The GuardianThe Guardian

‘You’re doing it purely for the exposure’: Why many musicians can no longer afford to tour

By Michael Hann

28 Oct 2022 · 6 min read

Editor's Note

It's not just British bands that are find touring prohibitively expensive these days. As Michael Hann of the Guardian explains, there are a host of reasons why artists are cancelling live dates.

The received wisdom directed at musicians was simple: streaming means you’re not earning from recordings any more? Make it up on the road! Get out there and tour, like musicians used to, then you’ll be fine! That has proven to be a myth. In recent months, an increasing number of acts have announced that they are cancelling tours, or scaling down their live commitments because they simply can’t afford to play.

Animal Collective recently put the kibosh on their November tour of the UK and Europe. “From inflation, to currency devaluation, to bloated shipping and transportation costs … we simply could not make a budget for this tour that did not lose money even if everything went as well as it could,” they told fans. Santigold also cancelled her autumn US tour, saying: “I will not continue to sacrifice myself for an industry that has become unsustainable for, and uninterested in, the welfare of the artists it is built upon.” Okkervil River’s Will Sheff estimated he would have lost about $20,000 had he fulfilled his US and European tours. Metronomy cancelled a US tour, citing costs, while earlier this year, Little Simz said it made no financial sense for her to play the US.

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