Touring and festival season is upon us! I thought this would be a great time to discuss why people go to live shows. The three biggest reasons why people go to shows are to see their favorite bands play, experience the culture of concert going or festivals, and to hear the music live.
The most obvious reason why someone would to a show is because they are a fan of the band that is playing. They want to be able to see who is behind the music that listen to on a regular basis. It’s almost like getting validation that this person who makes this music that speaks to you and that you love is actually real and not just a figment of their imagination. Having the person that they look up to be right in front of them humanizes the music. Fans get the connection with the band, a connection that makes the fan not feel like just a random fan but someone who is on the same level as the band. Going to live shows brings fans closer to the acts that they love and admire.
The second reason people go to concerts or festivals is to experience the culture. Think of Bonnaroo, fans are camping out for several days just to hangout and listen to some good music. There are thousands of strangers all around you who are there for similar reasons. Strangers that you actually have something in common with and you can bond over that. Nothing connects people the way that music does and festivals or concerts let fans interact with each other. It’s a really amazing to see fans bond over music.
My favorite reason for going to a concert is hearing the music live. Nothing is more real than when you get to hear the song that you know forward and backwards live. It really brings the music to life and fans get to experience the raw emotional connection with the music. Live music isn’t filtered, altered or over produced; it’s pure emotion that, when it hits you just right, it elevates you on a spiritual level. Regardless of how fans listen to music, streaming, CD, vinyl, etc. the way a song sounds live is completely different. There is no hiding a missed note, no do-overs; it’s all in the moment. “Music has the knack for attaching itself to certain memories-or even mental states.” There is nothing like hearing a song live. When it hits you, it hits you to your core. It’s raw and pure; nothing feels as amazing as hearing live music.
Everyone has their own reasons for going to live shows; see a band, bond with strangers, be taken to a higher spiritual level, or some other reason that I didn’t discuss in this article. Music is such an amazing thing. It is the one thing that can completely control how the listener feels. It’s a great way to escape and live shows let fans escape even more. For that allotted time, it’s just them and their favorite band; it’s just them and the music that means more to them than anything. There’s nothing more amazing than experiencing music live.
No, this is not another political rant regarding personal opinions and feelings toward our new president. This is about music and how artists’ careers are affected based on what they chose to do. I know I’m a little late on this article since the inauguration has already passed but I still feel the need to explain the logic behind an artist performing or refusing to perform at such a huge event. Basically what it comes down to is the artists’ brand. By brand I mean how the artist presents themselves to consumers. It’s the thing that makes them easily identifiable, what they associate with, and what they stand for. So they have to figure out if this event, which in this case is the inauguration of Trump, fits with the brand that is the artist.
As far as the artists that refused to perform when being asked it was probably more political than it w
as protecting their brand. Musicians such as Celine Dion, Elton John, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, KISS, Justin Timberlake, and even Kanye West turned down Trump for some reason.
The interesting thing is the acts that said that they were performing but then canceled. After it was announced that Jennifer Holliday was performing she got criticized for it. Eventually she backed out and released a statement saying “I apologize for my lapse of judgment, for being uneducated on the issues that affect every American at this crucial time in history.” What it comes down to is that her brand would have been greatly affected. Her fan base is not one that supports Trump so performing at his inauguration could have costed her a fan base and a career.
For the artists that did perform, their brands never really were at stake. I say this because Toby Keith, Three Doors Down, Lee Greenwood, and Jackie Eancho’s fan bases either didn’t care either way about the inauguration or they support Trump. Toby Keith for example, not only do most of his fans support Trump, but Toby’s brand fit perfectly with the inauguration. It wouldn’t have mattered who was president because Toby’s brand is all about America. He regularly preforms for soldiers and has had multiple hit songs based around being patriotic. He saw the inauguration as supporting his country, not necessarily supporting Trump. Toby stated that, “I performed at events for previous presidents [George W.] Bush and [Barack] Obama and over 200 shows in Iraq and Afghanistan for the USO.” America is part of his brand so the inauguration wouldn’t hurt it any.
What all this comes down to is how an artist’s brand is going to be affected. If the fan base doesn’t support something then the artist shouldn’t either. The artist needs to constantly keep their brand in mind because that’s what they are known for. Without it there’s no career so touchy subjects like Trump need to be handled carefully so the brand isn’t damaged. So maybe instead of being titled Music vs. Trump, this article should be named the Artist Brand vs. Trump.