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Trends in concerts

Filed under: General — Thomas @ 9:30 pm

2010-12-2
9:30 pm

I guess I see enough shows to be able to draw statistically relevant conclusions on the evolution in concerts…

  • concert prices have gone way up… five years ago, fifteen to eighteen euro was the norm for a band with two albums under their belt. Now I regularly end up paying twenty-thirty euros and more for the same bands. Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan were thirty at the door yesterday. Jonsi, with just one album, was 40 euros. I’m ok with that – I’m sure this is compensating for falling CD sales. I just hope the band gets a big enough cut here.
  • The second encore has become a real rarity. I can’t remember the last time it happened. I’ve never been able to figure out if this is more up to the band or the venue. I know some bands simply don’t play encores – the XX for example. It used to happen all the time.
  • Artists seem more approachable. These days often they come out after and sign stuff for people. Again example yesterday – Mark Lanegan usually goes straight to his hotel room after his show… who’d have thought he’d ever stay out and sign stuff ?
  • While they’re more expensive, concerts are shorter than they used to be. 90 minutes isn’t that common anymore… Even bands that now have a bigger catalog than they used to now play shorter shows. I’ve always wondered how the dynamics of this work… Does a band list different prices for different show lengths?

I thought I had more useful insights but I can’t think of any more. Oh well.

One thing has not changed however – the audience stops clapping and cheering as soon as the lights go on and the house music starts playing. People are conditioned, so it’s easy for someone to decide whether there will be another encore or not. Just can’t figure out if it’s the venue or the band deciding.

6 Comments »

  1. Two little observations from Denmark:
    Regarding encores – it used to be rare, and the audience really had to work for it. Today it’s a sure thing and the audience doesn’t really care because they expect it. This really saddens me, it was a really great experience to experience an extra song or two, maybe even unpublished material – and THAT was what you would remember for months after the concert.
    Now a days the band writes the extra tracks on the setlist and they are just a regular part of the show. The venue knows about it, and sometimes they even (SIGH!) send a guy on stage to say something like: “DO YOU WANT ANOTHER SONG?” It’s horrible.

    Another thing that I’ve noticed. Back in the day ™ the photographers would be placed on stage (or at towers beside the stage) photographing the audience enjoying the concert. Now a days you never see a photographer on stage, they’re always at the mixer tower looking at the stage.

    (I may be biased, I have worked at a concert venue for some years)

    Comment by Anders — 2010-12-2 @ 10:14 pm

  2. “concert prices have gone way up… five years ago, fifteen to eighteen euro was the norm for a band with two albums under their belt. Now I regularly end up paying twenty-thirty euros and more for the same bands. Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan were thirty at the door yesterday. Jonsi, with just one album, was 40 euros. I’m ok with that – I’m sure this is compensating for falling CD sales. I just hope the band gets a big enough cut here.”

    A lot of it is going to Ticketmaster. Check the breakdown on the ticket price. Also it seems like Ticketmaster is using its muscle to force people into exclusive contracts; notice that even if you go and buy a ticket for a show at an independent record store, or even from the box office of the venue itself, the transaction goes through Ticketmaster and they take a cut.

    “The second encore has become a real rarity. I can’t remember the last time it happened.”

    That’s odd, all the bands I’ve seen lately have done two encores.

    “One thing has not changed however – the audience stops clapping and cheering as soon as the lights go on and the house music starts playing. People are conditioned, so it’s easy for someone to decide whether there will be another encore or not. Just can’t figure out if it’s the venue or the band deciding.”

    You’ve never seen a band do the fake-out third encore? I’ve seen it a couple of times. Last one I remember was Eels, quite a few years back, at the Manchester Academy – house lights came up, house music played, roadies came out and took away most of the set…and five minutes later E came back out and did a solo acoustic cover of something or other for those who hadn’t left already. :)

    Comment by Adam Williamson — 2010-12-2 @ 10:42 pm

  3. Your observations can be true for arrogant Indie Pop musicians, but it is not necessarily true for other genres like metal. I was at Magnet Club yesterday, Swallow the Sun and Sólstafir played for 17€ at the door. OK, they didn’t play 90 minutes, although they might have managed to do so in only 7 songs.

    @Adam: the evil Ticketmaster does not have a monopoly in Europe, so the extra charges are not so high.

    I have noticed that t-shirt prices differ a lot: 15€ for a shirt by Wolves in the Throne Room, 25€ for Swallow the Sun. The latter are Finns, the former Americans.

    Comment by Götz — 2010-12-3 @ 1:40 pm

  4. @Götz: [troll] Higher prices for Indie musicians could also be down to supply and demand… [/troll] Or maybe price expectations are lower for metal bands.

    As long as the band have not reached played beyond an agreed time it will be up to them whether they carry on playing. The venue will wait until they get a go from the band before they turn on the houselights. Venues will usually fine bands who overrun, which is how Guns’n’Roses allegedly managed to loose money touring ‘Use Your Illusion’. I think the contracts with promotors are based on minimum running times.

    Comment by Matt West — 2010-12-4 @ 12:47 pm

  5. @Matt: Metal bands have some of the most devoted fans in the world.

    Often clubs try to get rid of the concert audience in time to make room for the disco folks that come after the concert is finished.

    Comment by Götz — 2010-12-8 @ 2:03 pm

  6. @Adam, yes, in fact I’ve seen Eels do this various times… it’s a pretty cool thing to do, and it was fun to hear some pre-eels songs that way.

    Comment by Thomas — 2010-12-14 @ 4:14 pm

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