The Mega Rock Star Model Is Old, Let’s Find A New One

The Who. Photo By: Universal Music Group

The Who. Photo courtesy of Universal Music Group

The Who ‘Going Mobile’ For the Last Time?

Congratulations to The Who for 50 years, and even though their 1982 tour was known as their “Farewell Tour,” they’ve continued since then for 10 years longer than they’d been together at that point.

Hey, I’m a fan of the band, and all, but classic rock of this kind has hung on too long to be healthy for the business. I won’t say this tour will be unsuccessful, because I don’t know, but I will say that the continued touring viability of bands like The Who at this point is mostly a sign that the concert segment is primarily a backward-looking segment of our industry. It doesn’t have to be, but in terms of content, it mostly is.

If you don’t buy that, take a look at the top-grossing acts of this decade. If, instead of listing the name of the artist or band, I put the year in which the band or artist first debuted in a big way as a musician, here’s what the top 10 list for THIS DECADE looks like:


1. 1976
2. 1966
3. 1973
4. 1980
5. 1971
6. 2005
7. 1981
8. 1983
9. 1990
10. 1995

Holy smokes! That means the average top-grossing band for the decade of the twenty-teens started on average in the year 1983. If you’d had a child then, she’d be 30. Fellow children of the ’70s and ’80s, if this had been the case for us, we’d have been lining up at record stores to buy tickets to bands that got their start mostly in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, but I don’t remember the Glenn Miller Orchestra or Lawrence Welk being the thing we camped out overnight for.

What does this mean, and what can you do about it? It’s a sign of transition, surely. We’re well into “stoppage time” — as they say in soccer — on these bands, and so far nothing’s replaced them. It may be that on this scale, NOTHING will. I will talk more about how to build around this situation at another time, but the first thing to do is to forget about this model. Throw away the notion of the Mega Rock Star if you’re in the business of live music and jump into the challenge of helping figure out how the new model will work.

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