Is the Value Now in the Performance?

Prospect Magazine: “Groups used to tour, often at a loss, to stimulate sales of their latest album. Now it’s the other way around. Hence the widely reported decision earlier this year by the Crimea, a band previously signed to Warner Bros, to release their new album as a free download. The band explained this not as an anarcho-hippie gesture in support of the principle that music ought to be free, but as a sensible promotional tactic. Their hope is that by disseminating their music online, they will expand their fan base and increase their returns from touring. Having seen the small size of the cheques they got from Warner, they know where not to look for their future income.”

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One Comment

  1. I think that premise is a poor fit for most of rock and roll (I don’t know much about other genres). It was rare that groups toured to stimulate sales, unless forced to by their label (see the Mountain Goats awesome cover of “The Sign,” or the very early days of rock and roll package tours). Touring is where you could and can make the real money–cash you could see and that went directly into your pockets–as opposed to the sometimes wholly nebulous money one would make from album sales.

    Led Zeppelin were the earliest masters of this form (although they controlled and profited from album sales much more than other artists). Springsteen is the exemplar of touring to make money ’cause you ain’t making any from records. Nowadays the real opportunity to make money is still through selling t-shirts and stickers at a five-dollar show . . .

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