In country music, the artists tend to play a lot more live shows than in other genres of music. The reason really relates to history more than anything. Country has always sold less product than other formats in terms of CDs, or now, digital music. Thus, in order to make a good living, the artists had to tour.
Interestingly, the country series at Shoreline Amphitheatre is now the biggest seller of their season. Last week we had Blake Shelton at the HP Pavilion in San Jose; and Friday night, we have Lady Antebellum and Darius Rucker there. We annually have 10-12 Shoreline or major arena country shows, including a stadium date with Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw this year.
Many of the new artists will play 250-275 dates this year. That is a lot of time in a bus with band dudes. I have had the experience of accompanying an artist on a bus trip from here to Vegas, and let me tell you, it is far from glamorous. Plus, I got to fly home, and didn’t have to dredge off to the next stop. But the artists have to keep going.
These artists (all but the very big stars) travel from city to city by tour bus. Yes, the vehicles are big and comfortable, but they are still buses. Many artists will tell you they are so used to sleeping on the bus, they have a difficult time sleeping when they are not moving. I have only done it once, but I have a hard time believing that!
I guess the part that is most interesting to me about the whole subject is that you just don’t really control your own life. You are at the mercy of weather, bus breakdowns, delays and all kinds of setbacks, out of your control. That would be terribly frustrating to me, but every single country performer I have ever talked to about it loves it. I guess that is called living the dream.