European Tour – June – July 2015

After the success of the UK tour, the next logical step was to use the contacts gained over the past years to book in a tour of mainland Europe to promote the new single. Here is the culmination of mine and Jochen Zorn’s efforts over the past 6 months. Flyer designed by Oliver Ballon and edited by myself to include the European dates:

Hail Caezar Euro Tour Poster 2015

This post will be added to upon the completion of the tour so that the successes and failures of this particular tour can also be critically analysed in order to inform myself and the band as we move forward.


Daddy Long Legs – Shacklewell Arms – 21/05/2015


I’d already seen Daddy Long Legs at The Shacklewell Arms a year or two ago courtesy of Dirty Water Records bringing them over and they were absolutely fantastic back then. I can also happily say that they are just as fantastic now as they were last time. The band played an absolutely storming set, pulsating with such energy and intensity, it felt like paint was being stripped off the walls every time that piercing harmonica pummelled my ears.

So many bands could take lessons from Daddy Long Legs in my opinion, as just three members managed to create a wall of ferocious sound, and deliver a stage show that hit like a tornado. They somehow accomplished this without a bass or cymbals on their drum kit, resulting in a primal and relentless beat topped with a fantastic overdriven blues sound.

Although a lot of their song structures and overall feel would probably place them in the roots music camp, it is their fire and intensity that make a band like Daddy Long Legs an essential group on the music scene today. When the band do decide to tone it down, numbers such as title track of their second album “Blood From A Stone” still engage the audience and result in a frenzied reaction when the dynamics are shifted back up again on tracks like “Motorcycle Madness” and “Evil Eye”, which you can see performed at The Shacklewell Arms below.

My only criticism is that they didn’t play “Sittin’ Shotgun” which is my personal favourite from the debut album “Daddy Long Legs” on Norton Records. Apart from that, I was bowled over by the show once again, especially on “Chains-A-Rattlin'”, where the drummer came forward with just the floor tom and preceded to beat it mercilessly at the front of the stage. A far superior and more lively take on the track in comparison to how it is recorded on their second full length record.

A band that is an absolute must-see next time they’re in a town near you!

Score: 9/10

In 2015, is there a future for the entrepreneurial artist manager? – 23/03/2015


The battle between creativity and commerce is one that every artist will encounter when they start to attract interest from the public. The resulting commodification of that artists work then has to be dealt with professionally and securely. This is the role of the Artist Manager, to plan strategically in order to best exploit and generate interest in their client/s whilst keeping every single aspect of their careers closely monitored (Harrison, 2014, pp.31-61).

The variety of different business deals and problems encountered by managers has changed vastly over time in an ever shifting industry driven by technological change. Artists are now able to create music themselves without the need for label backing, on modest costs, using readily available yet highly sophisticated equipment. Social Media then allows artists to build a fan base for little or no cost and earn a sustainable wage through online distribution (Evans, 2014).

This situation has led to questions being asked of the value of the artist manager in today’s market, and if business savvy artists need someone behind the scenes pulling the strings. This essay hopes to find the way forward for artist managers in the 21st century in an attempt to find their relevance in today’s industry.

A brief history of Artist Management

Throughout the 20th century, artist managers have been centre stage with people like Malcolm McClaren, and Peter Grant grabbing almost as many headlines as the artists they represented. One of the key figures in this period was manager of The Rolling Stones, Andrew Loog Oldham, who details a shift in management style from the mid-sixties; “In the ’70s, a different kind of manager was required — a hard-nosed money collector. Acts had their own vision. In the ’60s, we provided them with that vision.” (Loog Oldham, 2014)

This could certainly be said of the heavy handed approach by Led Zeppelin’s manager Peter Grant. He became famous for his intimidation tactics towards bootleggers, and his fierce negotiations with promoters leading to a 90/10 split in Led Zeppelin’s favour on tours (Allen, 2014 pp. 31-46).

However, the situationism applied by Malcolm McClaren in the making of The Sex Pistols, that impacted on the whole UK punk scene, was closer in approach to that of the vision led managers of the 60s (Simpson, 2010). The “Svengali” managers of the 1960s were exemplified by London star-maker, Larry Parnes. Parnes took working class youths, dressed them up in flamboyant clothing and had them sing interpretations of American rock’n’roll music under exciting pseudonyms such as “Billy Fury” and “Vince Eager”. The “Svengali” approach to management can still be seen today with the successes of Simon Fuller, which could point toward this management style being a way forward in the contemporary market (stratobuddy, 2010).

