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How has the market changed for entertainers?
The global markets in 2015 have been experiencing a positive uplift for the past year although businesses are very apprehensive of the near-to-mid future. Quantitative easing and liberal changes in monetary policies by central banks worldwide are causing concerns for a possible “crash” for the markets within the next two years.
The previous years were very depressed after a couple of the worst worldwide financial years in recent times including the global financial crisis.
The current situation is not necessarily very bad but it is different from 10 – 20 years ago and it is very important to understand, accept and react to the current market conditions.
Not being aware or ignoring the current situation may make you obsolete or irrelevant to today’s audience and show bookers.
The Internet and Global Connectivity
The Internet has completely changed how audience consumes entertainment. The terrestrial television market has been steadily shrinking over the last 15 years. Even cable television is feeling the competition of online and on-demand content.
The Internet has made audience’s attention spans shorter and their access to worldwide entertainment is available at a click of a mouse or tap of a mobile device.
Your show is no longer competing just with other similar artists in your city but with artistes worldwide and any other form of entertainment worldwide: including cute videos of cats.
Economic Market Conditions
The global financial crisis in 2008 had a major impact to most of the world especially North America, Europe and South East Asia. Its effects are still being felt and while there has been progress, recovery is still slow. Bad economic times means less spending on luxury items like entertainment.
The corporate market can still be lucrative but there are fewer opportunities. Corporate entertainment and marketing spending has been reduced significantly since the early 2000s (largely due to the Dot Com and Telco bust in late nineties as well as 9/11) and the global financial crisis only made things worse. Budgets for experiential marketing (live events) have also been split with online and new media marketing efforts.
Cabaret venues in Europe still exist but cannot be compared to 20 years ago. However, there are still opportunities for different production shows, circuses and showrooms in venues, casinos and tourist attractions around the world.
One market for performing artistes that is doing reasonable well currently is the luxury cruise industry. This industry has grown steadily in the last 15 years and is currently experiencing a boom. More and bigger ships are built each year; all that require entertainment shows.
Any high quality act with wide appeal can find opportunity working in various venues on a luxury cruise liner. However, competition is stiff from artistes all over the world vying for the slots on the limited number of ships in operation around the world.
Performing Venues for Variety Shows Have Changed
The combination of the economic climate and changes in audience’s attitude and preferences in entertainment has resulted in the change of venues that feature variety shows.
Touring shows are a tough business. Although, it is unlikely specialty acts will try to set up a tour themselves, unless different artistes work together to put together a show. Lower purchasing power of consumers and rising costs make long tours not feasible. Select highly targeted markets/ cities are necessary to make a touring show profitable. But, it also means there is intense completion in these high value markets and you will have to compete with all kinds of top touring shows from concerts to musicals to special events.
There are less showrooms or entertainment venues that will feature illusion shows. Las Vegas which was once a Mecca for variety artistes in the 1990s is a shell of its former self, unfortunately.
The creation of multiple Cirque du Soleil shows also changed the landscape of Vegas as well as the trend for variety and circus-type shows. Even production type shows around the world moved from the revue-style shows to the Cirque-style shows.
There is another big reason why Vegas is drying up for work for artistes. The reason is simple; people are gambling less in Vegas. Consider this, the two new casinos in Singapore made more than all the casinos in the entire Vegas Strip in 2012. Macau, the new gambling capital of the world, made at least 5 times more than the two casinos in Singapore.
Macau Night Skyline – The New Gambling Capitol of the World
One major reason for this is China’s booming economy that has been growing at an astronomical rate in the last 10 years. The opening up of its economy has caused a shift in the world’s economic super power. The Chinese high-rollers no longer fly across the world to gamble in Vegas as they can get the same action and hospitality in Macau or Singapore.
China’s new dominance has changed the geo-political landscape of the world. The new-found affluence of the Chinese can be seen in the large increase in Chinese tourism, immigration and businesses present in just about every country in the world. The impact of the Chinese will be felt in all aspects of business and life, including live entertainment.
Event organizers in general are also constantly looking for new innovative venues to hold their events. These are typically non-traditional performance venues that can be challenging for various artistes.
Artistes have to be able to adapt and take their show out of a theatre setting. Being able to perform a show in these non-traditional venues ensures you remain a relevant entertainment choice for entertainment buyers and event organizers.
The reality is: The world is much smaller, demand has changed and opportunities are available but different from before. I think it has always been challenging but each time period has its own challenges.
To be prepared for all market conditions, consider investing in my book “The Showbiz Master Plan” that is a live entertainer’s blueprint to creating a money-generating brand, making a consistent 6-figure income and setting up for retirement.