Pete Townshend Paints Grim Picture for Classic Acts’ Return
Pete Townshend outlined a potentially “devastating” scenario in which classic-rock fans’ buying patterns could prevent their favorite bands returning to the venue circuit.
The live-entertainment industry was forced out of business as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. With hopes being high that concerts can resume worldwide in the coming months, venue operators may find themselves overwhelmed by artists desperate to start performing again.
“Everything is in the air, and nobody knows what’s going to happen,” Townshend told Rolling Stone in a recent interview. “I heard that Live Nation usually has 25 acts out between April and August in America. Next year, they have 48. And so that means there’s a lot of competing for venues.”
The Who guitarist cited the example of his own band. “The other interesting thing is that younger people are buying tickets and selling out concerts by younger artists," he noted. "But our demographic, which is between 30 and 70, I suppose, are not buying tickets at all. … It’s sort of devastating, the idea that older people, because of their conservatism and life experience, will wait until a tour is 100 percent certain.”
He noted that major promoters had “sat on their cash” brought in before lockdown, but the method of providing financial padding would stop working: “In some states in America, they have to return the money back, but insurance has been keeping them afloat.”
The result, Townshend appeared to suggest, was a situation where promoters would favor bands able to sell a high proportion of tickets at an early stage – which could rule out bands whose fans are more conservative in their approach. “The finances of it are worrying,” he said. Referring to his own touring prospects, he said, “Who knows? We don’t really know. But if an opportunity is to come up, I will come.”