Florida State University produces a concert series called “Opening Nights.”
For the program’s latest show at the Moon this week, Edwin McCain came to town. We got a chance to catch up beforehand; it was great to see McCain and he even brought back his signature long hair from early in his career.
Speaking of the days I worked in the music industry, I had a chance to see Edwin rocket to the top of the charts from a bar band as we were friends with his managers, booking agent, and the entire organization.
1998 was the year “I’ll Be” ruled the charts, all these years later Edwin has not missed a beat.
He might even be a better performer than in those early days — as the era of guzzling Jägermeister preshow is long over, for him (and me too for that matter).
Edwin and the Dowlings at the Moon.
I was 1000% looking forward to this show, but I tell you what, Edwin’s show really knocked my socks off. He brought the goods like he had Metallica and the London Philharmonic backing him up.
That’s what one year off live music will do, I guess.
It was just like old times, with new friends, old friends, co-workers, and even the Mayor in the house. A 10-out-of-10 evening.
I was reading Gary Yordon’s dining out column this morning (I think he says butt-sniffing five times, I get the analogy — but still cringy) and he hit the nail on the head with how dining out just like live music can be such an awesome time.
Streaming concerts and to-go food are no match for the real thing. And just like the canines Gary mentioned that are about to go crazy in the park, we are all revving up to hit the streets.
Also extremely fired up to get back out there are the artists themselves. For example, Edwin played this weekend, his first show in 15 months. He shared a story with the crowd, as he took the stage for the first time for his triumphant return — his guitar didn’t work. Classic.
As a fan, it was odd not to see a show for a year; imagine if the music business was your trade/craft.
The artists could put together on occasion the aforementioned streaming show, but the staff at the Moon (or the thousands of other venues around the nation) cannot stream their jobs, nor could the booking agents or road crews that are the backbone of the touring industry.
Shows all over Florida are lined up in May, from Chicago to Foreigner to the Beach Boys. This summer, it really gets interesting as Justin Bieber launches his tour (I know everyone reading this is ready), plus Brad Paisley, the Mötley Crüe/Def Leppard stadium jaunt, Dave Matthew and just about everyone you can think of is heading out because they have not worked in months.
As the world shifts gears, there might be concert overload; if these shows are like Edwin’s — limited capacity, like football games last fall — it’s OK as a fan. You park right upfront, no lines, etc.
While this might be OK at the club and festival level, at the stadium level, promoters are not going to be able to manage the massive guarantees that superstar hard rockers the Crüe, for example, demand each night. I believe their contract is $2 million per show; Def Leppard, $1 million per show; Poison $250,000 and Joan Jett approx. $50,000 per show.
You are not buying that much talent unless you are selling every seat in the house, and 50% capacity isn’t going to cut it.
To get some perspective, I dialed up Beckon Entertainments VP of Touring and Production Rodney Stammel about his upcoming Lost Art Music Festival, just north of us in Georgia to see what he has going on, and what’s up with this show and all the goods.
“Two years ago, we came up with the idea of a destination event that allows you to bring the entire family without having to get on a plane or a cruise ship.,” Stammel said. “A curated, destination music festival by music lovers for music lovers. This model really seems appealing as people slowly get accustomed to getting back out there.”
The bottom line is — music is back! Artists and the teams behind them are getting back to work, and I’m very happy for them. As far as the songs go, I can hear the anthems of touring crank up as you read this, Bob Seger/Turn the Page, Creedence Clearwater Revival/Travelin’ band or for the metal folks, We are the Road Crew by Motörhead.
As far as dollars go, Florida’s music industry provides almost $8 billion in revenue to the state GDP in normal times, providing 170,000 jobs according to “50 States of Music.” So many of those have been negatively impacted by the pandemic and they could all use our support.
To provide support is easy, buy a ticket to that Motley Crüe or Bieber show, crack a cold one and let the music play.
See you out there.
Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies, the host of the Biz & Tech podcast and is a recovering music business professional. He can be reached at [email protected].