the grim reality of musical tours today


In search of reliable sources of income, since late summer artists hit the road en masse. Alongside Genesis (who completed 12 dates in their UK campaign), this season, UK audiences were treated to tours by artists as diverse as Richard Thompson, Manic Street Preachers, The Reytons, Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, The Specials, Kasabian, The Progeny, and dozens more. The recent announcement of spring and summer field trips to stadiums by Ed Sheeran, Liam Gallagher and Coldplay suggests confidence in the future as well as the present.

In truth, however, everyone steals it. In addition to the threat of infection and derailment, artists face unprecedented costs of doing business. While in the old world, a group could purchase insurance against shows lost due to illness, such a guarantee does not exist for Covid-19. In order to embark on a tour, musicians are required to pay in advance for transportation, production, and hiring a road crew. Agents and promoters will pay for the locations and advertising. The cost of canceling concerts at the last minute is far more than lost ticket revenue.

“I had a discussion with [promoter] Live Nation at the start of [a recent] toured and said, “Hopefully we go through with this, because if we don’t, you and I are going to be in an almighty row,” Adam Saunders tells me. “There is no doubt about it and there is no way to avoid it. There is going to be a huge bill that we are going to have to cover… It’s amazing how fragile things are.

Whether a group plays in stadiums or clubs, the problem is universal. Unable to secure insurance for their upcoming UK theatrical tour, English rock quintet Marillion calculated the cost of the derailment after just two or three of 10 dates scheduled somewhere in the region of £ 150,000. For a band that operates as a cottage industry – the recording of their upcoming LP, An Hour Before It’s Dark, was funded through pre-orders – the idea of ​​being on the hook for a six-figure unrecoverable expense was unthinkable. . The group’s manager, Lucy Jordache, however had an idea.

“[She] said to me, ‘I wonder if the fans would be ready to step up and become our insurance company?’ Drummer Ian Mosley tells me. The money would be held in an escrow account and returned to its donors if it was not used. The band could offer incentives such as Zoom meetings and handwritten lyrics. “She introduced it to our fans and in three days we had raised £ 113,000 in around 30 countries. This is what is extraordinary about our audience. This is a UK tour, but we’ve had people from all over the world pledging money because they want to feel like part of the Marillion family.


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