The Decline of traditional Record Labels in the 21st century

The decline in revenue from recorded music sales has led to a shift in management priorities as managers feel that their influence extends far beyond their now industry standard 20% commission on the contractually stated areas of Recording, Publishing and Live income (Riches, 2012 pp. 24-28). As the industry moves forward, managers are looking at different ways to earn a living from artist’s successes, especially as manager’s work for the artists and could potentially be fired at any time so need to protect their own interests. One of these ways is to enter joint ventures with prospective artists and start businesses together, instead of just signing a traditional management contract. This would involve co-ownership of any available rights with the artist in question. This may work in some circumstances, but artists should be wary of any such deal, especially when major labels also look to take a share of all available income with 360 degree recording deals (Riches, 2012 pp. 15-17).

In the 21st century, the lines between the services offered by labels and managers will potentially become more blurred. The merger between Cooking Vinyl and Music Manager John Black to create Black Gold management is just one example of how labels and managers are forming partnerships. This particular deal will allow the management company to benefit from the A&R (artist & repertoire) and marketing departments of the label at an early stage but leaves the company free to partner artists with other labels/publishers should they see fit (Music Business Worldwide, 2015).

Simon Napier-Bell sees the role of the manager now as a developer and part A&R man. In an interview with music week, Napier-Bell argues that major labels are still the power players in the music industry holding most of the places in the top 20 in both the USA and UK. He also goes on to say that the way the internet has allowed artists to grow and develop without major label backing is a positive thing for the industry as in his opinion “Artistic development was always better in independent hands, rather than corporate, so it’s actually a big step forwards” (Napier-Bell, 2015). If this is to be the way forward, perhaps the re-evaluation of the management role is fair, as they are becoming more crucial in marketing an artist’s output at the earliest stages of their career. If this relationship is to become the norm however, it is of vital importance that the legal principles are correctly observed. Potential production and/or recording contracts offered by management companies must protect artist’s creative work. They cannot allow managers to “double-dip” by taking a percentage of revenue from a single source twice, once as a manager’s cut and then again as the label/publisher (Riches, 2012 pp. 15-17).

Established artists do now have the ability to bypass the major labels/publishers structures completely, and retain the rights in their compositions and recordings by utilising label services groups such as Kobalt, who have financial backing from tech companies the size of Google [Ingham, 2015]. Jazz Summers proves the importance of the alternatives Kobalt offers as he was able to reduce the percentage taken by a record label on one of his artists live income from 20% to 12.5% through the threat of using Kobalt over a traditional label deal [Summers, 2014]. The transparency offered by Kobalt through the use of data that can track royalty payments over 700,000 revenue streams is a tantalising prospect for the 21st century manager and one that could put him centre stage in his artists career, accounting to them like no record label has previously been able to (Collins, 2015). 

The importance of Brand Creation

In the modern music industry, Patrick Wikstrom proposes the idea that the importance of how people interact with the online world lies in the context and not the content of its services. He states that Spotify’s success is down to “the service’s features and structure are superior to those of its competitors” (Wikstrom, 2013 pp. 177) While this may be the case in the online world, the same arguably cannot be said for one of the music industry’s most entrepreneurial projects of recent years. Tyll Hertsen (2011, quoted by Martin, 2011) declared “Beats” headphones by Dr. Dre as “among the worst you can buy” yet the company’s sale to Apple in 2014 was worth a reported $3 billion (Moore, 2014). This is a perfect example of how a fresh idea by an artist that is branded correctly can make waves in the modern music industry. The product identified a gap in the market for fashionable and high quality headphones to be worn as a statement that people latched onto (Martin, 2011). This same model can be seen when looking at Simon Fuller’s success with The Spice Girls and S Club 7 who was quoted in a 2003 guardian article stating “I reflect what’s out there, and if there’s a demand for something I recognise it.” (Fuller, 2003) Fuller’s success went on and spread into the realm of television with the huge brands of Pop Idol and American Idol and all of these point towards the importance of brand power in today’s industry.

Josh Brandon from Insanity Management believes that when it comes to his artists “the music is secondary, it’s the lifestyle or brand that the artist represents is what people buy into” (Brandon, 2015). Perhaps this is one of the key areas for development and could lead to the widespread adoption of artist-specific subscription services. The mass amount of content and slick “context” of an on-line streaming service like Spotify allows consumers to listen to an incredible amount of music at the touch of a button. The potential for this type of service has been identified by Bandcamp, a platform that allows artists to sell their music direct to fans with no middle man. Their next step of development is to provide acts with a self-managed subscription service, where the artists themselves dictate the price-point and availability of content direct to their fans (Williamson, 2014).

One successful brand that has already capitalised on such a service would be Jack White’s subscription service run through his record label, Third Man Records. Platinum membership to the service entitles the consumer to a quarterly package of vinyl records and bonus items, as well as an exclusive on-line members area where video interviews are held with Jack White and other exclusive content can be downloaded (Third Man Records, 2015). This approach, along with marketing stunts such as recording the world’s fastest vinyl record, liquid filled vinyl records and the release of the 2014 album “Lazaretto” on the gimmick filled “Ultra LP” format resulted in Lazaretto being the fastest selling vinyl LP since records began (Caulfield, 2014)

By taking the wisdom of Simon Fuller and identifying what brand value an artist has and developing that, music managers could still retain their worth in the industry today. This would allow artists to concentrate on their musical output, whilst the managers seek to identify ways for fans to buy into artists as lifestyle choices, not just by purchasing their latest record.

