The impact of streaming on the touring business was tackled on the first day of the 29th edition of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC).
More than 1,100 live music delegates from across the globe congregated for the invite-only gathering, which began today (March 8) at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington.
The opening session, The Open Forum, was chaired by Live Nation’s Phil Bowdery and featured panellists including Charles Attal of Lollapalooza promter C3 Presents; leading booking agent Emma Banks of CAA; Paul Craig of Nostromo Management; Marty Diamond of Paradigm Talent; Folkert Koopmans of Germany and Sweden based promoter FKP Scorpio and Geraldine Wilson of Amazon Tickets.
“It’s an interesting challenge for all of us - particularly in the agency business but promoters as well - making sure we’re maximising what artists can do at the right time because there’s probably a faster burn for them,” said Banks, co-head of CAA’s London office.
“If someone’s 18-19-20 years old, and can play an arena at that point based on demand, you have to wonder where they go so that they still have a career when they’re 40. So there’s interesting questions that I think we all ask ourselves and the old idea that you would never headline a festival on your first album or probably even your second I think’s gone out the window.”
She continued: “We see it with ticket prices as well - I think it’s a really old-fashioned idea to go, They’ve only got 10 songs on an album, you can charge £25 and when you’ve got 10 albums you can charge £65. Frankly, we have to be more aware of the market rate. Those are some of the things that have changed, even in the last year.”
Diamond, who represents Ed Sheeran and Coldplay in the US, added: “The landscape is completely different. There’s no such thing as touring out of cycle anymore because the cycle is continuous - and that’s not a problem, it’s a benefit.”
Biffy Clyro co-manager Craig said: “If you’re just relying on your album, as a piece of music it’s going to be over really quickly so you’ve just got to be busier than ever – and broader than ever as well. You’ve got to take it wider.
“The adaptation to the streaming world is incredibly exciting because we can touch people around the world – artists can play around the world now because people around the world can hear them. Part of that gatekeeping blockage has been removed.”
Commenting on the mammoth sales figures recorded this year by the likes of Ed Sheeran and Rag’N’Bone Man, Craig noted: “It’s just brilliant to see that if you make the right record and all the dots lined up you can still sell music in 2017.
“In 2016, the UK music industry was bemoaning a lack of breaking artists and maybe the harsh reality of it was that maybe the artists weren’t very good.
“Some things haven’t changed – great artists, great song, it’s great to see it still connects.”
C3 Presents’ Attal said he was no longer as concerned with an artist’s body of work when booking festival line-ups. He noted his biggest challenge was “keeping up with the fees and making sure you’re paying attention to the band that has two songs that have come out and skyrocketed in six months; making sure that you’re able to pay the band the right fee to come play your festival and analysing it to a band that may not even deserve the fee if they’ve had five records and 20 hits.
“It just all depends on the cycle that’s happening and how the fans are consuming music now,” he added. “You have to keep up and you don’t want to miss out on an opportunity. The ways of buying talent 10 years ago is out the window.”
Banks said it was impossible to predict the full effects of Brexit at this point. “What we do know is that the pound doesn’t buy as many dollars or euros as it used to, and that is problematic when you look at overseas artists touring in the UK,” she said. “If you’re a big American artist, the amount of dollars you’re going to earn has gone down. That has an impact right now.”
She added: “There’s been a lot of scaremongering. We now deal with a situation that we’re faced with; you have to hope that the government can go and make some sensible agreements with other governments. We’re a major country, we have a lot to offer the rest of Europe.”
ILMC continues tomorrow and runs until Friday (March 10), when sessions will include the Breakfast Interview with former U2 manager Paul McGuinness.