A recent report released by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Office of Media and Entertainment has declared New York City as the largest “music ecosystem in the world,” and boldly claims that more tickets are sold to performances in the Big Apple than any other city in the world. How much more? The report commissioned by the Boston Consulting Group argues that New York outpaced Los Angeles in ticket sales by a 3:1 ratio.

Uh, no. I’m sorry New York, but that simply is not the case. Whether we’re comparing city to city or the five major counties that make up Southern California with the New York Tri-State Area, LA easily beats New York in terms of number of venues, number of concerts & festivals and yes, number of tickets sold. NYC isn’t three times bigger than LA — it’s actually LA that edges out New York.

Billboard Box

Can I prove it? Yes. Will I prove it in this article? No. Not now at least. Before I go any further, I want to say that overall, I like this report and its findings that the music industry makes a positive contribution to New York that has gone unrecognized for years. It’s nice that Mayor de Blasio is finally recognizing the contribution of music and concerts, which are much more accessible than a film or TV shoot that only benefits a couple dozen people and inconveniences everyone else.

“This report is an indication that for the first time ever, the Mayor’s office has jurisdiction over the music industry and we’re eager that this important segment of the entertainment industry was added to our portfolio,” analyst Shira Gans from the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment told Amplify. “Our goal is to support the industry and we’re going to be announcing different initiatives in the future.”

AEG Presents/Bowery Presents’ Mark Shulman told Amplify in an email that “It is encouraging that NYC and the (Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment) has put resources toward studying the positive impact of the music business on the city economy and the halo effect it has on a whole group of businesses including commercial real estate, hotels, restaurants, and tourism.”

 Shulman explained that NYC is a cultural capital for music “with a storied history of breakthrough artists and legendary performances. With its proximity to Europe and diverse international communities, NYC will always be a magnet where artists will break through first. Liza and Frank sang that ‘if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.’ How could it possibly be summed up better than that?”

I join Shira and Mark in their excitement over this report, but like I stated before, I simply cannot let the claim that NYC has three times as many shows as LA go unchallenged. Because it is RIDICULOUS.

If you read the report, Boston Consulting Group collected its concert data from….wait for it….Pollstar. Specifically, Pollstar’s 2015 Year-End report.

I’ve got no qualms with the source — Pollstar probably has the most comprehensive database on concert gross reports in the industry (full disclosure, I worked at Pollstar for a year-and-a-half). I’m encouraged that BCG utilized Pollstar data, but, drawing the conclusion that NYC sold three times as many tickets as LA based on a year-end report is simply not accurate (or particularly great research).

If I were to attempt to do this research, I would go to the big ticketing companies — Ticketmaster, AXS, Ticketfly and Eventbrite — and I would ask them to run a report on each city and share their findings. If they refused to cooperate, then I’d use the resources of the mayor’s office to pressure and threaten them and generally make their lives difficult. Doesn’t that sound fun?

The point is that data exists to make a true apples-to-apples comparison, but it takes more research and digging. That said, here is a fact anyone can glean from Pollstar or a number of other resources: there’s more concert venues in Los Angeles than in New York. There’s also more festivals, more outdoor concerts and more music clubs. There’s more music promoters based in LA, more agents and more managers. New York doesn’t have anything comparable to The Forum, or the Greek Theatre or LA Live. Yes it has some wonderful music venues, but let’s be honest — it doesn’t hold a candle to Los Angeles.

Why am I bringing this up, especially when the New York report is so much more than live music? Because the part about being bigger than LA has to be addressed, ok? They started it!

That being said, the report has gone over pretty well with people working in the New York music scene, who say the recognition is long overdue.

“After owning live music venues in NYC for 20-plus years, it was a great feeling to hear that the city’s lauded Media & Entertainment Office now has expanded its portfolio to include Music. Yay!” said Peter Shapiro, owner of the Brooklyn Bowl and the now defunct Wetlands in a statement. “I knew when I first heard it was happening that it would bring meaningful impact to what we do on a day-to-day basis, bringing the magic of live music to the most energetic and magical city in the world. This study is a great example of government working to support and enhance the work of its citizens and their communities, and it demonstrates, with powerful quantitative numbers, the importance and impact that music has on the city that never sleeps.”

Want to learn more? Read the executive summary and the full report here.

Dave Brooks
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Dave Brooks

Founder & Executive Editor at Amplify Media
Dave Brooks has over 15 years experience as a writer, including eight years as the Managing Editor of Venues Today. He started Amplify in 2014 to give the industry its own voice and turn up the volume on live entertainment.
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