21st Century Technological advancements and opportunities

Technology has always been a force that has dictated change in the music industry and led to new ways of generating revenue. One incredibly innovative way that established artists can generate revenue through streaming is through the placement of retroactive advertisements in the YouTube videos. This new technology means that brands can now place ads in music videos that weren’t there in the first place and is a way that they can ensure their message is seen that will benefit the brand visibility and the artist financially (Newman, 2014). 

The app world is another area of potential development in the 21st century for innovative ways of thinking that could open up a whole new world of possibilities for artists and managers. Bjork’s Biophillia application provided an immersive experience that allowed listeners to actively participate in a visual and aural world they could interact with, rather than just listening passively (Beaumont-Thomas 2014). Although this may not be the right approach for more mainstream pop acts, an application that focused on a specific artist rather than album could be developed for this audience. Managers could look into partnering with tech companies to create artist specific apps that are purchased and subscribed to. In return, exclusive premium content would be unlocked and back catalogue works readily available to stream/download, as well as press, video interviews and regularly updated social media channels.

Because of the changing nature of the industry, what is required for an artist’s success is highly based on social media metrics and online “buzz” in order to entice people to get involved with their creative output (Peckham, 2015). It is through applications like Soundcloud and Bandcamp that music can be shared immediately and for free which is becoming key in establishing an artist’s career early on. Music managers need to look further than just the music-focused apps already available though and encourage their artists to adopt and experiment with other platforms. Video streaming service “Meerkat” could provide a key insight for fans into an artist’s life on the road for example. Partnerships could be struck with this service to stream live shows or live chat/interview sessions could be held with competition winners. The services selling point is the here and now and immediate interaction, as the video is not saved after it is streamed, once it’s over, it’s over (Peckham, 2015). It is through the creative use of new platforms like these to showcase artist’s talents, and the insight provided by management teams that will see acts thrive going forward.

The Live music industry and its importance today

The potential revenue from the live music industry is one of the most immediate ways an emerging artist can make their career sustainable through performance fees, live performance publishing income and intuitive merchandise ideas (Allen, pp. 85-98). It is for this reason that the management team of an artist must identify this quickly and capitalise on it appropriately, whilst being careful not to over expose their act. This means they have to act in the best interest of their client and not of themselves, known as their “Fiduciary Duty”. The stresses of earning a living as an artist can be seen when looking at the Martin-Smith VS Williams case when Robbie Williams decided to leave Take That. Martin-Smith sued Robbie Williams for unpaid commission and Williams argued that he did not have to pay because Martin-smith had failed in his Fiduciary duty to him personally. Williams stated that Martin-Smith advised the rest of the band to sack him, but the rest of Take That and Martin-Smith said Williams left of his own accord. The court found that, Martin-Smith had advised Take That’s members individually to the best of his abilities, the interests of the group as a whole were protected and he therefore did not sack Robbie Williams. Martin-Smith was therefore not in breach of his Fiduciary duties and was paid the unpaid commission from Williams (Harrison, 2014, pp.31-61). Disputes like these still arise today and constant media exposure and touring commitments have led to One Direction star Zayn Malik to be signed off with stress from the bands activity. It would be interesting to see if he takes action against Modest Management (Modest Management, 2015), because he feels they failed in their Fiduciary duty to him (Guardian Music 2015).

One example of an entrepreneurial yet controversial approach to the live music industry can be seen when looking at the secondary ticketing market. The demand for entrance to a live show by a highly successful pop/rock act, who’s audience quantity outnumbers the tickets available, opens up a new potential revenue stream on the free market. Some people are able and prepared to pay a significantly higher price than face value to guarantee entry to a live show and this is what the secondary market provides. Promoters have been able to allocate tickets to secondary resellers and take a cut on the profits. Channel 4’s dispatches documentary stated that 1865 tickets allocated for SJM promotions for a Coldplay show sold for £229,230.51 which is around £123 per ticket and almost double the £65 face value and earned 90% of that mark-up (JustMe STKK 2012). Although this is a way to maximise revenue on live shows in a market where the price is dictated by demand, it is seen as unethical and has been met with calls for transparency by managers. Jon Webster, chief executive of the Music Managers Forum, told the BBC: “It reflects badly, at the end of the day, on the artists – probably more so than anyone.” (BBC, 2012).

This has led to legislation put through in the UK to require the face value, seat number and any applicable restrictions to be stated when put on sale though anonymity of the seller has been upheld (Hanley, 2015). The legislation will still allow promoters and artists to reap the benefit of the secondary market if they choose to do so, but the possibility of bad press could result in managers failing their fiduciary duty to their clients by damaging careers in an attempt to maximise revenue.

