Photo Of The Day

You should have seen it in the physical newspaper.  Atop the second page of the Arts section.  Talk about not happening…

It’s fun to go to the show of the new and developing artist and find empty seats during the midst of a thrilling set.  Your heart palpitates, you get the distinct feeling you’re at the birth of something great.  But when the act is already known and you’re surrounded by empty seats, when you can stroll right down and sit in the very first row, it’s sad.  So sad, you feel sorry for the performers.  That they’re past their peak.

And you never go again.  It’s just too depressing.

Unless years later, they play a club, and you go for the intimate experience, hoping and praying they’ve still got it, even though most times they don’t, it’s pure nostalgia.

What happened to the concert business?  Did it forget what it was all about?

Cool.  That’s what music was.  And believe me, some dude walking around in a sandwich board advertising $10 seats for Maroon 5 ain’t cool.  "Tonight Only!"? God, talk about hucksterism, what next, is Live Nation gonna bring Billy Mays back from the dead to shill tickets on TV?  But at least Mr. Mays was fascinating. That beard, that intensity, that belief, even if you had no desire to buy the products he hawked, you couldn’t stop watching.  It’s easy to stop watching today’s musical acts.  Oftentimes, they’re talentless, the creation of producers, and they’re so whored out to the Fortune 500 that you can’t believe in their tunes or their persona anyway.  I mean how did we get to here?  From Bob Dylan drawing a line between us and them and the performers becoming them?

Maybe we blame Michael Cohl.  For buying that Stones tour back in ’89.  He made it look like national tours were the way to go, pay the act a pile of money and then scalp your own tickets, do whatever it takes to make a profit.  But the Stones went clean.  It only works if the draw is such that every ticket will move no problem.

Used to be you played the venue that fit the size of your act.  The goal was to sell out, leave people outside the building wanting to get in.  Now Live Nation owns sheds and implores you to play there even if it’s not right, even if you can’t sell the tickets.  And they pay you nationally, outbidding AEG so they can get you in their venue.

Now what?  Now that the formula is no longer working?

The guarantees have to come down.  We’ve got to go to percentage deals.  Acts have to share in the upside and the pain.

And if they won’t, they’ve got to play to empty seats.  Talk about a career-killer. Like there could be another Lilith Tour?

And everybody remarks how the discount tickets are training people to wait.

And all we hear from the usual suspects, not only Irving and Rapino, but Randy Phillips, is that everything is fine.  That would imply that these problems are anomalous, but that’s untrue, the problems run deep, mainstream music just isn’t cool enough.

Dance music is cool.  That’s why Electric Daisy was so profitable.  And the fact that it was cheap.  You had to be there.  Be at the Lilith Fair?  No, that’s creepy.

Acts need to underplay the market.  Tickets have to be inexpensive.  Paperless must rule, so that only true fans get in.  Yup, you could start rehabilitating the market overnight.  As for cool acts…

No, everybody’s greedy, the acts too.  They want more money.  And it’s the money that’s screwed up the music business.  Music is a calling, if you’re not willing to play for free, you’re not any good, you’re never gonna make it, it’s just too hard.  But seeing the manufactured overnight success stories, today’s wannabes want it all right now.  And concert promotion is not about music, but money.  Otherwise, why would Randy Phillips be telling us how great Justin Bieber is.  Everybody knows Bieber sucks, that he’s a kiddie phenomenon akin to Tiffany and New Kids On The Block, but Randy says he’s great because he’s selling tickets.  Hogwash.  

Used to be the public was clueless and the artists spoke the truth.  Now it’s just the opposite.  The public knows the score and the artists are clueless and the businessmen are full of shit.  This is a way to run a business?

(The photo of the day is the lower one, showing the empty seats, click on it to blow it up.  But, also blow up the one above, showing sandwich man…yup, like the guy who hangs out in a costume at Westwood and Olympic and implores us to go to the local Subway…that’s how fulfilling a Maroon 5 show will be, whereas it used to be a concert was the experience of a lifetime, but that was back when the bands took risks, when the show wasn’t on hard drive, when it wasn’t about dancing and production and everything but the music.)

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