Op-Ed: Live Nation Cancels Shows – By Bob Lefsetz


Unilaterally. Supposedly 200 at CAA alone.

This has been the buzz of L.A. for days, but has gotten no mainstream media attention.

We know it's been a bad summer… But this bad?

The concert giant is trying to save itself. Which is the exact opposite of its behavior since its inception, which was about overpaying to decimate the competition.

They've achieved their goal, but at the cost of their bottom line. And when the Ticketmaster kickbacks don't make up the difference, when there aren't enough people in the venue to profit from food and beer sales, never mind a cut of merch, drastic measures are necessary. This on top of a no secondary market booking policy that was instituted months back.

You may be on the outside, laughing, but unless you're a consumer, you're in trouble. The giant that overpaid and didn't demand you give back on a losing show? That company is gone. Replaced by one struggling for not only its survival, but a good share price (oftentimes in reverse order).

Michael Rapino has gone on record that if he doesn't pay, someone else will.

But suddenly, the casinos can walk away. And not everything AEG presents sells out.

So where do we go from here?

Lower prices.

Then again, a lot of these shows no one wants to see at any price. And too many oldsters have toured the same show year after year after year and the audience has seen it, and won't overpay to go again.

The "Wall Street Journal" reported Saturday that retail sales waned in May. So one can say soft concert ticket sales are just a reflection of the economy.

Let's hope so, but I doubt it. I believe we're going through a giant reset, and there's a good chance the landscape will look totally different when we're done.

First and foremost, the audience has gotten out of the habit of going to the show. Once a year is not a habit. And with so few places to break major acts, people would rather play Farmville on Facebook than take a flier on a new act, even if it's cheap.

Our whole musical business culture is bankrupt.

The major labels can't build acts because they've got no revenue and no one working there. They can put their energies behind one or two horses at most.

Labels used to support clubs. But they can no longer afford to, and club promoters are not incentivized to lose money, because they know when the act grows, it'll just go to Live Nation or AEG.

Agents felt they were in a winning position. Acts would always get paid, no, let's make that OVERPAID! But it's one thing for the promoter to lose money at a show, it's another thing for the act to lose the date entirely.

Who's going to give the bad news? Where does the buck stop?

Looks like Live Nation is crying uncle. And can you sue Live Nation for breach of contract when most of your business is done with the behemoth?

Acts and managers are going to have to adjust. The free ride is over. Especially for those who haven't had hits in eons. You've now got to earn your pay. And that pay is going to be a lot less. The days of the act making a profit and the promoter losing his shirt appear to be over.