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Lorde: 'Nothing’s Simple When It Comes To Touring At The Moment'

11 November 2022 | 11:23 am | Mary Varvaris

"Touring has become a demented struggle to break even or face debt."

(Pic by Ophelia Mikkelson Jones)

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Lorde likes to send her fans email newsletters and keep them informed about what's happening within her creative process. Her latest newsletter goes down a different path, though; it's about the current state of the live music industry.

"I don't know how much you've been following the live music industry conversation, but lemme hit you with a five-minute explainer, cause I think it's interesting and good to know about if you're going to concerts at the moment," she began, continuing:

"Basically, for artists, promoters and crews, things are at an almost unprecedented level of difficulty. It's a storm of factors. Let's start with three years' worth of shows happening in one. Add global economic downturn, and then add the totally understandable wariness for concertgoers around health risks. On the logistical side there's things like immense crew shortages (here's an article from last week about this in New Zealand), extremely overbooked trucks and tour buses and venues, inflated flight and accommodation costs, ongoing general COVID costs, and truly. mindboggling. freight costs. 

"To freight a stage set across the world can cost up to three times the pre-pandemic price right now. I don't know shit about money, but I know enough to understand that no industry has a profit margin that high. Ticket prices would have to increase to start accommodating even a little of this, but absolutely no one wants to charge their harried and extremely-compassionate-and-flexible audience any more fucking money. Nearly every tour has been besieged with cancellations and postponements and promises and letdowns, and audiences have shown such understanding and such faith, that between that and the post-COVID wariness about getting out there at all, scaring people away by charging the true cost ain't an option. All we want to do is play for you.

"Profits being down across the board is fine for an artist like me. I'm lucky. But for pretty much every artist selling less tickets than I am, touring has become a demented struggle to break even or face debt. For some, touring is completely out of the question, even if they were to sell the whole thing out! The math doesn't make sense. Understandably, all of this takes a toll — on crews, on promoters, and on artists. You'll notice a ton of artists cancelling shows citing mental health concerns in the past year, and I really think the stress of this stuff is a factor — we're a collection of the world's most sensitive flowers who also spent the last two years inside, and maybe the task of creating a space where people's pain and grief and jubilation can be held night after night with a razor thin profit margin and dozens of people to pay is feeling like a teeny bit much.

"Me personally? I'm doing pretty good. You guys have come to the shows in such mammoth numbers (we sold almost 20,000 tickets in London, like what the hell) and not having crippling stage fright hanging over me for the first time is such a fucking blessing that you could tell me I had to cycle from city to city and I'd still be loving it. But I'm not immune to the stress — just a month ago I was looking at a show that was pretty undersold and panicking, only for it to sell the remaining 2000 tickets in ten days. Wild stuff.

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I wanted to put all of this in your minds to illustrate that nothing's simple when it comes to touring at the moment, and if your faves are confusing you with their erratic moves, some of this could be playing a part."

Lorde is the latest musician to openly discuss the issues that artists are facing right now, following The Avalanches, who recently shared, Bonobo, who "draws bigger crowds than us, can no longer make it work financially. Artists need to be real about the financial toll of touring. For us, it means massive debt. Oh, but we can earn a living through streaming."

Lorde will tour Australia and New Zealand in March 2023. She will be joined by special guests MUNA and Laura Jean.