Cactus Cafe Manager Announced [UPDATED]

KUT selects record label veteran

Cactus Cafe Manager Announced [UPDATED]

After months of searching, local radio station KUT has announced it has picked the new manager for the Cactus Cafe: Texas native Matthew Muñoz will take over the reins on Sept. 13, replacing long-time booker Griff Luneburg.

Under the management deal struck with the Texas Union earlier this year, KUT will take responsibility for the music side of the business while the union will run the bar and day-to-day operations. Rather than picking an experienced booker, KUT selected Muñoz for his decade-plus experience with branding, development and marketing through several Austin- and LA-based labels.

According to KUT Associate General Manager Hawk Mendenhall, Luneburg remains employed with the Texas Union and will keep working with KUT during a transition period until Dec. 15.

UPDATE: Muñoz's selection has come as a surprise to some. He was not on the list of known finalists for the position, which consisted of Luneburg, Hole in the Wall booker Paul Minor, and Cameron Smith, formerly of Texas Performing Arts. On Monday, Friends of the Cactus Cafe had started actively advocating that KUT retain Luneburg (however, that may have been a little belated, as it seems increasingly clear that Muñoz had been selected before then.) Now the new manager's hiring has been confirmed, group co-founder Wiley Koepp said, "I'm interested to meet him and find out what he's about, and hope that he'll do right by the venue." As for replacing Luneburg, he said, "Matthew Muñoz has some really big shoes to fill."

There will be a full interview with Muñoz and Mendenhall about the future plans for the Cactus in tomorrow's Chronicle. In the mean time, here's the press release from KUT:

KUT Names Cactus Cafe Manager

AUSTIN, Texas – KUT has named recording industry veteran Matthew Munoz manager of the Cactus Cafe. He will start on Sept. 13.

Munoz, 39, brings more than a decade of national music industry experience to the Cactus Cafe, including experience in marketing, promotion and artist events. Previously, he worked as director of sales and marketing at Justice Records in Austin, label manager at Universal Music Group's Fontana Distribution in Los Angeles, and in marketing and promotion roles at Warner Bros. & Reprise Records in Los Angeles, and Arista Records in Austin.

"Throughout the interview process, Matt distinguished himself as someone who could carry on and enhance the artistic tradition of the Cactus with an eye toward financial sustainability," said Hawk Mendenhall, KUT associate general manager and program director. "His experience collaborating with booking agents, artist managers and their artists, and record label executives, combined with his experience managing budgets and negotiating music clearance and performance contracts, makes him the ideal fit."

Munoz, who earned a bachelor of music degree in music business from West Texas A&M University, will oversee Cactus Cafe operations, and work with KUT to develop year-round programming and a sustainable business model. He will work with students to identify opportunities to attract the university community to the venue. A production and promotion student internship program will be developed as well.

"I can’t say enough about how gracious Griff Luneberg [previous Cactus Cafe manager] has been since KUT was named a partner with the Cactus," said Mendenhall. "He’s been a real team player and we look forward to working with him during this transitional period."

Earlier this year, the university restructured Cactus Cafe operations to make it financially sustainable. Citing KUT's experience in the music industry, the prospects for financial stability and support from student leaders for the plan, the university created a partnership with KUT, a division of the College of Communication, to continue and enhance the operation of the Cactus Cafe. KUT assumed venue management responsibilities Aug. 16. Daytime operations and the bar remain under the direction of Texas Union management.

(This story originally ran at 3pm on Sept. 8.)

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Cactus Cafe, KUT, Matthew Munoz, Griff Luneburg, Hawk Mendenhall

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