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How Phish Makes Money with Music

Stashed in: Business Facts, Economics!, Awesome, Music, Monetization, Beatles!, Beavis and Butthead, Phishing

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Over the past four years, the rock band Phish has generated over $120 million in ticket sales, handily surpassing more well known artists like Radiohead, The Black Keys, and One Direction. Since their start 30 years ago, Phish has consistently been one of the most popular and lucrative touring acts in America, generating well over a quarter billion dollars in ticket sales.

Yet, by other measures, the band isn’t popular at all. Only one of their original albums has ever made the Billboard top 10 rankings. None of their 883 songs has ever become a popular hit on the radio. They’ve made only one music video to promote a song, and it was mocked mercilessly by Beavis and Butthead on MTV

If the traditional band business model is to generate hype through the media and radio airplay, and then monetize that hype through album sales and tours, Phish doesn’t fit the model at all. For a band of their stature, their album sales are miniscule and radio airplay non-existent. And so when the “music business” cratered in the 1990s because of file-sharing and radio’s importance declined because of the internet, Phish remained unaffected and profitable as ever.

Phish doesn’t make money by selling music. They make money by selling live music, and that, it turns out, is a more durable business model. 

It reminds me of The Grateful Dead.

The music wasn't the product. The CONCERT was the product.

And yes, that's much more durable.

I have to say, I really don't care for any of their 833 songs, but I know a few people who are fanatic about them.

883 songs:

Most of which sound very similar.

Yes, and most of jazz sounds similar. And most of heavy metal sounds similar. And most of rap sounds similar. etc. And don't get me started on how similar Dylan songs sound.

No one can play like the Beatles.

Sorry, I *had* to watch that Beavis and Butt-head mocking:

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