What If We Lose Live Performance?

What happens when public safety concerns mean artists and venues no longer can get insurance?
08/28/2017 08:03 pm ET Updated Aug 29, 2017
American rock group Eagles of Death Metal perform on stage on November 13, 2015 at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, a few
MARION RUSZNIEWSKI via Getty Images
American rock group Eagles of Death Metal perform on stage on November 13, 2015 at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, a few moments before four men armed with assault rifles stormed into the venue.

Okay, I admit it: I’ve been rocked back on my heels by losing the record business. I thought it would be there and be a place where I could make my art, my life’s work, a record of what I’ve done with my life. It’s not. It’s gone. The streamers killed it.

That’s a hard one for me. Much harder for young artists trying to make their mark.

I have been trying to just keep going. Been making records with the help of my friends and the kindness of patronage, but it’s just because it’s what I do, what I have always done, what I love to do. As it stands right now there’s not much future in it. Lots of people are trying to find new ways: subscription, clubs, or some magical way to watermark a digital file so it can’t be copied. Something. I’ve not seen a real answer come up yet.

But I’ve had a new bad thought: What if we lose live performance? Impossible you say? I admit it’s a weird thing for a guitar player to come up with. 

But the bomb at the Ariana Grande concert in England. The bomb at the Boston Marathon, the shootings into crowds in theaters and clubs, the cars driven into crowds. The fact that large groups of people are a target makes me wonder: What happens when artists and venues no longer can get insurance?

The venue has to have it, so does the promoter and so do I. Possibly you did not know that but yes, I believe all touring artists have to have insurance at anything above a club level. And the big shows have a LOT of insurance and it costs a great deal. I think many places have laws requiring insurance as well.

So what if you simply can’t get it or it’s so drastically expensive that the profit motive is gone. What happens then? What happens when local law enforcement just says no concerts, too dangerous.

Is Bruce going to play clubs? Is Alicia? What about the Stones? Will they come up with a trick to insure themselves? Live Nation is not about to start doing free shows in the park. What about this? If I’m wrong I’d really like to stop worrying. But what if I’m not wrong?

And terrorism is obviously a problem beyond concerts, but I believe that music is a lifting force in society. I believe that people attending a concert together – or any public experience with art – brings us closer and helps us to find common ground with people we may otherwise think we had nothing common with. To lose that would be a detriment to our shared humanity. Here’s to hoping we won’t have to face that day.

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