The Experience Economy and Live Entertainment Entrepreneurship

Recently, I saw one of my favorite live bands, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Probably best known for their appearance in the movie Swingers back in the mid-’90s and a couple of hits from the brief swing resurgence of the same time, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy has eight members, all of whom have been with the band for the entire 25 years they’ve been together.

And even though they’re not exactly a household name, they packed a club, whose footprint is in the space formerly occupied by a major grocery store.


Certainly, they’re good at what they do. Great musicians and entertainers, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy is a show band, and it’s all about fun. Their performances simply feel big, like something’s happening that you want to be near. There’s a lot of jazzy brass in the combo, and high-virtuosity solos and duets and trios are part of almost every song. If you have a musically inclined nerve cell somewhere in your body, it’s hard not to like their performance.

But more than that, I would bet most people at the show last night had heard them before. I wasn’t so curious as to do a scientific poll on the subject, but I’d still put a few casino chips on the outcome of such a poll if it existed. Hearing them live leads to wanting to hear them live again.

I don’t mention it because I want to praise Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (though I do because they’re awesome). I mention it because they are an emblem of something that I find incredibly encouraging: live entertainment entrepreneurship.

I admire people who can put talent, creativity, marketing savvy and energy together to build prosperity in live entertainment. I know that Big Bad Voodoo Daddy isn’t an unknown little band; on the worldwide scale of band success, they’re well near the top, but they’ve had hardly any hits, and those happened two decades ago. Still, they’ve created an engine of their own personal prosperity that also happens to be a source of enjoyment for others as well as a reminder of what excellent musicianship is like.

A friend of mine at Spotify recently told me that his boss, Daniel Ek, has a goal, and that is to help create a musical “middle class,” though in retrospect that may be a word I used. Anyway, the goal is to make it possible for more people to earn a living as musicians. I call that a pretty worthwhile ambition.

At Goldstar, our mission too is to help organizations — some of them very small and scrappy — find an audience and generate revenue. Far from being too gauche to discuss, that revenue makes the whole show possible. We want and need prosperous artists, producers and other makers of live entertainment, including music, theater, comedy, and whatever else.

With fewer and fewer jobs turning wrenches, flipping burgers or even creating spreadsheets in our future, we join Spotify in the ambition of making it possible for more people to carve out a prosperous place in the world by creating work that inspires, entertains, enlightens and embiggens other people!


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