It's no secret that touring sucks pretty bad right now. Ticketmaster is being investigated for royally screwing up ticketing, costs are through the roof, and some venues didn't even make it through the pandemic.
But how bad is it exactly? Devin Townsend explained in an interview with Metallerium that he's setting up tours for 2023 and has no real way to keep them within cost thanks to everything that's going on. Townsend also touches on the unfortunate reality of having to scale back show production, but still having to put on enough of an actual show that people don't walk away disappointed. So yeah, it's a little rough out there at the moment.
"It's gotten way worse. I don't think it's better at all, actually. Because the costs of touring now, with inflation and the cost of gasoline and diesel… Plus, over the course of the pandemic, we've lost a ton of really good venues. I'd say probably 50 percent of the workforce in touring has now left. 'Cause what's a guitar tech gonna do for two years? You have to get a job, right? And so the ones that are remaining, not only are they already spoken for with other bands, but they're almost twice as expensive.
"I saw this thing about [the events ticketing giant] Live Nation the other day, they're taking 30 percent of merch sales from some of these venues. The costs of airlines have gone up. So artists, the ability to make money on tour is almost completely gone now — at least an artist on my level.
"So, yes, it's opened up again, but it's 10 times as expensive. It's, like, what do you do? Even little things like, okay, the hotels are more expensive; the food at the hotels [is] more expensive. So at the end of it, you're touring for what? You're touring ultimately so you can present your work to the people who care about your work, and that's worth it to me. But I think for anybody to think that it's now easy again, you should investigate that, because I'm trying to set up tours for next year, and there's no way to keep them within cost — there's no way.
"And so you go out there and, like, well, we can't have this vehicle; we can't have this backline; we can't have this production; we can't have these lights. And then if you show up at a place and the audience comes, they're, like, 'The show's not good. There's no lights. There's no production.' So what should you do? And I think a lot of musicians, their decision is, like, 'Well, I'll just stay home then and I'll just create from home.'
"I try to go out with acoustic now, because that way I can afford it. If I just show up with an acoustic guitar and sing for people, it's better than nothing. But it's still, like, man, it's a complicated time, brother."
I guess the one alternative to all this (aside from touring acoustically) are livestreams, but even those have tons of costs associated with production. So who knows – here's hoping things calm down, because without touring we're all in some pretty deep shit.