Stop Their Music - 31st January 2004
Sydney Morning Herald
Fleetwood Mac arrived in Australia in 1977, the man
appointed as their tour manager was astonished by
their ability to squander money. "They had huge
entourages in those days and they carried pianos and
gyms with them on the road," says Michael Chugg,
now one of Australia's most experienced rock promoters.
"They transported one grand piano all the way
around the world and it was never unpacked."
Mac are still together and playing many of the songs
they performed in 1977, the year they released the
30-million-selling Rumours album. They're still a
top 10 group, but the ranking relates to concert revenue
not record sales.
to Billboard, ticket sales of $US69.2 million ($91
million) made Fleetwood Mac the third-highest grossing
act in the world last year. They were beaten by the
Rolling Stones ($US299.5 million) and Cher ($US76.3
million), but banked more than the Eagles ($US53.7
million) and Aerosmith and Kiss ($US50 million each).
Australia is contributing to Fleetwood Mac's coffers.
Tickets to their three concerts at the Sydney Entertainment
Centre in early March cost up to $199 each, but only
a few thousand remained unsold last week.
a history with these kind of artists," says Andrew
McManus, the 40-year-old former manager of the Divinyls,
who is promoting the Fleetwood Mac tour. "People
know what they're going to get."
who is carving a niche promoting what he happily describes
as "middle of the road" acts, has plenty
more more artists up his sleeve. He's touring Lisa
Marie Presley in March, bringing Kiss back in May
and indulging a personal whim by staging English guitarist
Peter Frampton (remember Baby, I Love Your Way?) in
August. "I love his music, but I'll probably
do my nuts [money]," says McManus. "I'm
doing it for the art."
have yet to be announced, but it's likely somebody
will bring Simon and Garfunkel here towards the end
of the year.
bands may not sell truckloads of records like they
used to, but they've maintained a stranglehold on
the concert market. Just look at the acts performing
in Sydney over the next few months.
been 30 years since Bryan Ferry crooned "you're
so sheer, you're so chic" on Roxy Music's first
hit Virginia Plain. Ferry is playing the State Theatre
on Wednesday and Thursday with tickets costing up
Bowie, who morphed into a flame-haired Martian called
Ziggy Stardust at the time Gough Whitlam came to power,
plays the Entertainment Centre on February 20 and
21 (tickets $95.50 to $174.95). And America, the Crosby,
Stills and Nash soundalikes who scored their first
big hit (A Horse with No Name) in 1972, played the
first of two shows at the Opera House last night to
an audience that had paid up to $135 each to see them.
gigs by relative youngsters such as The Pretenders,
Bonnie Raitt, Robert Cray, Meat Loaf, the B-52's and
Rickie Lee Jones reinforce the retrospective mood.
is promoting The Pretenders as well as younger acts
such as Beth Orton, Spiritualized, Korn and A Perfect
Circle. He agrees most contemporary acts struggle
to match the pulling power of big-name bands from
the '60s and '70s.
exception is the critically revered English rock band
Radiohead. Chugg says they sold all the tickets to
their two April shows at the Entertainment Centre
in 30 minutes and could have sold tickets to "four
or five" gigs at the giant venue if they had
it's harder to pick a winner from the younger, hipper
bands. Fashion is still a factor here. They may be
red hot when the tour contract is signed, but a few
months and a dodgy single later, everything can change.
also need to be realistic about the size of the audience.
"We toured 25 to 30 young acts last year including
Super Furry Animals, Eels and The Ataris," says
Chugg. "Most of the shows sold out, but you have
to put them in the right venues. You don't put The
Ataris [a Californian punk band] into the Entertainment
also vital that promoters adjust their promotional
campaigns to reach the younger audience. "We
find we can get to young people a lot more easily
nowadays by using the internet," says Chugg.
"We sold 80 per cent of the Robbie Williams tickets
online and 90 per cent of Radiohead's tickets online.
On Monday we'll announce [American singer-songwriter]
John Mayer's tour. I already have emails from 500
kids who have heard online rumours that he's coming
again, it's not just the kids who use the internet
to purchase tickets. Fiona Gulin, the marketing director
of promoter Dainty Consolidated Entertainment, says
many of the tickets to Bowie's tour were presold on
it's done, tour promotion is a risky business. Even
the boomer bands aren't bulletproof. Says Gulin: "You'd
have to think there's a core market, but it's always
hard to tell."
are concrete examples of this. Bruce Springsteen's
American concerts with the E Street Band made him
one of Billboard's top 10 highest-grossing acts last
year, but his Australian dates lost money for the
troubled local promoter Jacobsen Entertainment.
says he lost money when the Woodstock-era guitarist
Carlos Santana sold only 13,000 tickets in Melbourne
for last year's Shaman tour.
so, a revered boomer-era band appears to be the closest
thing to a blue-chip stock in the concert promotion
world. Music commentator Glenn A. Baker is 51 and
says his generation's devotion to the music of its
youth is so entrenched that veteran rockers can look
forward to at least another decade of healthy concert
revenues. "I'm a boomer . . . and I don't see
any slowing down in my enthusiasm for the music I
love or the concerts I attend," says Baker. "Music
is so seared into their consciousness, it was such
an integral part of growing up and moving through
key phases of life, that you can't imagine them casting
good news for the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Bowie and
any other act that had substantial success in the
'60s and '70s. Baker reckons they'll have an audience
at least until they're ready to check into the rock'n'roll
key is the confidence and sense of security they [the
boomers] get from an act," he says. "If
they buy the gold seats, pay the babysitter, park
the car and spend hundreds of dollars, they know they'll
get a good show."
doubts if as many younger bands - those which became
famous in the '80s and '90s - will enjoy the same
longevity. "There are generations that have followed
[the boomers] where music was just a component of
the lifestyle," he says. "I tend to think
acts mean a little less to their audience these days."
is more upbeat about the longevity of today's acts.
He reckons bands like Coldplay could still have an
audience in 30 years and pop stars like Britney Spears,
Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake could do
a "Madonna" and constantly evolve to meet
it's hard to imagine a 55-year old Spears singing
Oops, I Did It Again to a stadium of toe-tapping mums
and dads, then consider this. In 1965, it would have
been difficult to imagine the 60-year old Mick Jagger
would be knighted and still seeking satisfaction.
Mac official website
Rolling Stones official website
Bowie official website
A Baker (Saxton Speakers Bureau profile)
Great Aussie Promoters, by Greg Tingle
Great Yankee Promoters, by Greg Tingle
PR - Max Markson, by Greg Tingle
Man They Call Harry M, by Greg Tingle
Markson, Markson Sparks!
Jacobsen, Jacobsen Entertainment