Going on the road for a music tour is something you’re either truly built to withstand (either by volition or by force), or something you simply can’t do. You have to realize that long in advance before making a commitment to a music career since making it as a musician is going to mean traveling at least 90% of the time. It’s a decision I made early when just coming out of college. While working occasionally as a piano player, I had some opportunities to travel accompanying singers or in bands. Because I never loved traveling for extensive periods of time and found myself being more invested in enjoying home, I knew I’d be miserable living on the road.
Now that I’m doing what I really want (working out of my home), I know I made the right decision. If not, it could have led to the same situation that befell Paul McCartney at the time of this writing. While touring in Japan, he caught an unknown virus that resulted in him canceling the rest of his Japanese tour. Mind you, when you’re 72 years old like McCartney is, it’s a whole different set of rules to live by.
Age aside, even those doing grueling national tours while fresh out of college find it a chore having to go through airports and dealing with a different hotel every night. If you ever read journals of famous people while they live on the road, you’ll read plenty of horror tales that make you wonder if it’s all worth it for them. For a touring musician who isn’t a superstar, the pay may not be so great either if you’re touring as part of a large band. Overall lack of profit can make you look back and wonder if the wear and tear really gained anyone anything.
Then there’s the problem of seating at concerts today. With most superstar performers playing arenas, even those who sit in the front rows are a considerable distance from star performer. Only the big screens up on the stage (and your telephoto lens on your camera) can help gain any sense of what their expressions are while performing.
With these troubles, plus the chances of more viruses spreading across the world, what’s going to be the real future of musicians touring on the road? Would the public be satisfied to pay to see a show where it’s done in one location and beamed by satellite to different venues? Also, with live holographic effects starting to be used lately, the term “safe touring” may be part of pop culture vocabulary eventually.
Touring By Satellite
If you’ve ever attended one of those live satellite airings of operas broadcast from the Met in New York City, then you know how live shows can work through the satellite system. When touring becomes a little too risky for some of our musical legends, would you pay to attend a concert where they do a live show from a safe location that’s broadcast to your venue via satellite? With large, hi-def monitors being ubiquitous at real live concerts, you’d have a virtual live experience anyway. In some ways, it could be better, because the camerawork and production would be more extensive as an avoidance in equipment breaking down. Ticket prices would also be cheaper considering the money you pay to see someone live isn’t sometimes worth it based on arenas diluting the live experience.
Also, there’s the new advent of live holograms that give the illusion the person is right there live on the stage. The technology on that is considerably different from the “revival of the dead” movement going around lately with holograms. While concert tours with holograms of departed iconic performers may be a possibility, it’s more possible to bring in performers very much alive in the holographic format using the simple stage procedure of Pepper’s Ghost.
It might be strange to think that a virtual concert would be one that’s a better experience than seeing someone live. Other than no meet and greets backstage, many might find the live, virtual experience to be an improvement, especially if the performer performs live for each venue. Plus, with cameras in the venue beaming back images of the audience for the performer, audience interactions would still be possible.
For the touring musician, convincing the music industry to do the above might erase all those ghastly stories of dealing with TSA one too many times. While the hotel industry might complain, someone being able to tour without leaving home is a chance to realize that staying at home was the safest place to be all along, other than when traveling for vacation.