Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Lemonheads in the Market for Lemons

Alternative rock band The Lemonheads has had a tough path since their last hit album, Come on Feel the Lemonheads in 1993.  They haven't had a hit single since "Into Your Arms" was #1 on the U.S. modern rock charts.  It's not easy being a fading star, but it's still better than many other things.  Many musicians hold onto stardom far after the masses have stopped screaming for more, and sometimes after the die-hards have stopped as well.

Evan Dando of The Lemonheads (photo: Martijn van Exel)
So what is an artist or band to do when their audiences are getting smaller and smaller?  One thing that many bands (De La Soul, Metallica, Megadeth, Sonic Youth, etc.) in the past ten years is to start promoting their shows using a single album rather than a blend of the entirety of their career.  Most artists or bands have many albums, but fewer numbers of hit albums.  This is one element that makes concerts something of an asymetric information market.  When the band schedules a performance, how does the audience or individual consumer know which songs are they going to play?  The ones that the consumer knows and loves, or other songs?

As with all asymetric information markets, this introduces elements of risk into the experience and can scare consumers off.  The consumer has other ways of reducing this risk of seeing a poor effort or a set list that they are not interested in by following the music industry on any of the many magazines and blogs designed to promote that industry.  That, of course, takes time.  Time involves opportunity costs, but this is often somewhat negligable because it is almost always a part of the consumers recreational time, and could be considered a part of the recreation.

One way for a band that has not had as much attention (or attendance) as they would have liked in the recent past, but has a very well known album is, to promote the fact that they will be playing the entire album during the concert.  This adds certainty to consumer expectations.  It may also serve to refresh a tired brand, by reminding consumers why they loved them in the first place.  Right now, The Lemonheads are on tour playing It's A Shame About Ray album in its entirety.  The Lemonheads recently played Minneapolis, and many of my friends were abuzz about the show, and bragged on facebook about how much they were looking forward to and enjoyed the show afterwards.  This was in stark contrast to the 2009 Lemonheads tour which passed largely unnoticed (at least by my friends).  I don't have attendance figures for the two tours, but I imagine that this tour is better attended.

I imagine that many music fans will tell me that song selection mystery is part of the allure of any good band.  Also, bands rehashing hits that they wrote 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago (perhaps with different backing bands) ends up being little different than a cover band.  They're probably right about both of those, but reducing uncertainty generally helps markets.  If what you're selling is uncertainty, then give your audiences as much as they can handle (note: suspenseful movie trailers), but if you're selling something else, then reducing uncertainty will probably be a positive thing for sales volume and corresponding higher prices.


11/30 Portsmouth, UNITED KINGDOM – Wedgewood Rooms
12/1 Nottingham, UNITED KINGDOM – Rescue Rooms
12/2 Leeds, UNITED KINGDOM – Cockpit
12/4 Newcastle upon Tyne, UNITED KINGDOM – The Cluny
12/5 Glasgow, UNITED KINGDOM – Oran Mor Auditorium
12/6 Manchester, UNITED KINGDOM – Ritz
12/7  Liverpool, UNITED KINGDOM– Academy 2
12/8 Sheffield, UNITED KINGDOM – Plug
12/10 Birmingham, UNITED KIMGDOM – Academy 2
12/11 Cambridge, UNITED KINGDOM – The Junction
12/12 London, UNITED KINGDOM – Shepherd's Bush Empire
12/13 Brighton, UNITED KINGDOM – Concorde 2
1/10 Brooklyn, NY – Knitting Factory
1/11 Brooklyn, NY – Knitting Factory
1/12 Clifton Park, NY – Northern Lights
1/13 Uncasville, CT – Mohegan Sun Casino, Wolf Den
1/14 Buffalo, NY – Town Ballroom
1/16 Pittsburgh, PA – Stage AE
1/17 Toledo, OH – Frankie's
1/19 Grand Rapids, MI – The Intersection
1/20 Indianapolis, IN – The Vogue
1/21 Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall Ballroom
1/22 Madison, WI – The High Noon Saloon
1/24 Des Moines, IA – Vaudeville Mews
1/26 Omaha, NE – The Waiting Room
1/27 Lawerence, KS – Granada
1/28 St. Louis, MO – Old Rock House
1/29 Fayetteville, AR – George's Majestic Lounge
1/30 Oklahoma City, OK – The Conservatory
2/1 Colorado Springs, CO – The Black Sheep
2/2 Aspen, CO – Belly Up Aspen
2/3 Boulder, CO – Fox Theatre
2/4 Albuquerque, NM – Launch Pad
2/6 Phoenix, AZ – Rhythm Room
2/7 Tucson, AZ – Plush
2/9 Dallas, TX – The Door
2/10 Houston, TX – Fitzgerald's
2/11 Austin, TX – Mohawk
2/12 San Antonio, TX – White Rabbit
2/14 Baton Rouge, LA – Spanish Moon
2/15 New Orleans, LA – One Eyed Jacks
2/16 Oxford, MS – Proud Larry's
2/17 Birmingham, AL – Bottle Tree
2/18 Pensacola, FL – Vinyl Music Hall
2/20 Tallahassee, FL – Club Downunder
2/22 Gainesville, FL – Double Down Live
2/23 Orlando, FL – Hard Rock Live
2/24 Tampa, FL – Crowbar
2/25 Jacksonville, FL – Jack Rabbits
2/27 Atlanta, GA – The Earl
2/28 Athens, GA – 40 Watt Club
2/29 Greenville, SC – Handlebar
3/2 Greensboro, NC – Blind Tiger
3/3 Knoxville, TN – Bijou Theatre
3/4 Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel
3/5 Louisville, KY – Headliner's Music Hall
3/6 Columbus, OH – The Basement
3/9 Richmond, VA – The Canal Club
3/10 Baltimore, MD – The Ottobar
3/11 New Hope, PA – New Hope Winery
3/13 Hoboken, NJ – Maxwell's
3/14 Hoboken, NJ – Maxwell's

The Lemonheads "Its A Shame About Ray"

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