Tom Moffatt: Rocking With Aloha- For Decades

Sep 16, 2016

Credit PBN

A concert may be two hours of fun for music-lovers, but for “A Tom Moffatt Production,” it involves many months of work.  Pacific Business News Editor in Chief A. Kam Napier has more.

This week’s cover story explores the long and influential career of Tom Moffat, the legendary radio DJ who has been bringing rock and roll artists to the Islands since the early 1960s.  Those names are legendary, too, from the Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys to the upcoming George Benson show.

For Moffatt and his crew, the work begins months out, fielding queries from artists who want to play in the Islands or putting together offers to artists he’d like to bring in. At that point, the business is about scheduling and pricing. It’s up to the promoter to pitch a price range that work for the artists.

Moffat says the economics have changed over the years. It used to be routine for artists to charge a flat fee. But in those days, tours supported album sales and the big money for bands came from record deals. Now, in a digital age of streaming music, the recordings promote the tour. So, top-name artists are now looking for as much as 95 percent of the net for a show.

Big changes in another industry have also impacted Moffatt’s business. It used to be common for Hawaii to score a major act stopping in the Islands on its way to Asia or Australia. Fitting in Hawaii essentially meant a long layover. Now, long-haul flights mean bands bypass Hawaii entirely.

Every show involves risk for a promoter. We asked Moffatt which expenses he needs to front and got a one-word answer: “Everything.” That’s the venue, the band, and everything from the lights on the stage to the snacks in the green room. If he has multiple concerts in the works, he will sometimes work with private investors.  For Moffatt, pulling off a concert is itself a kind of performance, even if it’s all behind the scenes.