Now the concert business is imploding.
It’s not like promoters, managers, agents and acts couldn’t see this coming. They just didn’t want to believe it. They’re just as ignorant as their major label brethren. It’s just that their comeuppance is occurring a decade later.
How long did you think it was going to last? Did you really think people were going to want to overpay to see the Stones, believing this was the last tour, when that whisper campaign began TWO DECADES AGO?
Do you really have to go see Aerosmith? Sure, they outlasted their seventies contemporaries, had hits in the MTV era, even played the VMAs year after year, but you don’t even want to hear those lame Geffen hits, you want the Columbia classics, and you’ve been able to hear them year after year. So, you say NO MAS!
It’s not only Aerosmith that’s having problems selling tickets. AC/DC is papering stadiums. Paul McCartney is essentially giving tickets away. Springsteen’s tour is a joke. Come on Bruce. You’re on a closing buildings tour? Just call it what it is, a going out of business tour! You’re just so greedy, you want to get the money before it evaporates.
Ticket sales are not in the dumper because of the economy. That’s like saying major labels are in trouble because of piracy. Sure, piracy put a dent in the Big Four’s bottom line. But what about the fact that people hate the crap they’re purveying, and where they’re purveying it most people aren’t paying attention anymore? Sure, the economy is hurting ticket sales. But that’s just the cover-up. The true story is the business has broken very few superstars, and the old ones are on overpriced tours, blaming Ticketmaster while they scalp their own tickets.
You say the labels should have seen Napster coming. That they should have authorized P2P. When is the concert business going to have an all-in ticket price? When is greed going to be put aside for the long term health of not only the promoters, but the acts themselves? Do you really think Live Nation can overpay forever? Look at the company’s financials. And no new entity is going to line up to overpay guarantees.
We’ve got to start over.
But the live business, like the recorded music business, doesn’t want to start over. It just wants to raise prices in order to assure growth.
Hate to tell you, but music doesn’t drive the culture. Because all the big acts are tied in with corporations, and are fearful of speaking the truth for fear of being Dixie Chicked. Used to be the artists were beholden to no one, which is why the business blew up. Artists lit the way. Now techies lead.
You’ve got to start small, charge little and build an audience. Which you nurture over time. Trying to break a new superstar overnight is like GM believing it can save itself with a new Malibu (it didn’t, in case you weren’t paying attention). GM drove itself towards a cliff with no consciousness of the future. People want mileage and longevity. GM provided neither.
Concert attendees want music. Sure, Madonna might be able to survive selling spectacle, but how many successful circuses exist? There’s Ringling Brothers and…
And a night at the show must not break the bank. Broadway overcharges because it’s seen as a once in a blue moon event. You’ve got to go to New York City… It’s like selling tickets for a U2 show on the moon. You can charge up the yin-yang for that!
As for U2… They don’t sell out either anymore. Maybe because they’re no longer seen as vital, they’re the new Stones. U2 could possibly rehabilitate itself, by releasing a string of singles, one every month. By releasing a live album from the tour in progress. Instead, playing by the old rules they topped every mass media event with their lame “Get On Your Boots” and no one cared.
Just like no one cared about Springsteen’s album after the Super Bowl.
Maybe no one cares to the equivalent of a multiplatinum level anymore. Maybe the live business has to give that paradigm up. At least for a decade, until new acts are grown.
We want music that resonates. And we want music. Lady GaGa is outfits. Katy Perry is so second rate she’s third rate. The future looks more like the Kings Of Leon. A band that’s been around for years that finally breaks through. And doesn’t break the bank when it sets ticket prices.
Screw lawn tickets at a discount. That’s like listening to music on your neighbor’s stereo. How about getting a ticket for a developing artists show when you buy the ticket for a star. We’ve got to get people sampling, we’ve got to get people coming to the show on a regular basis. Now we’ve got a business of extravaganzas. We’re like North Korea, trying to blast rockets into the stratosphere, but usually failing. To the point we’re a joke.