The music press this week has been wailing in despair over the news that the number of people not bothering to attend gigs that they’ve bought tickets for is rocketing. In some cases, up to 40% of the entire audience has been missing – meaning guest lists are being packed full of people looking for freebies.
And to be fair to them, their grievance does have some justification. The club owners I’ve spoken to tell me there was a real clamour for nightclubs to reopen, but that it turned out to be short-lived – something which many simply didn’t anticipate. They knew demand would be huge at first and it would drop off – but the numbers have been pretty staggering.
Now, I’m not saying for one moment that Covid-19 isn’t part of the story here. Of course it is. If people are isolating due to being identified as a close contact or they actually have the virus, they clearly can’t go to a concert. In the current climate, anyone who goes out to a gig feeling unwell is being incredibly stupid.
But I’m not entirely convinced that Covid is the whole story. Isn’t it remotely possible in the case of dance music that one reason people aren’t going out is because the scene has been rumbled? Just look at the dire lineups on offer in clubs and festivals.
It’s the same old names in the same old order – only the venue is different. They keep delivering more of the same. Repackaging the same things in new wrapping paper each time and expecting that the public will keep buying it. And they will – but only for so long. The new blood, the injection of new energy promised during the pandemic has simply not happened.
There are far too many vested interests in the system – the DJs who practically have a closed shop arrangement in place guaranteeing them income, the managers who need those DJs to do the work so they get paid, the venues who think they have to pay top dollar for everything and so forth. So whilst Covid is undoubtedly causing disruption, the lack of new blood in the music world is also a problem.
This blog has covered infighting within the rising garage house scene – and much of it can be attributed to DJs who’ve been around for a long time acting like they run a protectionist racket. They see new blood in the scene not as something necessary to keep things going – they were new blood once, they forget – but as a threat to their position. And I believe 100% that this happens in other genres too.
Stop treating the public as if they were morons. Otherwise, you might find your little scene soon becoming an even littler scene…