So concert giant, Live Nation, has announced that it plans to expand its Fillmore “franchise” to New York, Philadelphia, and Detroit (adding to the Fillmores currently running in Denver and San Francisco). This continues a trend by Live Nation to expand its operations to smaller, more mid-size venues (an expansion that, along with the purchase of MusicToday, has apparently reaped some solid financial bennies).
Okay, so it’s not necessarily bad to have more Fillmores, but…
They are re-branding Irving Plaza (in NYC) and the Theatre of the Living Arts (in Philly) to do so. Um, that’s just dumb. Why change the names of successful rock clubs just to “re-brand” them in a corporate mold? This is something fans and artists just despise. If you want to re-invent the Fillmore “brand,” why don’t you build something new?
I usually try to give Live Nation the benefit of the doubt, but this is not a good sign that they will do this mid-size expansion the right way, especially if this effort is similar to the a “re-branding” of the House of Blues. I have only seen this first-hand here at Chicago’s HOB, but I don’t particularly like the hikes in ticket prices and increasingly large-venue vibe. Sure, it’s a great room, but HOB Chicago has become, well, more corporate.
Also, if you’re going to “re-brand” and try to re-shape the industry, why not incorporate some other changes? Maybe something that will encourage more fans to go to shows? They could help lower taxes and fees on tickets (I mean what’s a “building facility fee” anyways?). Or maybe help create ways to utilize the web to make it easier for fans to track tour dates, buy tickets, and make it more likely they will get off their asses on a Wednesday night.
I know I know….the surveys and studies say the fans don’t CARE about high ticket prices. Uh-huh. But, who’s doing this research? Who’s getting asked these questions? The people who just got out of the show that they paid for or everyone who considered going to the show? How do they take into account the people who were on the fence? The fans that didn’t want to pay all those ridiculous fees…..the heads who didn’t make it off the couch….or the kids who just lost track and forgot about that new band they might have wanted to check out. Sure, if it’s a sell-out these questions don’t make a difference. People paid. But what about when it’s not a sell-out?
So after writing this, I started poking around my RSS feeds, and saw a couple of other posts on the same topic. Check ’em out:
New Fillmores [Lefsetz Letter]
Sometimes I’m not on the same page with all of Bob Lefsetz’s rants, but on this one, we clearly see eye-to-eye. His phrasing here just about sums it up:
Show me some innovation, show me something new, don’t try to mesmerize me by CHANGING THE NAME! Do something REAL!
Live Nation Expands Fillmore Franchise [Billboard.com]