(from Billboard Magazine, Oct 29, 2013) A newer breed of lesser known acts such as Ed Sheeran have quickly been able to go from small stages to selling out top venues thanks to support from social media. For Ed Sheeran, his Twitter fan base and collaborators like Taylor Swift and One Direction have helped him make this leap. Gary Bongiovanni, the President and Editor-in-Chief of concert trade magazine Pollstar explains, “With social media playing an increasing role, it’s possible for an artist to go from totally unknown to significant enough popularity to sell an arena like Madison Square Garden.” This theory is emphasized by Live Nation’s Vice President of Touring, Omar Al-Joulani, “(It) definitely feels like artists can have a quicker run to selling out more venues mostly because it’s easier to get noticed these days because you can go straight to your fan base.”
Social media has played such an important role in creating opportunities on all job fronts, but that is not the only reason artists are performing at larger venues. Another reason musicians are able to sell out larger venues is because of moderate ticket prices. Musical group Imagine Dragons won’t price higher than $70 while upcoming shows for Justin Timerlake can be as high as $224. One problem that Bongiovanni is concerned about is whether these smaller artists can put on as great of a show, “They can demonstrate the commercial potential and sell tickets, but can they do a show that will leave people satisfied and wanting more?” It is not just about selling out; an experience for the fan must be created to have a successful career in music. The goal is to have the instinct and management team to realize when it is appropriate to play at these huge venues. While opportunities to play at venues with big titles and seating for tens of thousands sounds like a smart career move, bands must be wary of where at in their careers they are and what they want for their futures.