Live Rules! (But Don’t Get Cocky)
I used to have to convince people that live performance was the leading category in the entertainment business, but I hardly have to do that anymore. This is especially true in music, where it doesn’t take an expert to see that sales of recordings are sad and not due to rebound to past levels … well, ever.
So live is where it’s at. Hooray for us! But this article reminded me that the real strength of a business model comes from having more than one thought about how the intellectual property you’re creating can make money. Here’s a snippet from the article that helps make that point:
“In the old days, when tours were driven by album releases, booking agents were something of an afterthought, focused mainly on mundane logistics at a limited number of concert halls. These days, their job involves a much wider range of duties, including many tasks that record companies used to handle.
High on the list is creating offbeat venues, events and stunts that will help an artist stand out … Hollywood’s talent agencies have significantly expanded their music-booking divisions in recent years, adding new departments that specialize in everything from festivals to electronic dance music, while offering a range of other services, including sponsorship sales, radio promotion and even managing the rights to concert videos and recordings.”
Live is the revenue workhorse, but it’s not the only thing that works for the act. This is an area where music and sports are well ahead of the rest of the live business. They know that things like sponsorships, rights to recordings and added product lines like clothes are possible.
It’s very nice that demand for live entertainment continues to be robust. We complain and quibble about different things, like production costs and awareness, but at the core, we have a product that people are interested in and are willing to pay real money for. But for all that, the business model is brittle if it doesn’t have more than one meaningful way to make money. The “product” has value beyond just being shown to the people in the room. The key is just to work hard to figure out how to free that value to reach more people in more places.
So that’s why I say it’s great that live rules, but don’t get cocky.