By Clive Young.
Far be it from me to dispute psychological advice from David Cassidy, but yes, despite the economy, global situations and the rest of the music business, the live sound business has a number of reasons to be happy these days. And now, confirming Cassidy's classic worldview, is none other than Pepsi.
July's mid-year box-office reports from Pollstar and Billboard were perky, with the former predicting another record year, noting that the first six months of the year saw the U.S. concert biz raking in $1.16 billion, up nearly 11 percent over the first half of 2008. In a similar vein, Billboard declared that global concerts grossed $1.8 billion from 30.6 million attendees for the first half of the year. Of course, tours on the road mean that live sound systems and crews are busy, so business in theory should keep moving along nicely.
Nevertheless, many in the industry are still rightfully worried that the discretionary dollars that buy concert tickets are going to vanish as the economic malaise continues, so that various tours will dry up and blow away as a result. Could be.
Or maybe not, because it turns out that, according to Pepsi, going to live music shows is vital for your mental health. The famed soft-drink maker--and noted sponsor of umpteen tours, venues and festivals--released a serious research paper last week, The National Outlook on Optimism: Summer 2009, as part of The Pepsi Optimism Project (P.O.P)
Part of the Project's research was to create and grade a list of Optimism Boosters; through extensive polling, it found "Live events that bring people together are important vehicles for making Americans feel more optimistic," noting that "the majority of Americans believe that live events, such as live music (84%), live speeches (78%) and live theater (69%), can help make them feel more optimistic."
Also making the list were sporting events (69%), political rallies (58%), and poetry readings (56%). Interestingly, the most potent Optimism Booster was Books (88%), so it stands to reason that reading a book about live music during a live speech held at a political rally should make you feel pretty amazing.
All kidding aside, most of these Optimism Boosters require live sound reinforcement, even the poetry readings (after all, it's hard to hear poets over all those soda cans being opened). Folks in the live sound industry witness every day the strength and vitality of communal gatherings, as they provide sound for everything from religious events to corporate meetings to full-on rock shows. Seeing proof of that spirit in cold, hard statistics, even if they're from an unexpected source like Pepsi, only serves to underscore even further the importance of the live sound industry's work. Other industries depend on live sound, but more importantly, fellow human beings depend on it, as how else are we going to climb out of the current economic situation if we don't start feeling a bit, well, optimistic?
Live sound guys: The future of our nation rests in your hands.
So what do you think? Do live events really make people more optimistic? Is the live event industry really recession-proof? Do poetry readings really need sound reinforcement? Share your thoughts below!