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Dark Funeral’s Lord Ahirman Says Venues Will “Slowly Kill The Live Scene” With Merch Cuts, Fear Factory’s Dino Cazares Says “The Cost Of Touring Is Making It Impossible To Make Any Money”


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2022 has a not been a forgiving year when it comes to touring. Sure the evergreen artists raked it in, but amid a glut of artists fighting for your dollar, a resulting shortage of suitable transportation and the lingering economic effects from the pandemic (inflation, venues closing, road crew pursuing other careers, etc.), the live industry has suffered considerably more than most.

Earlier this month, rising alternative metalcore outfit Bad Omens lamented the current state of the industry, in particular focusing their ire on the practice of merch cuts. In what is now standard practice within North America, venues hosting shows from bands are entitled to 15 to 20% of the revenue drawn from merch sold during the night of the concert.

It’s long been a thorn in the side of bands big and small, but it is particularly impactful to the mid-level and smaller bands who are often already dealing with razor-thin profit margins—if there is even any profit at all. In a similar vein, progressive rock/metal visionary Devin Townsend also shared a grim outlook for the touring industry at the moment, offering:

“It’s gotten way worse. I don’t think it’s better at all, actually. Because the costs of touring now, with inflation and the cost of gasoline and diesel… Plus, over the course of the pandemic, we’ve lost a ton of really good venues. I’d say probably 50 percent of the workforce in touring has now left.

‘Cause what’s a guitar tech gonna do for two years? You have to get a job, right? And so the ones that are remaining, not only are they already spoken for with other bands, but they’re almost twice as expensive.”

Europe currently has it even worse as war has resulted in soaring fuel and energy prices, leading to numerous bands scrapping their plans to tour overseas amid budgeting concerns. Lord Ahriman, guitarist for Swedish black metal veterans Dark Funeral, recently has responded to Townsend‘s concerns, sharing his band’s own troubling experiences as of late. Here’s what he had to say:

“The sad truth is that mr @dvntownsend is right. The venues will slowly kill the live scene with their outragious merch cut. You should clearly be ashame of yourself! Next up for bands will be to start selling merch out from the bus trailer outside the venue, or just quit touring. Id rather do the trailer option though… we gotta keep the scene alive!

Just to give you an exemple how crazy it all is, which also explain why the merch prices have gone up so much at the shows. On this tour, there’s been a few nights where we have had to pay the venue more for selling merch then our guarantee. And as everyone knows, on this stage merch income usually are the main income/profit for the bands, even more now with all the increased costs (gasolin, flights, visas + more).

And with a 20% or more merch cut + tax theres not much left for the bands. I could go on forever on this issue but I wont, but I’m sure you get my point. Anyway, I sure hope more bands & fans start to raise up against this bullshit. It gotta stop!!!”

Responding to Metal Injection’s story on Ahriman‘s comments, Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares revealed that his own band will be downscaling for their 2023 touring plans, which include this run with Static-X and Dope. Cazares offered:

Cazares also responded to a fan on the matter as well, offering:

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