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Thanks for being there. I love Glasgow. I love so many places in Europe. I like being reminded that my own North American way is not the standard from which other places deviate. That there is no standard… only relative deviations from other deviations.
The truth is that I lost money on this recent European tour (or maaaaybe just barely broke even - I’m too afraid to properly investigate). I also lost money on my Canadian tour back in May of 2022, where we did, in fact, sell out some big theatres. In that instance, six of nine of us got covid, which meant a swath of extra hotel rooms and flights for scattered folks isolating and reuniting.
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Excluding some weatherproof megastars and iconic legacy acts, ticket sales across the music industry are about 60-80% of where they were pre-pandemic. Particularly so for the middle class of realized touring acts, of which I’d consider myself a member. By “realized”, I mean they do this for a living.
Meanwhile, fuel costs are up. Accommodations up. Rentals up. Flights up. Labour costs up. Fewer acts than ever have the selling capacity to make touring financially feasible. Bands are cancelling tours on the regular. “Mental health” tends to be the going reason given, which is indicative of the stress around all of this.
I think fans used to buy four tickets and then figure out which friends to invite. Now they’re waiting until the last minute to buy two tickets. And I get it. People are stretched financially. What’s more, we’ve been conditioned to go out less, and stay home more. The real supporters are making it happen, but perhaps not their luke warm co-worker who may have tagged along in the before-times.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. I don’t think I have EVER been more fulfilled from playing shows than I have in 2022/23. Perhaps it’s that the recent touring scarcity has inspired a deeper appreciation. Perhaps it’s the love and chemistry within the band these days. But my gut tells me that the people who are showing up have never been more engaged. It’s never felt easier to meaningfully connect with a room full of people.
I did consider cancelling this past European tour. The unprecedented costs and slow ticket sales were causing some sleepless nights. But I came to the realization that if I cancelled this tour, I might never get back there. And that was far scarier.
Near the beginning of my career, I decided that I’d be willing to be broke in order to make a life in music. Magically, that level of commitment led to actually beginning to make a living from it. I’ve always been ambitious, and I’ve always been willing to take risks in order to manifest big things.
TO ACTUALLY ANSWER YOUR QUESTION…
What keeps me coming back? It may be as simple an answer as: hope.
I just put out my sixth album - and yet, I feel like I’m at the beginning of my career. There are so many more songs I want to write. So much I want to do. I don’t want to scrape the barrel of what I’ve built. I want the barrel to be bigger and even more exciting.
I believe that my songs are a valuable contribution to music. I think I’m good at this. I feel good after the shows, and I can tell that other people feel good also. I am so grateful to everyone who includes my songs in their lore - in their road trips, weddings, lucid moments, late night hangs, what have you.
I’m not ready to start approaching my career rationally. I’m still at the table, making bets. One day, I’ll need to cash in my chips. But it’s not today.
I’ll leave you with this song by Veda Hille with the refrain “If you do nothing, it means nothing.” - it’s one of my favourite songs ever.
Dan, at a risk of sounding old school, your music can be sold and promoted in Europe. Im a fan from Vancouver discovered your date in Nyon around the corner from my house by accident.. at the Parenthesis. With not that much work I’d have given you expenses and a reasonable guarantee and sold you at the other venue in town for 300 and made a profit, guaranteed. Bottom line: maybe you could profit from some better promotion over here ? Your music deserves to be heard and I make a euro fan for you every time I play it. Stay dry in rain town.
We said exactly the same. I think even talked with you about it. - We are so glad you came “over”. Doing what you do. It matters. Thank you!
We paid 16€ per ticket and tbh we would have been happy to pay 25.