When Live Concerts go Silent

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When Live Concerts go Silent

By Ashley Rosson

As I was driving home the other day listening to my Spotify news stream, the topic of live concerts and the pandemic came up in discussion. With most concerts cancelled until further notice, musicians are having to get creative, by streaming performances to stay connected with fans, and in some cases, bring in a little extra cash.

Back in the day, I am saying 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, concerts were mainly to promote an artist’s new album. Most artist’s made most of their money by selling said albums, but then in the late 90’s and early 2000’s we had programs such a Napster and Torrent, that allowed illegal downloads of albums. This eventually led to artists having to tour more and make the concerts their main sources of income. So now that this form of profit is no longer viable while the pandemic rages on, what is an artist to do? Live stream from their homes, either for free and sell merchandise, or charge for the viewing.

However, a number of industry veterans say that this isn’t a viable long term replacement for in-person performances. Streaming would not be anywhere near as lucrative for big name performers such as Elton John, Garth Brooks, or the Jonas Brothers, who sell out venues with thousands of seats where tickets can average a couple hundred dollars apiece.

Dave Brooks, Billboard’s senior director of touring and live, says, “I don’t think streaming will replace concerts, I think streaming performances will become a category of what artists offer their fans.” That can mean bigger name performers could charge, in addition to their live concert, for exclusive online access instead of VIP encounters. Brooks also believes that only a select few performers, mainly small indie acts, would be able to make the move to streaming exclusively and be successful. Fans could perhaps pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to the streams or buy passes to individual shows.

While I listened to the podcast, one of my favorite bands came on air, Dropkick Murphy’s. They are a well know band, yet not in the realm of let’s say, Elton John. They were discussing how they live streamed their concerts for St. Patrick’s Day for free. They were able to make in profit, with just a few streaming concerts selling merchandise, over half of what they would make normally in a six-month tour. The reason being, you don’t spend any money on a tour bus, hotel rooms, gas, food, and venues that you would normally spend on completing a tour.

I personally believe streaming could be a lot more lucrative in the long run for the big name artists and not just the small indie artists. Granted, nothing can replace the feeling of being in that dark music venue – the smell, the lights, and the energy – but while we can’t necessarily do that, there will always be people, especially in quarantine, that need to listen to some new jams. I know I would shell out some cash to experience the closest thing I could get to a live concert without putting my health or others at risk.

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