Wired recently had an article about the challenges facing independent artists when it comes to touring. Many are facing a combination of higher costs, a flooded market, and limited resources. Companies with touring equipment and vehicles report having all their inventory on the road. Not only is it difficult to find more equipment to purchase/rent in order to deploy it for tours, there isn’t enough labor to go around. Everyone from skilled technicians to bus drivers have left the industry for other opportunities that don’t demand so much of them.
Gas is pricey, batteries and other vehicle parts are more expensive, and drivers are harder to find, with many of them having switched during the pandemic to package delivery, garbage pickup, or other trucking jobs with less interpersonal contact that don’t require them to leave their families for months at a time.
While prices for hotel rooms, food, transportation, and gear have gone up, the fees performers are paid have remained flat. It appears this is due to there being more artists out there wanting to tour making supply outstrip demand, but also due to uncertainty exhibited by ticket buyers.
“There’s way less advance sales than normal. And I’m hearing this from everyone across the board,” she says. “[Fans] don’t wanna buy a ticket and get sick and have to eat it. So people are doing week-of, day-of [ticket purchases], which is tough for the venue and tough for us, because we obviously want to see advance sales.”
Because many artists need to cover a lot of these costs upfront out of pocket, there have been an increase in cancellation of dates as touring appears increasingly problematic. The prospect of going through a refund process contributes to reticence of consumers to buy tickets too far in advance..