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Music Industry

Why does the live music scene seem to be suffering in 2024? Let’s take a look.

[This was my weekly column for GlobalNews.ca. – AC]

The last couple of years have been great for the live music industry. After being locked up with the pandemic for a couple of years, fans splurged on concerts and festivals in an orgy of “funflation,” that sense that life’s too short and you might as well enjoy it while you can, no matter what it costs.

There were a couple of excellent years as revenues exploded, quickly returning to pre-pandemic levels. It’s now a $40 billion a year business with the top 100 tours grossing US$9.2 billion in 2023, which is nearly twice as much the US$5.5 billion grossed in 2019.

However, things are getting a little cloudy. We might have reached some kind of breaking point.

I first wrote about this problem back in April when it appeared there was a lack of enthusiasm for this year’s crop of music festivals. For the first time in years, Coachella struggled to sell out. A worrying number of Australian music festivals were cancelled. Word in the U.K. was that festival-happy Brits were sitting on their wallets, endangering many festivals. Since then, things have only become worse.

At last count, at least 40 British festivals have been called off with many others on both sides of the Atlantic either teetering or announcing that they’re done after 2024. Jennifer Lopez cancelled her entire tour. The Black Keys’ arena tour was postponed so it could be scaled down to more intimate (read: smaller) venues. Busta Rhymes called off his Blockbusta tour. After scoping out a European tour, 311 has decided to call off everything, citing “rising costs of touring overseas.” Pink and Justin Timberlake have cancelled a couple of shows each. The Jonas Brothers were going to Europe, but not anymore. Guitarist Robin Trower announced he’s staying home. I’ve heard from other mid-range acts — artists you would think could reliably draw good crowds — say that the economics of touring just don’t make any sense.

Keep reading.

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.

Alan Cross has 38427 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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