Why Rock Is Still King On The Concert Circuit

1While hip hop may reign supreme when it comes to the music charts, the concert circuit is a very different situation, and while rock music may be waning accordng to a lot of metrics, the genre continues to dominant live music.


Guest post by Bobby Owsinski of Music 3.0

If you were to believe the music press, the only thing in music that’s hot these days is hip hop. While that may be true when it comes to the charts, rock is far from dead when it comes to the concert circuit, and in fact clobbers most other music genres in terms of ticket sales.

Hip-hop and R&B is indeed America’s most popular genre and accounts for 38% of on-demand audio streams in the U.S. these days versus 20% for rock. It’s a different story when it comes to concerts however, as a Billboard ranking found that there were 3 times as many rock as hip hop acts in the top 50 highest paid music acts, and touring accounted for 80% of their total revenue.

Of the $5 billion in revenue generated from touring last year by the top 100 acts worldwide, rock accounted for 55% compared with just 11% for hip hop and R&B (which are considered the same category, fairly or not), according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from Pollstar. In fact, the only two R&B/hip hop acts to break the top 25 global touring acts were Bruno Mars and the Weeknd.

2But why the disparity? It turns out there are a few reasons for rock’s continued dominance of the concert hall. For one, the genre had a huge head start and has generated a huge fanbase as a result. In fact, many rock fans now consider a trip to see their favorite artist as a yearly event akin to a vacation or holiday. Second, there are far fewer giant hip hop/R&B tours even by older stars of the genre. This may be because of demand or the fact that the acts aren’t as accustomed to touring on a large scale. Finally, hip hop is more popular with a younger audience that doesn’t necessarily have the financial ability to pay what many consider inflated ticket prices. Touring has turned into a big business and not every artist can break into the upper reaches of top money makers.

The worry of the live music industry is what will happen when the rock legends like The Stones and Paul McCartney no longer tour. Who will be there to take their place? People crave live music and nature abhors a vacuum, so it won’t be long until the gap is filled with new talent bringing in the same big money. Only the faces will be different.

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1 Comment

  1. There are many reasons why this is the case, yes the obvious being the cost factor for the ticket. The outlying reasons that this article and people in general are refusing to face are right there.
    1) Most if not ALL the big hip-hop songs have one or more “featured” artist, lets call it what it is…duets. Said artists appear on more than one release, so to tour for one artist that means taking another artist or artists along for what? A partial stage moment then sit around? Said artist would be unable to perform with the other releases they are featured on. Why not package them all on one bill and tour that you ask? Cost factor alone would crush that idea in a moment.
    2) Being that in general as the article stated the albums are usually 15+ tracks. There is really NOT enough quality tracks to tour behind so each tour would be what? A greatest hits tour if that? Add the above mentioned issue and thats another hold back.
    3) Take away the “show” and have the artist just perform in front of a DJ or beat track programmer as done in the old school days. NO one will pay to see the artist, production costs to give “the video” live where as rock/country artists come out, play songs live and have video screens and lights some pyro thats all and perform.
    All the above are solid 3 reasons why, but more important is the following from the article: “If you were to believe the music press, the only thing in music that’s hot these days is hip hop.” Thats an issue as well, ANYONE can post an opinion about music and call themselves a reviewer with no real skill set or knowledge of music in general. Music needs critics again that are artists/music aficionados like we had with Lester Bangs and Leggs McNeil and when Cream Magazine was honest. I respect David Fricke but even he has gotten soft as to not offend or be honest enough. Nuclear Blast can post a video at noon and by 3pm have over a half million views….yet no one knows about it.


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