Feist is Fab But…

…..the experience of hearing her perform live, which I did last night, is so much more engaging, powerful and enjoyable than anything digital.

The ability for musicians to connect with an audience through their music and personality is what continues to make live performances the pillar of the music industry. At a time when many consumers want to pay little if anything for music, they will dig into their pockets for a concert – even dig really deep for a big star, which is what Feist will be soon if she isn’t already.

Playing in her hometown (Toronto), Feist was clearly “on” last night as was the audience. Even though there were 2,000 people there, it felt small and comfortable. The non-music highlight was her attempt to divide the audience into singing groups by using bicycles riders vs. non-bicycle riders. When that didn’t work, she moved on to area codes – much to everyone’s delight.

As the music industry scrambles to deal with its digitization, it is difficult not to get the feeling that it’s so obsessed with selling albums/singles that it forgets about live performances. You hear so much about the RIAA suing consumers for downloading music but little about how more bands have realized that if they want to survive and thrive financially and artistically, they need to get out on the road in front of the people.

It may be that music does want to be be free given consumers don’t see much value in it digitally. If that’s the case, the music industry and musicians have no choice but switch gears and make live performances the foundation of their businesses again. It’s a product that consumers will actually purchase.

Who knows, maybe a dividend along the way is that live performances resonate with consumers to the point where they are willing to pay for a CD, a high-quality digital track/CD, or an old-fashioned CD.

In many ways, Feist’s performance last night was a 90-minute commercial for her CD – and a pretty damn good one at that!

More: To listen to some of Feist’s music, check out her MySpace page. For the scoop on how the RIAA catches alleged music pirates, check out this story. To buy Feist’s new album, The Reminder, click here. The Leading Question and Music Alley have come up with five recommendations for the music industry to resuscitate its prospects.

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  • Matt

    Toronto’s her hometown? I thought she started her career in Calgary…

  • Mark Evans

    She lives in Toronto after moving from Calgary in 1998.

  • Stuart MacDonald

    So I am *still* deathly jealous that you guys were at this show. Boo! ;)

  • RT

    Sounds like a plan Mark, but consider this: What happens to musicians who only write material for other musicians? Should they no longer get paid? And what about the glut of live shows out there? In order to make a living, since most bands sell so few albums these days, every act is on the road, often hitting major markets like Toronto three or four times on an album. That has led to a glut of live shows — and a lot of acts are struggling to make that work.

    It works for Feist cause she’s sold a million albums. But she’s a rare case these days…