The economy has forced bands to think about how they do business, Lyman says. In the early 2000s, when young bands were flush with gold albums and record-label backing, they did their own thing. "Now you're seeing bands sharing buses and sharing crews," he says. "That's a positive thing, and it's more of a community feeling."
Keyboardist/guitarist David Price of Natalie Portman's Shaved Head says bands such as his do everything from staying with family and friends (and friends of friends) when touring to designing and producing their own merchandise. "We'll also bunk three to a room when we get a hotel, and we ask for a lot of stuff on our contract rider," Price says. "We'll ask for fruits and vegetables and a case of water, and then we'll just take it with us in the van."
He says bands also stay more in touch with fans on MySpace. They have found that helps them build a more loyal following. "If you have that personal connection, that person is more likely to buy a T-shirt and go to a show."
Industry observers say live music may have actually benefited from the decline in CD sales. Bands realize they can no longer count on moving large numbers of albums like they once did.
"Twenty years ago, you toured to sell records," Bongiovanni says. "Today, you tour to make money and maybe you sell a few records along the way. You are getting more money off your merchandise table than you are from records."