Monthly Wrap-Up: What You Loved The Most May Surprise You

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As I stood behind Evander Holyfield and scoped out his famously gnawed ears and watched Naomi Judd crawl across the floor cracking jokes in a VIP suite; and listened to Jewel struggle through the National Anthem at the Indy 500 on Sunday, I thought to myself ‘Now, I know the Judd family and Jewel love live music but what about Evander?  And then right after I wondered that I thought ‘Wow…May was a really great month for live music.’

And like Dario Franchitti (he won the Indy 500), the month just blewbymesofast.

Over the last thirty days, so much life-altering, mind-blowing touring news and all-consuming concert fan and band action occurred.

We tried to keep up with it all here at Live Fix and we hope you enjoyed our concerted spin on things and had fun slurping down what we served up.

But did you catch it all?

Did you peep the inspiring secrets of a summer music festival dancing swarm?

Did you learn how some of the most popular music festival mobile apps are made?

Did you hear about that exploding band from Chicago?

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Live Fix Weekly Wrap-Up: A Lot Can Happen In Six Days (or Six Years)

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Summer’s just around the corner and I can’t believe how fast this week went by. Speaking of how fast time goes by, Colleen and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary yesterday.

And while we waited for dinner to come to our table we talked about all the great live music experiences we’ve had since we’ve been married. And though it endearingly captures a slice of the romantic dinner we had at Le Colonial in Chicago, this picture I took also reminds me why Colleen is the one taking the pictures and I’m the one writing the words when we cover concerts.

In addition to celebrating our wedding anniversary, I’d also like to celebrate a great week on Live Fix with this weekly wrap up, including live music news about Live Nation Q1 Losses and Immigration Laws, Mother’s Day and Sasquatch Festival Dancing Guy interviews, sensual eye experiments and news about upcoming baseball park concerts featuring Eminem and Jay-Z.

You’ll also want to check out the recent updates to our Live Fix summer music festival iPhone apps guide and the Foursquare fan and venue call-out experiment.
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Did the Concert Industry Survive 2009?

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I’m not a big numbers guy but when I read the year-end numbers issued by Live Nation, AEG Live and other promoters, I thought it’d be a good idea for us to take a stroll through them just to make sure that the live music industry didn’t die and everyone made it through 2009 alive.

We’ll also lay to rest a few fan-centric issues and see why consumer protection groups are digging a grave for the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger.

What do concert promoters year-end numbers reveal?

First, according to Billboard, here are the 2009 Year-End Numbers for the North American Market, two top concert promoters and independent promoters.

North American Market

$2.8 billion in box office

down 2% and the 50 million in paid attendance is down less 1.7%

“numbers were generated from a 9% decrease in the number of shows reported”

The Billboard reports mentions that “a more positive indicator is a show-by-show analysis of the year.”  I’m not exactly sure what “show-by-show” means.

But they seem to be trying to put a positive spin on things by saying that “worldwide, average gross and attendance per show are up 11.3% and 11.8%, respectively. In North America, average per-show gross and attendance are up 7.6% and 8%, respectively.”

And what about the world’s two biggest concert promoters?

Well, it’s jarring how big a gap there is between the two’s 2009 numbers, which makes the merger all the more an important decision pending for 2010 ( All $ numbers are gross).

Live Nation (world’s largest concert promoter)

  • $2.5 billion
  • 41 million in attendance from 9,085 shows
  • 25% increase in gross and a 19% increase in attendance
  • 1.6% decrease in shows from 2008

AEG Live (2nd largest promoter)

  • $888 million
  • 12.8 million attendance from 2,531 shows
  • 12% decrease in gross and a 9% increase in shows
  • $1 billion gross, 14.5 million attendance 2,324 shows in 2008

Independent promoters:

Chicago’s Jam Productions

2009: $78 million

2008: $53 million

Austin’s C3 Presents

2009: $60 million

2008: $50 million

Consumer Protection Groups Chime In

Earlier this month consumer protection groups spoke about the issue of secondary markets (or ticket scalpers) as it related to the pending Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger:

Then again, ticket prices have steadily increased with the competition that currently exists in the marketplace. Primary tickets cost more for many reasons, but the fact is today’s ticket prices better reflect how consumers value the concerts. Companies should not be stopped from extracting existing value. On the other hand, the rise of the secondary market has caused the final prices paid by actual attendees to increase, too. Consumer protection groups were fairly quiet as states relaxed laws prohibiting scalping. Those changes paved the way for today’s secondary market and higher prices for consumers. So, one has to wonder if these groups are truly against higher prices for consumers or if they would oppose any merger regardless of its benefits or drawbacks.

As Billboard reporter Ray Waddle points out, we all want to end on a positive note in 2009, right?

Despite an extremely challenging economy, the global concert business managed to put solid numbers in 2009, a testament to both the resiliency of the business and the enduring popularity of live music.

Yes, considering the year that we had economically, I’d say the concert industry did as good as it could. Live Nation still came out on top even though they offered a year-long discounted  pricing option. And AEG Live seems to be holding a strong but distant second, even though they took a significant hit with Michael Jackson’s canceled concerts. We’ll have to wait and see if AEG Live’s 3D theatrical concerts will give them an edge in 2010.

