Friday, 21 December 2007

Too old to rock'n'roll, too young to die.

Last week, Led Zeppelin reformed to play a single gig at London’s O2 Arena (formerly known as the Millennium Dome). The BBC covered the story (see article), which also includes some footage of the gig. I recall seeing the band in 1976 in London, and, according to those who attended the concert, the band hadn’t lost any of their verve.

There are a number of interesting points in here that provide a signpost into the future. The demand for tickets was colossal – over 1,000,000 applications for just 9,000 pairs of tickets. The face value for the cheapest seats was £200 per pair, and one fan is reported to have paid £83,000 (yes, nearly $200,000 USD) for a pair of tickets. We have to ask: Why?

I am told that, as we grow older, we seek the comfort and reassurance of things that are associated with earlier parts of our lives. It is quite natural that, as the Boomer generation moves into the early stages of old age (Led Zeppelin are in their late 50s and early 60s), that fashion swings back to the late 1960s and early 1970s. We can expect, for the next ten years or so, ‘Retro’ to be ‘in’. The Boomers are growing old disgracefully and are funding it with the kid’s inheritance.

One possible side effect of this will be that experience may come to trump youth. For years, the fashion industry has celebrated youth. Models are getting ever younger and thinner. There has recently been a groundswell against this trend (e.g. the campaign against Size 0 models in London Fashion Week), but the Retro movement could give some momentum to the countertrend.

As the Led Zeppelin concert shows, the ageing Boomers still have plenty of cash and are prepared to spend it. A modest estimate of the gate for the concert would be between £2.5mn and £3mn, plus merchandise sales, plus additional music sales generated from the concert and the surrounding media interest. Not a bad pension nest-egg for a group of ageing rockers!

As we move into the future, we can expect to see more of this.

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