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NEAR TRUTHS: THE ROAD BLUEPRINT

As was pointed out in a prior installment, a number of emerging acts have seen success on the road after gaining traction on the DSPs. Here’s a look at some touring data from various genres. 

Note: If there’s a second major wave of COVID-19 in the fall, it will shift the live-schedule paradigm entirely. But the picture is constantly changing and much of the science remains speculative. 

LIL HELP: Streaming over the last two years has provided hip-hop artists with touring opportunities that had not existed previously; acts were able to tour clubs and small theaters nationally off a single hit song. Once they established their live bona fides, they moved another rung up the touring ladder.

A breakthrough act could follow up a club tour with a headlining trek alongside a group of up-and-comers. In March 2019, for example, Lil Baby was able to embark on a 25-date national tour of traditional venues with City Girls, Blueface and others. The same held true for Lil Yachty in 2018, when he went on a 23-show tour with Bhad Bhabie opening—suggesting that Coach K and P may have developed something like a road blueprint for emerging rappers.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: For country acts, touring has historically been a major means of exposure. Kane Brown and Luke Combs were selling tickets briskly (1-3k depending on the market) before hitting the mainstream radar. Being one of three on major tours supporting Florida Georgia Line or Jason Aldean added fuel to the fire, and radio play kicked things into overdrive. Both acts are now headlining arenas.

Morgan Wallen also opened on FGL and Luke Bryan runs and was slated to be direct support on Aldean’s summer jaunt; he’s currently blowing up on DSPs with new single “More Than My Hometown.” Parker McCollum (MCA Nashville) and Riley Green (BMLG) were on the same path before the shutdown, each putting up similarly impressive ticket numbers. The new world order has both the labels and managers pivoting to keep the irons hot. Even so, the country market now finds itself in a difficult spot with no tours and no bundles. No good.

LOUDER: Although it’s fair to say that their streaming tallies have been comparatively negligible, an impressive number of Rock and Alternative acts have developed a significant business around touring, leveraging radio, social media and a highly engaged audience to create a sustainable live ecosystem. Alternative artists like Rex Orange County, King Princess, Grimes, Mt. Joy and Yungblud, for example, are dependable live acts playing 1,500+ venues.

Rock bands such as The Struts and Asking Alexandria have been significant live attractions for some years now despite having little profile in the wider biz. Younger rockers like Greta Van Fleet, who graduated from clubs to arenas within two years, have demonstrated the ongoing resilience and viability of the genre; other successes at the format that developed into reliably lucrative touring machines have included Badflower (who scored three Rock radio #1s), Highly Suspect and I Prevail.

 

 

Photos: Rahul Pandit and Thibault Trillet for Pexels

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