Tag Archives: Live Music

Money’s Too Tight (To Mention)

Arguably the biggest cohort of people who attend concerts—which seem to be the means by which a number of performers are finding to be the means, perhaps the only means, by which they are able to make a sufficient amount of money to keep the lights on—are students, and directly after them are those who have recently been students.

According to FinanceBuzz the average ticket price for classic rock acts between 2017 and 2021 was $119.14. Pop: $100.65. Rock: $85.94. Then within those categories, the performer with the highest average ticket price during a single tour for Classic Rock was Bruce Springsteen, at $508.93. Pop, Lady Gaga: $337.43. Rock: Metallic: $229.31.

These numbers are enough for one to shout Jesu!

Which then might lead to a solid financial move, in that the least expensive musical genre is Christian, with the average ducat going for $39.38.

That’s a third of the average price of a ticket for Classic Rock.

The Christian performer with the highest average ticket price was Laurent Daigle, at $58.64.

That’s about 12% of the price of a ticket to see the Boss on Broadway.

Which brings me back to students and those who have recently attended organizations of higher learning.

A recently conducted survey by Morning Consult based on the fact that the federal student loan payment moratorium is going to disappear in 2023 found that 30% of the respondents said that they would “probably not” be able to afford their student loan payments and another 28% said that they’d “definitely not” be able to pay.

Continue reading Money’s Too Tight (To Mention)

Seeing & Hearing

One of the means by which those who have bought the seats in arenas that are so high that there are reduced levels of available oxygen, which makes vision blurred in some cases and headaches in nearly all (which makes said person wish they’d have ponied up a few more bucks for the ducat), is for there to be massive video screens above the stage such that all of the people in the arena, especially those in those upper tiers, have the sense they are watching TV.

(A digression: If you are in a situation where your view of a person or persons on stage is really quite reasonable and there is an array of giant screens, to what extent do your eyes tend to drift to the screen rather than to the actual human(s)? I must confess that I often look at the screens, not because it necessarily shows anything that I can’t see by moving my eyes down a few degrees toward 0, but possibly because in a lifetime of looking at screens, there is simply a tendency. So let’s say for the sake of argument that the performers on the stage are simply good look-alike mimics and the audio is a recording of the actual performers. However, the screen shows the actual performance as recorded. Those who have good seats would be able to discern the difference, but the majority of the people in the arena, who are watching the screens, wouldn’t. If they were to watch the show and leave, not knowing that the people on the stage were stand-ins, would their experience be any different than if the bona-fide performers performed?)

Last week in Hong Kong during a performance of Cantopop group Mirror, a metal suspension cord snapped and a giant screen fell to the stage, injuring a dancer who was on stage in support of the band. An AP photo of the falling screen is potentially horrific: it is hard to image that there was only one person hospitalized, especially given that there are 12 members of Mirror, so the stage was crowded. (Earlier in the week, at another performance at the Hong Kong Coliseum, a performer fell off the stage. Performing can be a dangerous thing.)

Maybe the cheap seats for Springsteen have a benefit: safety.

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Also last week Spotify released its Q2 2022 earnings.

Continue reading Seeing & Hearing

The Price of Performance

“Keep me searching for a pot of gold/And I’m growing old”—with apologies to Neil Young

For the past several months, climate activists in London have been staging protests at the British Museum. They want the institution to stop taking sponsorship money from bp. bp (formerly British Petroleum) is, of course, an oil and gas company. There is probably a bp station close by to where you are right now. The company says, “Our purpose is reimagining energy for people and our planet. We want to help the world reach net zero and improve people’s lives.” I don’t know what “reimagining energy” means. Probably some clever copywriter came up with that term. It is hard to imagine (to say nothing of reimagine) precisely how a company that is primarily predicated on drilling holes to pump out fossil fuels that are then processed so that they can be combusted in various things like motor vehicles is going to get to net zero, even by 2050 because as long as these carbon-based fuels are burned, the consequences are, well, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration: “the substances produced when gasoline is burned (carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and unburned hydrocarbons) contribute to air pollution. Burning gasoline also produces carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.”

