The live music business is a significant multinational industry, employing hundreds of thousands of people worldwide and estimated to be worth more than €25 billion annually (source: IFPI). The sector has become increasingly important to the livelihood of artists and musicians in recent years because of the global downturn in the sales of recorded music. Those dwindling sales mean that many artists have come to rely on the revenues they make through their live performances for the mainstay of their income.
The value chain in the live music industry starts with the artist, but there are many people involved in supporting an act and helping them to achieve success in their live careers – individuals such as the artist manager, agent and promoters, as well as venue operators, ticketing companies and a myriad of suppliers and contractors.
The artist manager is in overall charge of an artist’s career and acts as the liaison person between the talent and his or her record company, music publisher, agent, promoters and increasingly corporate brands and sponsors, who might wish to associate themselves with the artist or act. Typically, the artist manager will devise a strategy with an agent to build a fan base for the artist through their live performances, allowing the act to progress from playing small clubs to theatre-sized venues and, for the more popular acts, arena shows and stadiums.
The agent effectively manages the artist’s live performance career and for international stars, an act will usually have more than one agent – one managing their careers in North America and another to plan their performance schedule in the rest of the world. However, some agents also use sub agents so that they can maximise their client’s potential in certain territories by tapping into that sub agent’s local knowledge.
The risk takers in the value chain are the promoters. The promoter will negotiate a fee with the agent to secure an act for a particular show, festival date or tour. The promoter is also the person who will hire the venue and undertake the marketing and promotional campaign to sell tickets for the show or tour. Together with the agent and artist manager, the promoter will decide on the ticket prices for the show, with the plan being that enough fans will buy tickets to cover the show’s costs and, hopefully, turn a profit. The promoter may also organise a festival, which is a sector of the business that has grown substantially over the last ten years.
A promoter’s costs also involve the many contractors and production specialists who supply the likes of lights, audio equipment, stages, video screens, transport, insurance and security.
With thousands of gigs and concerts taking place every day around the world, the live music industry has never been more popular and with fans eager to enjoy the unique experience of seeing their favourite artists performing their favourite music live, the global business is one of the most vibrant parts of the entertainment sector.
All of these stakeholders and more attend the International Live Music Conference in London, in March each year.