, Marvin has access to every single detail related to the concert and to the artist himself.
The entertainment reporters teased Marvin to reveal Bruno Mars's concert rider. He politely declined due to confidentiality agreements withthe promoters and the artist's agent.
A rider is a list of backstage demands from the artist, before or after a show. Foreign acts are notorious for listing ridiculous or outrageous requests ranging from rare consumer brands to intoxicants to pretty women present at the dressing room.
"Those technical riders are actually confidential," smiled Marvin.
Bruno Mars's demands, he said, are "funny" but "very easy naman to do."
Next on Marvin's itinerary is the American pop-rock band Maroon 5, who will be performing on May 23 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.
"So far, nasa tail end na naman kami ng Bruno Mars. Now, kasi ako na rin yung marketing ng Maroon 5 and I have presented to the sponsors already," he said.
Marvin hopes to produce concerts for big acts someday like U2 and Madonna. The thought of bringing to Manila the entire cast of the award-winning American show, Glee, is also a dream project.
The Kitchen Superstar host would also love to produce shows for Filipino artists in the immediate future like perhaps a comedy gig bannered by some of the country's top standup comedians.
"In every business venture, there's a risk and that's actually what you have to prepare for. Kahit gaano ka kasipag, kahit gaano ka kagaling, baka merong isang bagay na hindi natuunan ng pansin. Na dapat makita mo bago pa mangyari," he said.
But so far, things are going smoothly for the concert producer neophyte. Tickets to the Bruno Mars concert are almost sold out. They also offered new sections in the venue to accommodate the demand from the public.
"Bawi na po," revealed Marvin with a grin. "Puwede na po mag-Maroon 5."