I believe that the recording industry “mid-list” of artists who will be advanced tour money despite solid but unexceptional sales is a thing of the past. Although for some artists, this seems like a very bad thing, I believe that it’s in the long run a good thing, as a more independent mid-list will develop which creates its own recordings and gets to keep more of its album sales. Already we see ticket prices for “A” list performers going sky-high, as concert promoters seek the “big win” from each show, while we see some nightclubs expand to include concert space to accomdodate gigs by this newer, leaner meaner “mid-list star” that might formerly have played the local fieldhouse between basketball games, accompanied by an extortionately financed media blitz.
So far, the internet has meant that live gigs for some break-out bands get promoted by myspace pages and message boards. As it stands now, the internet enables niche fans of so many genres to find one another. I believe this is going to mean lots of small gigs by newly-bonded such niches of similar listeners. We’re seeing already the return of the “house concert” after public spaces prove too expensive for this group of folks to rent. It’s no longer “shameful” for a band to play a corporate private party one gig, a house show another gig, and yet still hope to move 1,000s of digital downloads.
I think we’re going to create a new set of troubadors. We won’t worry so much about venue and the “concert” experience–we’ll instead enjoy people in new ways in homes, in unlikely public places, and in niche fan groups we’d never have found but for the internet.