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Steve Waksman, “Arena Rock and the Industrialization of Liveness” (Leading Voices Speaker Series)

Beginning in the mid-1960s, arena rock emerged as a mode of live concert production that sought to maximize profit by creating the conditions under which large-attendance live events could be reproduced with a significant amount of reliability and predictability across an expanding national market. This presentation will highlight the personal and business interrelationships that existed between booking agent Frank Barsalona and a range of concert promoters across the United States who combined to establish the dominant arena concert touring circuit of the 1970s, and the competing model pursued by promoter Jerry Weintraub, who sought to produce a national market controlled by him exclusively. Their efforts helped to elevate acts such as the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin to the heights of rock stardom, but also and crucially prefigured the intensive centralization of the live music industry that has taken hold in more recent years.

Steve Waksman is an associate professor of music at Smith College. His book Instrument of Desire: The Electric Guitar and the Shaping of Musical Experience (Harvard University Press, 2001) examines the historical and cultural significance of the electric guitar and its broad musical impact.

The Leading Voices speaker series brings practitioners and scholars at the forefront of their fields to campus to discuss their work and experiences in music. Visit the Department of Music events calendar for more info and upcoming Leading Voices speaker series events, which take place select Thursdays 3-4:30pm: