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Published: 2009/08/08
by Mike Greenhaus

Lollapalooza Industry Chatter with Perry Farrell

Onstage Perry Farrell is best known as the frontman for Janes Addiction, the seminal alt-rock band responsible for hits like Been Caught Stealing, Jane Says and even the Entourage theme song. But the restless singers true legacy is likely his work off the stage, as the co-founder and mastermind behind the now veteran Lollapalooza festival. In 2005, after watching his baby die twice, Farrell helped re-brand Lollapalooza as a one of the countrys signature destination music festivals. On the eve of this years event, Farrell shared his thoughts on the future of the music industry, Janes Addictions recent reunion tour and the future of the music industry with Relix and Jambands.com.

MG: It’s been four years since Lollapalooza re-branded itself as a weekend event and, in that time, the festival has taken on its own identity completely separate from its touring predecessor. How do you feel the festival’s growth has paralleled other changes in the music industry?

PF: I’ll tell you what—in terms of the evolution in music, I would say this is where it is going. We watched, in the last 10 years, the recording industry kind of go through a severe recession, right? Let’s call it more of an attrition, right? So there are major changes that occurred from that. Changes in how we got our music, yes? That’s the first thing. How are we getting our music now? Well, we are not buying it in a store. We all know that. But what that did was it changed in general. The music industry has no money. So now they are not signing groups for half a million dollars or a million dollars or five million dollars. Now they are signing them for fifty thousand or a hundred thousand or a quarter of a million. As a result of that, the musicians are not going to run to a big name producer—they are not going to rent a studio for three thousand bucks a day. They are going to go out and get themselves Pro Tools, put it on their laptop and learn how to produce themselves. They are going to work with electronic sounds. They are going to find all these incredible drum machines and synths and this software that comes with it through people like Native Instruments. The musician of today, you are going to find mostly, is a self-produced musician who works with electronics more than ever before. And when he goes to play and perform live he takes those sounds and the way he made music, and he brings that with him out onto the stage. So now you have a hybrid of sound and a hybrid of performance.

MG: Also, festivals are almost like radios these days, introducing fans to a bunch of new bands in a single day.

PF: Without a doubt. It has become, again, extremely important to go out and visit the musical festivals and see groups and then you’ll know if you really like them or not. You know, people don’t get out as much as they used to when it comes to live entertainment, when it comes to music. Smaller clubs, I don’t think people, you know I’m being honest with you, this is a reflection, this is not my opinion, but my assessment is that people are less interested in going out and seeing a live group with one or two support acts.

MG: Right, they want an all inclusive experience.

PF: More than ever before—especially on the small club circuit. People don’t want to sit and listen to a new group that’s just trying to learn how to play their instruments. There is not really a scene for that. But, what is a scene that is just blowing up bigger and bigger and bigger is putting all these groups together for a day. Putting these groups together for a ticket where, listen, two hundred bucks, one hundred groups, six headliners, legends like Lou Reed and Snoop Dogg, newcomers like Santigold, and Animal Collective, and Deadmau 5, and MSTKRFT, and at the top you have Depeche Mode and Jane’s Addiction and the hottest groups in the country right now, Kings of Leon, the Killers and Tool.

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