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It's Just Business

PERIPHERY's Misha Mansoor Says He Can't Make A Living From Just The Band

You can't make money off metal? Shocker.

You can't make money off metal? Shocker.

We've got some really breaking news for you that might actually blow your mind to bits. Ready? The likelihood that you're going to make a living solely off music is pretty unlikely.

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Even for a band like Periphery, who's been pretty popular ever since their debut album in 2010 and has been drawing crowds even before that, guitarist Misha Mansoor says it's not his main source of income. Mansoor says he makes most of his money from other music-related and guitar-related stuff, mainly in order to not only keep Periphery going easily, but also to keep it as fun as possible.

Mansoor speaks strictly business, saying:

"You know what it's like with the business cycle and product cycles. It's like they start strong, they dip. So if I'm relying on one thing and it's the end of a product cycle I still have to buy food. [Laughs] If you diversify everything, you'll have income."

He's right though – you can't make money off being in a band and live at least sorta maybe comfortably unless you're bands like Metallica or Ghost.

Here's what he offers for advice on being in a band and making a living.

"Make income outside of the band. This is what I do with the signature products. It's my way of being able to make a living. It's my way of being able to make a life for myself. People think sometimes, 'Periphery is achieving a little bit of success.' We're not a massive band but we do alright. But we make no money. And people have a really hard time grasping that.

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"Because even as we started making more money you'll gross a lot and net nothing. The ability to monetize music has just dropped by a factor of god knows what – 10, 100, whatever. But the cost of touring has stayed the same. It just means that you net very little. And then if you want to have a nice production like us, you don't want to just go barebones on everything. You want it to be an enjoyable show, so you spend money on that.

"So yeah, we'll gross a fair bit but we won't net a lot. We did a five-week tour in Europe last year, we walked away with nothing. And that's a reality of this – European tours are very expensive. US headliners will do pretty well but you can't do them that often because everybody's touring – oversaturated market, your guarantees will stagnate or go down.

"So it's just not a viable source of income for most bands. Some bands are more fortunate in that, they're sort of more merch bands and they can just really kill it on merch. But it's tougher and tougher.

"One way of looking at it is, let's say for the sake of argument, your ability to earn is decreased by a factor of 10 thanks to Spotify and downloading and whatever. You were making a million dollars per year, well now you're making $100,000. So yeah, you can still make a living on it, you won't be living as lavishly as before, but it's still viable. But if you were making $100,000 before, now you're making $10,000. That's not a lot.

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"I'm 33 and as people start to get older… When I was in my 20s, I didn't mind sleeping on floors or whatever. Now I'm not gonna be doing tours while I'm slumming in a van, it's just not fun anymore. It's not worth it. We all paid our dues already.

"So it's just one of those things where for us music is just becoming more and more about just doing it for fun. But it's because we all saw this coming. We had no delusions. When I started the band, it was like I'm playing nerdy metal, no one cared about us at all. No one cared about this style of music.

"I would have been amazed to get even 100 people to come to the show. So it was like, 'I'm gonna need to figure out some other way to make a living. This is just gonna be for fun.' And I think that is more true than ever now."

Periphery is also writing a new full-length, which apparently will not pay Misha's bills.

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"Periphery came out of the gate in 2010 with incredible skill and precision, and none of that has changed here."