The Concert Business: Still Living in the 20th Century

An interesting perspective on the live music business from Cuepoint. Damn, this hits home for me.

Imagine this: it’s the summer of 1995, you’re 15 years old, and you’re about to go see Veruca Salt open for PJ Harvey and Live. You pick up the ticket that you had to adjust your schedule to buy and head off into the crowd, where no one, from the venue owners to the band, has any idea who you are. You watch the show, mildly annoyed at the dude with the disposable camera who won’t stop taking pictures, but otherwise have a generally pleasant time. When you leave, you don’t communicate any feedback about your experience and the bands never contact you. But hey, they played “Seether” and it sounded awesome!

Fast forward nineteen years. You’re, uh, older, and heading out to see Veruca Salt headline the Music Hall of Williamsburg. You paid too much for your ticket on Stubhub because you have a job and adult responsibilities and couldn’t reschedule life to navigate the Ticketmaster website. The mildly annoying guy now has a smartphone, but other than that, nothing has changed. The venue and the band have no idea who you are. You never have an opportunity to give any feedback. “Seether” is still a killer song.

While the recorded music business has started to embrace big data, the live space lags far behind. Venues think that because you can’t download the experience of being at a live show they’ll be insulated from the challenges recorded music has faced, and on a certain level they’re right. Live streamed shows are all well and good, but there’s no way to really replicate being in the crowd when someone plays your favorite song. The problem is that much of the experience surrounding that one great moment has become so lousy that it might just not be worth it any more.

Keep going.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “The Concert Business: Still Living in the 20th Century

  • August 3, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    So what was wrong with lining up for tickets and having to rely on your memories of a concert instead of recording every second of it on your smartphone! More data does not equal a better experience.


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