Even if tour revenue is increasing, it might not be trickling down quite enough. You heard me right, Reaganomics is failing the music industry. Let’s just hope streaming services can reform themselves enough to plug the hole.
Michael Passman has a pretty interesting piece on the challenges Austin is facing….problems that seem pretty common to a lot of other cities.
In a city that promotes itself for music, those who do it can’t afford to continue, there are fewer venues for them to do so, and those venues left are threatened with going out of business, not to mention less time in the evening for musicians to actually play.
We know the causes. People come here for SXSW, SXSW gets bigger and bigger, people decide they want to move here, the tech startup boom is ongoing, the economy is healthy, and buildings get torn down and replaced by high rise condos. It happens everywhere.
Some of it is that we all kind of do other stuff and it sort of reinvigorates that band. There’s different fuels for the engine. For that last few years it’s been a little bit nicer now that we took the pressure off ourselves to try and just do this band full-time and try and make an adult living off of it because there’s only a handful, especially rock bands, that can really do that. We kind of took the pressure off that. Some of it is just getting older and enjoying writing more, learning to stuff in the studio on our own. Some of it is getting along and getting more comfortable and taking chances. A lot of it is taking the pressure away from trying to do this every day of the year. Now we just kind of pick and choose the stuff we really wanna do, the stuff we like to do. If were doing a show now, or if we’re doing a record, it’s only ever because we really want to do it — that we enjoy it. It’s never forced. There’s times for any band where there’s a bunch of shows, where it’s, “Gotta pay the bills, gotta pay the rent.” Now we don’t have that pressure so much. It’s nice to get back to the old days. We’re just kind of doing this because we want to do this. We turn down so much stuff now because, no, it doesn’t sound fun. Even if, sometimes, the show is to our financial benefit, we’re just like, “No, I don’t think we’d really enjoy doing that.
Source: Central Track // Gambling Man
I would have expected the Internet to be a leveling force, because you don’t have to be promoted by a major company to find your audience. But, so far, that’s not reflected in the numbers. That may be because the algorithms at companies like Spotify are not democratizing the field as much as I would like. Or it might be that people are all pretty much the same — and they all want to hear Taylor Swift.
The Internet has made music much more democratic for its creators (anyone can make music with a minimal amount of money and effort) and its listeners (you can find just about anything online). So why hasn’t that democracy spread i.e. to concerts and sales? Has music tech (Spotify, Pandora, iTunes, etc.) just codified a winner-take-all system?
Or do most people just want to hear Taylor Swift?
Krugman also raises a point about ticket prices:
If, say, we had to pay $25 for a ticket to see a band at Bowery Ballroom instead of $15, and the artist got paid a bit more, it’s probably true that the great bulk of the audience would still come. So, I shouldn’t knock it. Organizing could make the difference between not surviving and barely surviving.
And while I agree that one quick and easy way for artists to make more money is by raising ticket prices, I’m not sure that’s the best move here. Wouldn’t lowering ticket prices increase access so that more people had a chance to see the bands?
But I agree that organizing is important.
His last point is worth noting as well:
The fact that Canadian musicians have publicly funded health care is not trivial. Policies that help low-earning workers, like health insurance and minimum wages, lead to somewhat better income for [them]…The majority of artists do not make a living, or they barely scrape by.
We have to do a better job of supporting working artists in this country.
Interesting food for thought here. Any thoughts?
I’ve always loved touring, loved traveling, and love being on the road, but there’s an interesting article below that sheds light on the mental and physical toll that touring can have on working musicians.
For many, the contrast between the highs of a successful show and the anti-climactic low that often follows can be hard to adjust to, a phenomenon that has been termed “post-performance depression’, or PPD. Mental health professional John C Buckner writes: “When the body experiences major shifts in mood, it is flooded with several different neurotransmitters, resulting in a biochemical release that leads to a feeling of ecstasy. After these moments the nervous system needs time to recalibrate itself to prepare for another release. After an exciting performance the body starts to balance out the level of neurotransmitters, and therefore it is not releasing the same level that caused the exciting feelings, resulting in the lingering sadness. In normal day-to-day life, biochemicals are released and rest/recovery follow, causing the typical ups and downs of life. In the case of PPD, the process is more extreme with higher highs and lower lows.
Eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and finding ways to reduce stress on the road have been key to recent tours. I’m curious if you have any other suggestions or thoughts on the above?
The idea is to get people to become fans of the venue so they want to come back, versus, “Oh, we can make an extra $4 if we charge them this fee at the box office.”
There’s a common misconception when you’re running a club that more is always better. More shows + higher ticket prices + ticketing fees + higher drink prices = more money, right?
The idea is that once someone has come into your venue they’re yours – stuck there for the three to five hours from when doors open until the show ends. A few clubs even charge ticket fees even when you schlep to the box office. A beer that was $4 a few years ago is now $7 and so on…
But what if you flip the script?
What if you book less shows, but they’re all quality shows? Wouldn’t your club is known for good music? And wouldn’t that help create a scene around your venue?
What if you kept ticket prices low so that more people could come? Wouldn’t the number of tickets you sold in a year increase?
And once the fans are there, what if you treated them not just like bodies in the room, but actual music fans? What if you made it comfortable for them to see the shows? What if your venue had good sound, good sight lines, and room to move around? What if you hired staff who are music fans too so they actually know what it’s like to go to shows? What if you started shows at reasonable hours and ended in time for them to take public transportation home? What if you offered free water so they could hydrate? And what if you offered late-night food options to help soak up the beer?
What if you treated your guests as fans not consumers? What if you made the entire concert-going experience more fan-friendly?