For artists that already have a following, the secondary market can be avoided through direct to fan sales platforms like Music Glue (Music Glue, 2015). Through a service like this, the artist and manager can set their own price point for their shows and sell direct to their most passionate fans without booking agencies or promoters getting in the way and taking percentages from the earnings. This empowers artists and managers to have their own live schedule and tour when and where they want through using data collection services and is exemplified by acts the size of Mumford & Sons using these new platforms (Reynolds 2012, pp. 312).

Another successful artist in the live area is Skrillex and Jazz Summers puts him forward as an artist that the industry could learn from; “[he] makes these tracks, puts them out, doesn’t worry about whether they’re on a label or not on a label. Then he does 300 gigs a year for £50,000 a night or whatever it is.” (Summers, 2014) Although this is clearly part exaggeration, it gives an example of a key industry figure identifying a trend that is leading to recorded music becoming a marketing tool for artists to earn money through the live sector. This sentiment is echoed by Adele’s Manager, Jonathan Dickins, as far back as 2008 when he said; “when you’re looking at people who are willing to pay more to see an artist live than they are to buy a CD or download an album then that tells you a lot” (Dickins, 2008).


Recorded music is now readily available for free and some industry figures like Jim Griffin, founder of Choruss music believes that “Sound recording’s economy is now a tip jar.” (Griffin, 2009) Griffin’s failed company believed a way forward could be to bundle in the cost of accessing recorded music at ISP (Internet Service Provider) level but the scheme stalled as it could not get licenses for enough content. (Rosenblatt, 2011) The ‘free’ access to music this would have facilitated, along with the significant stature of legal streaming services like Spotify and YouTube, further ads to the belief that the way forward for artists and managers is shifting. It is no longer through selling significant amounts of recorded music, but through finding innovative ways to license it through alternative media platforms that are not specifically music based, like Facebook and even on-line messaging services like Snapchat (Peckham, 2015)

The role of the contemporary music manager is to work with their artists, identify their target audience, and partner up with the relevant brands, tech companies and marketing teams at the time that is right for them. “The music is secondary, it’s the lifestyle or brand that the artist represents is what people buy into” (Brandon, 2015). If music managers can understand this and create worlds that fans want to engage with all year round, not just in the lead up to another album release, then artists can truly flourish. Technology that allows direct to fan engagement could open up a world of possibilities that would allow fans to be immersed in an artist’s activities like never before. The managers that service their acts fan base innovatively, and deliver content that has enriching cross format appeal, have the potential to provide an immersive and interactive experience that would benefit the entire music industry.

Reference List:

Allen, P. (2014) Artist management for the music business. 2nd edn. Amsterdam: Taylor & Francis.

BBC (2012) Viagogo defends sale of promoter’s tickets. Available at: (Accessed: 23/03/15).

Beaumont-Thomas, B (2014) Bjork’s Biophillia becomes first app in New York’s museum of modern art. Available at: (Accessed: 22/03/2015).

Brandon J. (2015) ‘UEL Guest Lecturer.’ Interview with Josh Brandon. Interview by Dave Wibberly for UEL, March, 2015, unpublished

Caulfield, K. (2014) Jack White’s Lazarreto Debut’s at No. 1, sets vinyl sales record. Available at: 23/03/2015).

Collins, K (2015) Google Ventures bets on music publisher Kobalt in $60 million round. Available at: (Accessed: 23/03/2015).

Dickins, J. (2008) ‘Untitled’. Interview with Jonathon Dickins. Interview by Kimbel Bouwman for, 14th July published

Evans, R. (2014) 7 things a Record Deal Teaches you about the Music Industry. Available at: (Accessed: 22/03/2015).

Fuller, S. (2003) ‘I’m one of the best in the world.’ Interview with Simon Fuller. Interview by Caroline Sullivan for The Guardian, June, 2003, Available at: 23/03/2015).

Griffin, J. (2009) ‘Keynote at Digital Music Forum East.’ Interview with Jim Griffin. Interview by Bruce Houghton for, 14th March published Available At: (Accessed: 23/03/15)

Guardian Music (2015) Zayne Malik ‘signed off’ One Direction world tour to recover from stress. Available at: (Accessed: 23/03/15).

Hanley, J (2015) Revised secondary ticketing laws passed by MPs. Available at: (Accessed: 22/03/2015).

Harrison, A. (2014) Music: the Business: Fully Revised and Updated, Including the Latest Changes to Copyright Law. United Kingdom: Virgin Books.

Ingham, T. (2015) Google Ventures pumps funds into Kobalt, leads $60 million investment round. Available at: 22/03/2015).

JustMe STKK (2012) Viagogo – the Great ticket Scandal Available at: (Accessed: 23/03/15).

