I recently went to a local gig, and upon my return home read a post on facebook about forthcoming Bruce Springsteen concerts in the UK that have sold out at exorbitant prices making the gigs inaccessible for many fans. I’ve heard the same about Beyonce and Madonna concerts too. Prices of £500+ per ticket are not unheard of. Analysing as I do, with maybe 25 songs performed, that will cost fans £20 per song to hear it in what can only be described as imperfect audio quality - although I recognise the atmosphere and excitement at a live venue.
The local performance I went to cost me £7.70 for the ticket with a 20 mile drive, £1.90 for parking and a couple of quid for a drink. For that, I got a seat (front row!), to chat with other audience members with similar interests and even met with the artists afterwards - something you’ll pay another few hundred pounds or more for (if even possible) for a meet and greet experience. I had some interesting conversations with them and even learned some things about music. OK, the artists I met were not big names, but they do put in at least the same (if not more) passion into their music than the big names - and they could become big in the future, or at least make a living from their art - which is my whole point here.
As an aside, the music I saw included three acts, original songs, amazing musicianship and humour. In a small venue like this the audience can get more involved, real participation can happen making it more of an experience.
We need to support these performances and venues more than ever now. The venues pay rent, overheads, staff and the artists. Some are even free entry for live music, they rely on food and drink sales to pay those costs. Artists should be paid, music isn’t free. It didn’t take much of my business acumen to work out that the ten of us in the audience in a venue that could accommodate three hundred wouldn’t cover the costs of that venue, let alone pay the staff or the artists. It’s simply not sustainable.
It's a separate form of live music, but open mics should also be supported. You'll see all standards of performance, some will be absolute gems, they give opportunity to aspiring musicians to learn, and even gigging musicians to promote. They’re free for people to attend and participate, just support the venue by buying a drink. You’ll gain new experiences and friends. And - if you do perform at an open mic, don’t be that guy who turns up, plays and disappears to another open mic. Stay and support your fellow musicians. If you stay, someone might even come up an complement you on your music or book you for something else!
So next time you consider spending many hundreds to go and see a big artist, just think about the good you could do by spending just a fraction of that on a few local gigs and in the venues. If local music isn’t supported, all we will get in the future is manufactured output from the big music labels.
“Support Live Music” isn’t just a fashionable phrase. Think about it properly, it’s a real cause to support. Get out and see some stuff, otherwise next time you want to, it might not be there.
Oh - and buy a CD, merchandise or download from the artist, that way you even support the artists directly too. There is some really good music from independent artists, I ordered two CDs myself just yesterday (yes, I'm old school).
There's also some valid, additional reading in this NME article.
Article - Simon Taylor, 9th February 2023
Yeah, get out more, I can get some sleep at home.