Austin’s Leading Independent Concert Promoters Resound and Heard Presents Join Forces
The two Central Texas bookers merge staffs and venue portfolio
By Rachel Rascoe,
10:00AM, Thu. May 5, 2022
Two of Austin’s leading independent concert promoters, Resound Presents and Heard Presents, have joined forces in a new business partnership announced this morning.
In February, the two entities collaborated to reopen a rebranded Parish at 501 Brushy, which began hosting shows in late April. Then came a shared office space in South Austin, at 211 East Alpine Rd Suite 100, which the teams moved into prior to South by Southwest. Now, the two presenters officially team up and merge employees.
With a combined 18-person staff, the business owners hope to offer more shows across Austin and San Antonio while gaining longevity as an independent operation. Public-facing booking and marketing will be focused under the header Resound Presents, while Heard Presents will manage behind-the-scenes venue operations at both Parish and Empire Control Room & Garage.
“We want to make the quality of the shows being booked and produced as high as they can possibly be within the independent world,” says Ian Orth, co-owner and creative director at Resound. “With Heard managing the venue operations side, that allows [Resound] to focus on what we have traditionally been really good at, which is the amazing independent touring shows of all genres and weird creative marketing moments and special events.”
With the expanded resources, Resound says they’re on track to hit 1000 shows in the next year, which the owners say will result in “millions of dollars in economic impact to the venues, artists, and communities of Central Texas.” The press release further summarizes: “Resound is becoming one of the largest booking companies in Central Texas, and Heard sees the opportunity to support its incredible pace and to assist as it grows its venue portfolio.”
Orth says his and Resound co-owner Graham William’s team hasn’t been this large since former booking operation Transmission Events. Orth and veteran Austin booker Williams previously owned Margin Walker Presents, following Williams’ influential history slotting music for Fun Fun Fun Fest, Sound on Sound, and Transmission. In merging booking operations, Heard managing partners Stephen Sternschein and Dave Machinist will also become co-owners at Resound Presents.
“We realized we could do it ourselves,” says Sternschein, who was a founding board member of the National Independent Venue Association, which successfully lobbied for venue COVID-19 relief funding. “We don’t need help. We don’t need a big global partner to throw a bunch of money in the middle that we all have to chase after. The silver lining of the pandemic was the breathing room to have conversations we probably should have had years ago in this industry.”
When asked to speak on the elephant in the room of concert-booking conversations – competing with corporate giant Live Nation – Sternschein doesn’t take the bait, only adding: “If you look at the landscape, the other people who are big in our market shift their attention away from local shows and smaller artists. That’s certainly part of why we feel like it’s important to do this, but it’s not a reaction [to that].”
While the new Resound concept is anchored by two portfolio venues of Empire and Parish, the promoters will continue to book elsewhere, like the Mohawk, Far Out Lounge, and San Antonio’s Paper Tiger. The team emphasized that both Empire and Parish will still be open to other bookers. They also plan to launch a new program to donate a portion of ticket sales to different charitable causes each month, in partnership with the Red River Cultural District.
“Resound is growing really fast, and Steve and Dave from Heard wanted to help support that,” says Orth. “When we first got the teams together, this theme I led with was: When you think about Resound and the future of what we’re building here – if not us, who? And if not now, when? This is our unique moment… This [announcement] is such a small component of what’s in store for the future.”
Upcoming landmarks on the Resound calendar include two nights of Bikini Kill kicking off at Far Out, a notable marquee booking for the South Austin venue. The team also plans to debut a “listening lounge” concept, called My Oh My, in the smaller second room at Parish. The bar will offer cocktails, beer, wine, and food, with a grand opening in the coming weeks.