Despite strong midyear tour grosses from Bon Jovi, Spice Girls and the Police, among others, some concert industry observers are predicting that high fuel prices and the struggling U.S. economy will negatively impact the fall touring season.
“I think the second half of the year is going to be horrible,” CAA managing partner Rob Light said Monday (July 28) during a touring panel at the 83rd annual IAAM conference and trade show in Anaheim, Calif.
“The first half of the year was great, but I think 90% of those tours were up on sale before April, certainly before May when gas really kicked in and the housing crunch started to happen,” Light continued. “I think shows that will go up in August and September are going to be a little more hard hit and not come out of the box quite the same.”
As previously reported, upcoming tours from CAA artists include AC/DC, Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, Depeche Mode, Shakira, Green Day, Kid Rock, Usher, Robin Williams, John Mayer, Keith Urban, Tim McGraw, Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder, Miley Cyrus and Slipknot, among others, according to Light.
Concerts West (a touring arm of AEG Live) co-president John Meglen, who is currently routing Carey’s upcoming trek, agreed with Light’s bleak outlook for the fall.
“We’re all a little bit skittish and paranoid about what could happen in the second half of the year,” Meglen said. “It’s pretty expensive to go do the events that we put on, and I think that’s one of the biggest issues that we need to deal with in the future.”
Meglen also expressed concern over the secondary ticketing market. “We’re all trying to fight for our share of that income,” he said. “In my belief, what we’re seeing in the secondary market is the biggest influx of the revenue that we’ve seen in our business in 30 years.”
But Light had a more optimistic outlook on the matter, pointing to recent paperless ticketing technology implemented by Ticketmaster on Tom Waits’ theater tour earlier this summer. Instead of paper tickets, Waits fans who ordered tickets through Ticketmaster only needed their credit card and a valid photo ID to enter each show.
“Paperless ticketing is going to kill the secondary market in a heartbeat,” Light said. “We’re less than a year or two years away from that. It changes the entire dynamic of somebody being able to go to a show. I hope all of you will embrace it, because the artist will embrace it dramatically.”
And Light’s predictions didn’t stop there. Commenting on the current state of the music industry, where “everybody is looking to fill the voids that have been created by the downfall of record companies,” Light believes many full-service talent agencies will soon expand into the recorded-music business.
“Every agency will have a record company in the next year,” Light said, noting that CAA has owned a label for three years.
“I’m sure (William Morris Agency VP) Marc Geiger is up in L.A. planning his announcement,” he continued. “Certainly we are going to look forward in that regard as well, because we have to fill the void.”
Billboard executive director of content and programming for touring and live entertainment Ray Waddell moderated Monday’s IAAM touring panel, which also included William Morris Agency’s Brad Goodman, The Kirby Organization’s Andrew Goodfriend and Agency for the Performing Arts’ Steve Lassiter.