Wednesday, September 9, 2015

See Us Before We Retire For the Third Time

I've picked up on something and I don't know if it's a marketing ploy or a realization that far too many of the major touring musical acts out there right now are made up of men in their 60s and 70s:

AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson has spoken about the possibility of retirement.

The hard rock band released 17th album 'Rock Or Bust' in November 2014, reaching Number Three in both the UK and US charts, as well as topping the charts in their home land of Australia.

However, speaking recently to The Morning Sun, Johnson conceded that the album could be their last.

"Y'know, retirement is like anything. A good footballer, a good ice hockey player, they don't want to retire, but unfortunately, sometimes there's a time when you have to call it quits," Johnson said. "So it's an ongoing thing with us; we never say no, and we never say never."

The singer continued, "The thing about the boys in AC/DC, you've got to remember, is we're constantly surprised and amazed at how we keep the success going. We don't know what we're doing – I mean, we literally don't know what we're doing except what we're doing is we just play 100 per cent every night and give it everything we've got. If that's the secret of success, we'll pass it on."

I read that to mean, "come and see us before we retire or you'll feel horrible for passing on us." And that's not an idle threat when you've been a band since the late Sixties or Seventies. That's just reality. How do you signal your intentions to fans and still keep things moving? How do you make albums when you're good at making albums at a time when everyone steals music?

If you put all of these blokes in a room, you'd come up with the same answers--this is a difficult time to be in the music business. The only thing that seems to have any value is a tour package featuring acts that have been around at least thirty years or more. How does that end up being a viable business for musicians? Should you invest in the inevitable "tribute" bands that are going to appear in ten to fifteen years? Once the dinosaurs are gone, someone is going to make money playing their songs to people who want to live nostalgically.

Imagine the music industry in twenty years. There are virtually no touring acts that were active in the Seventies anymore--they've all gone away. Inevitably, someone will have to put together holograms or stand-ins or animatronic musicians and then send that out on the road one last time in order to squeeze out those last few dollars. That's what the music business is going to become--a fake act playing old, old songs.

Brian Johnson is correct, though. When anyone famous for doing something retires, they look to the lucrative area of things, whether it's autographs or memory tours or auctioning off memorabilia. There's going to be lucrative consultant work for people who can help a band monetize their history and maintain a steady cash flow. Now's the time to get into that field. A lot of these bands only have a tour or two left in them.

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