How the Music Industry Has Changed - Our Interview with Wicker Park's Double Door


Photo: Liz Phair

Back in the 1990's when Double Door first opened, they played host to incredible acts like: Lloyd Cole, The Smashing Pumpkins, Liz Phair, Nash Kato and Urge Overkill, Ben Harper, The Melvins and of course, the Rolling Stones. So we felt there were few people better qualified to respond to the question: How has the Music Industry Changed in the past 2 Decades? 

Double Door Owners Sean Mulroney & Andy Barrett and long-time Manager Lorri Francis share their perspective.



Some of the most influential people in Chicago music, the owners of Wicker Park's Double Door  are extremely well-versed in the significant music industry shifts that have happened over the last 2 decades. 

Sean: The music industry has changed substantially.  The reality is, with the decline of the record industry, there’s no support for bands. And for bands that have a chance of moving up, they really have to do it on their own now.  It’s very hard to make money from a tour so you’re not seeing as many of those “mid bands” that you used to. Even the bands that have some support are small bands. You don’t have the longevity and you don’t have the loyalty. Bands used to be loyal. They would want to come to back to see Lorri and our sound guys. They’d want to come back to our room specifically. Now with the way the agents are, it’s really about supporting themselves. There’s very little loyalty.

Lorri: The music industry has changed completely. Labels don’t exist and everything is on the web.  If you want something you can just download something.

Sean: The other big thing we see is this: When we opened up we would get bands that would come here the weekend before their show and hand out fliers. They would put posters up everywhere. Now people think if you put something up on your Facebook page people will show up. The thing is people are so inundated by every band doing that there’s nothing special. The ‘special’ used to be taking a flyer out of a guy’s hand and they’d say “yeah I’ll be there” and they’d be there. You don’t see that sort of band promotion. Bands don’t promote themselves anymore. They just think it’s going to happen.

Lorri: They just post their shows to Facebook and Twitter. That’s it.

Andy: Because the artists have to create everything themselves, they don’t have experience. They used to have an A&R guy who would teach them how to approach a venue, how to play a crowd, how to unload and sound check. But they (A&R reps) don’t exist anymore so teaching has become part of our job.

That’s not to say it used to be great and now it’s not.  That’s not necessarily the case.  But it’s very different. The electronic age has opened up the idea of being a performer to a lot of people who couldn’t do it before. But the accomplished musicians aren’t necessarily getting together so the bands may not be as tight as they used to be.


Photo: Caviar Photo Credit: Ear FM

Sean: You’re also not seeing the seasoned people touring in vans anymore. Gas it too expensive and no one’s buying t-shirts anymore.

Andy:  And attitudes towards drinking have also changed which is probably good. Society has raised a more responsible group of drinkers.


The 1 Thing They’d Change

Sean: We’d love to have shows for people under 21. Our license requires 21+.


Our Interview with Double Door continues:

Part I - The History of the Double Door

Part III- The Day The Rolling Stones Came to Play

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