There’s no one single reason a story goes unreported in our business. Sometimes we don’t realize there’s a story until months have passed, other times we simply don’t have the resources or wherewithal to tackle a certain topic or news story as it is unfolding. The truth is that many stories go unreported because we simply don’t have the resources to cover everything. Because of budgets and deadlines, news media professionals tend to stick with easy, quickly wrapped up narratives that are easier to piece together than difficult, long-term stories that take a lot of time. Below are six stories from 2017 that didn’t get the attention they deserve. Have your own suggestions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and share your thoughts.
6. Ticket-Bundling is Driving the Bulk of Album Sales
What do Pink, the Chainsmokers, U2, Shania Twain, Maroon Five, Kenny Chesney and Metallica have in common? Nearly all bundled their albums with ticket sales for their upcoming 2018 tours in an arrangement that is loved by record labels but increasingly coming under scrutiny from promoters who argue album bundling adds more to the cost of a ticket without improving the live experience.
Proponents of bundling say the practice allows older music fans, who may not utilize streaming, to have access to new music. Most artists add a couple bucks to every pair of tickets and deliver the album digitally or mail it to fans. The number of albums redeemed counts toward a band’s Billboard chart placement and in 2017, the vast majority of Hot 200 albums came from bundling. The practice is likely to grow in 2018, although many promoters have been critical of the practice saying it shifts the focus from the tour to the album and adds pressure to the price and often leaves fans feeling disappointed.
5. Depeche Mode Just Had A $100M Year
Fans ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ of the British first-wave band that formed in 1980 and ended 2017 with the fifth highest grossing tour of the year, clocking in $123.5 million in front of 1.6 million fans over 60 shows, according to Billboard Boxscore. In October, the band became the first act to sell out four consecutive shows at the Hollywood Bowl. Now Depeche Mode is back on the road for its second tour through Europe this year and will head to Latin America in 2018 with lead singer Dave Gahan, whose distinctive baritone is one of the band’s signatures. Not bad for a group whose album sales peaked more than 20 years ago. Much like Guns ‘N Roses and even U2, Depeche Mode shows the market power of Generation X fans and late Baby Boomers, who have more discretionary income but are more selective about how they spend their time.
4. Oak View Group Eyeing U.K. Expansion
First, let’s all admit Tim Leiweke had a pretty good 2017. His plan to re-envision the future of KeyArena has Seattle sports fans optimistic about the return of the NBA, and Leiweke was part of two blockbuster deals in live entertainment — the decision to relocate the Raiders to Las Vegas and the sale of Ticketfly to Eventbrite (he’s on the board of Pandora). He also bought Venues Today at the end of 2016 and in July announced the acquisition of Pollstar. Next year, Leiweke is eyeing getting into the U.K. publishing and conference world and is looking into several media properties in the U.K. for potential acquisition, announcing in a press release plans for “exploring new conference concepts and partnerships in international markets for 2018.” Leiweke is looking for European trade magazines with both an editorial presence and history of successful conferences, very specific criteria for what is definitely a short list of companies.
3. The Silent Heroism of MGM and Live Nation Staff After Route 91
The October terrorist attack on the Route 91 Harvest Festival was a devastating assault on concert-goers and the music industry that few in the business want to talk about. Part of that is a rush of lawsuits filed all over the country for the victims of the shooting, often by predatory law firms that find clients by running ads on Facebook while attempting to move the case to California for a more favorable jury and legal system. That legal liability has meant an unfortunate silencing of the folks who worked at the festival site, as well as Live Nation, MGM, and T-Mobile Arena who were in attendance Oct. 1 and witnessed a truly awful attack that left 58 people dead and hundreds injured. The folks who make up the Sin City live entertainment and concert industry are incredibly talented professionals, many of who uprooted their families to move across the country for the job. It’s important that we let them know that we care about them and we can take care of them long term, whatever they need. Just because they aren’t allowed to speak publicly about their experience doesn’t mean they don’t have a voice — we just have to be that voice for them.
2. Major Indie Promoters Close to Selling to Live Nation
Live Nation is working on the acquisition of one of the largest independent promoters left in North America in a deal that will surprise many in the music business because of the promoters past critiques of Live Nation and long-standing independence. Following the closing of this transaction, which could come as soon as this week, the number of independent promoters left in North America will continue to diminish with more acquisitions by both AEG and Live Nation expected to be announced in 2018. Get ready for a deal that few saw coming.
1. No #MeToo in Live Music
Sexual harassment has roiled entertainment and politics following the high profile allegations against Harvey Weinstein, with dozens of resignations hitting organizations like NPR, Fox News and the New York Times and the resignation of Senator Al Franken and representatives John Conyers and Trent Franks. Harassment claims have hit television, film and in the case of Russell Simons and Louis C.K., music and comedy.
So why has nothing happened in live music? Besides the high profile exit of FYF Fest founder Sean Carlson from Goldenvoice and some agency firings, we’re seeing very little impact for our business. Why is that? Part of it is the media’s fault (including Amplify) and a hesitation to tackle allegations. Here at Amplify, we’ve seen how hard it can be to cover this topic. It’s one thing to hear rumors about someone — it’s another to report something that could jeopardize a person’s job. Without accusers and women brave enough to come forward and tell their story, it’s very difficult for the media to report on any one single harasser. The very act of digging into someone’s past looking for dirt can be considered provocative and create suspicions about someone that might be unfair until proven true.
There are other flags that a person might have sexual harassment in their past — anyone who quits their job right now without a new position lined up certainly has a question mark over them. And thanks in part to cash settlements and non-disclosure agreements, it’s often the harassers that have more control over the narrative than the victims. Couple that with fear of being blacklisted in the music industry and it can be very difficult for anyone to come forward.
We know there is sexual harassment in the live music business. We’d heard rumors, we’ve seen questionable behavior tolerated or swept under the rug and despite the progress we as a society have made with the #MeToo movement, it still hasn’t had a significant impact on live music. What will it take to finally change it in this business? We don’t know.
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