Music, the healer of ills, easer of pains, the bringer of great highs and of deep lows. For many, it’s the vehicle to our greatest experiences and strongest memories. All it takes is a song, or just a riff, to get the heart beating just that little bit faster. An album is like a book, it’s a journey, an escape, small wonder people will move mountains to see their favourite band or artist. As times have changed, so has the music experience.
Like everything else, the speed and dimension of today’s shows has grown, I want to say, exponentially, because that’s how it feels to a person like me, whose generation grew up with the concert venue; an opening band followed by the main act. It was great, and it was reasonably cheap.
Just about anyone could easily afford to see their favourite artist, as long as you lined up early enough at the venue to get tickets; similar to what people do today to get the latest version of whatever gadget they might think they need. These days it’s somewhat different, not only do you have several outlets selling tickets, but one doesn’t even need to leave home. It’s lightning fast, but ironically, can be much more difficult, if what you want to see is what everyone wants to see. A couple of days ago, a friend mentioned that tickets he wanted went on sale at 6 am, and a couple of minutes in, the concert was sold out. I still can’t wrap my head around that, it’s hard to imagine thousands of people watching the time, waiting to pounce on the keyboard. Of course, today’s society is also so “been there, done that” that concerts have become “experiences”.
Multi-day festivals have almost taken over. If you want to see your favourite band you have to pay to see several, whether you like them or not. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The festival venue is quite an experience, and you end up discovering new acts, and enjoying them.
The only beef I have with these festivals is they’re just like amusement parks; you can’t bring anything in to eat or drink, so pay up, if you get hungry, and you know you’ll be thirsty. It’s ludicrous. As for the price of entry? If you enjoy more than a couple of acts, then the price is reasonable. But things are getting out of hand. People are paying thousands for tickets to see individual artists, and, like a buying or renting a home in the GTA, relatively few can afford to have the experience. Those that pay inflated prices ruin it for the rest of us, not that they care, they’re focused on an objective. That’s the way many things roll today, and with streaming platforms monopolizing the entertainment industry, artists themselves are being squeezed out of the money loop. They’re now charging astronomical fees to perform, which always spells more expense for us.
The monopolies have also hit ticket sales adding several commissions to the price. The business world is hoarding most of the pie. Even artists, popular ones, are asking questions. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. This is a snake that’s eating its own tail, but it’s a really large snake; an analogy that fits most of the world’s woes.
People will continue to do whatever it takes to enjoy these experiences, until they no longer can. I guess, eventually, trends will change, and people will seek out the smaller, simpler, more affordable acts. In the end, although the great and popular artists may deserve the praise we’ve given them, marketing has us focused on the very few, so that executives can get the most bang for their buck. But art is like nature, hard to control, impossible to contain.
For every popular artist out there today, there are thousands that are just as talented, waiting to be seen and heard. When people can’t get access, they move elsewhere. I know I’m not alone when I say that great experiences come from the moment, not just who you’re watching, but who you’re with, that’s the experience.