The latest PRS for Music financial results show that UK live music revenues dropped by 14.2% in 2012. The report also claims that “the underlying live music market remains buoyant and is predicted to return to growth”. This prediction is based on the fact that 2011 benefited from the massive Take That “Progress Live” tour and a super sunny Glastonbury festival, whereas 2012 saw a reduction in live music events due to London 2012 activity and the absence of Glastonbury.
However there is clearly a huge problem ahead for the (live) music business, namely; where are the new artists and bands that are exciting/successful enough to headline the plethora of festivals that now dominate the British summer? After all, the current concert/festival scene is pretty much powered by so-called ‘heritage’ acts; The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, Bon Jovi et al, and the numerous re-formed acts from the 8o’s and 90’s; Duran Duran, The Stone Roses and Take That.
This coming summer there are only a few notable exceptions; Mumford & Sons are headlining the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury and Foals one of the main stages at the excellent Latitude festival. Interestingly Foals’ lead singer, Yannis Philippakiss, was interviewed shortly after the Latitude line-up was announced and launched into a rant about this very issue; “There’s a big problem with old bands who always occupy the top slots at festivals. More heritage names re-form every year, which… really limits bands of our generation. We don’t get a fair chance to headline”.
Whether the blame lies with concert promoters refusing to risk giving newer bands ambitious, ‘boot-filling’ slots, or there is simply a dearth of new and exciting talent big enough to help sell out 3 day music festivals, is debatable. Whatever the reason, the outcome is that established names are demanding ever higher fees to guarantee their exclusivity at one festival (or the other). This is, presumably, encouraging older bands to come out of retirement, and limiting opportunities for younger bands to join the big time. I can clearly remember when Kings Of Leon more than justified their Friday night headine at Glastonbury in 2008, and swiftly went on to become one of the biggest bands in the world.
All this not only spells trouble ahead for the music business, but discourages the most important people in the whole equation; THE FANS, who, year after year, have to stump up for higher and higher ticket prices. As it is, record labels and publishers were slow to find ways of adapting to the digital revolution – something the recording industry and music retailers are still reeling from. It is in everybody’s interest for new artists to grow into global stars, so Glastonbury and Latitude are to be applauded for their support of a new generation of artists. Bring on the new music!
A footnote: We see little point in berating younger generations for the lack of new, cutting edge, music movements – unlike self-styled music sage, Paul Morley, who claimed in The Guardian this week, “The Monkeys & the Mumfords are the dutiful archivists; the Stones are the bloody archive”. Read the article here
A further footnote: Foals have recorded rather a wonderful album called, Holy Fire.