If Your Music Business Model Is To Make Money On Live Shows, Make Those Live Shows Experiences To Remember

from the things-to-think-about dept

In talking about various business models for musicians these days, we've never suggested that concerts are the only (or even the best) way to make money. However, they certainly are one way that can work. That doesn't mean they're guaranteed to work, of course. One of our regular critics has been bombarding the submission page with stories of failed concert tours this year, as if that proves that the business models we talk about don't work. Of course, by that logic, if some bands can't sell CDs, it means that selling CDs is a business model that can't work. A single failure -- or even a cluster of failures -- does not disprove that a model can work. But, it might take some effort to actually make it work.

This is why I was fascinated by a recent interview that Kyle Bylin did over at Hypebot with Rich Huxley of the band Hope and Social, with part of it discussing how they try to make sure that every concert they put on is a true experience for the fans who come out:
Well, for Hope and Social, we endeavor to make every show an experience. It's not just about playing the songs -- that's just not enough. We feel like good people are an extension of the band, we want you to feel like you're part of our gang. So, as an extension of this, we like to involve people in our music and in our shows; for example, we'll give each audience member a kazoo and teach them one of the brass hooks to a song. Sometimes we'll invite people up onstage to play a kazoo solo onstage with the band, or to sing with us, that sort of thing.

We've run events where we've invited our fans further into our lives and our work and into our studio, to shows in the very lair that we've made our records in, and recorded our audience playing with us. There's a track on our latest album April called Eurospin which features 70 fans as a wine bottle orchestra. We recorded this song live at an event we called "Come Dine With Us" where we turned our studio into a bistro for the evening and fed, watered and waited on the people who came. Awesome fun and a great band/fan bonding experience to boot.
This highlights a really important point. When we've talked about the various business models that artists can use, we've noted that many of them take creativity and effort -- and that's why some people jump straight to the "well, touring is the business model," because it seems straightforward and easy to understand. But, as Rich is pointing out, you still need to be creative and do cool things on a tour to make sure people really feel connected.

Separately, in the next question, Kyle points to a fascinating article from last year, which we had not seen, that highlights the fact that people value "experiences" more than "possessions." What's funny is the same critic who's been talking about tour failures has bolstered his argument by claiming the exact opposite: saying that the reason concerts won't work as a business model is that people want possessions more than fleeting experiences. Well, turns out the evidence suggests exactly the opposite:
Psychological research suggests that, in the long run, experiences make people happier than possessions.

That's in part because the initial joy of acquiring a new object, such as a new car, fades over time as people become accustomed to seeing it every day, experts said. Experiences, on the other hand, continue to provide happiness through memories long after the event occurred.
The article mentions a study where researchers actually tested this hypothesis and found it to be true. It's definitely nice to see this confirmed in some manner. Anyway, the interview with Rich has some more interesting nuggets as well, so check it out.
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Filed Under: experiences, live shows, rich huxley

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jul 2010 @ 6:33pm


    There are plenty of bands i see that have no connections with major labels. They tour constantly through the year.
    The easiest to mention that you would recognize would be phish. Their entire Existence was based around the live show and encourage taping of them. This spread to a new generation. Umphreys mcgee, the string cheese incident, the disco biscuits, moe, yonder mountain string band, sound tribe sector 9, ect...

    There is a hole treasure trove of musical artists you have never touched on mike, and im surprised because of your major concentration on the "new world order" of music. All of these bands are on either their own label or one of the other bands label close to the music scene. And it is obvious enough some of them can afford to live a lavish life while almost 100% of them allow the taping and trading of their live shows. (Also, never have seen them go after and take down studio recordings from youtube, ect).

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