While Headline Tours Struggle, Festivals Fuel the Concert Biz Comeback

This fall the Eagles, Billy Joel and others have seen no-show rates as high as 25% for some concerts -- but outdoor festivals are a brightspot for the touring business.

While Headline Tours Struggle, Festivals Fuel the Concert Biz Comeback

BottleRock has made playing until the plug gets pulled a rite of passage at their annual Napa, Calif., festival, where the event’s 10 pm curfew is enforced with a kill switch. The sudden loss of amplified sound can be jarring, but when the crowd chimes in to close out song, like they did during this year’s Guns N’ Roses set, bellowing together “Oh, won’t you please take me ho-ome,” the inevitable viral video is marketing gold for the following year’s ticket sales.

This year, the high-energy close may have served as a confidence booster for the hard rock band, which recently made its post-pandemic return to the road to play 25 shows postponed from its 2020 tour, as well as 14 new ones in nearby markets. The act’s last big series of concerts was the Not in this Lifetime tour, which made $500 million starting in spring 2016 and became the fourth-highest-grossing in history, according to Billboard Boxscore. Since the concert business started again, however, it is having a hard time getting fans to show up. On average, 10% of fans who bought tickets to see Guns N’ Roses in 2019 and 2020 are coming to its shows, and performances planned for later this year in Mexico and Europe have been pushed back to 2022, amid worries about weak walkup sales.

At least Guns N’ Roses is in good company. This fall, the Eagles, Billy Joel, George Strait, Zac Brown and James Taylor have seen no-show rates as high as 25% for some concerts. Industry executives blame persistent fears about the spread of COVID-19 in indoor venues, even among those who are vaccinated, as well as competition with a flood of other concerts, festivals and destination events. Even for shows that sold out already, that means fewer bodies in seats, as well as weaker food, beverage and merchandise sales – plus a blow to the ability for bookers and promoters to plan ahead.

Festivals like BottleRock, which sold out “in a matter of minutes” this year company officials say, are a bright spot in the post-pandemic music business, with the majority of such events increasing their attendance over 2019 levels, according to Live Nation’s most recent earnings report. One reason: Outdoor festivals are perceived to be safer than indoor shows. They also provide much better value.

“Fans can see so many more acts at a festival for the same price they would pay to attend a big headline tour,” says Bobby Dee, who’s producing the Once Upon a Time in LA festival in December, which features Snoop Dogg, The Game and Al Green and sold out in less than 24 hours. “They are coming out the pandemic and making the decision that they don’t want to spend two hours watching one artist play their set and encore. They want the freedom to roam the event and curate their own experience.”

With this in mind, artists are rethinking their touring plans for next year and beyond. In most cases, traditional headline concerts pay artists a guaranteed minimum, after which ticket revenue is split with the promoter, which means both sides share risk. Festivals instead offer acts a flat payment, regardless of subsequent ticket sales. That’s appealing to booking agents, who are worried about exposing their clients to risks as the concert business re-opens. It also gives some festivals the chance to book once-in-a-lifetime headliners like Stevie Nicks, who was booked to perform at BottleRock.

It can also mean paying huge fees to book headline talent that might not bring in the kind of ticket sales organizers hoped for.

In the case of BottleRock, weeks before the event, Nicks announced she couldn’t perform because of “rising COVID cases,” which left organizers to find a replacement big enough to placate customers and hopefully prevent refund requests that would put the festival in financial jeopardy. They secured Chris Stapleton, but he too pulled out the night before he was supposed to take the stage, blaming an unspecified illness. Brandi Carlile, who was already on the lineup, ended up filing in by flying in members of The Highwomen and singer Yola for a special set of their songs and covers. After all that, organizers say refund requests were minimal, speaking to the importance of the festival experience beyond headlining acts. But it shows how festivals may now need multiple backup plans.

“If festivals continue to dominate in 2021, the major management companies might need to think about creating an on-call network of alternate acts that can step in at the last minute to high profile slots if something goes wrong,” said one agency source at the event. “We’ve got to prepare for a music business that’s going to require more flexibility and contingencies.”


