Is Coachella about what happens on the stage or off? About the music or the audience?
But we’ve been vastly underestimating how important the non-music experience is.
I’m not talking about food. America has turned a corner. No one wants to eat boiled hot dogs and limp french fries at an event anywhere anymore, I’m not even sure toddlers will eat that crap.
I’m talking about the attendees themselves.
In yesterday’s “New York Times” there was a story about how the cancellation of Coachella is killing brands.
“For Festival Fashion, the Music has Stopped – Festivals like Coachella have been postponed, leaving scores of online fashion retailers with a mass of unsold inventory and unpaid suppliers.”: https://nyti.ms/2VACf4A
You go to show off. You need a wardrobe. And in today’s era of cheap fashion-forward clothing concertgoers buy outfits and accessories just for the festival, AND THEN THEY THROW THEM AWAY!
This can’t be understood by oldsters, who were taught clothes were to be worn until they wore out, or at least saved until that style came back. Today clothing is like a meal, an experience, worn briefly and then discarded.
You can’t go to Coachella in your cut-offs and t-shirt, YOU’LL BE IGNORED!
It’s all about attention today. Which is quantified online. And if you’re a teenager, chances are you have no status other than your appearance, so you double down.
And acts are not the only ones being paid at Coachella, brands pay influencers to flaunt their products at the festival, you can read about it here:
“Macaroni recipes and hand washing videos. How influencers are adapting to the coronavirus crisis”: https://lat.ms/34OMIxh
Forget that more than a few of these influencers make six figures a year, their incomes are driven by advertising, and with everybody staying at home, people are not buying, and ads have plummeted.
But the advertisers are looking for opportunities.
Now everybody keeps saying how nothing will be the same after Covid-19. I think they’re wrong. They said the same thing after 9/11, and all that really happened was flying became more of a hassle. More people will work at home, technology will stop being denigrated, other than that, it’ll look pretty similar. Sure, some changes will be accelerated, but they were in the pipeline anyway.
Multiple people have been e-mailing me this article from Bloomberg:
“People Are Paying Real Money to Get Into Virtual Zoom Nightclubs – Can a novelty for the bored-at-home last after the coronavirus pandemic?: https://bloom.bg/2VAZjQt
That is another trend that will be accelerated by the coronavirus…more and more, news will not be free. Oh, your neighbor can voice their opinion on social media, you’ll find out if a bomb was dropped, but anything beyond that…someone will have to pay for.
People want news. And right now they’re addicted. And most newspapers are going out of business, leaving the big three, the “New York Times,” the “Washington Post” and the “Wall Street Journal.”
Read this article from last week:
“News Media Outlets Have Been Ravaged by the Pandemic – Roughly 33,000 workers at news companies in the U.S. have been laid off, been furloughed or had their pay reduced. some publications that rely on ads have shut down”: https://nyti.ms/2XJ69pO
And when these other outlets die, even the biggest, like Gannett, power will be concentrated in the above three publications, the NYT, WaPo and WSJ…and then they’ll have leverage. They survived by spending, most notably the WaPo, with the infusion of cash by Bezos, whereas every other outlet has been stripped to the bone, there’s even a hedge fund buying up papers like the “Denver Post,” stripping them bare and making the profits now, while they still exist, and writing off their futures.
So, just like in tech, just like in every business, once there are fewer entities, prices go up. Facebook and Google can’t live without news, it’s one of their main drivers. Now they can get news from many outlets, but soon they will not be able to.
Which brings me back to that Bloomberg article.
Bloomberg has a soft paywall. You only get a couple of articles free, then you’ve got to pay. The decision makers pay, the rest of the world remains ignorant. A sad state of affairs, but never forget that Stewart Brand said…”Information wants to be free. Information also wants to be expensive.” Now the tide is turning towards the latter.
But getting back to the content of this Bloomberg article, entrepreneurs are filling the role of traditional concert promoters.
Let’s face it, concert promoters were in their heyday until this lockdown. Prices, attendance, grosses…they’ve gone through the roof! And there’s almost no innovation, you build it and they come.
But now they’re not coming. Ezekiel Emanuel says no concerts until the fall of 2021, Garcetti says at least not until 2021 begins. And we know that concerts will come last, because of the close contact of the people. So, is everybody just going to sit on the sidelines for over a year?
Of course not, the entrepreneurs won’t let that happen, they’re eating the big boys’ lunch.
Forget livestreams, the novelty is over, who even cares about this weekend’s two-hour event. Yup, you boil the essence down for consumption, squeeze it tighter, and fans are not interested, only looky-loos. We need real concerts, real festivals, real events.
Believe me, people will pay to see their favorite acts online. And that should happen NOW!
Sure, a lot of big-name talent is tied to Live Nation and AEG, but a lot of it is not. The field is ripe for the picking by anybody with a great idea and a little cash.
Now if you read the Bloomberg article, what you find is these Zoom nightclubs work because of the AUDIENCE, not so much the performers. The audience gets dressed up, the audience is on camera, the audience interacts with each other, the music is just a setting.
Just like at Coachella.
So this desire to show off and interact could be easily harnessed. By EDM deejays and solo acts…and even bands, eventually. And, just like today, where there’s a festival for every genre of music, you go and meet like-minded people and dress accordingly.
Most people don’t care, but those who do know how to get outfitted, to put on their Hawaiian shirts and have boat drinks right by their side.
Telluride Bluegrass Festival? I’ve yet to go, but I love that music, and would wear my jeans and sit in front of the screen.
So, true live music is not coming back for a long time. But just like people are interacting even more, albeit online, during this crisis, there’s a yearning to go to the show. People will pay. But, once again, it has to be an experience. Maybe make everybody cook and show off what they’ve made, there are a zillion ideas for creative people.
But just like the digital disruption of the past thirty years illustrates, change always comes from outside. At first it’s laughed at by the big boys, it’s cheap and crude…and then the upstarts supersede the big boys.
All the news is about how WME will survive. All the talk is about banks and loans and…same deal with Live Nation and StubHub. Couldn’t the people working at these entities stop crying in their beer and start innovating?
They said recorded music was gonna be free and go extinct.
Well, it turns out twenty years later that many are willing to pay for it, and there’s a plethora of people making it. Furthermore, without retail stores, with music being streamed virtually, business continues, revenues continue to come in.
And they could come in for the live business too, if promoters just started thinking out of the box. Your time has come, now you have to work hard for the money.
But one thing’s for sure, people want to spend to attend and interact. Music and live events have been burgeoning for a decade because of this. And in today’s quarantined world, the desire is even greater!