Live Event Economies

Today, we learnt about live event economies.  A lot of people will already know that there’s been a reversal in the recorded music economy and the live music economy.  For established acts, live music represents around 2/3 of their income.  At the start of the 2000′s this was only 1/3.  So, there has been a clear growth in performance opportunities.  It was only in 2009 however that live music, making £1.54 billion, actually took over the recording industry which was making £1.36 billion.

Since the start of the 2000′s there have been numerous things that have helped the growth of live music.  These include E-tickets, networked audiences, corporate investment into the entertainment industry (investing because they saw the huge opportunities) as well as a growth in festivals.  Last year, festivals and concerts generated around £2.2 billion.

There have also been different laws passed that have affected the live music economy.  For example, the 2003 Licensing Act.  This effectively reduced the number of venues an upcoming artist could play at by introducing special licensing.  Many people criticised the act for it’s unfair treatment to the performance of music.  Last year however, the Live Music Act 2012 amended the 2003 law and the smaller venues no longer needed special licenses for live music as long as there was an audience of 200 people or less, it takes place between 8am and 11pm and it takes place at an otherwise licensed place.  Small venues (100-300 capacity) have been noticeably declining recently.  So, regardless of the 2012 Live Music Act allowing new musicians to play at the smaller venues again, it may be more difficult to find these places soon.  Medium sized venues (400-1500 capacity) stay around more because they usually have professional promoters and good quality technical staff etc.

I’ve played in different venues in different bands across Newport (Meze, Warehouse 54, Le Pub, The Birdcage, The Hornblower and more), Cardiff (Fuel Rock Bar, Undertones), Blackwood (Blackwood Institute), Pontypool (Hog and Hosper) and Swansea (Crowley’s, Static Bar).  I imagine most of the places I have played would be using the separated bar and live music model.  In terms of finance, these two things work on their own.  Both entities have to pay for their own things such as sound engineers, door staff, electricity, drink stocks and bar staff.  In the case of Meze and Warehouse 54 for example, these venues are owned by one person who can separate out his businesses for tax reasons.  It is often the case that I play for free and this is because the people in charge of the live music side simply cannot afford to pay up.

In terms of how live music is sold to an audience in the scene that I’m part of, a lot of it is done on the internet.  Gigs are usually advertised on numerous pages and event pages are usually made too.  Members of bands use their own pages to advertise as well as their actual band page.  Promoters share the band’s pages and repeatedly share the event.  Depending on the size of the gig, posters are sometimes plastered across the walls of the place the gig is taking place too.  Some gigs are free entry and if there is an entry fee, it’s usually no more than five pounds.  This is to assure that people aren’t put off coming because of money.  Another way I have seen live music advertised is employees handing out flyers on the streets and giving you a brief description of the event.


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