Author(s): Simon Frith
Organisation / Affiliation: IQ: The ILMC Journal (International Live Music Conference)
Date: Q2: 2009
Simon Frith, Tovey Chair of Music at Edinburgh University and Chair of the Mercury Prize, provides an academic perspective of the value of live music and the main threats facing it.
He points out the power shift between recorded and live music, but notes the dangers in moving from one reductive account (based around the decline in recording) to another (based around a set of assumptions concerning a buoyant live sector). The main issues are that in times of economic downturn live music is still valued by consumers as a way of mitigating bad times but that this can be threatened if concerts become over-commodified. Live music promotion is a long-term, not a short-term business which needs to build audiences over time and look after artists across different stages of their career. Thirdly, the business of live music and alcohol sales are thoroughly intertwined, which makes live music particularly subject to the threat of regulation- regarding noise, safety, alcohol and public assembly.