The Live Experience Isn’t Replaceable, Or Is It?

Is the live experience, like this Ed Sheeran concert in Prague, replaceable?
– Is the live experience, like this Ed Sheeran concert in Prague, replaceable?
Not if we keep it live, according to Nick Hobbs

Many working in this industry are confident that the live business could never fall into a great slump, like the recorded business did with the emergence of digital technologies. 
Their reasoning: the live experience isn’t replaceable. 
Nick Hobbs, owner of talent-buying and promoting agency Charmenko, isn’t so sure. He thinks, that with the emergence of streaming, the bond between fans and their favourite artists has become weaker than it used to be some 30, 40 years ago.
And he thinks the industry is encouraging this development by putting on “dead shows,” mere projections of artists.
Nick Hobbs
– Nick Hobbs
Owner of Charmenko

“The business encourages punters to buy tickets for shows by artists, who are not actually living on stage, but are projections. What you do by doing that is you devalue the actual thing that you’re selling. It’s not a live show. It’s a dead show. The artist is dead. They just aren’t there, and you know they aren’t there,” Hobbs explained.

“In theory,” he continued, “you could have the same projected dead show happening in 10 or 20 different places all around the world at the same time with session musicians. It would be kind of the same show, it’s repeatable. It’s not a unique experience anymore.”
According to Hobbs, this creates a problem for the industry: “The moment you’re devaluing the live experience, you create a problem for yourself in the future. Because then the punter starts going, ‘why don’t I just go to the cinema?’, or, ‘why don’t I just watch it on Netflix.’ 
“Why do I need to bother buying a fucking 100-Euro ticket, or 50-Euro ticket, and travel and all that shit, when I might as well just have a big screen with big speakers and invite my friends around?'”
To Hobbs, the hologram tour marks a triumph of appearance over substance, “and that is a trap, because the experience of the person going to the concert becomes indistinguishable. Even if the artist is different, the shows are kind of the same. Of course, there are all kinds of details, which are different, but basic technology is similar.
“There’s lots of flashing lights, there’s going to be some pyro techniques, it’ll last 90 minutes, there’ll be an encore, there’ll be a video wall, there’ll be this, that and the other, and it’s all completely formalized. That devalues what makes going to a concert unique. You’ll start having a similar experience whoever the artist is.”
Hobbs fears that the kind of live experience a hologram concert offers weakens the relationship between fans and artists, exacerbating the effects of streaming: “You tend to listen to music, because it’s a certain playlist, or a certain style, or because it’s what your friends like, and you’re not particularly focused on individual artists so much.” 
According to the promoter, “it’s a bit like listening to radio without a DJ, you’re not particularly paying any attention to who made that music. So, your relationship to the artist is weaker, which, of course, creates a problem for the promoter. Artist x might get zillions of streams, but that doesn’t translate into zillions of ticket sales.”