Last Friday I went to opening day at the Saratoga Race Track in Saratoga Springs, NY. It poured rain the entire day. Even with the soaking rain they still had an attendance over 20,000. Why did so many people brave the elements to attend, tradition.
Growing up in upstate NY, you understand that opening day at the track is kind of like a holiday. The Saratoga Race Track is only open a little over 6 weeks a year. At one time it was only open in the month of August.
This one and a half month long event attracts every socio-economic group. It is one of the only places that the rich and famous openly mingle with your average Joe. For the most part, no one bothers the celebs. Everyone is there for the same reason.
Traditions can overcome recessions. Yes, they may feel the effects of the economy but a good, long lasting tradition can weather the storm.
Think about our holidays. These are traditions. Even when times are tough, Santa stills makes his yearly ride. His sleigh may be a little lighter, but he still shows up. (Sorry, but I had to use the Christmas analogy. Recently heard how retailers are really pushing the “Christmas in July” theme this year.)
Jimmy Buffet is still a tradition in many markets. He knows he is. He plays the same markets around the same time each year. Outdoor summer concerts in general used to be a tradition for many people. The amphitheatre business was built on this. Concert fans couldn’t wait to see the summer lineup. Over the past few years, this has really dropped off. The reason is because promoters are not treating it like a tradition. These sheds are now just a venue to play a show. The price of the show has become out of reach for many concert fans. It’s just not a fun summer night out anymore.
If I ran a summer amphitheatre, the first thing I would do is change it from a venue to a destination. The key to these sheds is to get repeat business. Give every music fan reason to go to at least a few times per summer. Get them excited for the upcoming summer concert season. I would return it to a tradition.