Just how the elimination of the sponsorship by bp for the 990,000-square-foot history museum—which, by the way, has free admission—is going to have an effect on the chemistry of combustion or on the use of petrol there or gasoline here is difficult to suss, but there is something to be said for the pluck of those stalwart Brits who are gluing themselves to things like paintings to prove their dedication to the mission. (What, I wonder, do they do when they have to go to the loo? Bust out the nail polish remover and make a quick break?).

Whether it is a museum or a band, the importance of sponsorship—a.k.a., funding—is absolutely important.

Continue reading The Price of Performance

Gas, Food, Concerts

Funny thing about the economy. To use a hackneyed reference, it is like the weather, as in everyone talks about it, but what is somewhat different is that it is not the case that they don’t do anything about it. (Which leads to a thought: if somewhat talks about the weather, just what is it that they’re supposed to do about it?) People piss and moan about high prices, so what do they do? Spend more. And I don’t just mean spend more from the standpoint that the prices are increased and consequently they need to spend more, but from the POV that they buy more stuff because they have more money.

“What!?” you sputter.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that in May 2022 (reported June 30, 2022, because it takes some time to collect and crunch the numbers) “Personal income increased $113.4 billion (0.5 percent).” What’s more, “Disposable personal income (DPI) increased $96.5 billion (0.5 percent) and personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $32.7 billion (0.2 percent).”

Who would have thought this is the case?

Gasoline prices are one of the things that there is much consternation about. While some note that adjusted for inflation gas was more expensive back in the summer of 2008, we drive in the present, not the past, so that is sort of a specious point.

But as you may recall from Econ 101 there is a little thing called “supply and demand” and despite the fact that oil companies across the board have exhibited themselves to be shitheels as they rack up profits, there is this:

According to the Federal Reserve, Americans drove 2,849,147 miles in February 2021 and as of April (again, the latest numbers for now) 3,271,946.

More demand, limited supply, increased price.

Continue reading Gas, Food, Concerts

FIFTY

Obligatory Autobiographical Opening

When my friends and I were in high school we took a summer pilgrimage to a campground in northern Michigan, and if a pilgrimage requires a religious angle, then it was to celebrate Bacchus, assuming that he happened to drink copious quantities of Stroh’s.

None of us were in the least bit interested in camping. We had no skills. To build a campfire we had to rely on Coleman stove fuel, which got things going rather quickly and also served as an entertainment when it was splashed on an already raging fire, as there would be an eye-opening exothermic event. The days in the campground consisted of (1) drinking beer in the afternoon, long into the night; (2) passing out in our not-well-setup tents; (3) getting up the next day and going to the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, where the sun, we hoped, would help sweat the alcohol out of our bodies; (4) bathing in ice-cold Lake Michigan; (5) repeat.

The summer of 1972 most of us were 18. Earlier that year the Michigan legislature had done us a tremendous favor by changing the drinking age in the state to 18. That meant we didn’t have to accumulate as much beer as we could while we were back in Detroit from people that would “buy” for us (in retrospect it seems an odd thing: we would simply say to someone who was older but who had a fake ID, “Will you buy for us?” and it went without elaboration what we meant) so as to be well stocked for our adventure. One of the downsides of this was that our trunks tended to be so full of beer that the camping gear barely fit.

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COVID on the Beach

“Despite ambitious protocols, the Omicron variant with its unexpectedly high transmissibility rates is pushing the limits of health safety, travel and other infrastructures. Thus, Sundance Festival’s 2022 in-person Utah elements will be moving online.”—the Sundance Institute

The event timing: January 20 to January 30
The decision to go virtual: January 5

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“After careful consideration and analysis with city and state officials, health and safety experts, the artist community and our many partners, the Recording Academy and CBS have postponed the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards Show. The health and safety of those in our music community, the live audience, and the hundreds of people who work tirelessly to produce our show remains our top priority. Given the uncertainty surrounding the Omicron variant, holding the show on January 31st simply contains too many risks.”—the Recording Academy and CBS

