By Jim McCarthy Dec 1, 2010 2 comments

Is Your Show Better Than a Meal at the Restaurant Next Door?

I talked the other day about whether or not Live Entertainment is an Industry (and my answer is ‘yes.’)  Today, I’m asking how that industry is doing.

For a long time, I’ve been saying that Live Entertainment is fundamentally healthy, and I still believe that.  When I hear people bemoaning the business, I frequently ask them what business they’d rather be in.  Sure, there are a small handful of extremely hot, highly specialized sectors like social gaming, location-based service, solar tech which are more or less thriving right now.

But aside from that, how’d you like to be trying to sell recorded music right now?  Or cars? Or financial services?

Live Entertainment, I’d argue, is right in the center of the ‘Desire Zone’ for the 21st century person, and as anachronistic as it sounds to say that (given that gathering in a single place with other humans is so low-tech), it’s pretty much BECAUSE it’s not like the rest of their highly mediated experience that people WANT the live experience.

Thus, high prices and lots of live entertainment options.

Now over the last two years, prices have overextended themselves and, in the concert sector especially, there’s just too much juice that’s been squeezed out of the lemon in the form of non-stop touring even by good acts and tours with marginal acts.  Same thing in pro sports, where the markets at the margins (like Jacksonville, Florida for football or Phoenix, Arizona for hockey or Tampa for baseball) have struggled to keep the arenas populated.

But I want to add another thread into the thought here, which is this: the content simply must get better.

Why?  Because there’s a competition for the ‘desire zone’ in the form of eating.  Yep.  Eating.

I’ve said before that food IS entertainment, but I’ve never fully extended the thought to its conclusion until now: that part of the ‘desire zone’ in the human brain that craves an in-person experience can also be satisfied by eating in a restaurant.

For the industry, this could be a problem.  I once asked if your show was better than a banana split.  Now, I want to challenge the industry with this question:

Is the product we’re putting on stage better than dinner at the best restaurant in your neighborhood?

If not, getting it there needs to be the new priority 1.

UPDATE:  I think this makes a strong case for my point.

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