House Concerts and 21st Century Touring

In +1/-1, books, culture, Miraverse, music industry by Michael Tiemann

Last year Chip and Dan Heath wrote Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, and since them I have had a new appreaciation for sticky ideas and the market or strategic position they create. This morning I came across the gem featured in my blog post title, house concerts and 21st century touring.

My fascination with touring probably really started when I read The Cantebury Tales in high school. While the language was strange and the stories outrageous, I was constantly mindful of the fact that these stories were told en route, and while others focused on the poetry or the licentiousness of the words, I frequently imagined the journey itself–where they were walking, who was walking with whom, where they stayed, what kind of food they ate, etc. You can imagine what fun I had with both The Odyssey and Ulysses!

The 21st century music industry is failing, and like the Titanic, its sinking dooms many who safely jumped off it but could not escape its suck. Industrial live music suffers (irreparably) from oversized venues, overamplified sounds, and an audience more interested in having a compelling reason to drink than a compelling reason to pay attention (not that one can hear anything but noise when 50,000 watts of sound are pumped into a hockey rink). For the artist, touring is difficult enough without carrying the guilty knowledge that every show of this kind that you play is destroying the very hearing upon which your art depends.

And so it is perfectly logical to contemplate a return to the intimate. In what environment are people most likely to appreciate music as a part of life, rather than as some excess, indulgence, or worse? Fran Snyder presents the answer: house concerts. Moreover, his idea to connect the destination (home) with the journey (touring in the 21st century) is just brilliant.

Obviously The Miraverse is not a house, and a studio session is not a concert, per se. But, by choosing different production goals than the typical studio, we may well achieve the intimacy and authenticity missing from so much of today’s recorded projects, and thereby create a new paradigm of “Studio Sessions and 21st Century Recording”.