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This Is Uncomfortable

Music’s reliance on summer concert season

Shannon Mullen May 31, 2013
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The Rolling Stones are set to play a live show in Chicago tonight as the summer concert season gets underway.

This used to be the time of year when artists went on the road to help boost their record sales.  But in the digital age, it’s the other way around; for a lot of musicians now, putting out an album is an excuse to take the stage.

“Today they tour to pay their mortgages,” says Gary Bongiovanni, editor of the touring-industry trade magazine Pollstar.

He says artists used to be able to record, sit back and collect royalties, but as that revenue dried up, they’ve turned to touring for more of their income.

“At the same time the price of attending concerts has escalated dramatically so the cash flows in the live business are much greater than they used to be,” Bongiovanni says.

How much of an artist’s bottom line comes from concerts depends on the artist.

John Kellogg, who teaches music-business management at Berklee College of Music, says Madonna makes more than 90 percent of her total revenue on tour.

“Now, if you have another artist like a Justin Bieber who’s younger, who is selling records, selling a lot of merchandise, touring income is only going to make up about 60 percent,” Kellogg explains.

The summer season offers the most venues, from county fairs to ampitheaters, plus fans with more time on their hands.


If you’re going to a summer concert, you might want to pack some tech supplies to capture the moment and stay connected. Check out some of our recommendations below:

1. Shazam: Hear a song you like, but not sure of the name? Shazam lets you hold up your phone, record live, and then identifies the mystery tune.

2. Vine: Capture concert moments six seconds at a time. Vine lets you create and share short video spots. Free on iOs.

3. Gifboom: Or, if you are more of the Tumblr persuasion and prefer GIF’s to video, try creating your own festival GIF with this app, which is available on iOS and Android.

4. Vyclone: Lets you co-create videos with your concert-mates. The app synchronizes footage from several phones to create multiple angle movies.

5. zLocation: Like Hansel and Gretel for your phone. zLocation lets you drop GPS markers so you can wind your way back to your car, food stand, or other chosen meeting spot.

6. Glympse: Share your location with friends and never get lost in the crowd. This app allows you to send your location to friends and set how long they can track you.

7. Water Your Body: Use your phone to stay hydrated. This app, which cost $1 on iOS and Android, lets you monitor your water intake and needs.

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