Pollstar Live! Discussing The Great Slump Of ’09

Talking the Slump of
– Pollstar Live!

Moderated by:

Joey “Vendetta” Scoleri, Head of Industry Relations, Live Nation Canada
Michele Bernstein, Partner, WME
Marty Diamond, Paradigm
Alex Hodges, Nederlander Concerts
Rob Prinz, ICM Partners
Bob Roux, President, U.S. Concerts, Live Nation
Andrew Simon, Music Agent, CAA
Although there was some disagreement in whether the the slump of 2009 following the U.S. housing financial crisis that kicked off a global recession, really was devastating to the concert business, the panelists on this discussion did seem to agree that it feels like much longer than 10 years ago.
“It feels more like 20 years ago,” said WME’s Michele Bernstein, adding that social media has changed things dramatically especially in marketing. “Fans can respond right away. Now it’s ‘what did we learn from 10 months ago?’ instead of 10 years ago.”

Rob Prinz, Bob Roux, Andrew Simon
Paradigm’s Marty Diamond, whom panel moderator Joe Scoleri of Live Nation Canada  joked is more difficult backstage than the artists, noted that today’s fans seem to move quickly and with no barrier to entry to music, tastes can change more quickly such as when he got One Direction tickets for his children 6-8 months ahead of the show. By the time the show happened, they had moved on.
Bands as well seem to blow up more quickly, with CAA’s Andrew Simon saying, “I think we had that before, but bands incubated longer than they do now. Now they may get to the 3,000-5,000 seats a lot faster, where before they might get stuck in the club level around 1,000 for a while. There’s still a little struggle to get them from 5,000 to the arena, and you have to be careful about oversaturation. Keeping the demand there becomes the next responsibility.”
Nederlander Concerts CEO Alex Hodges said he most definitely saw a downturn in 2009, with shows being lost as some tours were canceled and California being hit especially hard by the housing crisis.
“There’s an old saying about California when talking about any kind of downturn, and that’s ‘last in, first out.’ Well that didn’t happen,” Hodges said. “California was hit really hard after the Greek Theatre came off banner years in 07-08.” He added that one Nederlander venue in Northern California was undergoing renovations and took off a year, and in retrospect that was probably a good thing. “i’ve just been trying to forget it (2009),” Hodges said, when asked what was learned from the recession.
However, Live Nation head of North American Concerts Bob Roux said that any talk of an impending downturn or another recession flies in the face of evidence.
“I can tell you this business is kicking ass,” Roux said. “In looking for parallels from 10 years ago to today, I hope no one is fretting because the business is stronger than it’s ever been, it’s more united than it’s ever been, it’s smarter than it’s ever been.
“All these people are investing in their businesses, their staffs, these companies are putting tons of money back into this business,” he said, mentioning new offices for the major talent agencies, “and we’re hiring new young people and not looking in the rearview anymore, and that’s why it’s as healthy as it’s ever been and will continue to be healthy.”