everything old is new again

Will Climbing Gas Prices Kill Small Bands?

June 23, 2008
Will Climbing Gas Prices Kill Small Bands?

With gas prices now over $4.00 a gallon and no end in sight to the top-end (I suspect we’ll hit $5.00 this summer), it occurs to me that another bad side effect of all of this is that small bands that don’t make a big amount of cash may find themselves unable to afford touring, particularly constant touring like many bands do these days. In recent times past, it wasn’t uncommon to find bands playing five dates in five days within say, five hours driving distance of each, for low ticket prices. Money is made off the merchandising done at the shows, not by the tickets. Fans and the bands would drive from gig to gig, city to city, sleeping in cheap hotels to help offset costs.

But with gas at more than double the price it was several years ago, how will this impact small bands? Will we see regionalization occur even more than it already has as bands stick closer to home to keep costs down? Will we see more extended runs in one city, again to keep costs down? Fans may become less willing to travel long stretches by car due to the rising gas prices, too. We may, in effect, see bands hitting the major metropolitan areas, or those areas that have a built-in support base for them

I don’t want to be a doomsayer with this, but I’m having a bad feeling about all of this that hopefully won’t be realized. Hopefully we won’t see the demise of the many outstanding small bands that fly below the radar of the mainstream. That would simply be tragic.

3 Responses to Will Climbing Gas Prices Kill Small Bands?

  • I think we’re seeing signs of this in Britain too – audiences for Mostly Autumn’s recent tour were definitely down on last year.

    OTOH, the shorter distances in the UK means there’s more opportunity for fans to keep costs down by car-sharing.

  • We do get car-sharing here, but man, the distances become brutal. When we did Railroad Earth southern tour a couple years back, we hit five cities in five days for over 1,400 driven miles. And that was in an SUV with gas mileage around 20-25 MPG. At $4 a gallon, that’s $280 in gas alone at 20 MPG. At $5, it would be $350.

    Scary when you look at the prices.

  • 1400 miles is London to Edinburgh three and a half times.

    Trying to think how many miles I’ve done seeing six Mostly Autumn and four Breathing Space gigs this year; would be several hundred miles (much of it by train) it total.

    I’ve fortunate that Chris Walkden (Mostly Autumn’s official photographer) lives just a few minutes from me, and has been giving me lifts back (longest was from Leicester, a two and a half hour drive).

Leave a Reply