Kevin Lyman
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Kevin Lyman

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The best kept secret in music


"Kevin Lyman Keeps It Simple And The Fans And Bands Keep Coming Back For More"

August 05, 2006,
Kevin Lyman Keeps It Simple And The Fans And Bands Keep Coming Back For More


Kevin Lyman is spinning plates.

Among the immediate issues the Vans Warped tour founder and producer is juggling this morning at an underperforming date in Nashville are a crew member's minor medical emergency, an upcoming European on-sale for his Taste of Chaos tour, tracking album sales for his two labels and the magical appearance of a key piece of sound equipment that has been chasing the tour across several cities.

Lyman's production office on this day at Starwood Amphitheatre is packed with tour personnel, transportation coordinators, press, artists and a wealth of other, mostly heavily tattooed, individuals who all seem to function at a high level of organized chaos.A partnership among Vans, Lyman's 4fini Productions and Creative Artists Agency's (CAA) Darryl Eaton, Warped has become one of the most consistent touring properties ever. While it may appear to the casual observer a dysfunctional punk family, the tour, now in its 12th year, works for reasons that transcend the bottom line.

"If this was purely driven by economics, there would be a lot of Warpeds," Lyman says. "But if I laid it all out for you economically, no one could figure out how it works. It doesn't make sense, because it's not really always based on finances."

What Warped is about is the care, feeding and shepherding of 800-plus people, including more than 100 bands, on 187 vehicles from town to town, and then setting up and putting on a show for thousands of punk kids. Virtually every detail of Warped eventually ends up in Lyman's lap, particularly if there's a problem, and he delegates with aplomb.

"I think he probably learns from his mistakes," observes veteran road warrior Joan Jett, a headliner on this year's tour. "I heard early on the food sucked, and now the food is excellent. I'm sure there are a million little details you have to get together if you're going to make this type of thing work."

It works. Last year, Warped enjoyed its best outing ever, with attendance of 700,000 and a gross exceeding $16 million from a ticket that is generally priced for less than $30.

For a dozen years, Lyman and Warped have continuously pumped new blood—fans and bands—into the punk-rock scene, contributing significantly to the genre's vitality.

The sense of community appeals to groups as does the potential new audience.

"Warped gives us a chance to play for people who may not necessarily get a chance to see us otherwise," says Andrew Everding, keyboardist for post-hardcore band Thursday, which played its first Warped in 2002. "The kids that are showing up now that are 16 were 12 back then, and for the younger kids the only concert they might go to is the Warped tour."

Others credit Warped with an even bigger role in their development. "I think the reason we have a career is because of the Warped tour," saxophonist J.R. of Less Than Jake says. "We've been doing this so long, we ended up building our fan base on tour, on this tour."

A shared sense of punk purpose surely greases the wheels, but it takes more than good intentions to keep turnstiles spinning, particularly with a tour that practically turns over its audience every three to four years. Warped works—with the venues, promoters, bands, sponsors, crew and, most importantly, the fans.

"We aim to deliver a great experience for the fan coming to the show, the artists that come out on the road with us, our sponsors, crew," CAA's Eaton says. "It is truly a unique community that transcends the 'business' of the tour."


When the Warped army rolls into a venue, promoters and venue operators are often asked to pretty much turn over the keys and step aside.

"We overrun your venue the 14 hours we're there," Lyman admits. "We respect your venue, but we need you to adapt with us and kind of step back, get out of the way. And for the amount of wear and tear 800 people can do to something, I believe there are bands with 20 people that come in and do more damage."

Other than "adapting," Warped does not ask a whole lot from the venues and promoters.

"Plenty of good forklift drivers, stagehands, some security," Lyman says. "We do all our own catering. There's no way a promoter would cater this. This catering bill, if you based it on a normal deal when you go into an arena, I think it'd be somewhere around $30,000 a day. Most people couldn't handle it."

Shelleylyn Brandler's Ta Da! Catering feeds the tour, with an assist from this year's "barbecue band," the Sunstreak. "We always say 90% of the people on the Warped tour will eat the best they ever do and the other 10% can afford to go out and eat somewhere else," Lyman says. In the egalitarian society that is Warped, bands, crew, bus drivers and producers all stand in line for the same chow, virtually indistinguishable from each other.

A - Billboard


Still working on that hot first release.



Music industry leader Kevin Lyman comes from an extensive background working with internationally known bands like Jane's Addiction, Stone Temple Pilots, and Nine Inch Nails. He is experienced in numerous entertainment industry jobs including artist management, booking, tour pre-production, production management, and tour originator.

Kevin started and owns 4 fini inc., the international touring festival Vans Warped Tour, Watcha Tour and has partnership on other national tours. Kevin also acts as an industry consultant on many different industry events, taking on roles to manage and maintain the street level credibility company’s desire.

In addition to production, Kevin is part owner of Side One Dummy Record Company, which has an impressive yet diverse roster including Irish band Flogging Molly, punk icons Suicidal Tendencies, swing favorites Royal Crown Review and more. He also a principal partner in WARCON Enterprises.

As a major music business figure overseeing many related dimensions of modern music, its surrounding culture, subculture and lifestyle. Lyman is an engaging personality, drawing on a wealth of street smart knowledge and experience invaluable to everyone from garage band upstarts to music industry CEOs. He is available to deliver conference keynote addresses, lectures, panel discussions, etc.

College Business groups that Kevin has guest lectured at:
Cal Poly Pomona
Citrus College - yearly program for Japanese music business students

Professional Organizations Kevin has been involved with:
Canadian Music Week
Performance Magazine Summit

Kevin also taught a music business course at Citrus College.

"Kevin provided important messages that the students were open to hearing -- FROM HIM. He spoke their language, knew the bands and groups they know, and thus their hearts and minds were open to what he had to say and the lessons he imparted about being a good human being and the importance of loyalty vs. following the money. He did such a good job for us and was such a big hit with our audience that we've invited him back again next year!!'
- Student Counseller, Meeting Great Minds, Elyria OH

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