Is Live Music Dying?

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Most people fall in one of two categories: those who couldn’t live without going to live concerts and shows, and those who just don’t really care.

When did you last go to a gig? Even if you’re someone who loves to see their favorite bands performing, it’s undeniable that many people are being deterred by high ticket costs. Former Music Week editor Tim Ingham told The Guardian back in 2013 that promoters often bump up prices to create further demand when concerts are selling well. This seems to highlight that it’s not about the music and is more about the money. That’s pretty sad.

Across America, venues are closing. Take the iconic CBGB venue in New York, often hailed as the birthplace of rock’n’roll as we know it. Mike Jones told Hypebot that he believes there’s a generational shift. Young American fans don’t have disposable income, and once they’ve bought a ticket they still need money for merch and drinks. They are happier having a drink at home, and sometimes get into gig-going habit later in their adult lives, meaning the live music culture is disappearing. Perhaps this is why the top 50 American tours grossed 15% less in 2010 than in 2009, also according to HypeBot.

America isn’t alone in that phenomenon. London, another musically significant city seems to be the same. The Music Venues Trust of the British capital has observed that grassroots live music venues were in decline across London by 35% between 2007 and 2015. Of the 430 venues that were open, only 245 remain. This means that the 44,000 UK jobs in that industry as recently as 2008 have now seen a decline in numbers as well. However, London isn’t alone or by any means unique in that respect. Some of the UK’s most incredible music venues have suffered in recent years and fans have felt the loss of iconic venues. Mark Davyd of the Trust says that he understands why it’s happening. It all boils down to money. The Tunbridge Wells Forum as a venue, for example, is valued at just 31% of the figure it would reach if used for apartments. This isn’t just happening in Britain, it’s happening worldwide – and America isn’t immune.

Is The Music Scene Really Dead?

Statista has obtained figures from the PwC which show that live music ticket sales revenue in the US is projected to grow from 7.02 billion U.S. dollars in 2014 to 8.73 billion in 2019. Looking again at our friends across the pond, the introduction of a Live Music Act in the UK in October 2015 aims to protect small capacity venues of 200 people or less. The UK Music website believes that this policy will be a real boost to the live music economy. So, it’s not all doom and gloom after all.

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There’s also good news in other respects as well. The music scene is actually more alive than ever, thanks to technology. Its omnipresence is incredibly apparent and this is taking off all over the world, even in emerging markets. According to the IFPI, 46% of the music industry’s revenue actually comes from digital channels. Music streaming is especially popular and 34% of the revenue in 2015 was coming from them alone as reported by Time.

When you’re streaming using online platforms, you can literally set a soundtrack to your life. From the chilled out moments to the important things, there’s always a track for you. Or, even better for some people, a curated playlist ready for your auditory pleasure. And there certainly is a lot of them out there. For instance, neuroscientists believe that classical music can heighten positive emotions in our brain and make us better performers. Looking at poker pro Jorge Limon’s poker tournament playlist, it’s quite apparent that he agrees. Apparently classical music helps him concentrate, although he’s also thrown in little Nine Inch Nails in there! His curated playlist is just one of many poker pro playlists recently published by PokerStars in collaboration with Spotify. Limon is not alone on the whole “music being important for sports players” front – NFL player Von Miller said he “loses himself” to Phil Collins, and “gets hyped” to Nirvana’s Lithium. Plus, the England football team confessed to “getting pumped” to the likes of Bastille, Drake… and even One Direction. Scientists at Brunel University also teamed up with Spotify, to come up with the optimum workout playlist, as reported by the Telegraph. All this is of course just the tip of the iceberg. Thanks to playlisting, we can all set our adventures to the music to suit our mood and tastes.

What Is Music Streaming & Why Is It Huge?

Music streaming is a way to listen to music through the internet. Users are usually offered a choice to either pay for such services, or to simply stream for free. Music streaming sites’ appeal comes from the fact that they’re highly accessible and cross-platform. They’re also more affordable than other options, with the market leader, Spotify, reporting that 60 million of their 75 million subscribers as of the end of 2015 opted for their completely free, slightly limited service.

So what makes such platforms so great? As we’ve seen above, playlists have become a really popular option and sites like Spotify and Tidal allows people to design their very own and share them with the world. Gone are the days of carting around several CDs or painstakingly burning a mix CD (or even mixtape!). 70% of the global population will have a smartphone by 2020, says TechCrunch. This means that a lot of people can carry theirs around. So, if you’ve always imagined yourself staring out of a train window to some thoughtful music at a poignant moment in your life, you now can! TechCrunch also say that Spotify users create or edit a staggering 5 million playlists PER DAY!

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As far back as 2011, music studios began to work with services like Spotify, realizing that they’re not the bad guys of the industry. Indeed, they may well be able to save it. Just like Netflix has infiltrated the film industry; music streaming has now become synonymous with the music industry. It’s not going anywhere!

Is Music Streaming The Industry’s Only Savior?

The idea of holding a tangible copy of an old-fashioned record is also becoming exciting to a lot of people. Thanks to Record Store Day making it cool to own a record in a vintage way, more and more people are buying physical 12″ and 7″ records. The BBC reports that vinyl sales managed to hit an 18-year high in 2014, and Forbes reported just months ago that vinyl sales surged a massive 30% in 2015 alone. Vinyl has truly made its comeback with young people!

Plus, if you think it’s all about hipsters, you’re wrong. There’s even a Frozen vinyl. Although, there’s probably a Frozen *everything*.

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 The Music Industry In Five Years

Who knows where the music industry will be in five years? It’s clear to see that those within the industry need to continue to capitalize on the trends of the moment in order to remain commercially successful. Whether this is through advertising revenue, ensuring vinyl copies are available, or simply making sure bands are on streaming platforms, it’s all about staying ahead of the game. And live music? Well, it’s pretty clear that audiences all over the world are still interested in music, so all the live gig industry has to do is find a way to adapt to the times. It can happen and we’ll certainly be sorry if it doesn’t.

 

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