The event timing: January 31
The decision to postpone the event: January 5

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“With much sadness and after great consideration of every possible scenario, the @PlayTheSand shows in Riviera Cancun on January 7-10 and January 13-16 have now been canceled by @CID_Presents due to the spiking COVID-19 cases…Dead & Company and @CID_Presents tried everything possible to bring normalcy and to deliver a great experience and amazing music, but with each day it became increasingly clear that canceling is the correct thing to do for the fans and for our crew… Please refer to the Playing in the Sand email that will be sent shortly with all details about refunds. See you soon, hug your loved ones, stay safe and be kind.”—Dead & Company

The event timing: January 7, 9, 10, 13, 15, 16
The decision to cancel: January 6

Continue reading COVID on the Beach

The Bizarre World of COVID Continues

As 2021 came to the close, it was reported, by ESPN, that 36% of the league’s referees, 25 out of 70, were in COVID “protocols,” which presumably means isolation. At the very least it means that they’re not referring games. While the refs are all fully vaccinated, some of them hadn’t been boosted, which they are required to do. The day that was reported, according to the NBA there were 132 players on COVID protocols, as well as seven head coaches. There are 30 NBA teams. In the ESPN reporting about the number of refs it points out, “Officials don’t have the protections that teams do with charter flights and five-star hotels.”

The point is that refs are pretty much like the rest of us, being out in the world, doing our jobs, grabbing recreation and entertainment where and when we can. We are vaxxed, wearing masks and are highly familiar with the scent of hand sanitizer (at least I have an assumption, perhaps incorrect, that GloNo readers fall within the category of those who acknowledge that (a) this is still a bad situation and (b) moderate mitigation measures aren’t exactly some sort of violation of human rights: people dying in hospitals because some people refuse to make minor changes is a violation of basic social existence).

That situation in the NBA, which strikes me as a test case, came to mind in relation to some number that had been reported by Live Nation: As of November 30, 2021, 17% of tickets that had been purchased for concerts—acts ranging from the Flaming Lips (who postponed their New Year’s Eve shows due to the COVID surge (which brings up a question: can you postpone a New Year’s Eve show to any other date than New Year’s Eve?)) to Dead & Company—weren’t scanned. On the one hand, this simply means that it doesn’t matter to the promoter because even though the seats are empty, the seats have been paid for. On the other hand, it means that the venue isn’t going to get the take that it thought it would have gotten for things like breathtaking expensive beers, popcorn and other items. And were there a third hand, it would be that the bands would be impacted by a reduction in the amount of merch that gets sold at a given show (although this is probably not as much as it could be because odds are those who decided not to attend the show for whatever reason—and statistically one could opine that a non-trivial number of no-shows would be those who have concerns about or are in COVID protocols—are not the die-hard fan base (pun intended) who would buy still another couple of T-shirts, sweatshirts and headbands).

Continue reading The Bizarre World of COVID Continues

Music Matters in the UK

“The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night
And his affections dark as Erebus:
Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.” The Merchant of Venice

To say that music is important in the United Kingdom is to understate things immensely.

Consider this:

“Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the creative industries added between £110 and £130 billion to the UK economy, supported over two million jobs and, since 2010, grew at nearly twice the rate of the economy as a whole. . . . The UK music industry contributes an estimated £5.2 billion in gross value added (GVA) to the UK economy per year, of which recorded music generates approximately £1.5 billion in retail revenues: a figure that is also growing year-on-year. The industry employs over 200,000 people, ranging from music creators (including over 50,000 UK artists) and their ecosystems, music venue and touring staff and employees of record labels, music publishers, music streaming services and collecting societies. . . . [I have no idea what a collecting society is, but I like the concept] Annually, the sector generates £2.7 billion in exports, and recorded music specifically generates £500 million in export revenues.”

All of that comes from a report conducted by Parliament, “Economics of Music Streaming.”

Think about that.

In the UK there is a recognition that there is a non-trivial number of citizens who make their livelihoods from music. In research conducted last year they discovered that 90% of UK festivals had been cancelled due to COVID and 93% of grassroots music venues were on the edge of shuttering. What’s more, they found that a quarter of people in the music industry didn’t qualify for Self Employed Income Support Scheme (a supplemental income program from the government, sort of like unemployment compensation in the US). And producers and sound engineers had lost an average of 70% of their income as a result of the socio-cultural-economic impact of COVID on the UK.

