It's not surprising at all, 16 years after Pearl Jam testified in front of Congress about the insidiousness of the Ticketmaster monopoly (to no avail), proceeded by this year's merger between Ticketmaster and Live Nation, that we're staring down the barrel of the worst touring summer in recent memory. Higher ticket prices, fewer venues, and too many bands have put the squeeze on one of the last remaining sources of revenue left in the music business.
And yet, musicians are finding a way. I'm reminded of the old school, 80's punk days when bands had to find alternate venues to play (sometimes living rooms) because mainstream promoters and club owners just didn't get it. This new underground touring circuit was forged out of communities of like-minded people and worked out very well for bands like Black Flag, Fugazi, and many others of their ilk. It demonstrated the power of networking and niche before there was even the internet.
Fast forward to now: the more things change, the more they stay the same. Fans and artists once again find themselves working together to get the shows back on the road. Websites like David Dyas, Scott Warren, Manda Mosher, and Matthew Ryan are filing into cars together, splitting the gas, and backing each other on stage, all without the traditional accoutrement or overhead. Homebound artists are hosting live online concerts through companies like Even heavy-weights like LCD Soundsystem and Pixies are challenging the old-guard by brokering tickets directly to their fans with the help of Topspin (see below).are establishing networks of people willing to host shows at houses, backyards, galleries, you-name-it. Artists such as
Pretty cool, eh?
Now I'm not saying DIY touring is easy and there's gotta be a 100 Woody Guthrie songs bemoaning the life of the traveling troubadour... but compared to the "old days", the resources available to you now are a veritable gold mine. Hell, the Honduran gov't has been overthrown with less.