By Scott Perry of New Music Tipsheet.
It's time for a lot of bands of a certain age to stop tour planning and start estate planning.
Start thinking about how to craft and preserve your legacy, and how you can rope in Elvis-size dollars in your later days without having to license your image on a series of plates sold to Beanie Baby hoarders.
Start thinking about how you can use Spotify, YouTube / Vevo, Facebook / Instagram, Twitter / Vine, PledgeMusic, SoundCloud and whatever else comes down the pipeline to whisper to the core so those fans can do the preaching for you in the years to come.
Lay down a foundation now for the next 50 years, so the ship keeps sailing long after you've gone.
The Stones can wrap up this tour with a pocket full of loot, but we all know the truth about the actual ticket sales. Bygones. Just secure your legacy with a couple of massive festival / stadium gigs (Glastonbury, Rio, Japan), come back around with a handful of secret club shows in the US and Europe, then do one last invite-only show at a club in the UK, broadcast it on Vevo, call it a day. No special guest stars, no fancy effects, no encores, just raw sweat, some acoustic numbers, a scorching finale, lots of hugs & tears.
Play solo gigs or make special appearances at others' shows if you gotta scratch that itch, but do not come back and play for the Washington Wizards.
Fleetwood Mac & Pledge Music
Fleetwood Mac just made an EP available through iTunes this past week, and all I could think was, "Why the hell didn't they run this through PledgeMusic?" Yes, I know iTunes has a mailing list to die for, and it probably helps catalog sales, and all this is still tied to a decades-long relationship with Warners. I get it.
But man, they could have set up a Pledge campaign to promote this EP months ago, tied it to special events around their tour dates, offered a wide range of perks, AND opened a new pipeline of revenue with their hardcore fans that they can continually go back to regardless of an album or concert cycle.
Yes, the Mac has a TON of existing arrangements they must respect, but this stuff needs to be figured out -- there are hundreds of large bands who have years of unreleased content that may not be economically viable to release on a wide scale, but can generate healthy revenue if properly, respectfully marketed to their biggest fans.
A lot of people think that the dust is settled, that the release roadmap has presented itself for the next decade. But don't be fooled -- we have not even begun to scratch the surface of the amount of revenue that can be mined in the coming years.
The biggest challenge is to break through the clutter so that developing acts can blossom in a media-flooded environment, and how established acts can preserve their legacy in the coming decades.
I just spent this past Friday at Disneyland for the first time ever, and man, if everybody there wasn't spending money hand over fist on everything, even on properties that were over 60 years old, properties that haven't seen the light of day in decades.
And you can say, "But that's Disney, they're masters at that, they spend millions to promote and cross-promote their stuff all the time." Well, get to it. Use market data to understand your hottest properties, and manage risk to make millions off your biggies yet still keep revenues rolling for your smaller properties.
But along the way, establish and protect your legacy, and realize that whispering to the base is just as important as screaming to the masses.
PS, by no means am I suggesting that every act over 60 just stop touring, in fact I know a lot of artists *have* to keep touring just to pay the bills. But work closely with your agent and your manager to gauge demand, know when to go for the dollars, know when to leave money on the table, and prod your keepers to explore every avenue possible to craft your mythology for the long run, as well as to bring in new revenue streams. Some summers may be a shed tour with a full band, some seasons may be a couple of festival dates + a solo acoustic campus tour with Q&A's + house shows for Pledgers + a trip to NYC, Chicago, and LA to play private gigs for ad agencies. No matter what, no one can keep doing the same thing over & over and expect the same returns anymore.