Why I’m Glad I’m Not a Touring Musician

Ted Aguilar: Death Angel

Since music’s been on my brain a bit lately I  remembered a conversation I had with my old friend Ted Aguilar. He and Will Carrol were in a band I managed called Warfare D.C. in the 90’s. Now they’ve moved on and have joined Death Angel and are going around the world on tours. These are big tours as well. We’re talking the thousands of people at Wacken, Tuska, No Mercy, etc. I figured now that he’s in a band that’s opening for Metallica, Anthrax and other huge bands that he must be living large. Well, apparently the music business has changed a lot since i was involved with it outside my home studio.

You see in the old days we had what was called pay for play. That meant that they local club would give you say 100 tickets to sell for your show and you had to give them half the value of the tickets back. If you sold all the tickets you got to play. The problem was that a lot of new bands had to sell the tickets for half price just to move them. If you were a bigger band you might be able to sell for 3/4 of the price and make a little money. Hell, we even got Morty’s club to give us dinner and a 12 pack of beer. Those were the good ole days. If you were a signed act they’d just pay you because it made the club look better.

Well apparently when you get bigger you used to make a lot of money from the touring and that’s why some big bands toured so much. Now I wouldn’t put Death Angel on the same level as Metallica, but still they were pretty big in the 80’s and they’re getting bigger today. You won’t hear them on any local radio station, but they’re all over internet radio stations [I won’t get into my hatred of corporate radio now so consider yourself spared.]

Apparently today because it costs so much to fly the band and crew and lodging, etc. That the record labels and the venues aren’t paying the bands to play, but they’re letting them sell merchandise [i.e. t-shirts, patches and anything else they can think of.] From that is where they get the profit and it isn’t that great. So when these bands come home from a world tour they have to find real jobs like the rest of us just to pay the bills.

In the pay to play days you could sell your merchandise as well and come out even better. Now it just looks like the record companies and their falling apart business models are taking in out on the artists who are keeping them in their fine offices. Friends of mine have been pushing me to get a band together and start touring at least in California. I even have one fan in the “adult industry” who’s been begging me to play down south, but while tempting as it may sound to get to hangout and have pictures taken with porn stars, there would be just too much money involved to make it worth while. It might happen someday, but things have got to change big time. For now I’m just going to have to bang out my music in my house. Besides, I’m a real pain in the ass when I’m touring.