Loog Oldham, A. (2014) ‘Andrew Loog Oldham dishes on rock’s biggest movers and shakers’. Interview with Andrew Loog Oldham. Interview by Ken Sharp for Goldmine Magazine, September 2014, Available at: (Accessed: 22/03/2015).

Martin, A. J. (2011) Beats Headphones with swagger (and lots of bass). Available at: (Accessed: 23/03/2015).

Modest Management (2015) Available at: 23/03/2015).

Moore, H. (2014) Apple buys Dr. Dre’s Beats for $3bn as company returns to music industry. Available at: (Accessed: 22/03/2015).

Music Business Worldwide (2015) Cooking Vinyl Back New UK Artist Management Venture. Available at: (Accessed: 23/03/15).

Music Glue (2015) Artist Services. Available at: (Accessed: 23/03/15).

Napier-Bell, S. (2014) ‘The Big Interview Simon Napier-Bell’. Interview with Simon Napier-Bell. Interview by Tom Pakinkis for Musicweek, September 2014, Available at: (Accessed: 23/03/2015).

Newman, J. (2014) Old Videos, New Ads: Advertising shocking next frontier. Available at: (Accessed: 22/03/2015).

Peckham, E (2015) Envisioning Snapchat’s impact on music. Available at: (Accessed: 23/03/2015).

Peckham, E (2015) The New ‘Meerkat’ App is a win for music. Available at: (Accessed: 22/03/2015).

Peckham, E (2015) Why Artist’s Managers are taking centre stage. Available at: (Accessed: 23/03/2015).

Reynolds, A. (2012) The tour book: how to get your music on the road. 2nd edn. Boston, MA: Delmar Cengage Learning.

Riches, N (2012) The Music Management Bible: 2012. London: Music Sales

Rosenblatt, B (2011) The future of music, from blanket licenses to registries. Available at: (Accessed: 22/03/2015).

Simpson, D. (2010) Malcolm McClaren Obituary. Available at: (Accessed: 23/03/2015).

stratobuddy (2010) Panorama 1959 inc Billy Fury EDITED.wmv. Available at: (Accessed: 23/03/15).

Summers, J. (2014) ‘All That Jazz’. Interview with Jazz Summers. Interview by Tim Ingham for Music Week, 31st January published, Page numbers 15-17.

Third Man Records (2015) Third Man Records Vault Platinum Subscription – Renews Automatically Every 3 Months. Available at: 13/04/15).

Wikstrom, P. (2013) The Music Industry: Music in the Cloud. United Kingdom: Polity Press.

Williamson, C (2014) Bandcamp to offer artists individual subscriptions. Available at: (Accessed: 22/03/2015).

UK Tour – February – March 2015


In order to measure the success of the support tour, I set out on the task of booking a follow up headline tour every city The Caezars supported Imelda in (and a few other local shows that would hopefully be well attended). These gigs were booked in venues of 100-300 capacity and took place between the 5th of February and 14th of March 2015 and were promoted through tour flyers, and local promoters coming to the shows with Imelda May to raise awareness. This was an idea suggested by Imelda May when the band supported her at the Kentish Town Forum in 2011 as it was one of the ways she rose to success after touring with Jools Holland (Costa, 2011). The tour took a month to book in and was promoted through social media and appearances on specialist internet radio shows like Steve Stack of Wax’s Wednesday Night Rockin’ Party (Mixcloud, 2015) as well as posting flyers in the towns and cities the band were performing in.

Hail Caezar Tour Poster 2015

Posters and flyers were put up in the venues themselves, but also in vintage clothing shops (LOOT, Brighton (Facebook, 2015), Beatnik Emporium (2015) Southampton, The Vintage Collection London (Facebook, 2015) and independent record stores, Sounds That Swing (No Hit Records, 2015) London, Vinyl Tap (2015) Huddersfield, Pie & Vinyl (2015) Portsmouth. This ensured that they were reaching people interested in live music and vintage style/aesthetics who are part of The Caezars target audience. Reynolds believes the importance of specialised promotion for live music events is down to the fact that “The fickleness of the concert-going public should never be underestimated” (Reynolds, 2012, p. 17) and is why I enlisted the help of genre specific promoters such as “Make With The Shake” and “Go-Go Gorilla” for the geographically relevant shows.

Before embarking on the February 2015 tour, The Caezars recorded a new single to be released on 7” vinyl and digital download in time for the tour in February. The physical 7” single will be available for pre-order on the Bandcamp page and the digital audio track will be made available to listen to on the bands Soundcloud page. Soundcloud is where music is posted before it appears on Spotify or iTunes or anywhere else (Horn, 2014) because, as its CEO Erik Wahlforss (2014) told Gizmodo; “Soundcloud is where music culture happens on the web”.  The digital audio files  will also be made available on iTunes and Spotify upon the release date via the aggregator service Zimbalam (2015), as iTunes and Spotify do not work directly with artists to receive works. This releasing strategy will help rectify the errors made on the last tour whilst still servicing fans in a way that is simple, efficient and appropriate. Vinyl sales grew by 54.7% in 2014 and although the format only accounts for 2% of global revenues, it has an appeal that matches the bands current demographic (IFPI 2015).

