Lorde Shares Concert Industry Explainer: “Touring Has Become A Demented Struggle To Break Even Or Face Debt”

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Lorde Shares Concert Industry Explainer: “Touring Has Become A Demented Struggle To Break Even Or Face Debt”

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Lorde talked about the current state of concerts in her most recent newsletter. “I don’t know how much you’ve been following the live music industry conversation, but lemme hit you with a five minute explainer, cause I think it’s interesting, and good to know about if you’re going to concerts at the moment,” she wrote, continuing:

Basically, for artists, promoters and crews, things are at an almost unprecedented level of difficulty. It’s a storm of factors. Let’s start with three years’ worth of shows happening in one. Add global economic downturn, and then add the totally understandable wariness for concertgoers around health risks. On the logistical side there’s things like immense crew shortages (here’s an article from last week about this in New Zealand), extremely overbooked trucks and tour buses and venues, inflated flight and accommodation costs, ongoing general COVID costs, and truly. mindboggling. freight costs. To freight a stage set across the world can cost up to three times the pre-pandemic price right now. I don’t know shit about money, but I know enough to understand that no industry has a profit margin that high. Ticket prices would have to increase to start accommodating even a little of this, but absolutely no one wants to charge their harried and extremely-compassionate-and-flexible audience any more fucking money. Nearly every tour has been besieged with cancellations and postponements and promises and letdowns, and audiences have shown such understanding and such faith, that between that and the post-COVID wariness about getting out there at all, scaring people away by charging the true cost ain’t an option. All we want to do is play for you.

Profits being down across the board is fine for an artist like me. I’m lucky. But for pretty much every artist selling less tickets than I am, touring has become a demented struggle to break even or face debt. For some, touring is completely out of the question, even if they were to sell the whole thing out! The math doesn’t make sense. Understandably, all of this takes a toll — on crews, on promoters, and on artists. You’ll notice a ton of artists cancelling shows citing mental health concerns in the past year, and I really think the stress of this stuff is a factor — we’re a collection of the world’s most sensitive flowers who also spent the last two years inside, and maybe the task of creating a space where people’s pain and grief and jubilation can be held night after night with a razor thin profit margin and dozens of people to pay is feeling like a teeny bit much.

Me personally? I’m doing pretty good. You guys have come to the shows in such mammoth numbers (we sold almost 20,000 tickets in London, like what the hell) and not having crippling stage fright hanging over me for the first time is such a fucking blessing that you could tell me I had to cycle from city to city and I’d still be loving it. But I’m not immune to the stress — just a month ago I was looking at a show that was pretty undersold and panicking, only for it to sell the remaining 2000 tickets in ten days. Wild stuff.

I wanted to put all of this in your minds to illustrate that nothing’s simple when it comes to touring at the moment, and if your faves are confusing you with their erratic moves, some of this could be playing a part.

Lorde has been out on tour in support of her most recent album Solar Power for most of this year. She’s already wrapped up the North American and European legs of the tour, and is currently in South America now. Next year, she’ll be touring Australia and her native New Zealand.

She’s the latest in a string of artists who have talked about how hard touring has been as of late. Santigold shared a statement about the harsh reality for touring artists as she canceled her live shows, and Animal Collective recently canceled a series of European dates due to the economic concerns of touring.

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