OZZFEST 2006: Iron Man Slows, And So Does The Concert Industry

Jeff Leeds of The New York Times has written a lengthy article on the current state of the concert industry, with a special emphasis on Ozzfest 2006.

OZZY OSBOURNE, who broke more than half a dozen bones in an accident a few years back, plans to play just 10 of this year's 26 Ozzfest dates. "Ozzy needed to take time out," Sharon Osbourne, his wife and manager, told The New York Times. "It just becomes like a routine. The thing is, you never want to get like that. He's got to be as excited as everybody else." But it is increasingly unclear how many more years a man of his age can stay with the tour in any capacity. "It's a worry to me," Ms. Osbourne acknowledged.

Many fans — and rival concert organizers — attribute Ozzfest's staying power to its mix. A daylong affair featuring 20 bands, it combines established rock acts that have older fans with up-and-coming metal talent that sways a fervent younger audience.

It's designed to serve as its own farm team. Smaller bands play on a second stage, usually in the parking lot. The greenest of them pay as much as $75,000 for this chance, in the hope of someday graduating to the highly lucrative main event. This year's headliner, SYSTEM OF A DOWN, is receiving about $325,000 per show, according to several people close to the tour.

Charlie Walker, president of the music division of Live Nation (the company that coordinates the tour with Ms. Osbourne), says the strength of the other headliners on this year's tour, including DISTURBED and AVENGED SEVENFOLD, shows that the system has worked. "The torch has been passed to these younger bands, and they're carrying their weight," he said. But the numbers are already slipping: roughly 431,000 fans purchased tickets last year, down from almost 575,000 in 2001, according to data from Pollstar, and tickets to shows Mr. Osbourne is skipping generally go for less than those he intends to play. As an incentive this year the tour is offering four tickets for the price of three in most markets.

Read the entire article at The New York Times.

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