It seems that anyway you spin it, the music industry is in trouble. In year-end reports, we have read of CD sales that are dropping, radio playlist that are too restrictive, major labels behind in their support of digital downloads, and most recently, the dismal state of the touring industry.
As CD sales have plunged over the last few years, performers have increasingly looked to touring for income. And for many years the live concert market grew significantly. It seemed there was greater revenues posted each year.
But according to a new report, the recession has finally caught up with the lucrative concert touring industry.
The industry trade magazine and website, Pollstar, reports that gross revenues and total ticket sales from concert tours were down more than expected in 2010.
The year-end numbers from Pollstar show overall grosses for the top 50 tours worldwide fell 12 percent to $2.93 billion and ticket sales dropped 15 percent or about 7 million from 2009’s 45.3 million.
Declining ticket sales have been evident in the number of cancellations in 2010 for usually popular stars.
Major acts such as The Eagles, Christina Aguilera, Rihanna and the Lilith Fair have canceled or curtailed tours. Pollstar editor in chief Gary Bongiovanni said that some artists aren’t having problems moving tickets. This group includes Lady GaGa, Taylor Swift, and Justin Bieber.
According to Bob Lefsetz, a long time music business figure, much of the problem can be blamed on the promoters. The major record labels no longer rule the concert field. It is the promoters who make or break the tours. Bob puts a lot of blame on LiveNation. He feels that they are not allowing local decision-makers to do their jobs.
The concert promoter is the one who decides what building, what day and what price for each performer. They try to do this on a national basis, but don’t allow the local venues and managers to share their knowledge. The promoter is also the organization that provides the advertisement for the concert. They are supposed to get the word out so that people will buy the tickets. Bob and many others say this just can’t be done correctly if you don’t allow those who know the market to help make the decision. AND…. they have the power and the ability to make or break anyone who doesn’t go along with what they say. It’s sad, isn’t it?
According to Pollstar, more people are listening to more music than ever before. The artists just need to have faith that as the economy becomes more stable and the promotion companies wise up, touring will again be a strong part of the music industry.
It must be a difficult time for musicians like Clay Aiken who just want to go out and sing for their fans.