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File traders put an end to Lollapalooza

Hell no! We won't go!

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The magical Lollapalooza music festival has been cancelled as a result of peer-to-peer file trading.

Okay, that's not the official word from festival promoters, but it might as well be. It's no secret that folks in the music and movie biz try to blame everything they can on evil file-traders be it declining revenue or collapsing family values. So why not point to P2P networks as the culprit behind the end to the US's most famous summer music extravaganza?

Well, because it wasn't P2P evil-doers that culled Lollapalooza at all. It was a stalled economy. Funny how bad times under Bush can be blamed for the end of a festival but not for harming CD sales.

"Even with what has been touted as the best line-up since its inception in 1991, with such eclectic and respected artists as Morrissey, Sonic Youth, PJ Harvey, and The Flaming Lips, among others, and the most competitive ticket prices in the marketplace for a tour this size, it was not enough to counter the weak economic state of this years summer touring season," organizers said in a statement.

"Therefore, it is with the utmost regret that due to poor ticket sales across the board, the Lollapalooza, 2004 tour has been cancelled. This morning, tour organizers and concert promoters faced with several million dollars of losses, made the very tough decision to pull the tour."

What in God's name has happened to America's youth?

It wasn't so long ago that the first Lollapalooza kicked off in 1991. No US promoter had put on a hippie/yippie show of its scale, bringing together the most popular bands around, tattoo tents and Gyro stands. The kiddies hungered for such an event. There was no better excuse to drink up for two days, push your friends around and vomit off the excess fun.

It's hard to quantify exactly how popular Lollapalooza was in its prime to those of you outside of the US. All the rage doesn't begin to describe it.

And here, a mere 13 years later, the American youth has given the finger to following Lollapalooza to the Coors Amphitheatre, the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, Turner Field and the Smirnoff Music Centere. Since when did Sonic Youth, Morrissey, The String Cheese Incident, The Flaming Lips, Pixies, Gomez and PJ Harvey fail to generate a buzz.

Come on, it has to be the file-traders. They're the ones killing the music, man. Don't blame a Bush-driven economic slump.

The only other plausible explanation would be that the kiddos have become bored with the same-old, same-old. They're not spending as much on music or yesteryear's festival. And who can blame them what with artificially high drug prices, video games and pricey American Idol votes to deal with.

Funny enough, there is still room for those events music lovers find interesting. Phish's farewell show - 70,000 tickets - has already sold out, and we hear the recent Coachella festival was a smash. If you do something a bit different, the fans will flock.

But, if instead, you rely on a tedious format and an even more tedious promoter, in Lollapalooza's case Perry Farrell, they will not come.

"The spirit I envision to come over the country with the 2004 Lolla is akin to the gypsy of old," Farrell said in an old promotion for the festival. "But his coach is solar-powered in keeping with the music’s message. He’s part of the ‘Revolution-Solution,’ having a little fun as a ‘Political-Prankster’."

Who in their right mind would want to be part of that?

The music industry has no one to blame but itself for sagging sales. Lollapalooza's end has proven that. But, maybe, just maybe, we'll be proven wrong. Suing your customer base and infecting songs with DRM could indeed prove to be the best bet for bringing music fans back to the fold. ®

Related stories

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EMI, Warner Music renew 'pre-nup talks'
Universal to revive dead CD single format

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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