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[Article] Concerts are still alive and kicking


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Watch out, summer concertgoers. Some in the industry say the end is near. Once Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, The Who, Eric Clapton and their '60s rock contemporaries hang up their guitars and stop touring, the industry will collapse because, as one concert promoter recently told The New York Times, "We will run out of headliners."


Give me a break. That's the kind of "the world begins and ends with me" narcissism generally associated with teenagers, not savvy businessmen.


Yes, the concert industry has problems. Droves of music fans stayed away from music venues in 2004, leading to canceled tours and lots of empty seats, and the $2.6-billion industry hasn't fully recovered yet.


Though the high price of the concert experience - from ticket prices and those so-called "convenience charges" to parking and concessions - is part of the reason, so is "cocooning," as more and more people opt to stay home with their families watching DVDs and cable TV.


Radio and MTV are definitely not creating long-term careers for musicians the way they used to.


And it certainly doesn't help that the American economy has forced most working folks to forgo disposable income and, more importantly, what used to be known as free time, to maintain the standard of living they had five years ago.


Also, because of the music industry's long, steady decline, more and more musicians are touring longer and more often since it gives them a more dependable revenue stream than their record labels can offer.


There aren't too few headliners now. There are too many.


Sure, only a few can command the $200 or $300 premium that McCartney and the Stones do, but they have been legends for more than four decades. It's unfair to compare them to younger acts.


Give U2 or Prince a couple more decades (or, more accurately, give their fans a couple more decades to move into the kind of income bracket where they can afford to pay those prices) and they will do just as well.


It takes a certain amount of pomposity and short-sightedness to think that just because the 50-and-over rockers have been so successful that today's 20- and 30-something rockers should simply give up trying to match them.


Ozzy Osbourne may be impossible to replace as a performer, but if he stops touring, his fans will have no problem spending their concert-going money elsewhere.


Green Day can fill stadiums now. So can Bon Jovi. And Kenny Chesney has been doing it for years.


There is no reason to think they - along with Radiohead, Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band and other current surefire arena-fillers - won't be around in 2016 or 2026 or even 2036 (we are living longer, after all) to please their fans the way McCartney and the Stones do today.


Last month, I watched hundreds of teenagers evade security and jump the barricades at Nassau Coliseum so they could join the mosh pit as Taking Back Sunday made its debut as an arena headliner. The fans' need to get closer to the Rockville Centre-based band was that strong.


That experience can't be duplicated, no matter how high-tech your home cocoon is. No matter how loud your stereo gets, it can't recreate the feeling of having your bones rattle from the roar of a guitar. No matter how many friends you invite over, it can't match the sound of hearing 20,000 or so people sing along and the unmistakable buzz of adding your own voice to that chorus, of being part of something bigger than yourself.


Mick and Macca are masters at generating that buzz. But, by no means, have they cornered the market. Whenever the right band and the right crowd get together at a concert, something unforgettable happens - a magic moment that is a bargain at any price.


If today's concert industry moguls can't figure out how to market that, maybe the end really is near - for them.


Source: http://www.newsday.com

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