Interview with N9NE Group’s Sol Shafer

by Marc Jay
05.28.2010

Marc Jay: It’s Marc here, back with Clubplanet very early in the morning. I’m here with Mr. Sol Shafer, the man behind the Palms and the N9NE Group, the man that makes everything happen. I know you’ve got this huge Love Fest coming up, tell me a little more about what’s going on this weekend at the Palms.

Sol Shafer: Well, this weekend at the Palms we have a very diverse lineup with some of the biggest artists on the planet such as Armin van Buuren, Jason Derulo, Danny Tenaglia, Paul Oakenfold and people like Markus Schulz, Rev Run and MTV’s own Pauly D.

Marc Jay: That’s quite an impressive lineup. It kind of reminds me of Winter Music Conference all coming from one hotel. How did you come up with this concept and the name Love Fest? Is this the first time you’ve done this in Vegas?

Sol Shafer: This is actually our second year doing the Love Fest at the Palms and my good friend Reza Gerami is actually the owner of the brand who we reached out to about two years ago due to the fact that we really liked the whole style. We really felt that Vegas was a good home for it and that it could be well represented with such diversity and the way that it reaches out to people who just love music across America.

Marc Jay: So you are officially the talent booker for the N9NE Group. Tell us what venues the N9NE Group runs in Vegas, because I know there are quite a few of them.

Sol Shafer: Right now the N9NE Group is responsible for operating Rain, the Palms pool, Moon as well as Ghostbar and Playboy Club. We also operate two restaurants, Nove and N9NE Steakhouse.

Marc Jay: So you are one of the people kind of responsible for the Perfecto deal, and I know you’re there every week working with Paul Oakenfold and his guests. How did that deal come about and how is the show at Rain?

Sol Shafer: The deal was actually put in place by Michael Fuller before I came over to the Palms and I was lucky enough to join the N9NE Group team about a year and a half ago and things are going well with Perfecto, but things right now are just absolutely insane. We’re doing over 3,000 people every week and that’s just because we cycle through the freshest DJs on the planet as well as our promotions are just bar-none better than anyone else’s in town, especially from being a solo property on the other side of the strip. Sometimes I’m just amazed at the amount of people that come through that door.

Marc Jay: So going back to this Love Fest that’s going on now… how do you convince all these DJs to share the same stage together, all at the same time over the same weekend?

Sol Shafer: Most of these people are my friends and I never really got involved in the whole political side of things. I just want to do good events with good people who are drama-free and just do my thing. You know, the minute that you start getting politics involved and who is playing where and what and how, the fun just gets sucked right out of it.

Marc Jay: I think, honestly, what you guys are doing this weekend has got to be the biggest thing in Vegas. There are some other clubs and pools that may be booking three or four big DJs, but I don’t know how you’ve done it. You must have 10 – 15 different DJs.

Sol Shafer: Yeah, we have a lot more than that, actually. I think if you were to take all four venues and all four days, we’re probably looking at closer to 40 acts throughout the weekend.

Marc Jay: I know you have a rock star VIP pass for $475, and that’s an all-access, all-venue weekend pass. How can people purchase those?

Sol Shafer: Basically, if you go to wantickets.com, which is our ticketing partner and a company that has helped us really push this weekend, we’re offering these wristbands that are $475 that give you all access to all of the clubs as well as open bar all weekend long.

Marc Jay: That’s an amazing deal, considering it’s probably going to cost some people $200 to walk into some of these places.

Sol Shafer: Absolutely, and that’s what separates the Palms from some of these other places. We’re not in it to gauge people over a short period of time and we look for excellent customer service and repeat business.

Marc Jay: Let’s talk more about you. How did you come into dance music and booking DJs? How did you fall into this field?

Sol Shafer: Basically a long time ago I ended up bumping into a few people in LA and I really started to like dance music and the more that I listened to it, the more that I got involved and a few years later I ended up meeting Neil Moffitt who gave me a big break in just working with all the right people in the dance industry to where fast forward seven years later and here I am.

Marc Jay: What jobs did you do before you got into promoting and booking DJs?

Sol Shafer: Everything. I mean, I was a dishwasher at one point; I actually cut and laid carpet for my father at one point, as well as a few things that I can’t even mention.

Marc Jay: Now, you’re Canadian, so tell me, how does living in Canada compare to living in Las Vegas?

Sol Shafer: That’s a tough one. If you take family and friends into consideration it’s a better place, but when it comes down to the economy and wanting to be in the world of entertainment, there’s no better place than Las Vegas.

Marc Jay: So I know you’re the king of parties and you go out for work and socialize, tell us about your most memorable party and who was performing that night.

