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May 27, 2020

I Like Busking But…

BuskerThe weather is exceptional, it is May Half Term and any normal year, I would be camping with my daughter down on the coast in Cornwall. Instead, I find myself in my attic writing a blog about the industry I work in. In particular the smaller venue and roots festival end of that spectrum. That’s the end where most artists work. In terms of absolute numbers, more musicians make a living out of smaller spaces than out of larger ones. FACT.

“In terms of absolute numbers, more musicians make a living out of smaller spaces than out of larger ones.”

It’s very easy to focus on the big spaces, the big festivals – the headline events in the industry press – but the truth is, that is a different world to the one occupied by the small venues. Sure, for our agency, our big receipts come from the larger spaces, but the majority of our shows are not there. And the majority of our artists don’t work there.

I like busking, but throwing up another front room performance with a digital tip jar is digital busking – and there are only so many buskers I can metaphorically walk past, bleeding into each other’s space, before it becomes tiresome. We need some order and direction in this and so do venues and promoters.

In my last blog, Touring In The Digital Space, I looked at streaming behind paywalls from smaller venues. Somehow using the local marketing expertise of the promoter to penetrate into the local community. Sure the technology and the rights holders of the music have a bit of catching up to do – but my point is, as agents we should just get on with it. Now more than ever we can help our artists and the venues where they work. This is where we can add value.

Cybersecurity – What of it?

I had a few lively discussions about cybersecurity after my last post – and this is a major deal, however, using cybersecurity as an excuse for inaction is not an option for me. The promoters of high profile events will have to spend time and money working that out, but in the meantime, we need to get some legitimate revenue from folk who actually chose and pay to see our artists.

Last week I had an email from the Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin where I have a performance in November. I dabble in poetry, well I represent one poet – the exceptional Stephen James Smith. The theatre is beautiful, the small space we are using only holds 80 people. Err whoops, no it doesn’t, now it holds 14! Yes, FOURTEEN! So how can we make that work financially – Well selling 14 tickets ain’t gonna cut it that’s for sure! We have no option but to find another way.

What can be done?

I’d like to see shows selling a combination of hard and streaming tickets for the very same show. Like this we can get a number of shows going this autumn and folk who are not willing to mix in public can watch from home whilst more adventurous punters can get out to a show that is financially viable.

What do you think? We know it’s technically possible – but could it actually work? I would love to hear your comments.

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