Thu Oct 9 2008
What’s going on
You’d think that at a time when folks can barely afford a jar of peanut butter, rock & roll would be the first thing to disappear from their budgets. But people are still paying for live music—records haven’t had real value for years—if only to escape the doom and gloom in the headlines. According to Mark Shulman, vice president of talent at national promoter AEG Live, established acts, especially, haven’t been affected. “Maybe people are being a little more selective,” he says, “but they’re finding dollars for what’s important to them.” Case in point: Tickets for AC/DC’s Madison Square Garden shows on November 12 and 13 went on sale during Wall Street’s Week of Pain and sold out almost immediately.
How this affects you
Developing acts are more likely to suffer as a result of economic panic, says booking agent David Viecelli (a.k.a. Boche Billions) of the Billions Corporation, which books acts such as Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend and Neko Case. If you’re into idiosyncratic indie rock, your fave bands might not come around quite as often in the coming months because of declining demand. In college markets, Viecelli notes, more clubs are doing extra-value ticket bundles and drink specials to mitigate losses, but those benefits won’t apply to shows in New York, where there are always enough wealthy consumers to keep prices up. Sorry.
The bright side
The local music scene should continue to thrive under the broke-ass economic order. Tightening wallets are reducing interest in high-ticket tours, and gas prices are adding to the pain for artists and promoters, but emerging NYC bands are willing to play small clubs for more modest advances. The recession certainly hasn’t stopped the proliferation of new venues. Recent upstarts like (Le) Poisson Rouge and Santos Party House are booked solid with acts, and Greenpoint’s Brooklyn Bowl is set to open by the end of the year with live music nightly. Pete Shapiro, owner of the forthcoming bowling-alley-cum-rock-club, is confident reasonable prices will keep his new place packed. “Regular bars do fine in times of economic distress,” Shapiro says. “It’s not like we’re offering bottle service.” If nothing else, the money turmoil might inspire some great tunes: Maybe we’ll get a “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” out of this whole mess.