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REFUSED's Frontman: "You Will See A Lot Of Bands Stop Touring Because It Is Almost Impossible To Make A Living Playing Music"

"It is way more complicated for bands to be a touring band these days than it's ever been."

Dennis Lyxzén

Dennis Lyxzén knows a thing or two about touring. Lyxzén has been on the road with bands like Refused, The (International) Noise Conspiracy, INVSN, and Fake Names over the past few decades, and he's seen the financial shift in touring firsthand (as many artists are , sadly).

In an interview with The New Scene, Lyxzén recalls touring throughout the '90s and doing pretty alright financially, despite not being allowed to sell records at shows. Lyxzén's comment about "getting sound scans" below is a reference to Nielsen SoundScan, a practice begun in 1991 that tracked sales.

"When we were touring with Refused in the '90s and even Noise Conspiracy in the early 2000s, labels did not want you to sell records on tour because they wanted to sell the records in record stores so you get sound scans," said Lyxzén as transcribed by Metal Injection. "I mean, it was a long time before you were even allowed to bring records on tour to sell because it was like it was a part of that whole infrastructure where like, you sell records in the store and then you get the numbers.

"Now when you're touring, I'm the one packing up the LPs every night. I know how many records we sell. I know what we're paying the label. I know what we can get after the tour, but back in those days I mean maybe you sold t-shirts."

When asked if he thinks things are any better now than they were back then, Lyxzén gives a pretty hard "no" along with his dismal (and probably accurate) assessment of how things will go for a lot of bands. Between the rising costs of everything, merch cuts screwing everyone over, and Spotify continuing to find ways to pay artists less, it's not great.

"I don't mind the work, but I think the short answer is 'no.' The long answer is way more complicated than that, because I think that being a touring musician has never been this hard. Which is problematic because I think that in the years to come, you will see a lot of bands calling it quits and you will see a lot of bands that will stop touring because it is almost impossible to make a living playing music.

"I mean, in the 90s and early 2000s you could actually sell records and you could get royalty checks once in a while where you're like 'oh shit. We're actually selling records.' Noise Conspiracy wasn't the biggest band, but we sold 60 [or] 70,000 CDs, and that's just… imagine that doing that today. So I think aspects of the way we communicate today and the way we can sort of sell records on tour, some of that stuff is better. But a lot of that stuff is just more difficult and more… I mean, it is way more complicated for bands to be a touring band these days than it's ever been."

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