The Live Live Concert Business

money_tree.jpgTo  continue the discussion about money and music, I might claim that economics plays a huge, huge role in various scenarios related to bands or artists playing live — not an artistic vision or otherwise something that has a basis in cultural changes. Those do happen, but it’s a rarity.

For example, the current surge of huge festivals with many artists playing during weekends. It’s all about the costs associated with dragging huge sets around the country. It’s cheaper to fly in the artists and place a big PA system to be used by everyone — at the same time charge extra for all the artists performing. To some degree this is good, the fans have a chance to see many bands and take part of a ‘happening.’ However, the main reason for all this are the huge costs today concerning transportation and other administrative overhead.

Ever wondered if your band or artist never shows up in your town, let’s say somewhere in Alaska? Or why the various band shows are aligned around the country? It’s all based on costs and estimated audience attendance, to maximize the profits. There are usually a lot of concerts here in USA in mid-west as it does not take long to drive between the venues, same on the east coast. While the distances in the west are longer so the costs go up and one needs to do a careful spreadsheet analysis to figure out the venue dates and places.

I personally think that the main reason the so called Super-DJs appeared on the venue circuit has to do with maximizing profits, both for the club owners, agents as well as the DJs. It’s not so expensive to send a DJ, nowadays with just a laptop and backup hard disk, to any place in the world, they do their 4+ hour job, their name as a headline guarantees that people show up and everyone is happy. There’s seldom any huge costs associated with the show as these events do not need pyrotechnical work, lights and so on, just electricity into the DJ booth.

Let me end this with a positive and interesting prediction. As the transport and other costs have become astronomical, there’s a market for local bands and artists. The audience wants something to relate to. At the same time it’s not so expensive to hire as a headliner local musicians and artists, as all that is needed is a short trip to the venue. Many bars nowadays also have decent PA systems so there’s no need to include such costs into the performance.

Anyway, for this to happen, the artists of course have to be good, so you can’t avoid the hard work of good songs, personality, connection with the fans and so forth. However, I actually thinks this will be now easier than during the last ten years where local talent had to compete with mid-range performers. One might even say that the middle-income bands are indeed squeezed in today’s market…

Anyway, one reason behind this post is to teach someone to look at the music world as an economist — a lot of unexplained scenarios will be revealed.

One Comment:

  1. Good read, always wanted to get into the live industry!

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