The Results

The follow-up tour was a success and over 15 shows over 6 weeks the average attendance was 103 people with the highest being a sold-out 200 capacity show in Cornwall. To date the new single has been receiving radio play on genre specific online radio shows such as “Frockabilly” on Radio Reverb (2015) and “Get on The Right Track” on Rockabilly Radio (Rockabilly Duke Box, 2015). Ben Kirby (cited Reynolds, 2012 p.8), manager of The Subways, believes that continuing this level of touring is essential in the 21st century; “there’s such a fast turnover of acts these days, and it’s vital to gig your arse off and build a solid fan base that will still be there in 5 years time”.

Perhaps the way to grow and move forward is by trying to seek out a label services type deal for the next album, in order to fully distribute and promote the release. Especially when considering Passman’s (2012) theory; “for a record deal to make sense, the record company has to generate more money for you (after they take their piece) than you would get by selling less product on your own”. 

It has also led to the belief that one of the ways to survive as a niche independent artist is to follow the examples of The Wave Pictures (2015) and Bob Log III (2015), who are constantly on the road playing shows, earning money without the press and marketing campaigns of major record labels. Fabbri (1980) stated that “Every genre is defined by a community of varying structure which accepts the rules and whose members participate in various forms during the course of a musical event.” Performing on the Rockabilly scene is no different, with fans attention not only placed on the music but the lifestyle choice as a whole that includes the fashion, automobiles, and even the relevant furniture. The internet has enabled niche bands to tour specifically to their audiences on the relevant scenes. This means that the need to make the right noise in-front of the right people that is more interesting than that of our peers has never been so vital.

Reference List:

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Beatnik Emporium (2015) The Beatnik Emporium Available at: (Accessed: 29/01/15).

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A Discussion of Legislative change that has affected the Live Music Industry


At the start of 2013, UK guitar band The Vaccines were preparing themselves for their biggest tour to date, culminating in a headline performance the 20,000 capacity O2 arena on May 2nd. It is therefore, hard to imagine that the band kicked off the year with an intimate show at the Southampton Joiners on January 22nd, as a show of support to a struggling live music venue [NME, 2013]. Like many other venues in the UK, Southampton Joiners poor situation at the time was partly due to the Licensing act of 2003. The act placed many restrictions on the performance of live music and other entertainment, and so inadvertently caused lots of venues throughout the country to close. This, along with the combined effect of further legislation, and the growing monopoly in the live sector that big business like Live Nation and AEG currently hold, has changed the UK live music sector significantly over the past 15 to 20 years.

This report will look into the UK’s live music industry and how it has changed over this period of time, analysing the various factors driving that change. It will also look at the impact that recent regulation changes and the emerging secondary ticket market may go onto have, in order to predict the future of the live music economy in the near future.


Originally proposed in order to cut down the processes involved in applying for licenses to sell alcohol, host regulated entertainment and provide late night refreshments, the 2003 licensing act was expected to create a more diverse night time economy. The need for six individual licenses would be abolished, replaced instead by the need for a single premises or personal license to cover all licensable activities at one fixed cost. The application process would be made to the local council, rather than the national courts, making licenses easier to regulate. It would end fixed closing times to reduce the amount of rushed drinking before 11pm, and aimed to reduce public disorder. [, 2005].

Unfortunately there were many unforeseen repercussions from the act, many of those hitting grass roots music venues. The act made licenses compulsory for small pubs and clubs to host regulated entertainment. This lead to concerns that 56,700 smaller clubs and “toilet venues”, who had previously not needed licenses, would now face closure. This would result in the number of concerts taking place in the UK every night falling by around 50% from 4,500 to 2,250. Despite this concern, the act was put into place with no amendments to address these issues [Higgins, C. & Gibson, O. 2005].

Many notable live music venues throughout the UK ended up closing and were turned into residential spaces or restaurants. This is because of the cost of the new licenses (on average an extra £1600 per year) and the application processes that were both lengthy and complicated [Sabbagh, D. 2011].

The localisation of the applications also led to stricter rules on licensing implemented in certain areas. One of the most extreme circumstances of this was in St. Albans, where although licenses were granted for live music performances, they were very prohibitive. For example; there were restrictions on the number of performers allowed in a space, restrictions on frequency or amount of performances, restrictions on genre/style of music performed and signs having to be displayed warning of upcoming events. Although this is an extreme and localised case, it is an example of the impact the act went on to have in some places [King, J. Jaggar, P. Rayner, L. Robertson, D 2009].

