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Lorde Details the Harsh Reality of Touring in 2022: ‘Things Are at an Almost Unprecedented Level of Difficulty’

todayNovember 10, 2022 3

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Lorde is dishing about the reality of touring in 2022.

On Wednesday (Nov. 9), the “Solar Power” singer sent a newsletter to fans that included a “spiel” on the difficulties artists are facing on the road, highlighting “a storm of factors” that have led to this moment.

“Basically, for artists, promoters and crews, things are at an almost unprecedented level of difficulty,” she wrote. “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.”

Lorde went on to cite crew shortages, overbooked trucks and tour buses and venues, the inflated prices of flights and hotel rooms and COVID-related costs, among other issues. She added that freight costs are “truly mindboggling,” with prices three times higher than they were pre-pandemic.

While Lorde counts herself lucky in the current touring market, she explained to her fans that this is not the case for most artists, stating, “for pretty much every artist selling less tickets than I am, touring has become a demented struggle to break even or face debt.”

“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 f—ing money,” she wrote. “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.”

For some artists, Lorde continued, touring is financially unfeasible even if they sell out the entire run of dates, given the price of production and how much they’re willing to charge their fans. She cited this dilemma as a likely cause for the spate of recent tour cancellations due to mental health concerns.

“Understandably, all of this takes a toll — on crews, on promoters, and on artists,” she added. “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.”

In 2022, acts like GAYLE, Shawn Mendes, Justin Bieber and Anuel AA have canceled tours to focus on their mental health. In addition, artists including Animal Collective and Santigold have called off their runs due to various economic issues, including those cited by Lorde.

The last year of touring has proven a difficult time for many artists, most prominently mid-tier and emerging acts — some of whom have gone public with their struggles. According to many independent promoters in the concert business, the live music industry is no longer enjoying the post-lockdown boon thanks to oversaturation in the market, high ticket prices and budget-conscious consumers. Among other myriad issues, tours are struggling to get tour buses, while many experienced drivers have left the touring sector during the pandemic. Items that used to be easy to come by — such as cymbals, in-ear monitors and lighting fixtures — have also been a struggle to procure for even major acts like Coldplay and Jack White.

Even with her rescheduled Solar Power tour selling well, Lorde wrote that she still feels the immense pressure and was even forced to cancel her March 3 show at Bowl of Brooklands in New Plymouth, New Zealand due to low ticket sales.

“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,” she wrote. “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.”

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