Cue the violins!

By Kate Andries

So we all know the economy is the crapper.  And as I’ve pointed out in the past, the arts are usually the first to suffer when things turn financially south.  

In no other arena does poor financial climate wreak havoc than in the world of classical music.  Attendance to the symphony and the opera was already declining before this mess of an economy took hold, so now that things keep looking worse, the future of live classical music is looking pretty bleak.

Orchestras and opera companies are mostly non-profit organizations that require assistance from fundraising and endowment to survive.  Since the financial climate is not so friendly, endowment for these operations is often withdrawn (the Metropolitan Opera has lost over 100 million dollars in endowment).  This is leaving the companies to begin cutting the pay of musicians and performers to try and make up the difference.

Next month over 1,000 delegates will descend on Chicago for the 64th Conference of the League of American Orchestras. Despite the bleak outlook for many companies across the nation, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is suffering, sure, but not as harshly as others. The CSO is going on the defensive in order to save themselves.

Hopefully, other companies will take the same approach as the CSO to save themselves and attempt to thrive in the future. Hopefully what the CSO is doing to ensure a long life span will work. Because, really, it has to, or else it’s buh-bye to classical music in Chicago.

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Behold, the changing landscape.

By Kate Andries

Drink it in:

Radiohead has long been touted as a revolutionary band. A band that is pushing the music business towards change and evolution. Greg Kot, music critic for the Chicago Tribune, explores Radiohead’s effect on the music landscape in his new book, Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music.

In an excerpt from the book, Kot explains how the unusual marketing and releasing of the band’s most recent album, In Rainbows, has since effected the music business. By letting fans determine how much they wanted to pay for the album, from nothing to the average price of 6 bucks, making the release pretty controversial from a business standpoint.

It’s a difficult evolution to explain here in a simple blog post, but if you’re interested in learning more about the musical landscape and more about Kot’s book, he’ll be speaking at the Borders at 2817 N. Clark St. at 7 pm. Be there or be square.

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

By Kate Andries

Summer festival time!

Whee!

Just thinking about it makes me giddy.  From June to August, some of the biggest festivals this side of Woodstock take place all over the country- west coast, east coast, backwoods Michigan, down south Tennessee- they’re everywhere!

Bonnaroo held June 11-14 in Manchester, Tennessee is set to host big name acts such as Bruce Springsteen, Phish, Wilco, and recent music darlings MGMT. In addition to the music, Bonnaroo also host slews of comedy stars and film screenings. It’s all the fun of Woodstock, minus the hoards of hippies crowding your personal space!

From July 2-5, in the middle of the northern woods of Michigan, is Rothbury, which is relatively new on the festival circuit. Boasting big names like Dylan and the Dead, Rothbury is shaping up to be one of the big names in summer festivals from here on out.

And then, oh and then, there is Lollapalooza, Chicago’s darling. From August 7-9, Grant Park is overrun with acts like Depeche Mode, The Killers, Vampire Weekend, and Kings of Leon from a number of stages.

With all these festivals to go to (and sorry, Coachella already passed. Sad. I know.) it may seem like simply buying the three day pass for each is the best- and most wallet friendly- way to go. Silly, silly thought. Take some friendly advice, find out when the bands you want to see are playing, make sure they don’t overlap, and only buy the pass for those days (unless you WANT to go all three days, then hey, it’s your money.) Three day or four day passes are often really jacked up in price while a one day pass is pretty reasonable.

So go! Go out into the sun with your factory sealed 1 liter water bottles and enjoy! Revel in the season! (But spend wisely, you’ll need the extra cash for souvenirs.)

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Festival Season Has Begun!

Memorial Day weekend is just around the corner and that means one thing: drunk barbecues! But really, all Chicagoans know festival season kicks off around this time and what better way to enjoy the city than free (or pretty cheap) concerts, a sampling of local food and some rather ridiculous contests, as each neighborhood flaunts its unique character. A "fest"-ivus for the rest of us!

To start things off, head over to Lakeview (the Paulina Brown Line stop to be exact) for Mayfest , a tradition for 10 years with art, food and live bands (including Chicago’s favorite 80s cover band, Sixteen Candles) through Sunday night. Of course every festival needs a “wacky factor” – this one being a Pet Parade with categories such as “Best Looking” and “Owner Look-A-Like.” And for the burning “How much is it?” question – a $5 donation will get you in for the day.

