A concert is a live music performance in front of an audience. The performance may be by a single musician, sometimes then called a recital, or by a musical ensemble, such as an orchestra, choir, or band. Concerts are held in a wide variety and size of settings, from private houses and small nightclubs, dedicated concert halls, arenas and parks to large multipurpose buildings, and even sports stadiums. Indoor concerts held in the largest venues are sometimes called arena concerts or amphitheatre concerts. Informal names for a concert include show and gig.
Regardless of the venue, musicians usually perform on a stage. Concerts often require live event support with professional audio equipment. Before recorded music, concerts provided the main opportunity to hear musicians play.
The nature of a concert varies by musical genre, individual performers, and the venue. Concerts by a small jazz combo or small bluegrass band may have the same order of program, mood, and volume—but vary in music and dress. In a similar way, a particular musician, band, or genre of music might attract concert attendees with similar dress, hairstyle, and behavior. For example, concert goers in the 1960s often had long hair (sometimes in dread lock form), sandals and inexpensive clothing made of natural fibers. Regular attendees to a concert venue might also have a recognizable style that comprises that venue's scene.
A recital is a concert by a soloist or small group which follows a program. It can highlight a single performer, sometimes accompanied by piano, or a performance of the works of a single composer, or a single instrument (organ recital). The invention of the solo piano recital has been attributed to Franz Liszt. Also, a recital may have many participants, as for a dance recital. A dance recital is a presentation of choreographed moves for an audience, usually in an established performing arts venue, possibly competitively. Some dance recitals are seasonal.
Some performers or groups put on very elaborate and expensive shows. To create a memorable and exciting atmosphere and increase the spectacle, performers frequently include additional entertainment devices. These can include elaborate stage lighting, electronic imagery via (IMAG) system and/or pre-recorded video, inflatable sets, artwork or other set pieces, various special effects such as theatrical smoke and fog and pyrotechnics, and unusual costumes or wardrobe. Some singers, especially popular music, augment concert sound with pre-recorded accompaniment, back-up dancers, and even broadcast vocal tracks of the singer's own voice. Activities during these concerts can include dancing, sing-alongs, and moshing. Performers known for including these elements in their performances include: Pink Floyd, The Flaming Lips, Cher, Prince, Alice Cooper, Iron Maiden, Daft Punk, Lady Gaga, Jean Michel Jarre, Sarah Brightman, KISS, Gwar, Slipknot, and Madonna.
Concerts involving a greater number of artists, especially those that last for multiple days, are known as festivals. Unlike other concerts, which typically remain in a single genre of music or work of a particular artist, festivals often cover a broad scope of music and arts. Due to their size, festivals are almost exclusively held outdoors. New platforms for festivals are becoming increasingly popular such as Jam Cruise, which is a festival held on a cruise ship, as well as Mayan Holidaze, which is a destination festival held in Tulum. A few examples of the hundreds of festivals around the world include:
- Big Day Out, Australia
- Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, United States
- Download Festival, United Kingdom
- Demon Dayz Festival, United States, UK, Europe (hosted by Gorillaz)
- V Festival, United Kingdom
- Falls Festival, Australia
- Frutillar Musical Weeks, Chile
- Electric Daisy Carnival, United States
- Glastonbury Festival, United Kingdom
- Knotfest, United States
- Lollapalooza, United States
- Reading and Leeds Festivals, United Kingdom
- Rock Werchter, Belgium
- Pain In The Grass, Seattle, Washington (Hosted by the radio station 99.9 THE ROCK KISW)
- Pukkelpop, Belgium
- Roskilde Festival, Denmark
- Newport Jazz Festival, United States
- Oxegen Festival, Ireland
- Ozzfest, United States
- Parachute Music Festival, New Zealand
- Rock In Rio, Brazil
- TIM Festival, Brazil
- Rockwave Festival, Greece
- Salzburg Festival, Austria
- Musique et Histoire (France)
- Summer Sonic Festival, Japan
- The Great India Festival, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
- Tomorrowland, Belgium
- Viña del Mar International Song Festival, Chile
- Woodstock Music and Art Festival, United States
- Soundwave Festival, Australia
- Warped Tour, United States
- Nice Jazz Festival (France)
- Paradiso, United States
A concert tour is a series of concerts by an artist or group of artists in different cities, countries or locations. Often concert tours are named, to differentiate different tours by the same artist and associate a specific tour with a particular album or product (for example: Beyoncé The Formation World Tour). Especially in the popular music world, such tours can become large-scale enterprises that last for several months or even years, are seen by hundreds of thousands or millions of people, and bring in millions of dollars (or the equivalent) in ticket revenues.
A concert residency or musical residency is a series of live music concerts similar to a concert tour, but only performed at one location.
Revenue and attendance
While admission to some concerts is free, it is common practice to charge money for concerts by selling admission tickets. Before the advent of recorded-music sales and mechanical royalties in the early 20th century, concerts were the primary source of revenue for musicians. Revenue from ticket sales typically goes to the performing artists, producers, venue, organizers and the brokers. In the case of benefit concerts, a portion of profits often go towards a charitable organization.
Additional revenue is also often raised through in-concert advertising, from free local concerts for local sponsorships to sponsorships from corporations during major tours e.g. 2009's "Vans' Warped Tour Presented by AT&T". Both Vans and AT&T would have paid significant amounts to have their company names included at the forefront in all marketing material for the Warped Tour.
As of 2017, Italian singer Vasco Rossi holds the record for the biggest attendance of a ticketed concert with a total of 220,000 tickets sold for his show at Enzo Ferrari Park, Modena, Italy on 1 July 2017. The record was previously held by Paul McCartney's 1990 concert with a paying audience of 185,000 in Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro. Rod Stewart also holds the record for the biggest attendance in a free concert, with an estimated audience of 3.5 million during his 1994 New Year's Eve concert in Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro.
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