Times are tough, even for some of your favorite bands. Further putting a spotlight on the plight of the touring musician, Garbage singer Shirley Manson has penned a post calling out the current troubles with the live music industry, where she says that “the average musician can no longer survive, let alone thrive.’
Manson starts off the post, which she titled “The Live-Music Industry Is Broken,” by stating, “Live music is under enormous strain. The average musician can no longer survive let alone thrive under the current conditions. We are seeing so many precious talents buckle under the economic injustice of a system that does not pay the creative for their artistic output. Everyone is vying for a handful of venues in order to make a small amount of money to tide them over until the next show, most sailing without a dollar of insurance. A large percentage of musicians that you know and love are likely living hand to mouth.”
Adding to the current issues for artist is where much of the money from touring is going. “Corporations are making billions of dollars off of their work and sharing none of the profits,” says Manson, adding, “This can not stand. We will lose a whole generation of young artists if it does.”
Dissecting her comments a little bit more, she adds, “Let me put it to you another way: So many of the artists that we revere and hold dear throughout history would have been utterly destroyed by this system entirely. Musicians cannot survive without being paid fairly for their music. And if the live scene fails, the whole ship goes down entirely. All you will be left with is the mainstream. No alternative perspectives. Nothing loud. Nothing dangerous. Nothing weird. Little that lasts more than one album cycle. That strikes me as a great sorrow for our culture as a whole.”
That said, Manson urges her fans and followers to support the move to support legislation that is attempting to reverse the situation to help out artists more. She directs her fans to the Union of Musicians & Allied Workers (UAMW)
Manson’s comments add to the concern voiced by other musicians of late about the live music industry. Ghost’s Tobias Forge last month spoke about delaying the band’s touring until 2023, dissecting the reasoning for there being a flooded tour market following the pandemic lockdown.
“There was no place for us;” said Forge on why they didn’t tour this past summer. “They couldn’t cater to a new band coming in, because all the slots were taken since two years back.”
“There’s just simply too much going on right now – so many bands out – and it’s just too crowded. And it’s hurting everyone, actually. I don’t wanna bring out the fiddles for rock and roll music, but trust me when I saw that a lot of your favorite bands are really suffering because of…Coming out of COVID, everybody’s trying to tour at the same time, and, obviously, people cannot see every band that comes through,” he added.
Alternative-indie artist Santigold also shared her concerns about the current touring climate late last month while announcing her tour cancellation. In an open letter on her site, she wrote, “As a touring musician, I don’t think anyone anticipated the new reality that awaited us. After sitting idle (not being able to do shows) for the past couple years, many of us like everyone else, earning no or little income during that time, every musician that could, rushed back out immediately when it was deemed safe to do shows. We were met with the height of inflation – gas, tour buses, hotels, and flight costs skyrocketed – many of our tried-and-true venues unavailable due to a flooded market of artists trying to book shows in the same cities, and positive test results constantly halting schedules with devastating financial consequences. All of that on top of the already-tapped mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional resources of just having made it through the past few years. Some of us are finding ourselves simply unable to make it work. In my case, I have tried and tried, looked at what it would take from every angle, and I simply don’t have it. I can’t make it work.”
She went on to add that she felt it was important to share the truth of what it’s like currently for artists, then later adding, “I want you to understand that I am proud to be cancelling this tour when it means that I am proclaiming that I, the person who writes the songs, is as important to me as the songs. I will not continue to sacrifice myself for an industry that has become unsustainable for, and uninterested in the welfare of the artists it is built upon.”