Several weeks ago, promoter evenko went on sale at virtually the same time tickets to shows by Guns N’ Roses, Depeche Mode, P!nk and Bruce Springsteen. ” I have never seen that. We are living in a period of rebirth,” says Nick Farkas, Vice President of Programming, Concerts and Events at evenko.
Every time it went on sale, he said to himself, “Have people had enough of this?” »
The answer: no.
“I’ve been producing shows for over 20 years. There has never been a demand for two Depeche Mode shows in Montreal,” says Nick Farkas.
The frustration of music lovers at not communing with an artist in a performance hall for much of the pandemic should not be underestimated. “Honestly, I don’t remember such a busy schedule, not counting the festivals. It’s amazing the amount of shows we have. »
On the program for the weekend of August 12: Metallica at the Olympic Stadium, Sam Smith at the Bell Center and the ÎleSoniq festival at Parc Jean-Drapeau.
While tickets generally sell well, for all artists and in both small and large venues, it is clear that a good part of the summer and fall programming takes us back to other eras. Add to the names mentioned above those of The Cure, Rod Stewart, Peter Gabriel and Shania Twain.
“For Lionel Richie’s show with Earth, Wind
If the public is at the rendezvous, the tours in circulation are numerous. “There is a post-pandemic and compression effect that causes the groups to catch up,” says Danick Trottier, professor of musicology at UQAM.
“It’s crazy, ticket sales, how good it is everywhere. With the pandemic, people feel like they’ve missed something and they don’t want to miss anything anymore,” says former Montreal rock journalist Marie-France Rémillard, who goes to see dozens of shows around the world each year. and closely follows industry trends.
In Montreal, she will see Peter Gabriel and Kiss, while she will travel to see Gary Numan, Elton John and The Who.
“There are groups that don’t have much time left. We are truly at the end of an era and there is going to be a renewal,” she said.
More than ever, people act like it’s now or never when they see a group from their bucket list come through Montreal, Nick Farkas opines. “We haven’t seen Springsteen in Montreal for 15 years. Many think, “I won’t wait another 15 years to see it.” »
“A lot of people see the possibility of seeing bands for the last time,” adds Danick Trottier, pointing out that Kiss is indeed on its real farewell tour. The health of some musicians is fragile, he underlines. “Ozzy Osbourne was due to return and he canceled his tour due to health issues. »
“Slash isn’t that old, but he has a pacemaker,” recalls Danilo Dantas, an HEC professor with an interest in the music industry who will be watching Guns N’ Roses on August 8 at Parc Jean. -Flag.
You don’t need to be a marketing expert like him to know what the scarcity effect of certain tours creates on supply and demand. “You can listen to an album several times on Spotify, but a concert is still a unique experience. It’s rare and it’s expensive, ”he illustrates.
But these days, “people want to go out,” he continues. “You also see it in the airline industry. People want to travel and airlines have no shame in raising prices. »
With dynamic pricing, show tickets can also be very expensive, creating a sense of urgency among consumers when a tour goes on sale at a specific time. “The demand is so strong that you have to act quickly, otherwise you can pay a surplus on the secondary markets”, explains Danilo Dantas.
If ticket prices for performances by artists from the 1970s and 1980s are particularly high, it is because their target audience can afford them more. “These are bands that appeal to people who have been in the workforce for a long time and often have more income,” explains the marketing professor.
Result: When our favorite band returns 15 years later, we want to spoil ourselves.
When Danick Trottier went to see Green Day as a young man, he was left unsatisfied because he was in the back rows. “When I went back to see Green Day in 2017, at the Bell Center, I bought myself a ticket on the floor for over $200. I thought it was a little too expensive, but I had such a great evening. Green Day played for a long time and we were treated to some lesser known songs. I capitalized on my relationship with Green Day.
“I got what I paid for, which brings me to an important point: the repertoire. We tend to forget that. »
Basically, for these bands to be generous, they have to have tunes, like Madonna, Springsteen and Peter Gabriel.
Danick Trottier adds that these are stars who have been able to renew their audience. “It’s been downplayed how these bands have huge fanbases for decades and generations, with many people who haven’t seen them live yet. »
Martin Lussier, professor at UQAM and member of the Popular Culture, Knowledge and Criticism laboratory, recalls how “the development of digital technology has made it possible to enhance old catalogs”. Young people discover The Cure or Peter Gabriel in a playlist.
