Touring has been tough these days. Frankly, "tough" may not be an accurate enough description at the moment. It's more sincere to say that the touring industry is getting hammered at the moment—mercilessly.
We learned last week that the US Department of Homeland Security is plotting to triple the cost of a visa for anyone looking to enter and work in the United States—including workers from Mexico and Canada. If you're an American citizen whose favorite band is from anywhere other than America, it's soon likely to cost three times as much for everyone—from the drum tech to the singer—to come to your town.
Everyone from Steve Vai to Fear Factory's Dino Cazares have weighed in on this topic recently. In a new interview with Jorge Botas of Metal Global, Saxon frontman Biff Byford added his thoughts when he was asked if he thought it was easier or harder for metal bands of today to tour versus when Saxon started out many decades ago
"I don't think it's ever been easy. I think it's like winning the lottery. I think there are a lot of super-talented bands out there, new bands, but [are they] lucky enough to be noticed by enough people."
Byford then added "The problem is you can have two hundred thousand followers, but they're all over the world. So if you play in one city, they might be a hundred people of those two hundred thousand people in that city that know you. That's one of the problems.
"The thing is when you do a tour, or when you build up a following from [performing] live, those are the people, the next time you go, that turn into three hundred people, and then that turns… and people support you.
"So it's very difficult. It's very difficult for bands to tour. The club circuit is really bad at the moment. A lot of clubs have closed down, and there's a lot of tribute bands playing clubs all the time. So it's very hard for new bands to get in with new material. I would advise people to maybe play and do cover versions and do their own material as well, try and get your foot through the door.
"You need a lot of followers on social media — whether it be Spotify people or whether it be Facebook or TikTok or Instagram — you need a lot of people to be able to play in, say, some place in England — Oxford. There has to be five, six hundred people in Oxford to come and see you that perhaps only know you from social media. It's very difficult, very difficult for bands to have a live following. And from the live following comes the reviews in the magazines. You can record and make a live album quite cheap. You can sell merchandise. A lot of things come from [performing] live that helps bands to survive."
While I love that last sentiment from Biff, this week's recent court ruling involving Ticketmaster and Live Nation has me sincerely worried for the future. Stay tuned, folks. This story is far from over. It will remain an issue until the bubble breaks, unfortunately. At least there's nowhere to go but up from there, right?!