Even rock stars are working on a budget these days

The summer concert season is typically marked by extravagance: heavyweight bands, elaborate stage shows and packed festivals with extensive lineups of bands and even longer lineups for beer.

Meanwhile

TORONTO — The summer concert season is typically marked by extravagance: heavyweight bands, elaborate stage shows and packed festivals with extensive lineups of bands and even longer lineups for beer.

But with most of the world mired in a recession, artists and promoters are being forced to get creative to draw crowds even to the season’s biggest shows.

“We’re all under the same constraints, everybody is,” said Riley O’Connor, chairman of Live Nation Canada. “We have to manage our costs, and you have to be responsible for what you do, and make sure any chances you take are not being too crazy.”

Crazy? Like the 10-date tour that Toronto hip-hop artist k-os recently wrapped, which allowed concertgoers to pay what they wanted for his shows in exchange for admission, good karma and a free remix CD?

“People are going through a lot right now, ” he said in an interview just prior to the tour.

He’s hardly the only artist cutting a deal for fans this summer.

Country superstar Keith Urban made sure that some seats for his summer tour were available for $20, while U2 is pricing at least 10,000 tickets to all of their shows in the $30 range.

Others are enticing customers with bonus incentives. The reformed No Doubt is offering up a digital download of their entire catalogue in exchange for the purchase of a premium ticket ($42.50 before taxes and fees), while Coldplay concertgoers will receive a free live album.

Of course, many artists are personally feeling the same financial crunch as their fans, so they’ve been forced to cut costs in other ways.

Toronto singer/songwriter Sarah Slean kicks off her “Recession-ista” tour on Tuesday.

Slean will also be cutting ticket prices and touring solo without her band — though she notes that has as much to do with limiting her environmental footprint as saving money.

And each show will see Slean wearing a new dress made entirely of reclaimed second-hand garments.

“It’s the cheapest dose of fashion you can find anywhere,” she said in a telephone interview from her home in Toronto. “You can get yourself a bag’s worth of second-hand clothes and it’s up to you what you can dream up out of it.

“And you don’t need to go out and spend $200 on a stage dress.”

Concertgoers with a similar eye for value might be enticed by one of the countless festivals going on in Canada this summer.

Montreal’s Osheaga boasts Coldplay, the Beastie Boys and Rufus Wainwright, the Virgin Festival is expanding into five cities and will have acts including the Tragically Hip and the Black Eyed Peas, the Calgary Stampede will draw Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, and Kelly Clarkson and the Montreal Jazz Festival will showcase Stevie Wonder and Ornette Coleman.

Mark Monahan, executive/artistic director of the Ottawa Bluesfest, says organizers of the fest only briefly considered cutting back. Instead, they actually increased the artists budget and lured in such heavy-duty acts as Kiss, k.d. lang, Ice Cube and Stone Temple Pilots.

If it seems as though these festivals are boasting bigger names than usual, Monahan says it might be because artists are more amenable to playing festivals in the current economy.

“There definitely seems to be an onus on people playing major festivals these days,” Monahan said. “It’s a lot easier (to book acts) than it was maybe 10 years ago when playing a festival wasn’t necessarily the thing to do.”

While festivals offer artists the chance to reach a wider audience, they aren’t necessarily a sound financial proposition for corporations, says O’Connor of Live Nation Canada.

“I don’t build festivals, per se, and they’re very, very expensive to build,” he said. “You’re going into a space where you’re basically having to create all the infrastructure for (a show), as opposed to using existing infrastructure.

“I’m a great believer in using our own publicly funded infrastructures and privately supported infrastructures in this country as opposed to going out in some field and thinking I’m a hero by building my own.”

Live Nation is offering discounted 4Pack and Megaticket deals for selected shows as one incentive for concert-goers. O’Connor says his company is also scaling back the number of shows they put on, and being more selective about which venues they visit.

Just Posted

Parenting: Every woman will have a different pregnancy experience

Wife whose hormones are unbalanced can be unpleasant experience

Men posing as repo men attempt to steal vehicle in Red Deer County

Two men attempted to steal a utility vehicle from a Red Deer… Continue reading

Red Deerian spreads kindness with one card at a time

One Red Deerian wants to combat bullying by spreading kindness in the… Continue reading

Bowden baby in need of surgery

“Help for Alexis” Go Fund Me account

PHOTO: First Rider bus safety in Red Deer

Central Alberta students learned bus safety in the Notre Dame High School… Continue reading

WATCH: Annual Family Picnic at Central Spray and Play

Blue Grass Sod Farms Ltd. held the Annual Family Picnic at the… Continue reading

Women-owned businesses generate $68,000 less revenue than men’s: survey

TORONTO — When Dionne Laslo-Baker sought a bank loan to expand her… Continue reading

Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard’s alleged sex offences case returns to court

TORONTO — The case of Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard, who faces three… Continue reading

Fredericton woman recounts terrifying moments after gunshots rang out

FREDERICTON — She awoke to the crack of gunfire, the shots fired… Continue reading

Climate change likely to cause more sewage leaks, McKenna says

OTTAWA — More than one hundred municipal wastewater systems did not report… Continue reading

Woman has finger ripped off at West Edmonton Mall waterslide

SASKATOON — A Saskatchewan woman says she lost a finger after her… Continue reading

Uncertainty looms over Canada’s cannabis tourism, but ambitions are high

TORONTO — Longtime marijuana advocate Neev Tapiero is ready for the cannabis-driven… Continue reading

Feds mulling safeguards to prevent ‘surge’ of cheap steel imports into Canada

OTTAWA — The federal government extended an olive branch of sorts to… Continue reading

Ontario govt caps off summer session by passing bill to cut Toronto council size

TORONTO — The Ontario government passed a controversial bill to slash the… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month