Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Economy Watch: The Lollapalooza Indicator

The oldman is guessing that the economy is in real terms contracting right now. What is the oldman's evidence for this?

The Lollapalooza Indicator - read it for yourself hot off the electron presses at the NYT

Lollapalooza Tour Canceled Amid Weak Concert Season

Published: June 23, 2004

In a blow to the summer concert season already hurt by the loss of big tours by Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, the touring Lollapalooza festival has been canceled because of poor ticket sales, the festival organizers said yesterday.

The tour, which was to have begun on July 14 in Auburn, Wash., and travel to 16 cities through Aug. 25, had booked Morrissey, Sonic Youth, P. J. Harvey, String Cheese Incident, Modest Mouse, the Flaming Lips and many other alternative rock groups for 31 engagements across the United States.

Marc Geiger of the William Morris Agency in Los Angeles, who founded the tour in 1991 with the singer Perry Ferrell, said in a statement: "I am in utter disbelief that a concert of this stature, with the most exciting lineup I've seen in years, did not galvanize ticket sales. I'm surprised that given the great bands and the reduced ticket prices that we didn't have enough sales to sustain the tour."

Representatives of the festival did not disclose sales figures for the concerts, but Mr. Geiger said that if the concerts had not been canceled, the promoters would have faced losses in the millions.

The cancellation comes at a difficult time for the concert business. Many large tours are said to be having difficulty selling tickets, despite strong economic signals for the business earlier in the year.

"We had a very strong first quarter, which allowed people to be a little overly optimistic going into the summer," said Gary Bongiovanni, the editor of the concert trade magazine Pollstar. "But ticket sales dried up in mid-April, right after tax day, just as the big tours started to gear up."

Mr. Geiger said ticket sales had been uneven around the country, with relatively strong sales for the Aug. 16 and 17 concerts at Randalls Island in New York, where the Pixies were to make one of their only two appearances on the tour.

But in many markets, the concerts were said to have sales not much higher than one of the headlining acts might have drawn on its own.

"Sometimes one plus one plus one equals one in this business," Mr. Bongiovanni said...

Mr. Geiger blamed the slow concert season for the festival's woes, citing poor sales for the Dead, Dave Matthews, Van Halen and Kiss. "My question is, what is doing well?"

The important thing to note that it isn't the problem just of a single rock tour. Apparently it's spread to a variety of musical genres - Dave Matthews doesn't have much in common with Kiss. When government statistics begin to lie or be untrustworthy, you have to be smart and look at other economic indicators to see the real picture.

The real picture of how people are voting with their pocketbooks is that the economy seems to be contracting in real terms despite the big press to the otherwise.


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