Like I said before, I’m not a big numbers guy and I know it’s easy for fans to glaze over the numbers and only focus on the escapism of live music.

But, as a fellow fan, I share these numbers so you can at least have a better idea of what’s going on at the top level, so we can all make more informed decisions with our wallets.

What are your year-end numbers and 2010 forecasts?

Did you go to less shows than you did in 2008?

Do we still need to destroy the live music industry or create a FANS program?

Did you think the summer music festival layaway programs helped the concert industry and fans?

Will the U.S. Department of Justice approve the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger?

Photo by Colleen Catania

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Stuff Your Face (Before) Thanksgiving with Live Music News

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LFNewsMouth1

Are you a hungry live music fan?

I hope so.

Because I have 3 succulent and satifying live music news stories that’ll get you primed for the big feast later this week.

You can start the face-stuffing early as I dish out a meaty live music meal that’s simmering with stories that made my mouth water over the last couple weeks.

In other words, consider this a warm-up to get your belly ready for Turkey Day. 

What’s on the menu?

First, for appetizers, I have updates to both the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger and the back story to Michael Jackson’s This is It.

And then for the main course we’ll jab our fork and knife and cut into the wonderful world of fan/user-generated content as LiveNation.com overhauls its site to continue their interactive and social media efforts.

Live Nation-Ticketmaster Merger

I’ve been keeping a close eye on the Live Nation Ticketmaster merger ever since it was announced. And since the last update this summer, it’s been pretty quiet on the merger front.  It’s not a huge announcement but earlier this month Live Nation and Ticketmaster announced they will have a shareholders meeting January 8th to vote on the merger.  

That’s nice that they’ve picked a day to vote internally for the shareholders, but what really matters is what the U.S. Department of Justice says when they finally weigh on the merger of the “world’s largest concert promoter and ticket seller by volume.”  I don’t expect any big news to come out in December but it’ll be a top story that I’ll continue to follow and keep you updated on as we roll into 2010.

Go behind This Is It:

I always love  getting the back story. And at the Billboard Touring Conference AEG executives shared some of the “behind-the-scenes” info on the production of Michael Jackson’s This Is It.

Here are my favorite parts of the story that show Jackson’s commitment to remain the true concert King of Pop, the dedication of fans and how AEG Live always makes sure distance themselves from any responsibility for Jackson’s death. It’s also interesting how the number of shows mystery continues to grow with each report.

  • The Jackson/AEG partnership resulted in a contract that initially included 31 dates, a number chosen by Jackson because it would be 10 more concerts than Prince performed. The number planned shows at the 02 Arena in London later grew to 50.
  • After deciding to go forward with a film, and with major studios lining up to bid on the rights, “the biggest concern was that something would leak on the Internet and destroy the value of the intellectual property,” Phillips says. “That’s why I’ve never seen security like this in my life. It was like working in the Pentagon.”
  • Phillips says that 14% of ticket holders held on to their tickets, which were designed by Jackson himself.

New User-Generated LiveNation.com:  Good for business and fans?

From music to hard news sites, user-generated content has been trending as the way to go for bands, brands and concert promoters.

And with the growing popularity of social media  and the advance of mobile technology, it’s never been easier for concert fans to capture and document their live concert experiences.  

As I mentioned before I’ve been checking  out SPINearth’s and Verizon‘s approach and I’ve enjoyed being able to see a wide range of emotional insights from fans that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to see.  

Yes, the quality of the videos or the storytelling might not be the best, but I’ll tell you that I’ve learned  a lot about what fans focus on during the concert, which in some cases, helps me write better reviews and understand why we love live music so much.

As I’ve studied these user-generated content sites more this year, I’ve wondered about the true motives of the creators and developers. I wonder if it’s a crafty guise for promotion and market research.  When I say this I’m thinking about Live Nation’s recently overhauled site as Billboard reports

Artists will be able to upload details of their own concerts, for instance, which will appear with the artists LiveNation is promoting. Fans will be able to submit entries to artist-specific wiki pages, ratings and reviews, moderate Q&As and integrate their Twitter feed to the LiveNation site.

That all sounds great.

But I have my doubts, too.

Are they really creating a community where fans have more  power and  expressive freedom?

Or is Live Nation only interested in creating a slick market/research model that’s designed to find out more about their customers buying habits than their love for live music?

I’ll give Live Nation the benefit of the doubt for now and say that it’s probably a mix of both because many of those working on Live Nation’s new fan section are not just savvy business people but are dedicated music fans themselves.

 

LiveNationnewsite

Live Nation's New Fan Section

For the most part, I’m all for fans having a way to share their experiences on these user-generated content site because it does give fans a voice.  I just want to make sure all the voices are heard and their not being filtered or censored in a way that hurts fans.

That said, as savvy concert fans, we should always be on the lookout and not get wooed into a completely mindless and relaxed state of entertainment. We should always be asking ourselves, are we being taken advantage of and does Live Nation really care about our life-changing concert experiences?

I consider it a huge honor and a privilege to hear and share your concert stories. I just hope that Live Nation feels the same way.

In addition to Live Nation’s new website, I’ve also been following their Facebook fan page  and Twitter updates for awhile and I look forward to sharing what I find with you, too.

That’s all the live music news for now.

Did I miss anything?

Still hungry?

Tell me all about it in the comments.

 

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