When the Rolling Stones Retire

Posted on January 31, 2011


It will happen someday. Mick, Keith and the gang will eventually hang it up.  For that matter so will most of the top grossing touring acts of the last decade. According to a report by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd., 40% of the revenue generated by the top 20 touring acts between 2000 and 2009 went to artists who are now in their 60’s. 

In fact, of the top 20 touring acts in the last decade, only six percent of the lead singers are currently under the age of 40.

Don’t expect a youth movement any time soon. With the record industry struggling the budgets that have fueled touring and artist marketing will have to shrink. In 2010 record labels spent an estimated $5 billion marketing up-and-coming acts. With record sales declining that can’t possibly continue at the same level.

The analysts at Deloitte think the concert industry, which has survived the country’s economic issues better than most, will need to take up the slack investing in the promotion and marketing of new artists. They especially single out festivals like Lollapalooza, Bonaroo and Coachella as potential investors in developing talent.

It’s hard for me to imagine Lollapalooza Records cropping up but there’s little doubt things are changing and, of course, radio will be effected. 

First, big arena and stadium concerts are communal events for the audience bringing together large chunks of the audience in one place for a shared experience. Small club shows don’t have the same effect. It’s a good reminder that stations need to move beyond relying on big concerts as their promotional lifeblood.

It also means stations that feature new artists need to start doing more than relying on major record labels as their main source of music discovery. It’s time to start searching for great music and championing bands. You might be surprised what it does for the station’s credibility in the minds of the listeners.