‘It’s gotten way worse’: Devin Townsend Speaks To How Badly Inflation Has Hurt Touring Artists

Devin Townsend Photo by Francesco Prandoni/Getty Images
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Though there are many bands and artists touring right, many of these acts are struggling financially. Between high merch cuts that venues are asking for, the pandemic, and rising inflation, many bands are struggling to make money, and touring is becoming more of a hassle. In fact, Anthrax had to cancel a tour this year due to rising costs.

During a recent conversation with Metallerium, prog-metal mastermind Devin Townsend spoke about such struggles. Among the points he shared, he expressed how Live Nation is taking “30 percent of merch sales” from venues, and how everything from food to hotels is becoming more expensive. Speaking to the current state of touring, here is everything Devin had to say:

“It’s gotten way worse. I don’t think it’s better at all, actually. Because the costs of touring now, with inflation and the cost of gasoline and diesel – plus, over the course of the pandemic, we’ve lost a ton of really good venues. I’d say probably 50 percent of the workforce in touring has now left. Because what’s a guitar tech gonna do for two years? You have to get a job, right? And so the ones that are remaining, not only are they already spoken for with other bands, but they’re almost twice as expensive.

“I saw this thing about Live Nation the other day, they’re taking 30 percent of merch sales from some of these venues. The costs of airlines have gone up. So artists, the ability to make money on tour is almost completely gone now — at least an artist on my level.

“So, yes, it’s opened up again, but it’s 10 times as expensive. It’s, like, what do you do? Even little things like, okay, the hotels are more expensive; the food at the hotels are more expensive. So at the end of it, you’re touring for what? You’re touring ultimately so you can present your work to the people who care about your work, and that’s worth it to me. But I think for anybody to think that it’s now easy again, you should investigate that, because I’m trying to set up tours for next year, and there’s no way to keep them within cost — there’s no way.

“And so you go out there and, I’m like, ‘Well, we can’t have this vehicle, we can’t have this backline, we can’t have this production, we can’t have these lights.’ And then if you show up at a place and the audience comes, they’re, like, ‘The show’s not good. There’s no lights. There’s no production.’ So what should you do? And I think a lot of musicians, their decision is, like, ‘Well, I’ll just stay home then and I’ll just create from home.’

“I try to go out with acoustic now, because that way I can afford it. If I just show up with an acoustic guitar and sing for people, it’s better than nothing. But it’s still, like, man, it’s a complicated time, brother.”

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