There are multiple issues to consider here and some underlying assumptions that need to be addressed if there is to be any real debate about the industry going forward.
And its not just about having disposable income.
Wouldn’t everyones life be easy if it was a matter of simply saying that a new audience will grow older and fill the gap. Whilst that is conceivable in the short term with existing mid range acts, the bigger long term concern for the touring industry isn’t waiting for the next level of acts to emerge, but rather how to transition Gen Y into becoming music consumers of all mediums. I love the vibrancy of free culture but it has essentially eliminated business structures and the industry infrastructure that is considered to be necessary if you are to base potential outcomes on the old model used by heritage acts.
Successful music doesn’t exist in a vacuum and is reliant on momentum generated by interdependent stakeholders that share a vested interest in breaking new talent. For the sake of the argument lets acknowledge that all of the heritage acts were broken with the support of record companies, mainstream print media, commercial radio and aggressive retailing as essential stakeholders, not to mention cultural engagement by their audience. If you were to remove any one of these in the past the collective synergy broke down, and the act failed. At a glance I see all four missing in the current environment so therefore they cant be relied upon to open the necessary markets that are required to build a base.
So if thats the case then it only stands to reason that if what empowered older acts through the cultural embracement of their music as a “movement”, and if the previously mentioned industry infrastructure cant be used as a model for new acts, how do you create the momentum that is necessary to break new acts? It is counter intuitive to, on the one hand, conduct long range planning using research from the current market, whilst existing in an environment that cannot provide the necessary infrastructure and human resources required to replicate previous success.
Should we not recognise that there has been a massive cultural shift not only in terms of participation but particularly with respect to consumption patterns? They don’t live and breathe it. The new emerging audience doesn’t engage with music at a cultural level the way that previous generations did: they don’t buy CD’s and nor do they listen to mainstream media. In fact the main reason most people attend dance parties is the social experience enhanced by cerebral additives. Although the hackneyed debate as to the relevance of record companies deserves no oxygen here, their historical importance is undeniable. There are a number of similarities with the recording industry “false dawn” that typified the CD boom that occurred in the mid 80’s – 90’s .
Whilst the recording industry pumped their collective fist in the air, lets face it they were dining out on all of the previous generations of music fans simply replacing their old vinyl. It failed miserably in the long term
In an eerily similar way the current music festival market appears to be heading towards a huge reality check as more festivals enter the market relying on a constantly overworked number of acts.
History shows that industries die slowly over a long time…and then end suddenly.