Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cancelled Tours Suggest Brutal Summer For Touring Acts

Link HT: Steve Bartin
Cancelled shows and tours by usually reliable marquee artists like Christina Aguilera, the Eagles, U2 (due to Bono's back surgery), Sarah McLachlan's Lilith Fair, Rhianna, John Mayer, Limp Bizkit, and the Go-Go's seem to belie the fact that the live music business is taking a beating this summer. Multi-act festivals like Bamboozle and the Country Throwdown Tour pulled the plug on some dates, while other tours by what were considered hot acts are experiencing slumping sales, among them Jonas Brothers and Kings Of Leon, according to sources.

Rumblings of a tough year for touring began a couple of months ago, with predictions ranging from "mediocre" to "bloodbath." Two main culprits may be at fault in what is shaping up as possibly the worst summer for touring since the mid 1990s: ticket prices and traffic. At the center of the storm is Live Nation, which controls the majority of summer touring, particularly at the amphitheater level.

Ticket prices have been a thorn in the industry's side for years, and ticket prices are a direct function of how much the act is being paid. Live Nation's detractors say the company pays artists unreasonably high guarantees in order to gain market share and keep its amphitheaters programmed and tap into ancillary revenues like concessions, sponsorships and parking. When an estimated 70% of touring traffic occurs during the warm months, ticket prices become more sensitive, as fans are forced to make choices as to which shows they will see.