However, it could be argued that the closure of these low quality and dirty “toilet venues”, with their poor facilities and equipment, could actually benefit musicians. Online promotion and marketing has made it easier for new bands to create a buzz and fan base themselves, negating the need for small scale promoters [Hasted, N. 2005]. The rise in cost and processing time of licenses has further squeezed out these low and mid range promoters that used to be so prominent in the live music world [Harris, J. 2013]. This has led to corporate brands such as MAMA Group and DHP promotions purchasing small venues. The additional funding provided by these brands has ensured their venues have award-winning facilities, creating a better gigging experience for both bands and fans [MAMA Group 2014].

On the other hand, the independent venues that have survived have not only had to cope with the licensing fees, but also the rising costs of putting on bands that have come to expect the quality offered by corporately owned small spaces. Because of this, despite The Forum in Tunbridge Wells being named best small venue by NME in 2012, it is staffed entirely by volunteers. The money that the co-owner can spare from the profits of his local pub chain funds the annual £7,000 loss the venue makes. The forum carries on through dedication to music, and because the volunteers’ feel that towns don’t need places selling wood fired pizzas, they need music venues. [Lamon, T. 2012]

This sentiment was echoed by the former chief executive of UK music Fergal Sharky, who said; “The licensing act is failing small venues and that is having a huge impact on the future of the live industry.” [Topping, A. 2012] Lord Tim Clement-Jones also felt change was needed, and so helped bring forward the live music bill of 2012. The purpose of the bill was, according to Clement-Jones, was “to breathe new life into the live music scene” [The Guardian 2009]. The bill removed licensing requirements for; live music between 8am and 11pm, in venues up to 200 in capacity, that are already licensed to sell alcohol, and non amplified music between 8am and 11pm in all venues [Penrose, J 2012]

Most music industry professionals welcomed this act as a sign of the government noticing the unintended harm the licensing act had caused. However, the extent of the impact is yet to be seen, and there have already been criticisms levelled at the bill. For example, small scale corporate owned venues have invested time and money into their high quality performance spaces. These venues risk being undercut by amateurs not needing a licence, putting on cheaper events in spaces not meant for live music shows, resulting in poor sound quality and a bad gig for both fans and artists [The Rocktober Report 2009].

There are also wider issues to consider when looking at the nationwide closure of small venues, not associated with the Live Music bill. The recession has led to people having less disposable income, and combined with rent increases on properties, pressure has been heaped on venue owners. The rise in VAT to 20% also hit smaller shows, as having to charge more to ticketed events in a time where people have spare money is not going to bring in customers [MacVeigh, T. 2012].

The ability to promote shows at smaller venues was also hampered with the introduction of the clean neighbourhoods and environments act in 2005. The act presents councils with the powers to control the distribution of free literature, in order to keep neighbourhoods clean. A person found guilty of putting up posters in public spaces without a license can be fined up to £2,500, and the licenses to distribute flyers are prohibitively expensive [Clean Neighbourhoods and environments act 2005. 2014]. The Internet has allowed small venues to promote through social media, and flyers can still be given out inside venues. However, it is thought that the act has made it harder to make the general public aware of small shows, therefore reducing audience numbers and having a knock on effect to their revenue [Appleton, J. 2014].

Technological advancements may also play a part in peoples decisions not to go to smaller gigs by lesser-known artists. It could be suggested that music-streaming services have inadvertently created a “try before you buy” culture. Perhaps people are now only purchasing tickets to concerts by bands they know and love, rather than taking a risk on an unfamiliar artist. YouTube has also allowed potential concert goers to see what exactly is in store for them before going to a unknown artists show, or to even stream the performance of a megastar act live into their living room in some cases. This could also be linked to the rise of arena gigs and the monopolisation of the upper echelons of the live music industry by the likes of Live Nation and AEG, as demand for tickets for huge acts with substantial followings and big production stage shows needs to be fulfilled.

Live Nation is the result of various purchases and mergers by American Robert Sillerman’s company SFX. After buying up lots of live music promoters in the US, SFX purchased three of the most significant UK promoters (Apollo Leisure Group, Midland Concert Promotions, and the Barry Clayman Corporation) in 1999. Clear Channel then bought SFX, and rebranded all of its live music interests into Live Nation in 2005 [Brennan, M. 2014]. Live Nation has gone on to become the worlds largest concert promoter, organizing around 30,000 gigs per year, and turning over almost double the entire revenue of the UK music industry [Ingham, T. 2014].

Part of the reason for this huge amount of growth in the live sector is due to the decline in record sales thanks to the rise of internet download sites, streaming services and piracy. However the level of investment pumped into the live music world by huge corporations has resulted in better facilities in arena sized venues throughout Europe, enabling higher ticket prices to be charged. This has led to multinational companies being able to entice huge heritage acts out of retirement onto lucrative tours, as well as being able to cash in on maximum revenue when contemporary pop acts perform live [Music Week 2012]. High capacity venues and high-ticket prices obviously lead to huge sums of money being generated when arenas do sell out, but what happens when they don’t?

