Friday, October 2, 2009
The American Concert Tour
Boys and girls, I have a plan to help some of the American citizens that need help the most. This is a plan that would boost President Obama's popularity, help solidify some of our current, rampant divisiveness, and inject an economic boost right where it's needed most. The American Concert Tour (TACT) is nothing if not an old idea. Even though I thought it up, I would like to see it developed into a far more original theme and layout. As a concert promoter from the early '70's and an Austin resident since 1980, I have had an up close and personal look at this proposition. Here is more or less what I propose.
TACT will be somewhat like Farm Aid and Live Aid, but it should be developed into something at least a little more akin to Austin's South by Southwest (SXSW). First of all, it should not be a direct charity event like the former two, but an overall, commercialized economic boost to the cities in which it would be held. SXSW is not one big concert event at all: it is a plethora of small music events, all combined under the SXSW umbrella. The City of Austin and many of its businesses make more money during the week of the events than at any other time of the year. Most importantly, the money is not concentrated into a few hands, or even the local music industry. The whole city benefits, as do small, unknown bands from all over the USA (and the world).
The photo shows the most obvious choice to be the ringleader underneath the concert big top, but many others are obvious shoo-ins to be major players, too. The secret of the event's success would not be to create one big, mega-concert, but one main event surrounded by a whole week of lesser events. You get the picture: the nobody bands begin playing all over the city at the opening of the week and the superstars play the big finale on Saturday. The more successful you make the overall festival, the more those lesser bands will want to start playing during the previous weekend.
Here is one of the most important components of this idea. TACT will only be scheduled in key, major American cities that most desperately need an economic shot in the arm. These might include Detroit, San Diego, Phoenix, Sacramento, Las Vegas, New Orleans, the most deserving city in Ohio, and a city in Florida. These events could be scattered in time, with the northern cities hosting during the heat of the summer and the warmer cities hosting during the cooler months. Depending on how long it would take for the long-range planning issues, these should begin as early as next spring and continue through 2010 and 2011.
Local color, both musically and otherwise, would be encouraged so that each week-long festival has its own unique flavor, from the Motown sound to the Latin influence of San Diego. However much appropriate non-musical entertainment could be added in each location would also determine the overall flavor of the event.
If these cities are economic cripples in the first place, how are they going to pay for all this fun? The federal government will guarantee much of the cost upfront. Yeah, that's just what we need right now, yet another government bailout! No, what we need is to put Americans to work. Of course a large percentage of the jobs created will be temporary, but many of them will not, and temporary is a whole lot better than no jobs at all. How will the government recoup its costs? Remember Woodstock? The theatrical release, the LP, cassette tape, CD, VHS, DVD, and probably even the Beta and 8-track paid for it. The live concert itself lost a ton of money. That does tend to happen when you let your audience crash the gate. Thanks to having corporations in charge, that doesn't happen anymore, so the main concert event itself stands to net at least some of the cost. I would call this idea an indirect charity event. The government will back the main expenses, just like the major record labels and beer and soft drink companies have always done. Most of the week's lesser events will be created by small and large businesses within each locale.
The magic that will make this thing work is the inclusion of a variety of draws for the crowds. Famous and local authors can do book signings for all the nerds. Local and rival sports teams could do exhibition games for the jockstrap crowd. Some localities may find movie screenings to be a big draw. Others might impress with the local cuisine. There might be well established local events that have already found themselves in deep financial poop and would love the opportunity for a health revival by becoming a part of TACT. Some locales are going to vary widely from others in their basic infrastructure available and necessary to host a TACT event, and this could broadly influence the flavors of various TACT weeks. Some city layouts and weather patterns will drive most of the activity indoors while others are held all but totally outside.
In case you have never thought of it this way, events such as this build a need for jobs long before and long after these single exciting weeks. The week itself is just the climax of the economic boost. Every city loves tourism and wants more of it. What I am proposing is a big week-long blast of it for the locations in the USA that need it most.