Source : Billboard More   

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R&B/Hip-Hop Fresh Picks of the Week: Maxo Kream, Dijon, Cozz & More

Listen to 10 new must-hear songs from emerging hip-hop and R&B artists like Maxo Kream, Dijon and Cozz, all released within the last week.

R&B/Hip-Hop Fresh Picks of the Week: Maxo Kream, Dijon, Cozz & More

The spookiest day of the year is less than a week away and we’ve got some tracks that are sure to make your Halloween kickback one to remember. From the laid-back alt-energy of Sam Austins and Keshi to Maxo Kream’s latest gritty release alongside A$AP Rocky, we’ve got the tracks you’ll need to carry you through the next seven days.

Don’t forget to share the wealth with our Spotify playlist, linked below.

Maxo Kream ft. A$AP Rocky, “STREETS ALONE”

Featuring a haunting choral loop, Maxo Kream’s “STREETS ALONE,” from the Texas rapper’s latest album, Weight Of The World, captures a feeling of solitude tucked between thumping 808s and active percussion. Starting strong with a menacing feature from A$AP Rocky, the mic is seamlessly passed to Kream, who lays out witty lines slathered in his thick tone.

cultgabe, “Stay”

Making his official appearance on the alt-scene, San Diego’s cultgabe delivers his debut EP, nowherefast. “Stay,” the project’s fourth track, features raw trap drums and a rap-like cadence layered with rock guitar progressions, capturing the artist’s genre-fusing sound.

Don Q, “Say That”

On “Say That,” Bronx rapper Don Q wants full transparency. “She want Chanel, just say that/ Your hair and your nails, just say that,” he raps in his gritty, laid-back tone. The track’s production is bouncy and fresh, combined with echoing adlibs and a catchy guitar loop.

Wet ft. Blood Orange, “Bound”

Indie pop group Wet taps in with Blood Orange for the R&B infused “Bound.” The track is vibey and sweet, with singer Kelly Zutrau’s layered vocals dancing across the percussive beat.

Sam Austins, “SUMMER HEAT”

Alt-artist Sam Austins peers back into his hip-hop beginnings on “SUMMER HEAT.” The chill deep cut from Austins’ debut album with Atlantic Records delves into his hopes, prayers and wishes atop the Thibault Ruellan-produced beat. “Another day another dollar in the system like f–k it, another day another n—a in the system is nothing,” he raps.

Chris Patrick, “Insane”

New Jersey rapper Chris Patrick is back with another single, and this time around he’s going “Insane.” The spooky new track proves the young artist’s versatility as he raps with a quick cadence and Kendrick Lamar-esque tone.

Flwr Chyld & Grimm Lynn, “Do 2 Me”

Atlanta artists Flwr Chyld and Grimm Lynn linked for their soulful new single, “Do 2 Me.” On the sexually charged groove, the two sing about craving a “lil mama from the South/ a Georgia peach, [who] got that twang.”

Dijon, “Rodeo Clown”

Los Angeles-via-Baltimore artist Dijon is mourning the one that got away on his new single, “Rodeo Clown.” His raspy croons paired over forlorn guitar strums bring out his soulful, yet borderline strained vocals, as he laments, “so what are you so afraid of?/ ’cause you’re missing out on good, good lovin’.” The plaintive single is the first off his forthcoming album, Absolutely.

Cozz, “Fortunate”

Cozz is grateful for his life on his new single, “Fortunate.” The introspective track finds Dreamville’s lone West Coast lyricist reflecting on his near-death experiences and pleading for his peers to stay off the streets. “Live my life on the edge/ I’m surprised I’m alive, when I prayed, He heard every word I said… Lord knows I could be dead, stay out these streets/ They can only make you bleed,” he rap-sings.

Keshi, “Somebody”

On “Somebody,” Keshi proves that he can provide healing in more ways than one. Over a beat laced with subtle 808 hits and an acoustic guitar, the Houston nurse-turned-singer is at his lover’s beck-and-call by asserting that he is the go-to “somebody” for sexual healing. “You needed somebody, baby put it on me/ I can be that body, I can be that body,” Keshi sings.

Source : Billboard More   

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