However, if you’re on the green kick (environmentally, that is), check out the Green Festival at Navy Pier this weekend, organized by Global Exchange and Co-op America. Only $10 for students, this festival focuses on the environmentally conscious movement with eco-friendly products, workshops, a green career fair and this exhibit’s catch is the keynote speakers: controversial activist couple and college professors William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, known for their involvement in the Weather Underground movement.

And if you really want an eclectic experience, head over to the Randolph Street Market Festival on May 23 and 24, where a $5 fee gets students in for both days. Here you can check out the Antique Market, the Vinyl Swap Meet (if you’re into rare LPs), the Fancy Food Market and the Global Goods Bazaar (featuring Chicago’s many ethnic cultures). If you already find yourself downtown, there’s a free pick-up and drop-off at Watertower Place, just like the good ol’ days when mom would pick you up from the mall!

If these options don’t put cream in your coffee, check out the long list of festivals going on through early fall. Happy festing!

– Jackie Lorens

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Sponsors: Necessary, but not necessarily evil

Do this, right now:

1) Go on twitter. That’s twitter.com for some of you slower people. (You don’t have to have a twitter account to search…just look at the bottom of the page.)

2) Search these terms: Sports sponsorship

3) Look at how many tweets either a) are looking for sponsors for a sporting event, or b) describe the cancellation of some sporting event because of lack of sponsorship.

You’re not surprised, I bet. Neither was I. But something doesn’t make sense.

I’ve already touched upon the fact that attendance is down in many professional sports. Average citizens are finding it tougher to justify seeing games in-person in a down economy. Makes sense.

I’ve also touched upon the fact that despite the recession, some ticket prices are even going up…hint, hint…the Yankees. But wait a minute. In a recession, shouldn’t prices go down to get the best possible return per seat a stadium/team/organization can?

It’s. Not. That. Simple.

Living in Chicago for the past few years, I’ve heard plenty of people complain about the Under Armour ads on Wrigley Field’s outfield walls. They say it’s the stadium “selling out.” They say, “It’s just not Wrigley.”

Ummm. Hello! Anyone ever complain about the big Budweser rooftop?! (It’s the Horeseshoe Casino’s sign now.) Maybe when it was first put there, but not much (we like beer too much).

Can you find the ad?

Can you find the ad?

Here’s my point: baseball, football, high school lacrosse, basketball, all sports need sponsors. They’re a great source of revenue, and almost never interfere with game play. Check out this article about sponsorship helping to keep regattas afloat.

Sponsors keep prices down. Those Under Armour signs are helping keep my buns in the bleachers at Wrigley, and for that, I couldn’t be happier. Plus, many of the biggest sporting events are free to attend. Why? Because of sponsors. Check out a big-city marathon sometime. Sponsors galore.

And the problem with youth sports getting cut or losing funding? They’re losing sponsors! Little league baseball thrives on local sponsorship.

Sure, a lot of the loss is due to wariness in a down market. It’s hard to commit funds to an area like advertising, where it is difficult to quantify actual results. But as we learn every day in this recession, we also need to look inward.

If fans want to keep prices down and youth sports alive, sponsors must exist and flourish.

Get over that big sign in the outfield. Get over the bottles of gatorade on the ESPN anchors’ desk. Get over the McDonald’s hit-it-here sign.

Hey. It made you look, didn’t it?

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Screw it…I’m movin’ to the ‘burbs!

By Amanda Graf

For those of you interested in getting more bang for your buck, consider making the move to the suburbs.  Chicago is just a hop, skip, and a jump away, and you can have the amenities you have always dreamed about- for the same/lower price!  Check it out!

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Bobby Jenks Gets a “Hefty” Slap on the Wrist

I couldn’t claim to write about sports and the economy without posting this story.

Bobby Jenks, the closer for the Chicago White Sox, was fined $750 by Major League Baseball today for admitting to “sending a message” to Texas’ second baseman, Ian Kinsler. Jenks threw a ninth-inning pitch behind the right-handed Kinsler. When asked after the game if the pitch just got away, Jenks said, frankly, “No. I Meant to. To send a message.” Jenks went on to said he no longer wished to see his teammates hit by Rangers’ pitchers. 

The $750 fine, however, in light of Jenks’ $5.6 million contract , seems quite the laugh around baseball today

Surely, with a $750 fine, I would be ticked off, not to mention checking the couch and the streets for spare change. But surely, for Bobby Jenks, $750 is just that, spare change.

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