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NEAR TRUTHS:
ALL THAT GLITTERS

ALL THAT GLITTERS ISN’T GOLD: The current touring landscape offers a fascinating snapshot of how, in 2020, the live and recorded economies often look like they’re moving in opposite directions. Several pop artists with hits at radio and on the DSP charts are stinking up the joint with their latest on-sales, and there’s considerable chatter about how poorly one superstar—also rich in streams and spins—is faring on a current tour.

Some of these shortfalls are being attributed to making the move from arenas to stadiums before it’s time. Others pin some of the blame on bundling, as tickets go on sale in time to goose first-week chart numbers—but before the act has heated the marketplace up enough to drive demand. By contrast, one example of an expertly deployed bundle is Harry Styles’ arena tour, which has turned out to be a very hot ticket indeed, with five MSGs, three Forums, two O2s and two arena shows each in Chicago, Atlanta and Toronto. Styles has hit this new peak in part because, unlike many acts in the pop space, he hasn’t been everywhere—he eschewed doing features on other records and limited his social presence while off cycle, which has helped keep fan hunger high.

NOSTALGIA POWER: Meanwhile, a number of legacy acts with deep catalogs—whose streaming numbers are negligible, and who haven’t had a new radio hit in a dog’s age—are doing boffo business on the road. These acts, many of them rock bands, enjoy large upper-demo audiences who may limit such costly expenditures to one or two per year—and they open their wallets to hear their all-time favorite artist play the hits. And the most successful legacy tours have been nostalgia-rich packages such as James Taylor with Jackson Browne, Steely Dan with Steve Winwood, and Bon Jovi with Bryan Adams; expect the newly announced Santana-Earth Wind & Fire trek to have similar impact, as these momentous combinations of beloved stars create can’t-miss stirrings in aging fans. Younger-skewing pop stars may lack a sufficient number of hits to incentivize a hefty ticket purchase, even if the hits they’ve scored still have young listeners leaning on the button.

These aren’t intractable rules, of course—a few big legacy acts are experiencing softer ticket sales (Guns N’ Roses and Janet Jackson being conspicuous examples), as are two big country acts. In some cases the drop-off is a consequence of having played the concert circuit so often in the last few years. Meanwhile, pop icon Taylor Swift, who still has massive traction in the current marketplace, is commanding top dollar at her four nearly sold-out U.S. stadium engagements (two at Gillette and two at L.A.’s new SoFi Stadium, which she’s opening), not to mention her Hyde Park appearance in London.

But for truly brisk action on the live scene, all eyes are on comedy, where established stars like Dave Chappelle and Kevin Hart and breakouts like Sebastian Maniscalco, Jo Koy and Gabriel Iglesias are simply murdering it in arenas—without bands, sets or backup dancers. Netflix and YouTube are serving as a powerful launchpad for standup brands, which are further established with podcasts and other extensions.

A much more urgent complication has now been tossed into this (and every other) mix, however, as the Coronavirus appears to hit pandemic status. The spread of the disease has already roiled the stock market and prompted serious restrictions on travel. What kind of affect will it have on SXSW (which so far says the show will go on, minus a few partners—notably Facebook and Twitter) and Coachella, with all of its tickets already sold? The consensus among top promoters, managers and agents is that it’s too soon to tell how this will  impact the upcoming season, from 200-cap clubs to 70k cap stadium shows and outdoor festivals. What precautions will arena and other venue owners have to take to ensure people’s safety at sporting and other live events, with tens of millions of tickets already sold for the season?

 

BLACKOUT TUESDAY: HOW THE MAJORS RESPONDED
(6/5a)
HARLESTON, HABTEMARIAM LAUNCH UMG TASK FORCE
(6/5a)
SONY MUSIC SETS UP $100M FUND
(6/5a)
10K OPENS FUND TO AID BLACK YOUTH
(6/5a)
BLACK MUSIC MONTH: THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED
(6/5a)
WHAT NEXT?
The biz ponders action after some reflection.
GRAMMY SPECULATION
100% guaranteed to be somewhat accurate, probably.
BLACK MUSIC MONTH
...continues.
TRUMP'S IN THE BUNKER
Just to inspect it, though.
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