The music industry now moves at such a high speed, due to increased fan-to-fan connectivity, leading to a lower level of control from the traditional record label hierarchy [Wikstrom, 2013]. This has resulted in managers and booking agents getting involved in much earlier stages of an artist’s career to ensure they benefit from an artists success should they take off. The resulting team that ends up around the artist all need to be paid. So, in order to compensate for the lack of money generated through record sales, the act is booked at huge stadium sized shows the moment they have a hit. This is also cheaper for the label, which doesn’t have to provide tour support for a single arena show in a big city [Harris, J. (2013].

There are potential issues to be considered with this school of thought though. For example, the artist may not have had enough time to grow the fan base required to sell out these huge venues, which could result in a poor atmosphere and bad performance. If the act has enjoyed huge hype and does manage to sell out the stadium they are playing, they may not have had the time to create the bulk of work required to entertain the crowd sufficiently. The performer may be able to compensate for this by having the best sound in the world thanks to the state of the art facilities, along with the most amazing pyrotechnics and light show. However, if they have not honed their craft, they may not have the charisma or star quality to wow their paying customers. The possible result of any of these potential problems is that the artist may not have the demand for a further run of shows, resulting in their popularity level dropping significantly, and the average music fan moving onto the next act to be given the same treatment [Goldsmith, H. 2013].

A tour by a genuine superstar artist that has been building a fan-base over a number of years usually avoids these hurdles, generating such a huge demand that tickets sell out within minutes [Guardian 2014]. Circumstances like this and the internet have allowed the growth of a huge secondary ticketing market worth an estimated £1 billion per year, but is one of the most controversial issues within the industry today [All-parliamentary Group 2014] . 

On one hand, the secondary market allows fans to buy and sell tickets for sold out shows. Usually the tickets are sold above face value, which allows tickets to set their own market price. Live Nations chief exec Michael Rapino supports this theory, as he believes the music industry deliberately undervalues shows as part of its core marketing strategy. Some tickets actual market value may be thousands of pounds, but an artist coming out and selling their tickets at that price would be a PR disaster [Ingham, T. 2014]. This is understandable, as it would come across as artists doing nothing to stop fans who are unable to spend hundreds of pounds on tickets, being priced out of their shows. 

Because of this, there has been an outcry for governmental legislation to help stop the secondary ticketing markets prices spiralling out of control. Otherwise it becomes a place where event holders can allocate tickets directly to resellers and take a cut of the profits on the inflated sales figures, as uncovered by channel 4s dispatches investigation into ViaGoGo [JustMeSTKK 2012]. 

However, it is believed that too much time has elapsed to legislate the secondary ticketing market, and that one potential solution could be to be for the event hosts to be stricter in their allocations. Limiting the amount of tickets individual users can buy and requiring photo ID at event entry could massively dent the resale market. On the other hand, it could harm initial sales as tickets would be non transferable, so could not be bought as gifts. These restrictions would also be very expensive to implement on small-scale shows and so may not be practical to implement [All-parliamentary Group 2014].

Centuries ago, music and culture was only for the aristocracy and royalty, as they were the only people able to afford to indulge in these activities [Klein, S. 2014]. If the cultural industries do not take steps to address the secondary ticketing market, it is feared by some that the general public may be priced out of concerts and other cultural events, resulting in a return to such times.


Secondary ticketing, the closure of small music venues, cultural changes, sector economics, and diminishing record sales, have changed the way the live industry operates, yet has increased it’s importance to the whole UK music industry. Live Nation, AEG, MAMA group and DHP, among others, have provided high quality live music performances spaces of all sizes, and many “toilet venues” have closed their doors. The general public now expect this level of quality at every show they see, wether it be at the 20,000 capacity O2 arena, or the 200 capacity Borderline. This, along with poor economic times, has led to gigs becoming more a part of the broader entertainment palette, with people choosing between going to a live music show, football match or spa day. A gig at the O2 arena, with it’s cinema and many restaurants, has become a day out rather than just an evening event [O2, 2012]. Customers now expect high quality food, drink, and comfortable seating whilst watching globally renowned acts, something that small “toilet venues” can not offer.

Perhaps this is why the Live Music act of 2012 may not provide the huge boost to the UK’s small music venues it hopes to. Instead of new acts relying on constant touring and releasing album after album, slowly climbing up the venue ladder before they have enough fans to fill arenas, the process happens in a different way. The internet means artists can release a YouTube video that goes viral and leads to them gaining 100,000s of fans overnight, significant major label interest, and a headline gig in front of thousands [Beaumont, M. 2013]. If this is to be the future of the industry, perhaps the time of the “toilet circuit” is over and the arena is now king. Maybe the importance of the overall entertainment package now outweighs the importance of the intimacy, blood, sweat and tears offered by a tiny basement club, with sticky floors and paint peeling from the walls. 

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