No, it’s not your imagination. More shows are happening. Tough on artists, it’s good for fans.
Record sales are down, so even superstar artists hit the road, as indie acts have had to for decades. Ask Steely Dan co-founder/survivor Donald Fagen.
“When the bottom fell out of the record business a bunch of years ago, it deprived me of the luxury of earning a living from records,” Fagen told the Wall Street Journal. “I don’t sell enough albums to cover the cost of recording them the way I like to. For me, touring is the only way to make a living.” (Jambase announced a Steely Dan/Doobie Brothers tour will play SPAC this June, despite Dan co-founder Walter Becker’s death.)
If Fagen can’t sell albums, who can?
Steely Dan sold 40 million albums; Fagen’s solo albums sell less well, but still impressively. His 1982 debut “The Nightfly” sold more than a million copies and was nominated for an Album of the Year Grammy, so was “Kamakiriad” (1993). “Morph the Cat” (2006) nearly broke Billboard’s top 10 and “Sunken Condos” (2012) charted at No. 26.
In July, Billboard reported album sales dropped nearly 17 percent from 2016, but streaming (which pays artists less, just $.506 per song, and that’s dropping) jumped nearly 60 percent.
Meanwhile, concert promoter Live Nation (which presents popular music events at SPAC and other venues) sold more than 80 million concert tickets through November of last year, up 20 percent year-on-year, CEO Michael Rapino told shareholders.
“The top 10 percent of artists make money selling records. The rest go on tour,” Scott Welch (who manages singers Alanis Morissette and LeAnn Rimes) recently told ABC News.
“Agents (who represent artists) have said the same thing over the last 24 months or so,” Bob Belber at the Times Union Center confirmed last week. “The volume of tours by top level artists going out is more now than it ever was,” said Belber, SMG Regional General Manager and SMG Northeast Region Director of Live Entertainment. Belber noted a major jump in superstar tours. “Before, you’d see a top-level artist go out on tour, then maybe not come back out for two or three years. Now they have to go out more often,” Belber said.
“Record sales have dropped off and downloads are not paying as much,” Belber said. “Artists are finding that to keep their lifestyle and keep their revenue they have to tour.”
Touring is tough on classic rock acts: Illness forced Fagen to cancel a tour with his new band the Nightflyers. But, as Belber explained, “It’s great for the fans because they can see their favorite artists more frequently; there are more top level concerts and they have a chance to see them.”
On the other hand, some artists tour even after they’re gone. A hologram of Elvis played the Palace some years back, and the widow of Black Sabbath singer Ronnie James Dio recently announced a posthumous tour as a hologram of her late husband plays with a live band.
TWO GREAT VOICES
Neko Case sings Monday at The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany). Once a drummer, Case has impeccable, elastic rhythm. She sings like an instrument in range-and-pitch precision and writes, novelist-like, in courageous candor. Her 2016 show at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall with a cozy trio was a standout of that very good year, while “case/lang/viers” that same year combined her talents with k.d. lang and Laura Viers to stunning effect. She’s fresh off a tour with the New Pornographers. Philadelphia folk/country-rockers Mt. Joy opens:, a new band orbiting around singer-songwriters/guitar players Matt Quinn and Sam Cooper. 7 p.m. $44.50, $39.50, $34.50. 518-473-1845 www.theegg.org
Carolyn Wonderland sings Saturday at the Massry Center (College of St. Rose, 1002 Madison Ave., Albany). In her Houston and Austin hometowns, she’s won every award in sight, led a band called the Imperial Monkeys and once lived in her van. Roaming the US, she’s drawn new audiences with 11 blues-rocking albums and live shows evoking Janis Joplin’s raspy roar and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s blues guitar blasts.
Like Vaughan, she rocks a trio: Kevin Lance, drums; Bobby Perkins, bass. 8 p.m. $25, students $10. 518-337-4871 www.massrycenter.org
WAR AT THE EGG
Great classic-rock band War brings the funk to The Egg Saturday. “Low Rider” and “Why Can’t We Be Friends” gave great, sunny, southern California groove uplift from 1969 on. They also dug deep with such equality anthems as “The World Is A Ghetto.” Founder-leader-keyboardist-singer Lonnie Jordan is to War what Donald Fagen is to Steely Dan. 8 p.m. $44.50, $39.50, $34.50
OMINOUS SEAPODS RETURN
Like moe., originally from Utica via Buffalo, the Ominous Seapods came from elsewhere to make their mark in clubs and festivals here. (Also like moe., they have one of the great band names.) Formed in Plattsburgh, the Ominous Seapods improvised hip, happy sounds; first in cozy dives, then on tuneful, free-flowing albums and national-level fests coast to coast.
They’ve reunited recently for very few shows including two at the Cohoes Music Hall (58 Remsen St.) Friday and Saturday. The Ominous Seapods still are Dana Monteith and Max Verna, guitars; Tom Pirozzi, bass (celebrating his 50th birthday); Brian Mangini, keyboards; and Ted Marotta, drums. 8 p.m. Both shows are selling fast. $22 advance, $27 door. 518-465-4663 www.thecohoesmusichall.org