Frédéric Émond, administrator of a Facebook group of show and ticket sales partners, emphasizes how the relationship with our favorite bands goes beyond music.
His musical nostalgia is that of the 1990s, so much so that he will see Blink-182 on May 12 at the Bell Centre. Especially since Tom DeLonge is back with the troops.
“This is the band of my life. It’s in my blood and it’s the one I’ve listened to the most since I was born. I have a Blink-182 tattoo. »
Anyone who spends part of their monthly budget on shows talks about reunions. “It’s positive nostalgia. It’s not melancholy, but beautiful memories. It’s fun to find bands like that. »
There’s a “community spirit” when you go to see a band like Metallica.
Martin Lussier adds an important point by donning his hat as the drummer of the punk band Les Marmottes aplaties, which returned to the stage in 2019 in front of “bulky men with white beards”, he jokes.
If we can accuse a Mick Jagger or a Paul McCartney of wanting to fill the coffers of their estate on each tour, we must not forget why they made their debut on stage.
“Sometimes we look at them with a critical eye, but we forget that they are musicians who still have fun playing music. »
Some musicians impress with their longevity. We obviously think of the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney, but also of Madonna and Depeche Mode. Looking ahead 15 or 20 years, will that many artists be able to unite their loyal fans in arenas?
“I’m not worried and I’ve been hearing this panic for 20 years,” says Nick Farkas, vice president of programming, concerts and events at evenko.
The fear of seeing fewer and fewer groups filling arenas is nothing new, he points out. Although the program for the next few months at the Bell Center and Place Bell does not rhyme with renewal, let’s not forget that each generation of artists has its next generation. “The members of Blink-182 are not the same age as those of Depeche Mode”, illustrates the one who has been a music programmer for 20 years.
Well, it’s true that Blink started their career in the early 1990s and the nostalgia factor allows the punk band to sell tickets – like the ones that quickly sold out for the May 12 show at the Bell Center – but their popularity should not run out of steam anytime soon. And other artists with loyal fans will follow. Former rock journalist Marie-France Rémillard believes the Harry Styles and the Taylor Swifts could just as well fill big arenas in 20 years.
Because they are fascinating, yes, but also because a system is in place. “The way the industry works ensures that there will always be a new generation of artists who will rise to the top of the charts,” says Ricardo Daley, founder of Ricky D Events, who has been hosting hip-hop shows for years. 1990. There will always be a new Travis Scott or a new A$AP Rocky. Maybe there will be less, but the industry is always going to be looking for the next [big name] and then having some become the next. »
“Music is a business,” recalls Marie-France Rémillard.
In this great equation, we must also consider the decompartmentalization of genres which multiplies the number of shows.
Nick Farkas never thought he would one day schedule a country festival like Lasso in Montreal, or even present a dozen artists of Latin origin at the Bell Center, as evenko did last year. “People listen to music all the time and they change their style. »
Tastes change, of course, but they are also transmitted.
“The majority of people in the crowd for Nas and Wu-Tang (October 2, at Bell Square) will be those who have followed them for 25-30 years, but those will bring their friends and younger people and then other fans will be born on that day,” concludes Ricky D.
Frédéric Émond, 32, will see Blink-182 in May. He doubts that so many of today’s bands will be able to gather crowds in large amphitheaters in the decades to come.
“I was talking about it with friends recently and we thought that the artists of my generation had less of an impact on their era than others. Is it due to changes in technology and moving from artist to artist in streaming? The popularity of artists may not be so enduring. »
“Unfortunately, I think we’re going to lose [bands touring long and everywhere] a lot more than we’re going to gain. I don’t think the next generation is there. Yes, two or three will emerge, but I don’t think there will be the same number of major shows in 10-15 years,” said Martin Brière, who sees an average of five or six major concerts per year.
While fewer bands will enjoy the popularity needed to perform in arenas, Nadine Décarie, who visits a venue about twice a month, believes smaller venues could accommodate them well. “Anyway, I’d rather go to Club Soda, MTelus, Fairmount, or even bars,” she admits. As much for nostalgic groups as for emerging music, these places are fun. »
We asked avid show-goers what they like best about concerts by artists from another era.