Are you seeing growth in the touring of international bands in Asia?
There’s far more international bands, for example European, American, Australian touring in China than there ever has been. China with its gigantic population, its growing economy and its music industry is really interesting to a lot of bands and projects. It’s no longer this mysterious, forbidden land and many high-powered international acts are now going into China. Touring in Malaysia and in Southeast Asia is also popular. In that sense, the touring industry is really expanding in a lot of territories in Asia. The Rolling Stones just played in Shanghai last March, Bruno Mars played in Shanghai in April so major world stars are moving through China, it’s now on the circuit.
We just talked here at All That Matters with Robb Spritzer, the director of Live Nation that in China they’re now developing what we call the second-tier cities. These cities have populations like 15-20 million people and they call that a second-tier city in China! There is a huge opportunity to tour in those cities when you have so many people.
Do you think the current trend will continue to grow?
If you follow the current trend, I think live touring altogether will continue to develop. Live Nation and AEG are the two biggest touring companies and they’re seriously concentrating on Asia. I think the growth in China, Southeast Asia and Korea, is going to continue for a long time.
What kind of challenges are there, culturally speaking, with the expanding touring industry?
Each country is an individual and certain countries are going to have a more of a hard time growing than others. Indonesia is a classic example. There are a lot of national sensitivities because it’s a Muslim country so certain kinds of artists are just not going to be able to tour there. Lady Gaga’s show in Indonesia was cancelled two years ago and other artists like that who have a very outward sexuality and are not willing to compromise that, will not be able to tour in Indonesia, probably not in Malaysia either. Those are both huge countries with lots of people so not to be able to tour in Indonesia is actually a significant thing.
What do the Asian consumers want from a live experience?
In one way I’m tempted to say much the same thing as what the European or American consumer wants; a great show, excitement, not only a great performance but great visuals and everything. I think that’s part of it. Perhaps the Asian consumer may want more value for their money meaning either a lower ticket price or if they pay a high ticket price, maybe get some recorded music or a t-shirt or something along with it. In the West, meaning Europe and the United States, we’re used to paying high ticket prices. For a big name band, you expect to pay 100-150 dollars, at least in the US. That’s not the case in Asian markets. So one, it’s hard for people to pay those kinds of prices and two, if they are paying high prices, they probably expect a lot.