Music News: Concert hiatus hits independent promoters hard


What the concert industry might look like post-coronavirus, Bob Dylan releases the longest song of his career, random duets land in listeners' ears, Rihanna donates medical supplies, and a group of Ugandan musicians share an exuberant PSA. (MPR Video)

Before the concert industry entered this unprecedented global shutdown, it was booming, with a remarkable 30% year-over-year growth. The industry has also been consolidating, with more and more tickets being sold by concert giants Live Nation and AEG. When the industry emerges on the other side of this crisis, according to a major Billboard analysis, there's likely to be even more consolidation. That's because right now, while the whole concert industry is hurting, independent promoters are hurting the most — and they have fewer resources to weather the storm.

The live music industry, Billboard estimates, is apt to lose $10-12 billion due to the shutdown. The big promoters don't like to lose that kind of money, but the losses won't force them out of business. The fact that they operate venues and run their own ticketing gives them more flexibility to postpone shows and get money where it needs to go, when it needs to be there. For now, all promoters — and especially independent promoters — are hoping that if you bought a ticket to a show that's been rescheduled, you hang onto your ticket rather than asking for a refund.

Bob Dylan releases 17-minute song

Bob Dylan is now 78 years old, and until today, he hadn't released a new original song in eight years. Fans woke up this morning, though, to discover not just a new Dylan song: the longest song of his career, and this is a career that includes some very long songs. "Murder Most Foul," released as a standalone single seemingly to offer his fans something else to think about during the coronavirus epidemic, runs almost 17 minutes. Its lyrics are a long meander though the '60s, centering on the murder of President John F. Kennedy. (The Current)

Two random duets hit listeners' ears

If there's a theme to today's music news, it's random duets. Let's start with the unlikely collaboration between Bon Jovi and — wait for it — Prince Harry. "Unbroken" was recorded last month at Abbey Road as a charity single to support the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded military personnel. In light of Harry's defection from the Royal Family, Jon Bon Jovi now refers to his duet partner as "the artist formerly known as Prince." (Rolling Stone)

Then, there's Marcus Mumford and Diplo, by way of a new Major Lazer track called "Lay Your Head On Me." The singer seems to be into it.

Rihanna donates medical supplies

Today in artists giving back: Rihanna has donated personal protective equipment to the State of New York to assist medical workers fighting COVID-19. Gov. Andrew Cuomo thanked the star and her foundation in a tweet, writing, "We're so appreciative of your help and that of so many others who have stepped up." (Rolling Stone)

Ugandan artists release sweet-sounding but serious COVID-19 PSA

An important message has rarely sounded so sweet as the coronavirus warning in a new PSA from Ugandan artists Bobi Wine and Nubian Li.

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