Are Live Music Tours Going Extinct?

Hello everyone, Scott Asner here. Music has always been a big part of my life. While I’m in no way, shape, or form a musician, I do love music, particularly, live music. A good tune heard during a live performance can be quite transformative. Maybe it’s me. I’m Old School with things like that.

Some of my younger readers may not know, and others won’t remember, how the record industry used to work before the internet was born. It was surprisingly simple before all the bells and whistles, or e-bells and e-whistles.

Record labels contracted with artists to create albums of songs. The record label would handle all the marketing to make sure the world had a chance to hear the artist’s music, and the record label would often handle the distribution of the music through physical media such as records, tapes or CDs. The only way a person could enjoy recorded music was by buying the physical recording or by listening to the radio. With music being restricted to those pathways, people were willing to pay money to have access to it. Artists and record labels, as well as producers, engineers, mixers and masterers, could make a great living from even modest sales. They could make millions from a hit.

For obvious reasons that changed substantially when Napster began. Once people learned they could get music for free, the cat was out of the bag. Later on, with streaming, it became clear that artists could no longer support themselves purely through album sales. Which brings us right back to live performances.

I’m a huge fan of live music. It is truly the best way to experience an artist’s work, and the energy you get from a live show is simply unmatched anywhere. Nowadays, artists are really forced to spend a lot of time on the road if they are going to make any significant income. The issue I have is this: It costs a LOT of money to put together a tour and it takes a whole lot of effort from lots of people. The investment an artist makes in touring is a big risk, and if they have enough of a following to support major ticket sales, they’ll find themselves bankrupt. The desire to dedicate their lives to music may remain, but the reality on the ground will almost certainly lead them to some other field. Who knows, the world may have just lost the next Bob Dylan. So, it certainly seems live music tours are in peril. Will they vanish? Only time will tell.

~ Scott Asner, wannabe musician and Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City, Missouri.

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