Submitted by Peter Åstedt
Some people think the pandemic is kind of over. I can tell it is not. We probably must live with it for several years and have more or less adapted to new rules and regulations. This of course has affected a lot of live establishments, festivals, and other things in the live industry. I guess it’s a bit early to start thinking of major tours and gigs again. That is not the phenomenon I would like to write about. I want to tell you how people value things wrong.
As an artist, you have a value, of course, but the value is also very subjective. You think you can get well paid for a show because you know how much time you have spent writing and rehearsing the show. The problem is that a person that runs a gig place or festival is mainly calculating your value by how many people that will buy a ticket or get into the place and consume food and drinks. It doesn’t matter if you have a great fan base in your home city and actually get some payment for a show. As soon as that fans base is not showing up your value is back again to zero. I meet too many people thinking that your value follows along with your name. It’s not, not even with big stars.
There is no reason for a booker to take on your unknown band for a show with high payment and a huge risk. Okay, before there were people that could do that just because they liked the artist and had a community of people that just trusted that you presented good shows. Several of the biggest festivals in Europe are like that. They release their tickets, and they sell out before they even have announced an act. At the same time, the audience knows they won’t be disappointed, and the festival has the pressure to deliver. That is kind of over right now. There is no certainty that this audience is coming and also that the COVID situation will be ok during the festival. Now they are defiantly going for safe cards when it comes to artist bookings.
If you think this problem only goes with an unknown new artist, you are wrong. I just have had long conversations with big booking agencies that think they get out money from totally unknown artists in my territory just because they get paid in another part of Europe. Come on, if you are going to a new territory you need to invest. Same as a company wants to start exporting its products to a new country. You never hear about a company trying to break a new market and don’t have any budget to spend on promotion.
With that said, I don’t want to hear that you have a lot of costs and expenses to get to my gig. It’s not my problem! If you don’t have the marketing budget in place don’t even start to seek out gigs in a new territory. Your value is zero as long as you don’t sell any tickets and it’s up to me to decide if I think that you are selling tickets or not.
Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 30 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham. In 2021, he worked as the European Consultant for Heal the Earth – An Earth Day Celebration. His latest venture is a new Showcase Festival in Sweden, Future Echoes futureechoes.se/. Peter is a Managing Partner and Editor of the newly launched Record World International.