Pop Music Attrition

Ølen/Vats/Vindafjord, Norge, 31.01.2014: Små bygder, store milliard-bedrifter. Livet på puben er som et barometer på aktiviteten i oljenæringene. Nå er det liten aktivitet, og Knut Davidsen (tv, lap steel), Egil Jørgensen (vokal, i midten) og Sigbjørn Davidsen (gitar) spiller for et tomt lokale på kroen Joakari. Foto: Eivind Senneset

One of the long term research projects I’ve been working on is the attrition rates of local bands. Over the years I’ve had many discussions with local musicians about how often bands fold, or how a singer-songwriter will drop off the face of the earth, or how a musician decides to go back to school to learn a different trade–the reasons are numerous.

Last year I started tracking and creating a database of bands or solo acts I’ve played shows with over the past couple of decades. I’ve had this sense that a majority of musicians eventually get out of music (or at least curtail their music performing activities significantly) after a few years. There’s a sense that after a few years most acts are pretty much done (I’ve estimated anywhere from 70% to 90% of them*), and probably about half end by the first year or two.

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How to raise Orchestra revenue with Live-to-Projection events


Some time ago I read a Silicon Valley Business Journal piece about the Symphony Silicon Valley’s Live-to-Projection Lord of the Rings concerts. SSV President, Andrew Bales, expected to sell out the two full runs of the trilogy in their Center for the Performing Arts in San Jose. This would mean selling out 15,000 seats for the two cycle run, and if an early review in the San Jose Mercury News is any indication (11,000 tickets had already been sold), then it’s like that SSV came close to that goal.

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What’s it like playing for 50,000 people?


Over the years I’ve performed to an audience of none (some of my Performance Art and Experimental Music performances took place in very odd settings) up to audiences of tens of thousands (stadium concerts) and while I’m tempted to say each performing situation is different, really, it’s not.

I mean, in the end, you just get up on the stage and do your thing, whatever that may be, right?

A couple weeks ago I was talking to a student about performing at stadium shows, mentioning “playing for 50,000 people,” and I recalled that I had a post draft from March (12) of 2014 where I referenced that number. The quoted section above was what I had saved and interestingly, I’ve changed my mind about the “and while I’m tempted to say each performing situation is different, really, it’s not” comment.

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Who is Paul McCartney, part II


I thought this was as humorous as the first round two years ago (sorry–no Dothraki love song info in today’s post). This blurb from the Boston Globe probably says it best–especially about how nostalgia culture has become a culture of its own:

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“Last time I checked there isn’t an orchestra in the US that can fill an auditorium like major pop names.”


The quote in the title of this post is from a Chip Michael’s piece from a few years ago.

It’s also something that is symptomatic about what’s wrong with comparisons between different kinds of musical genres. In the end, yes, what we’re talking about is live music played by live musicians for a live audience, but as the old adage goes, “The Devil’s in the Details.”

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