Top Booking Agent: “Touring Will Start Back up in Early 2021”
When I see press releases announcing rescheduled tour dates for later this year rolling in every day, it’s hard not to roll my eyes. With a COVID-19 vaccine still at least a year away, I just don’t see how anyone thinks they’re gonna be able to tour this year. Hopefully we won’t all be confined to our homes for the rest of 2020, but barring a miracle, there’s just no way we’re all gonna be able to participate in large gatherings before 2021 — which means no concerts, which means no touring. MetalSucks is by no means infallible, but we’ve been saying this for weeks already…
…and we take no pleasure in learning that one of the top metal booking agents out there right now, Continental Touring’s Daniel DeFonce, agrees with us. In case you need Daniel’s bona fides: he’s the mastermind behind the annual Devastation on the Nation tour (which itself has been postponed until next year), and according to their website, Continental’s roster currently includes Deicide, Misery Index, Aborted, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Iced Earth, Rotting Christ, Tombs, Rivers of Nihil, Allegaeon, Abigail Williams, Exmortus, Fallujah, The Faceless, The Agonist… the list goes on and on. And, oh yeah, Daniel is also the marketing guru at Unique Leader Records. The point is, the dude knows what he’s talking about, and if you don’t believe us, you should definitely believe him when he says that it’s unlikely touring will resume until early next year… especially given that touring is the dude’s livelihood, and so he therefore has absolutely no reason to make such a prediction unless he’s confident he’s right.
Here’s a Twitter thread Daniel started yesterday, helpfully collated by Metal Injection for your convenience:
“Too many people are being optimistic about touring in my opinion. This is very hard for me to even say. My life revolves around bands going on tour.
“My opinion on when touring will start back up? Early 2021. Even if tours happen later this year…
“If tours happen later this year, the turnouts will be cut in half, capacity of venues will be cut in half or even lower, if they are still in business. People will still be scared to go out even if social distancing is lifted.
“How many promoters will have funds to back up the loss of any shows? I also see a lot of deals being turned into door deals. How many bands can leave home to play shows for door deals?
“As each day goes by, it gets scarier and scarier how serious this virus is getting. My girlfriend works at a hospital. I hear about this stuff everyday she comes home from work. About all the changes they’re making, how she may have to hop between different hospitals.
“Please chime in with your opinions if you’d like…
“As everyday goes by, I am mentally preparing myself to have to start looking for a new job outside of the music industry. It’s just what I will need to do and I am preparing myself for that.”
How many bands can leave home to play shows for door deals (i.e., without a guarantee) is a good question. Another good question: with the economy in the shitter, how many fans can afford to blow money on concert tickets? There’s gonna be a LOT less expendable income to be thrown around for entertainment in the coming months. And that’s in addition to Daniel’s (likely correct) assertion that “People will still be scared to go out even if social distancing is lifted.” And that’s all on TOP of the fact that, again, social distancing ain’t gonna be lifted anytime soon.
Look: no one is actively rooting for touring to remain halted for so long. It hurts booking agents and promoters, it hurts bands and labels who suddenly can’t promote their new releases, it hurts merch companies, and it hurts the media (the money spent promoting those tours is a big part of the income generated by outlets like MetalSucks. Bands’ inability to tour means we’re all suffering to varying degrees. But Trumpian optimism, which is rooted in little besides wishful thinking and denial, isn’t good for anyone. For the foreseeable future, this is the new normal, and we all need to get used to it and adjust accordingly.