Indie Music

More musicians are canceling or rethinking tours. Here are 6 reasons why

The fact that a growing number of artists are canceling tours and rethinking their touring plans has gotten the attention of both music and mainstream media.

The thought of fewer live performances is both disconcerting for fans and devastating for artists, most of whom rely on touring for the majority of their income, particularly in the wake of the pandemic lockdown.

Just as concerning is that most or all of these problems are expected to continue well into next year.

Six main factors are driving an increase in cancellations.

In no particular order:

1. Rising travel costs – That included gas prices, airfare (up 42%), and hotels.

2. Supply-side issues – They hit touring just like they did the rest of the economy, including tour buses, parts for gear, guitar strings, and vinyl to sell on the road

3. Labor shortage and wage increases – As in other industries. staff and crew are harder to find and more expensive to hire when you do.

4. COVID – All that it takes is one key band or crew member, and a week’s worth of dates get canceled, affecting the financial viability of an entire tour. Fans are still concerned with COVID, too, with some becoming more selective about the shows they do go to and others buying tickets much closer to the show date than ever before.

5. Too much competition – More artists toured in 2022 and are planning to tour in 2023 than ever before. By some measures, 50% more. But it’s not just about more competition. More top-tier artists touring and commanding higher and higher ticket prices mean that fans – particularly those concerned with high inflation – have to make choices, and it’s often the new and emerging artists that suffer.

6. Mental and physical health – All of these pressures can take a toll on artists who already feel overwhelmed by a music industry that tells them that constant self-promotion is the only promotion that still works. Add in leftover lockdown stresses plus a greater general awareness and acceptance of mental health issues, and taking care of oneself has thankfully become an acceptable reason not to tour.

We reap what we sow

The music industry has always been about seizing the moment, and we’re now seeing the results.

None of these issues will be solved easily, though lower inflation and a stronger economy could help.

Ultimately the responsibility for and the ability to solve this crisis lies with music companies ranging from majors like UMG, Live Nation, and Spotify to the smallest indie labels, venues, and artist management companies.

Starting today, everyone on the business side of music needs to set lower expectations of what an artist should be asked to do (shorter tours, less reliance on constant self-promotion) and provide more emotional and financial support.

Everything else is just words.

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