Aussie Promoters Explain Why Tours Often Have To Skip Perth & Adelaide

17 February 2024 | 11:44 am | Mary Varvaris

"At a certain point, we all have to pay for our own lives and can't necessarily wear repeated losses."

sleepmakeswaves @ Badlands Bar, Perth

sleepmakeswaves @ Badlands Bar, Perth (Credit: Kye Benjamin)

Australian heavy music record label and tour promoters The Bird’s Robe Collective (better known as Bird’s Robe) have shared a frank, lengthy statement on social media to explain why their recently announced tours aren’t hitting Perth, Adelaide and New Zealand.

This year, Bird’s Robe is bringing We Lost The Sea, The Dear Hunter (with Closure In Moscow), sleepmakeswaves, Cog and many more to Australia, but those tours aren’t hitting Perth and Adelaide (aside from Cog, who will play in Adelaide but not Perth).

Other tours represented by the company, including Haken, Russian Circles and Botch – the latter on their first-ever Australian tour – will play all over the country. So, Bird’s Robe have taken an opportunity to explain what happens behind the scenes when booking tours.

For 12 years, Bird’s Robe have tried hard to bring bands to as many cities as possible, but due to exponentially rising costs of touring, the promoters have been forced to book East Coast-only shows for some of the acts they promote.

Bird’s Robe’s Michael Solo explained, “Whilst I'm happy about still being able to bring these cool artists around Australia, I'm not happy about how the economics have worked out. The reason I do this thing is because I love music and getting to share great musical experiences with people.”

According to the promoter’s post, they’ve seen shows in Canberra and Newcastle routinely sell more tickets than in Perth and Adelaide. In addition to the lower ticket sales in the latter two cities, they often also take longer to move – piling extra stress onto promoters and artists.

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“Many acts are not big enough to sell out a 500-1000 cap room, so for the acts we love who might draw 200-300 in Sydney/Melbourne, that usually translates to 100-150 payers in Perth/Adelaide,” the post continued. “Whilst we're lucky that some larger venues will let us have a mid-weeknight with those numbers in order to present a cool show for people, it also means that it's a big risk. Even just 50 people less than expected could mean a gigantic loss.”

The current situation has placed the promoters in an awkward position where they risk losing “loads of money” for Perth and Adelaide concerts set at $60-$70 prices], having to consider upping ticket prices in those cities to $150 to prevent massive losses – but who’s going to show up at a small venue and pay those prices?

Genuinely interested in punters’ thoughts, Bird’s Robe offered up a question: “If you're in these cities, would you still want to go see a show at the Rosemount, Magnet House, The Gov, Lion Arts or Jive for $150? Or would you rather pass on seeing that artist / go to another bigger show on the east coast?”

It’s difficult to find a solution – the promoters mentioned a “minimum two ticket purchase at the same ticket price as other cities so that people can bring a friend for the same price” and a transparent crowd-funding campaign to show how far off the show is from selling out.

In the comments, followers brought up other exciting ideas to help sell tickets, including a “Bird’s Robe VIP Club”, merchandise package that includes the ticket, t-shirt, vinyl and/or beanie, etc., and the opportunity to pre-register interest for Bird’s Robe’s upcoming tour announcements to gauge how many people in Perth and Adelaide would attend.

“The other idea - how about the promoter doesn't take a cut / the promoter does a better job making this band bigger etc. Well yes, I do all that already,” the post continued. “I'm the fan who pays the most for my ticket, because if the tour was a $5,000 loss and I was at 2 shows, I just paid $2,500 for the privilege each time. Some artists are doing it for their livelihood and some are in it for the love, but at a certain point we all have to pay for our own lives and can't necessarily wear repeated losses.”

You can read the full post here.

Adelaide and Perth have the additional challenges of spaces that previously housed heavy music acts shutting their doors, including Badlands Bar and the Enigma Bar, which have recently closed due to rising costs, making the venues no longer financially viable.