Saturday, June 07, 2008

Off the road: Pump prices hit touring bands

The saviour of the music industry, for about a year or so now, has largely been thought to be touring. If people won't pay for records, runs the logic, they'll pay for live shows. The logic of tours-to-promote-albums has been inverted.

Live music. That'll save us all.

Trouble is, though, the rise in the price of oil looks set to bugger that plan, too. Michelle Shocked has told Hypebot that she's feeling the pinch:

I always thought that commuting to work by airplane was excessive, but Southwest and JetBlue fares just made it too tempting...It's possible that summer traffic is responsible, but in general I'm assuming that when the fall comes around the prices won't go back down to their 'cheaper to fly than drive' rates...I thought about converting my tour bus to biodiesel, but in the end I just donated it to the church for a building fundraiser.

I've had to develop orbit rhythm sections for the regions of the country.

And that's Michelle Shocked. Imagine what the rapidly increasing price of diesel means for the economics of a multi-trailer, multi-winnebagoed tour across a continent.

And that's before you factor in fans having to decide if they're going to drive halfway across a state or a country to get to a massive venue to see a band, nevermind find the price of the tickets out of a squeezed pocket book. The big tours are going to have do some serious work with spreadsheets to make themselves retain profitability in the next few months.