EAT’M founder reflects on conference’s effect on Las Vegas

It’s been 15 years since the last Emerging Artists and Talent in Music conference, but the event’s founder and producer, Lisa Tenner, can still see its effect on Las Vegas.

The music conference kicked off in 1998 and was the first of its kind in Las Vegas, Tenner said, bringing together 150 artists, 10 keynote speakers 34 panels and 98 sponsors.

EAT’M preceded several other music conferences and festivals in Las Vegas. The Pollstar Concert Industry Consortium moved to Las Vegas in 2000, the Academy of Country Music Awards in 2002 and music festivals like the Electric Daisy Carnival, which arrived in 2011.

The conference was a success. Twenty-four bands were signed to major labels after the first EAT’M, including names like Slipknot, Papa Roach and Michelle Branch, she said.

While Tenner said EAT’M was the greatest accomplishment in her career, pulling it off wasn’t easy. She put in 80 hours of work each week for the conference, working seven days a week.

But Tenner was used to hard work.

Career beginnings

Tenner, born and raised in Los Angeles, worked alongside big names from an early age. Her father, Morris Ratner, promoted boxer Muhammad Ali through United World Enterprises in the early ’60s and owned restaurants in California that were frequented by celebrities.

Tenner grew up dancing ballet and performed annually with the New York City ballet from the age of 10 to 20. But her father persuaded her to leave dance and enter the business field. She studied accounting and psychology between 1968 and 1971 at the University of California, Los Angeles, and later joined the stock brokerage firm Goodbody and Co.

After trying out a career in TV and radio as a business manager, she decided she wanted to be in the music industry and joined business manager Ed Silver in 1983 before joining management firm Nanas, Stern, Biers, Neinstein and Co. She went on to start her own firm in 1989.

One of the few female business managers in the Los Angeles at the time, Tenner would often take on tasks other employees wouldn’t. Like the time she took off on a plane for Texas after receiving a phone call from her manager, Steve Barnett, around midnight. A client needed a new tour manager, and Barnett wanted her to go to Texas immediately to hire a new one.

“I did more than the average business manager. I got highly involved,” Tenner said. “I did whatever it took to help make my client successful. I couldn’t guarantee their success, but I would try to make them successful and keep their brands going.”

Toward the end of her career in business management, Tenner had worked with an impressive list of names, including Toto, Jane’s Addiction, Warrant, KORN, Soundgarden and the Monkees.

Impact on Las Vegas

By the mid-1990s, she was ready to take the next step in her career and personal life. She moved to Las Vegas in 1994 to marry her husband, Mark, and shortly after redirected the focus of her company, Tenner and Associates, to branding and marketing.

Only four years after the move, Tenner began to make her mark on the city.

After attending the South by Southwest music conference in Austin in 1997, she came away thinking of all the ways the conference could improve.

“You can’t showcase 900 bands over the whole city in a week. They’re not going to get signed,” she said. “I told my girlfriends … I think I can do it better than they can. I can make it better, I can make it stronger.”

And so EAT’M was born in 1998, featuring famed record producer George Martin as the keynote speaker.

“My objective (with EAT’M) was to put this city on the map to break artists,” Tenner said. “There’s talented people all around the country, all around the world … That’s why we did EAT’M. So we could bring the people here that we need to see.”

The conference ran for four years, skipping 2001 and ending after 2002.

Tenner said the growing size of the conference would make it lose its intimacy, and the increasing popularity of downloaded music was changing the face of the industry.

Since EAT’M, Tenner has seen the Las Vegas’ entertainment industry flourish.

“I think that Vegas has now cemented itself firmly as the entertainment capital of the world, undoubtedly,” she said, pointing to the success of venues like The Smith Center for the Performing Arts and the T-Mobile Arena.

While Tenner was the event’s founder and producer, she credits many others for helping the conference come to light, including former Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt, former Nevada Govs. Bob Miller and Kenny Guinn and former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman.

“I went to the people who believed in me,” Tenner said. “A team of people can change the (Las Vegas) landscape.”

