Lorde has been touring Europe, the U.S., Canada and South America in 2022, experiencing first hand all the struggles this business has to overcome at the moment.
She summarized the situation in a recent newsletter to fans, published in full by stereogum.com, where she wrote that touring has become unviable for most artists. While her remarks are nothing new to the pros working in this sector, Lorde’s statement will help make the fans understand the tough decisions that are currently being made by anyone putting on shows.
As Pollstar’s boxoffice shows, Lorde has been selling out pretty much every building she’s been performing at on tour. Highlights include a sold out 6,000-capacity Anthem in Washington, DC, Aug. 29, which grossed $819,125; Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT, Aug. 25, where the NZ superstar sold out 7,016 tickets, grossing $712,929; two sold-out nights at Radio City Music Hall in New York, April 18-19, selling 11,776
tickets across both nights, grossing $1,114,775.
In the UK, Lorde has been selling out 3,000-capacity buildings like O2 Academy Birmingham, May 30 (3,009 tickets, $141,831 grossed); or Victoria Warehouse Manchester (3,500 tickets, $164,975); or three nights at the Roundhouse London (8,333 tickets, $446,427).
Hence, in her statement to fans, Lorde writes: “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.”
She lays out the perfect storm of factors that have led to the current situation, including “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, 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.”
Lorde also confirms what every promoter Pollstar spoke with in the past year said, namely that “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.”
“Understandably,” Lorde writes, “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.”
She concludes that the reason she’s bringing this to her fans’ attention is “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 isn’t the first artist to speak out about the current economic reality of touring, and how it’s hardly sustainable. Another recent example includes Animal Collective, who cancelled all of their European tour dates last month.