After nearly 100 years of entertaining New Yorkers with live performances from Benny Goodman and Frank Sinatra to Madonna and Beyonce, the Roseland Ballroom is planning to close in 2014. Unlike many other music halls, Roseland doesn’t cite financial problems as the cause of its imminent departure: a publicist for the venue says that the owner simply has a “new vision” for the property.* In avoiding such trouble Roseland bucks a trend. Financial woes mortally wounded some other venerable performance spots just this summer, including the Heritage Square Music Hall in Golden, Colorado and the Midtown Music Hall in Chatttanooga, Tennessee (it couldn’t afford a sprinkler system). Those promoters go on record as saying: “People aren’t going out as much as they used to. Discretionary income isn’t what it used to be, and one of the first things families cut back on is entertainment.” But is that true?
According to a recent Techdirt study, “The Sky is Rising,” live music saw dramatic growth from 1999 to 2009: concert ticket sales in the US tripled from $1.5 billion to $4.6 billion. It also claims that American disposable incomes are going to be devoted to experiences rather than manufactured products: “Spending on entertainment grew from 4.9% of household spending in 2000 to 5.6 % in 2008.” Did the financial crises put a damper on things? Sure, but nobody would start a band if they didn’t think they could defy the odds. And the same goes for opening a club. Making it has never been easy, but there are always new believers who think the sky will rise with them (just like the study says). And there are always fans, if you can reach them, who will help you push the sky up–or raise the roof anyway. New venues like the Ardmore Music Hall in Philadelphia (The Hooters helped open the doors in September 2013) and the Concord Music Hall in Chicago (Adam Ant christened the place in August 2013) salute the Roseland Ballroom and then get right back to business. After all, the show(s) must go on.
*Correction (10/23/13): the original version of this article mistakenly cited “financial problems/shortcomings” as a contributing factor to Roseland’s closing.
related: Rock Off