Although she has taken a step back from the music industry, Tenner is still working hard in the Las Vegas entertainment industry.

Her branding and marketing company, Tenner and Associates, has turned its focus toward the poker industry and film and TV, including the Emmy award-winning PBS program “Biz Kid$.”

Hunter Hopewell, 21-year-old filmmaker who considers Tenner a mentor, said Tenner’s success has stemmed through her dedication and personal connections.

“She knows how to get things done quickly,” he said. “Anything you need, she always knows somebody.”

For Tenner, there’s one word that she attributes to the success in her career: persistence.

“You have to be persistent,” she said. “It can get very exhausting, but it does work. … Don’t ever take no for an answer.”

Contact Bailey Schulz at or 702-383-0256. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

Underground home was built as Cold War-era hideaway
The underground house at 3970 Spencer Street is one of the valley’s most unusual homes built 26 feet underground in 1978 by Girard “Jerry” B. Henderson, who, planned to survive the end of the world there.
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Bump stock manufacturers under fire
The Justice Department said last month that it had started the process to amend federal firearms regulations to clarify that federal law defines bump stocks as machine guns.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Longtime Las Vegas attorney John Momot dies at age 74
Criminal defense attorney John Momot, who represented mob figures and even played himself in the movie “Casino,” has died.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
Sir Richard Branson announces purchase of Hard Rock Hotel
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, has acquired the Hard Rock Hotel with partners and plans to turn it into a Virgin-branded property by the end of 2019.
3 Centennial High School students killed in Calif. crash (Full)
Three Centennial High School students were killed Thursday morning in Southern California when their vehicle was struck by a suspected drunken driver while they were enjoying their spring break, according to a family member of one of the victims.
Retail Restroom Sexual Assault Suspect
Las Vegas police are asking for help finding a man they said groped a woman in a south Las Vegas Valley restroom. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
Mojave Max at Springs Preserve
File footage of Mojave Max at Springs Preserve. (Springs Preserve)
The Venetian gondoliers sing Italian songs
Gondolier Marciano sings a the classic Italian song "Volare" as he leads guests through the canals of The Venetian in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Building In Logandale
Texas homebuilder D.R. Horton bought 43 lots in rural Logandale. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Indoor farming in Southern Nevada
Experts discuss Nevada's indoor farming industry. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Fontainebleau could have become a Waldorf Astoria
Months after developer Steve Witkoff bought the Fontainebleau last summer, he unveiled plans to turn the mothballed hotel into a Marriott-managed resort called The Drew. But if Richard “Boz” Bosworth’s plans didn’t fall through, the north Las Vegas Strip tower could have become a Waldorf Astoria with several floors of timeshare units. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
LVCVA CEO Rossi Ralenkotter announces plans to retire
Rossi Ralenkotter, CEO of the LVCVA, on Tuesday confirmed a Las Vegas Review-Journal report that he is preparing to retire. Richard N. Velotta/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Cousins Maine Lobster to open inside 2 Las Vegas Smith’s stores
Cousins Maine Lobster food truck company will open inside Las Vegas’ two newest Smith’s at Skye Canyon Park Drive and U.S. Highway 95, and at Warm Springs Road and Durango Drive. Cousins currently sells outside some Las Vegas Smith’s stores and at Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas home prices to continue to rise, expert says
Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, gives homebuyers a pulse on the Las Vegas housing market. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NV Energy announces clean energy investment
The company is planning to add six solar projects in Nevada, along with the state's first major battery energy storage capacity. Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal
3 Mario Batali restaurants on Las Vegas Strip to close
Days after new sexual misconduct allegations were made against celebrity chef Mario Batali, his company announced Friday that it will close its three Las Vegas restaurants July 27. Employees of Carnevino Italian Steakhouse, B&B Ristorante and Otto Enoteca e Pizzeria, all located in The Venetian and Palazzo resorts, were informed of the decision Friday morning. Bastianich is scheduled to visit the restaurants Friday to speak to employees about the next two months of operation as well as how the company plans to help them transition to new positions.
Nevada has its first cybersecurity apprenticeship program
