White Collar Criminals

IS IT REALLY DIFFICULT FOR EVEN LEGACY ACTS TO MAKE MONEY TOURING?

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If the rumor that he didn’t wanna tour anymore is true, then perhaps John Bush has the right idea.

Our pal Allyson Crawford from Bring Back Glam recently conducted an interview with Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French for Noisecreep. (Got all that?) And the big scoop of the interview is that while Twisted Sister will probably continue to play live in some capacity, they won’t be doing anymore full tours. Why? Mr. French explains:

“I know what these [other legacy] bands make, I know their lifestyle, I know what they do,” continues French. “I can’t function that way. I don’t believe it’s viable for them. I believe they [tour] because they really have no other options on this planet. And by going out on the road constantly, they devalue themselves because they’re out there all the time. We work in a completely separate business model. If I don’t play, guess what? My value increases, doesn’t it? So the less I play, the more valuable I become. So I work completely opposite. I’ll bet you I make more money playing 12 shows than most [other] bands make playing 50 shows.”

Now, I don’t especially care about Twisted Sister ever touring again or not, but I do this find this pretty fascinating. It’s no secret that things are rough for your average working-class touring band, but Twisted Sister certainly aren’t that; even though they’re years past their prime, they can still pull in a very, very good-sized crowd. They’re not exactly Warrant, y’know?

As Vince astutely pointed out last week, recent statistics show that concert attendance went up between 2008 and 2009 – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the average earnings per artist have gotten better. And a lot of that probably has to do with over-saturation of the market. And French is right: by the umpteenth time a band comes through your town, you’re probably over it. There’s a certain band that I love to go see live, but when they recently came around for the fourth time in less than a year (no joke), I passed on the chance to go to the gig, because finding out how they slightly re-arranged their set list for this trek just didn’t seem all that exciting to me anymore. Of course there are some bands that you’ll probably never get sick of seeing – if I ever pass on the chance to check out Tool, please check my pulse to make sure I’m still alive – but those artists are the exception, not the rule.

So what does it mean if more touring doesn’t equal more money, even for a famous band like Twisted Sister? Are the days of Metallica and Slayer only playing a handful of shows a year on the horizon? Do young bands have any chance of surviving in a world where even the lure of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” doesn’t guarantee the big bucks? Discuss in our comments section below.

-AR

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