There was a certain smugness amongst my live music friends as they saw the record industry implode under the impact of the digital revolution. The only cloud on the horizon was how to get our hands on the money being generated in the secondary ticket market. This reminded me of the enthusiasm of the record companies a decade ago as they dreamt of getting their customers to buy their record collection again in digital format, just like they had managed with CDs (phew wasn’t that a bonanza, didn’t it make us all look good!). They forgot to notice that delivering CDs had already digitised the recordings and it did not take long for Napster to come along and open the digital flood gates.
They tried to stop it, just like the live boys and girls dreamt of stopping secondary ticketing. The point is that we have to adapt our business models to the reality of the potential of the digital/internet world. We could all become day traders at home, and we could all become ticket touts. The digital revolution gives us all access to a huge and dynamic market place (eBay etc). Expecting people not to exploit the technology of trading online is like expecting them not to swap music files online. Trying to stop trading will be as effective as attempts to stop people ripping, encoding and exchanging digital files.

So let’s get to grips with reality and look around for guidance. Ryanair has the same problem as concert promoters, namely how to maximise income, with uncertain demand and with a limited capacity. The airline
industry’s approach is to use dynamic pricing, creating a situation where the one thing we know when we get on a plane is that our neighbour did not pay the same as we did for our tickets. The day of the ticket having a fixed price is gone.

What we need is a system that we choose which maximises the possibility y of selling out the venue. We need to always remember the fact that an empty seat generates no income. A seat that is filled, but was free to the consumer is still liable to generate income, through beer sales or merch sales, or by the punter enjoying him/herself and deciding to go to another gig in the future.

To let the secondary ticket market fall into the hands of parasites is absurd. We have to find a way of putting the money in our hands rather than that of external agents who add nothing to the pool of money for the venues, agents, promoters and artists. Managers and artists have to realise that it is impossible to guess the right price to fill the venue. They also have to realise that if they don’t have a high enough capacity to satisfy demand there will be a secondary market. If you want to keep the price down then you have to commit to more shows. If you want to sell out you may have to give tickets away. No longer are we in a world of 1000 tickets @ £20 each, but rather in a world of 1000 tickets at between £100 and 10p each according to demand.

My solution is that promoters, venues, agents and the artists should control the ticket agencies and move into the 21st century. This will enable us to find the right prices for our tickets in the new era of austerity. We are all going to have to be a bit more clever and get a used to earning a lot less money in the shrinking market that is likely to be ours in the next decade.


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  1. 2 good posts Peter on the economic downturn and live music.
    To me the ticketing always should have been at least half in the hands of the artist and half in the hands of the promoter. Sadly, both let control slip to a third party – the ticketing company. That led to higher fees and the sad reality that neither the artist or the promoter captures the data (email, address) of the people that bought the tickets.

  2. Good comment.
    It seems to me that the people who make the music and the people close to them should be getting together to work out a coherent response to the digital challenge. This is turning all areas of the musical environment upside down. We can either sit there and say oh we should have done this or that back whenever, or we can say ‘I’m mad as Hell and we’re going to do something- now !’
    To deal with the threats to our traditional business we need to embrace what is going on and try to do new deals where we (the creators and their enablers) are the primary party and have real input into the way the spoils of the new paradigm are shared out.

  3. Dear Peter,
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    Our revolutionary Technology is today the only complete platform, from event shooting to final production, that offers fully interactive playback of an event (for example, a concert) using multi camera, spherical video.
    With total interactive control, the viewer, while watching the video of a pre-recorded concert, can move to multiple physical locations and look around whenever and wherever they like, while they still control the video playback. In a sense, the viewer assumes the role of a live-event film director.
    In an industry suffering from diminishing sales and devaluation of the mainstream distribution formats (CD & DVD), we are offering a revolutionary, uniquely interactive, new way to play back prerecorded events, which creates a completely new product offering.
    Exploiting our technology, it becomes possible to offer a completely new and trully revolutionary product, that will offer interactive playback of any event and will generate a completely novel revenue stream.
    We would be glad to showcase our iam-360 technology to anybody interested or just curious, at our booth at MIDEM.

  4. Great Writing! Would you consider doing a review for a New Age Album? Here is some info about it. You can also hear the title track ‘Ascension’ at our myspace http://www.myspace.com/bayareacontemporarymusic
    If you are interested I can email you the tracks.
    Thanks- Have a Great Holiday!
    Monica Willliams
    Phoenix Rising
    We are living in a time of stress and struggle. There is still hunger, hatred, and sickness in a world that is also filled with such beauty, generosity, and harmony. ASCAP award-winning composer Wendy Loomis and Eastman School of Music alumna Monica Williams decided to create a CD that had the power to help people relax, de-stress, and energize with positive vibrations of gratitude for this life. While Wendy was in the middle of a yoga class, she had a vision of the CD being organized around the 7 chakras. For those of you unfamiliar, the 7 chakras are energy centers that run up the human body from the base of the spine, to the sexual center, the stomach, the heart, the throat, the 3rd eye between the eyebrows, and the crown of the head. Many people have developed systems that associate colors and tones with each chakra. Monica and Wendy decided not to be quite so literal in their interpretation, but rather incorporate the idea of energy rising from our most earthly, primal instincts up toward our higher, nobler, spiritual realm – the eternal quest to ascend toward the Higher Power. And ASCENSION was born.
    7 is a lucky and inspiring number that is threaded through ASCENSION: there are 7 tones in a scale, the compositions are in 7 different key signatures, the music is played on 7 primary instruments, Monica was born in ’77, and this is the 7th CD of Wendy’s music.
    With the exception of ‘Seed’ and ‘Nourishment’ which were improvisations, the themes for this CD were composed by Wendy Loomis. Monica and Wendy arranged the flute and piano sounds in a weave with instruments from around the world played by a group of very talented women: Jennifer Lim on guzheng (China); Debra Podjed on tabla (India) and goat hooves (Bolivia); Jessica Styler on hang drum (Switzerland); Suellen Primost on cello (Italy); Irina Mikhailova on voice (born in Russia); and Karen Segal on guitar (Spain/the Middle East).
    If you are interested please contact me at monicaw14@hotmail.com

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