The Learning Center education company in Las Vegas has launched the first apprenticeship program for cybersecurity in Nevada. It was approved by the State Apprenticeship Council on May 15. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas union members voting to authorize the right to strike
Thousands of Las Vegas union members voting Tuesday morning to authorize the right to strike. A “yes” vote would give the union negotiating committee the power to call a strike anytime after June 1 at the resorts that fail to reach an agreement. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Small businesses struggle to find qualified candidates
A 2018 survey found that over two-thirds of small businesses in Nevada find it somewhat to very difficult to recruit qualified candidates. Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Nevada secretary of state website offers little protection against fraudulent business filings
Property developer Andy Pham tells how control of his business was easily seized by another person using the secretary of state website.
Caesars may be going solo in its marijuana policy
Several Southern Nevada casino companies aren’t following Caesars Entertainment’s lead on marijuana testing.
How much is the Lucky Dragon worth?
Less than a year-and-a-half after it opened, the Lucky Dragon was in bankruptcy.
Gyms and discount stores take over empty retail spaces
Grocery stores used to draw people to shopping centers. But many large retail spaces have been vacant since 2008. Discount stores like goodwill and gyms like EOS Fitness are filling those empty spaces, and helping to draw shoppers back in. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Funding source of Las Vegas stadium for the Raiders is sound, expert says
The stadium is funded in part by $750 million of room taxes, the biggest such tax subsidy ever for a professional sports stadium. Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West and The Lincy Institute at UNLV, says that is a good use of public funds. (Richard Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas needs light rail, expert says
Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West and the Lincy Institute said he is afraid of a "congestion mobility crisis." Las Vegas needs a light rail system, he said, to accommodate the city's growing number of attractions. (Richard Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three takeaways from Wynn Resorts' Earnings Call
Matt Maddox came out swinging in his first earnings conference call as Wynn Resorts chief executive officer, boasting of record Las Vegas quarterly revenues and applicants lining up for work.
Star Wars VR Comes to Las Vegas
Sneak peak at the new "Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire" VR experience at the Grand Canal Shoppes.
Elaine Wynn continues her fight to change Wynn Resorts board
Elaine Wynn, the largest shareholder of Wynn Resorts Ltd., is seeking to kick a friend of her ex-husband Steve Wynn off the company’s board of directors. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zillow is getting into house flipping in Las Vegas
Las Vegas Review-Journal real estate reporter Eli Segall says flipping houses has waned in popularity after the housing bubble burst.
Ellis Island Buys Mt. Charleston Lodge
Ellis Island, which operates a casino, brewery and hotel just off the Strip, purchased the Mt. Charleston Lodge in early April.
Casinos to be penalized for allowing drug-impaired customers to gamble
Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Tony Alamo talks about an amendment making casinos subject to the same disciplinary standards of preventing people to gamble if impaired by drugs as they are for letting them play while intoxicated by alcohol.
Terrible Herbst to open large travel center in Southern Nevada
The 50,000-square-foot commercial travel center will include 96 fuel pumps and the third White Castle restaurant in Southern Nevada. Wade Tyler Millward reports.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Hooters owner talks about room upgrades at his hotel-casino
George Ruff, founder and senior principal of Trinity Hotel Investors L.L.C., owner of Hooters Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, talks about recent room upgrades at the hotel. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Passengers Discuss Allegiant Air
Allegiant Air passengers voice their views on the airline at McCarran International Airport on April 16, 2018. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Longtime Las Vegas attorney John Momot dies at age 74
Criminal defense attorney John Momot, who represented mob figures and even played himself in the movie “Casino,” has died.
Trump Slams Amazon for Not Paying Enough in Taxes
Trump Slams Amazon for Not Paying Enough in Taxes Trump tweeted his concerns about the company on Thursday. This isn't the first time Trump commented on the issues via Twitter. August 2017 December 2017 Amazon did hold back on paying state taxes in 1995, but the company has been routinely collecting state sales taxes since then. In 2016, the company's report from the Securities and Exchange Commission confirmed it paid $412 million in taxes.
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like