Our Live Music Manifesto

Before vinyl, cassette tapes, CDs, mp3s, there was live music. If you wanted to be entertained, you had to go off to a theatre or concert hall to listen to the music. It must have been bliss. No interruptions, no thinking about anything but the music consuming you.

Of course, I am listening to music while I write this. I pay a for-profit tech company a monthly fee to listen to all the music I can handle. That tech company - or another tech company if you prefer the other provider - will pay a record label a fraction of a fraction of a cent, which they will pay even less to the actual artists. 

Recorded music now is a Faustian bargain. For we, the consumer, have gotten fat on the lamb of unlimited music. Certainly for the majority of bands, who are not making a living wage from their streams. Instead, they have to treat their albums like a retailer treats a heavily discounted item that gets people into the door; a loss-leader. It’s also wholly transactional. By that, I mean, it costs nothing for me to half-heartedly listen to a new release or someone’s playlist with a bunch of new bands. Will I remember any of them? Maybe. Compare that to the excitement of going to a record store (if you are old enough). 

Live music, on the other hand, rekindles the connection between bands and audiences. It pays bands (relatively) well. If you are getting the door buster for pennies (streams), you are hopefully buying the other stuff (going to shows, buying merch) for appropriate prices.

However, live music is a fragile creature. Venues close down, tours get interrupted by conflict or virus and suddenly a revenue stream disappears. Live music is also a burden for listeners. Parasitic ticket scalpers, malfunctioning websites, opaque guidance on showtimes and what you can bring lessens the listener experience. 

We aim to fix that. The Diffraction is a new publication-community that aims to report on the live music industry to the benefit of attendees, bands, and venues alike. It’s a delicate ecosystem. We aim to cover the big and the small, with a clear understanding that there are real differences between a local DIY show, the Taylor Swift juggernaut, and the Phish/jam band experience. We will do our best to cover these meaningful differences. 

We also understand that people have strong opinions on the likes of Ticketmaster, Live Nation, ticket profiteers, and tardy bands and those that tend to cancel shows under dubious premises. We also know bands have their own pet peeves: disruptive fans, a sea of sky high mobile phones, stupid requests, etc. And, across the globe, venues are struggling to stay afloat. All need the resources to support each other. We will be critical, but fair. We want bands to make the money they deserve and venues to remain solvent. We want the attendees to feel they got their money's worth.