Touring’s major challenges and opportunities explored at Music Biz
A panel at the 65th edition of the Music Biz Conference in Nashville tackled one of the music industry’s most important and vexing topics, “Touring Challenges & Opportunities: How Can We Save Live Music?”
Hypebot Exclusive by David Benjamin De Cristofaro
The conversation was a part of the Backstage Pass: Analyzing Live Music’s Future, programming presented in conjunction with Billboard and was introduced by Senior Director for Live + Touring at Billboard Dave Brooks and moderated by MIDiA Research Music Industry Analyst & Consultant, Tatiana Cirisano.
Joining them were Co-Founder & Managing Partner of Bandsintown, Fabrice Sergent, Q Prime Head of Touring Fielding Logan, and CEO of Minneapolis’ First Avenue and Board Chair of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) Dayna Frank.
The panel’s name highlighted the disparity in reports about the state of touring, which can differ depending on who you ask or what you read. While panels at Pollstar Live! earlier this year highlighted the successful return of touring, those of Production Live! Highlighted continued issues of supply chain, rising costs, and contract staffing which present obstacles to that resurgence.
“The reason for having this conversation is I think we’ve seen a lot of differing information coming out,” noted MIDiA’s Tatiana Cirisano. “On the one hand, we see Live Nation and other touring giants report record-breaking revenue; we are also seeing lots of artists cancel their tours or admit it’s just not financially sustainable, or sustainable mentally.”
Even Roger Daltrey recently made headlines stating that The Who may never tour America again on account of the costs. At the Pollstar touring industry gathering, it was noted that more major acts were playing festivals and events with venues that provide backline to offset the costs of bringing production out on the road. The issues extend downward from larger tour venues as well.
“some of the local stuff is definitely struggling”
“I think from our perspective from the club and theater business, it’s a little bit streaky,” stated Dayna Frank of First Avenue and NIVA. “Like the big shows are doing really well, and there seems to be no price cap for shows people really want to go to, and some of the local stuff is definitely struggling.”
The costs and supply, as well as many resources being booked, have proven restrictive to some artists who aren’t on major tours and club-level venues.
“Everything from insurance to labor, to cost of goods, to energy, like everything seems to be up across the board,” Frank added.
Despite the rising costs and shortage of resources, as well as in supply chain and shipping, the demand for live music has remained high.
“500,000 events to choose from… a record high”
“We see more shows listed than ever before; last year, we were already saying that there are more artists on tour than ever before, and that was true,” said Fabrice Sergent, sharing data based on Bandsintown”s 570,000 registered artists and 77 million live music fans. “Now we see globally all countries opened, so we have at any moment in time right now close to 500,000 events that people can choose from. And so that’s a record high.”
In the US and abroad, issues include demand versus scarcity (such was the case with Taylor Swift’s tour) as well as oversaturation and competition in the live event market.
Still, tickets are selling around the globe.
“In terms of engagement and ticket sales, we (Bandsintown) send about $14 million people every month to buy tickets to ticketing companies and venues,” Sergent added. “In terms of actual sales and engagements, we see a jump which is pretty significant, close to 85% versus last year, and last year was really, really high compared to 2019.”
David Benjamin De Cristofaro is a recent grad ‘available-for-hire’ who achieved National success as an award-winning student of Music Business, Tech, Marketing, and Economics at The University of The Arts and Berklee College of Music. While in school, he met with members of Congress in advocacy with The Recording Academy, worked with some of the largest artists, tours, and festivals in Music, and on creative experience projects and solutions for NARAS, the Capitol Records Innovation Center, Fender, Bose, MusiCares, Spotify, and Republic Records. He has served as an international speaker at universities and conferences. He spent the pandemic writing journalism pieces on immersive and fan experience ecosystems and researching emerging ticket models + solutions, while also contributing to USA Today SMG.