Disco Biscuits’ Marc Brownstein On Live-Music Crisis

lefsetz_letter_banner Disco Biscuits bassist (and HeadCount co-founder) Marc Brownstein weighs in on the status of the concert business – imploding or not? – in a letter forwarded to email subscribers to Bob Lefsetz's popular music-industry blog, The Lefsetz Letter. Brownstein says advance Bisco sales are down while day-of-show sales are way up, because ticket buyers don't cotton to paying 40% service fees. And he'll pay $50 to see Phish any day of the week.


The "superstars" may be having a tough summer, but the jambands are killing it. Low ticket prices, long shows, great bills, lots of value for the dollar, that's always been our business plan. Fans first, that's our deal.

Of course you already know all of this, but I feel like it is getting lost in all the talk about live nation/ticketmaster etc.

The biscuits have had our biggest summer ever, by far, with shows in the 6000-10000 range throughout the summer. Sure we had our "Clevelands on a Wednesday", our smaller club shows, but the kids love those shows, and they are a nice change of pace from our red rocks show that don strasburg rolled the dice on.

How does an unknown band do 7000 people at red rocks? With great support and a low ticket price. 8 hours of non-stop music, all for $36. And priced to sell, that is exactly what we did. Kids came from all over to see it, just like they do for all jamband shows.

So in our little world, the music business IS alive and well. We had two successful summer festivals that we own, Camp Bisco and Bisco Inferno (our red rocks fest), and a host of other successes.

One bit of interesting info, advance sales have been down, while day of show sales have gone through the roof. Promoters are freaking out leading up to the show, but we have to tell them again and again, there is nothing to worry about, the shows have all been great, our fans are just sick of paying 40% more for their tickets by using ticketmaster. And time and time again we have walked away selling more tickets than ever before.

And then, of course, there is phish. Not many people are mentioning it, but one band doesn't have any trouble selling out shed shows instantly. $49 for a four hour show. It comes as no surprise to me that it is a band within our genre, where the quality of music and value for the fan is the focus. Even knowing that I can most likely get walked in the back door, I have no problem shelling out the $50 to see my favorite band in top form.

As for selling our new album, that's where we are going to have to get really creative. We have a plan to roll the album out in bits, two singles at a time, complete with remixes, videos, and all kinds of other interesting content. We'll let you know how it goes.

Cheers, love the blog,

Marc Brownstein