The struggling of touring for a starting artist
Performing live has always been a cornerstone of virtually every career in music. But over the last decade, as income from recorded music fell and the way fans discovered music fractured. For this reason, the income and attention earned from live touring has become more important than ever. And that´s one of the main reasons why COVID hit so hard the music industry and the artists in the last two years.
Nonetheless, when normal people think about artists on a tour, they tend to associate it with big shows full of people, flashy lights and, somehow, glamour. Nothing further than the reality, in most of the cases. Indeed, it is fun to dream about filling stadiums with thousands of adoring fans, but that comes when the artist has already an established career. For starting artists, the big struggle comes from figuring out where and how could they start to build a career as a live musician, and how do handle it to turn a few local gigs into a profitable and sustainable career as a regional or national touring artist.
On this line, and like most of the questions when it comes to build up a career as a musician (or music industry professional, helping artists as a manager, booking agent, or tour manager), there is no single answer. It would be so cool to have some magic spell, or secret infallible strategy… but sadly that is not the case.
The fall of the records and the rise of the touring industry
Beginning in 1999, when Napster first introduced music file-sharing to a mass audience; through the launch of iTunes; the availability of 99-cent song downloads; and the current era of streaming music via Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and others, there has been a steady decline in the income that musicians earn from recorded music. I guess this is not taking any of you as surprise, huh?
That decline in recorded music income has led directly to artists playing more live concerts at higher ticket prices in an effort to replace their lost income. By 2018, the average musician earned more than 66% of their income directly or indirectly from live performance.
Where is the money from tours coming from?
Direct performance income comes from ticket sales paid to artists as a fee or percentage of sales by clubs, concerts, festivals, and other events. Indirect income includes money earned from merchandise sales, VIP experiences, recorded music sales, and other revenues driven by the increased media and online attention that surrounds a well-promoted live performance.
In this section of the blog, and with the related guides and live lessons, I will try to help you to create and maximize all of these income streams. I will be using materials that I had to study at my degree in Berklee, together with articles and book I had to read, and other resources, and I hope it will help you a lot!
Also, I want to show, all of you that aren´t friends of touring or have never considered it, that performing live has other benefits beyond income and increased media attention. Touring also allows you to make a direct connection with fans and reach potential new fans. This artist-to-fan relationship is what make careers in touring and music sustainable and long-lasting
We’ll learn why it’s extremely important to develop a great live show and being able to present, promote, and monetize it. And, not only that… we will also learn the best ways to get this hard job done and start building up a successful career.
I love the complexity and the challenge that supposes designing a great touring strategy, and I can´t wait to share with you a lot of cool stuff that I’ve been learning in the last 2 years studying my music business degree…
As for to say… I will be organizing a tour on the west coast of the US… and I am so excited about it. I will also share pieces of this project with you in the “Thoughts and Reflexions” section of this blog.