In the US the was the passage in December 2020 of the “Save Our Stages Act,” which provides $15-billion administered through the Small Business Administration, setup to provide six months’ of financial support to venues to keep their employees solvent. A good thing (although reportedly bolloxed in its administration at the start), but it is notable that the Brits take music so seriously that they have economic analysts looking into the impact on the finances of the country overall, as well as individual workers in the industry. Strange to think that Boris Johnson is a member of the Conservative Party. When he had an alleged conservative in charge of our government it resulted in little more than embarrassment, which continues today.

Continue reading Music Matters in the UK

COVID, Tech & Cars

So Kiss cancels. Paul Stanley tests positive for COVID, then a few days later, Gene Simmons did, as well. Hard to rock and roll all nite when you have a severe respiratory illness.

BTS, quite possibly the biggest band in the world, has canceled the BTS Map of the Soul Tour, a world tour. Although the band is from the South, north of the 38th Parallel Kim Jung Un told the country’s Politburo last week that “tightening epidemic prevention is the task of paramount importance”—and it was announced that he was foregoing some vaccines being offered by the U.N.

Alan Parsons—admittedly, one of the musicians of days gone by that I had no idea still existed, which just goes to show that if you don’t think about things, for you, anyway, they don’t exist (no, not a gloss on Bishop Berkeley)—has canceled his U.S. tour.

Nine Inch Nails? Nope.

The Limited Last Minute Post Pandemic Popup Party Edition tour that Limp Bizkit was going to stage has been limited to nothing because we are no post-pandemic and consequently there is nothing much to party about.

A friend who drives from Detroit to New Orleans each year for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival told me the other day that he was set to go south, the room was booked and the car was ready for the 1,000-mile trip, that it had been canceled because of COVID. But then there was Hurricane Ida, and were it not the virus it would have certainly been the massive weather event. (He is still going down in October: he feels that it is important to support the New Orleans community with his tourist dollars.)

And speaking of Hurricane Ida, Bonnaroo was canceled due to the rain.

Plague. Rain. Whence come the locusts?

Continue reading COVID, Tech & Cars

Sitting in a Sewer

In 1722 Daniel Defoe—of Robinson Crusoe fame—published A Journal of the Plague Year: Being Observations or Memorials, Of the most Remarkable Occurrences, As well Publick and Private, which happened in London During the last Great Visitation in 1665.

The “Visitation” in question was the bubonic plague.

During that horrific event 68,596 people died. That was approximately 15% of the population of London.

According to Britannica (Wikipedia isn’t everything), “The disappearance of plague from London has been attributed to the Great Fire of London in September 1666. . . .”

There you have it. Burn the place down.

It isn’t like they were strangers to plagues. There was the Black Death of 1347 to 1350, which was a pandemic that infected much of the known world at the time. It killed an estimated 75-million to 200-million people. The bubonic plague debut, as it were. Ways people tried to cure themselves included cutting up pigeons and rubbing it on bodies; drinking vinegar (bleach, anyone?) and eating arsenic; sitting in sewers.

Just imagine if our ancestors had the opportunity to go to the local blood-letter, barber or apothecary for a couple of vaccinations.

How many of them do you think would have avoided the opportunity?

And we think we’re oh-so advanced.

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According to D. Allison Arwady, the Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner, Lollapalooza 2021 was not a “super-spreader” event. There were some 385,000 in attendance during the four-day event. Approximately two weeks later there were only 203 attendees who tested positive for COVID-19. That’s 0.05%. Of course, if you’re one of the 203 people and it turns out that you’re going to end up in an ICU, the statistics probably don’t matter much to you, any more than the people who were inflected by the bubonic plague. At least you won’t have to sit in a sewer.

While some people might think the stats from Lollapalooza are some sort of green flag for all manner of outdoor events, it is worth keeping in mind that the attendees had to follow protocols in order to attend the show:

“In accordance with City of Chicago requirements, full COVID-19 vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results will be required to attend Lollapalooza 2021.”

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Continue reading Sitting in a Sewer