Sol Shafer: That’s really easy. It’d have to be about five years ago at club Ice on Memorial Day weekend and there was Deep Dish playing, Tiesto was playing… I think you were there, Marc.

Marc Jay: I was in the booth with the huge flashlight, jumping up and down. It was one of the best nights ever in my life.

Sol Shafer: That right there basically tells it all. That night is still for me, unbeatable.

Marc Jay: Do you remember there was a guy who actually turned up in the DJ booth and paid him $10,000 cash to continue to play for one more hour?

Sol Shafer: Yeah, that was actually a guy from the San Francisco 49ers and I remember him actually pulling out $10,000 to keep the club open and keep going for a few more songs.

Marc Jay: Only in Las Vegas. So, back to the Love Fest. Who are you most excited to see?

Sol Shafer: I always like seeing my good friend Jordan Stevens. He’s a local resident in town who always likes throwing down music, but apart from that it’s hard. You know, everybody from Markus Schulz to Paul Oakenfold to Armin van Buuren, you know, trance is just really the sound that I dig.

Marc Jay: I know in this business you’re always working like six months ahead of yourselves. What other exciting events do you have coming up for the Palms?

Sol Shafer: July 4th we have a free pool party with a few of my favorites, Markus Schulz, Cosmic Gate, Jordan Stevens and Scotty Boy with a surprise special guest that I cannot mention just yet.

Marc Jay: When you say Free, do you mean everybody gets in for free?

Sol Shafer: Everybody and anybody are getting in for free that day. I’ve reached out to promoters in several different markets who are all going to be funneling people into town for that weekend. We also have Paul Oakenfold, Blake Jarrell and John Askew playing the night before, which is just really going to make for a great weekend for people to come out to Las Vegas and listen to good music.

Marc Jay: So I know you have great success with the mid-summer events that you do. Tell us about the one coming up shortly.

Sol Shafer: The one we’ve got coming up is going to be the best one yet. We’re spending more money on talent than ever as well as more money on production. This year is just the year to go bigger and better. I can’t really say who we have booked, but I can assure you that once we release who is performing, people are going to be jumping in line to get tickets. I think we are going to be releasing the lineup first on Clubplanet, so you should just keep up there for more information.

Marc Jay: What do you think about Vegas nightlife? We’ve both been here for a long time and where we used to have like three or four nightclubs, now we are bombarded by them and so many new pools are opening too. Where do you think it’s going? What’s the next level?

Sol Shafer: I think that there’s definitely more than enough people to go around, and you just have to stay ahead of the game and be on point, work nonstop and you will succeed in this crazy town. I also believe too that the more places that open, the more money that’s being spent and the more talent that’s coming through which ultimately means more people visiting Las Vegas. I mean, if we just had two clubs, with no talent, then we wouldn’t have any tourists because there’s nothing attracting people to come here and see. So, as much as people think there’s crazy competition, there is, but at the same time we are building something magical that is happening in the desert that more and more people from around the world come and visit.

Marc Jay: Do you think Vegas is ready for its own WMC?

Sol Shafer: I think it would work if everybody took their head out of their ass and came together and stopped trying to do things on their own. There are a few people in town who are very smart, who have very good relationships and who know what they’re doing and if everyone put their egos aside and came up with a proper plan I think that we could possibly produce something that is way better than Winter Music Conference.

Marc Jay: I mean when you look at all the acts coming this weekend – Erick Morillo, Benny Benassi, Deadmau5 – it’s kind of like Vegas’ own Winter Music Conference.

Sol Shafer: It is and I personally believe that if we plan things properly that we could do something in the fall that would really rival WMC. I think there are a lot bigger players here in Vegas than there are in Miami.

Marc Jay: So there are tons of DJs sitting at home who would dream of playing one of the N9NE Group venues. Do you ever give new people an opportunity to play or to send you tracks they’ve made?

Sol Shafer: We get CDs all the time. Our door is always open. We do listen to a lot of them and we are always looking for the next upcoming DJ to join our family, not only to play music but to learn with us and to actually be a part of producing things.

Marc Jay: So how does someone get in touch with you?

Sol Shafer: You can always find out more info or send your demos by going to N9NEGROUP.COM.

Marc Jay: Before we go, is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers at Clubplanet?

Sol Shafer: Yes. There is a brand new radio station called The Vibe 94.5 that is playing nothing but non-stop dance music. They have acquired shows such as Carl Cox, Armin van Buuren, Roger Sanchez, Eddie Halliwell, Manufactured Superstars, Jordan Stevens and Markus Schulz and Paul Oakenfold. This is going on 24 hours per day on 94.5 The Vibe, so tune in.

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