The peanut gallery’s advice to musicians goes something like this: Stop whining about music piracy! Go on the road and make your money there! After all, none of you make money on record sales, anyway!
But what if the concert business isn’t that healthy, either? Pollstar, which tracks concert sales in the U.S., says the business held flat during the first half of the year. That’s supposedly a victory given the weakening economy. But the numbers are actually less encouraging: Total ticket sales dropped 5.6%, to 16.9 milllion, offset by a 5.9% price increase.
The problem is well-known inside the business: Attendance has been dropping for years, and the only way the industry has been able to show growth is by jacking up prices for a handful of ageing acts. And at some point those acts are going to be literally too old to tour anymore.
But! Here’s a nice surprise: Normally at this point in the story, we take out the Pollstar list and point out how many of the top acts use walkers, or will be doing so soon. But take a look: Many of this year’s top performers are still making music that people listen to – in the present tense:
By our count, only 4 of the top 10 and 9 of the top 20 acts are pure nostalgia plays. If you’re a music fan (or fan of raunchy comedy, in the case of Katt Williams), there’s a decent chance you may have actually heard a new song (or joke) from the rest of the top performers. If they can keep that up, they might prove that there’s a future for the live music business, after all.