The Rise of Comeback Tours: Are They Worth the Nostalgia?

Featured Image Courtesy of The Odyssey Online

There have been a pattern of tour announcements lately. Amid the usual festival announcements (Firefly 2K16!!), there have also been tour announcements featuring bands and artists that the universe hasn’t heard from in a while. Here’s a few: LCD Soundsystem, Taking Back Sunday, Dashboard Confessional, Cheap Trick, Joan Jett, Good Charlotte (yeah, I was surprised, too), and Marilyn Manson. Many, if not all of these artists are legendary at this point, and don’t get me wrong: 12-year-old me is screaming with joy at all these tour announcements, but current me can’t help but wonder what the reasoning is behind these artists suddenly touring again in the first place.

Marilyn Manson hasn’t been all that silent, however, with his last album The Pale Emperor only being released back in January 2015 and was #8 on the Billboard 200 list, but is co-headlining a tour with Slipknot starting in June that was announced back in February. Some of these artists have been keeping busy while they haven’t been touring, though. Benji and Joel Madden, the brothers that head Good Charlotte, both got married to wonderful ladies, launched a clothing company, and produced punk group 5 Seconds of Summer’s second album Sounds Good Feels Good during their hiatus from the band, while Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba had an unexpected hiatus after he accidentally erased the songs that would have ended up on the band’s follow-up to After The Ending. On the other end of the spectrum, we haven’t heard a peep (unless you count 2008’s Chinese Democracy which featured only frontman Axl Rose as the only original member on the album) from rock group Guns N’ Roses until recently when they not only announced a North American tour, but headlined Coachella during the festival’s first weekend.

One important to bring up is the comparison between how much artists get in royalties through their albums compared to what they earn while on tour (merch, program books, etc). According to The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers’ website, “under the traditional recording agreement, recording artist royalties usually range from 10% to 25% of the suggested retail price for top-line albums.” There’s also revenue coming from streaming services such as Apple Music, Spotify, and Tidal that pay artists that we have to consider. The Copyright Royalty Board set new streaming-music rates for this year at 17 cents per 100 plays on free, ad-supported services and 22 cents on subscription-based services, according to an article on Fortune.com titled “Music Royalties Adjusted: Did Taylor Get Her Way?” Tour revenue, on the other hand, is a different story. According to a gathering of information conducted by Billboard, in 2014, “touring revenue accounted for more than 80 percent of the income earned by music’s 40 top acts.” Based off of the same source, on a club-lrvel tour, the headliner can make an average $750k for a 40-date, sold-out tour at $50 a ticket,whereas the opener will make $16k under those same circumstances. With a theater/arena-level tour under those same terms, the headliner can make between $3.3 million and $30 million, while the opener makes $30k to $750k a tour. It’s definitely a big difference looking at the numbers side by side and can be very influential to an artist’s decision to tour again, even after years of not releasing any new music.

As much as we would like to think that these artists are touring again for the sole purposes of pleasing the fans and continuing to play music live, unfortunately it might not always be the case. We don’t know and we likely won’t know while we’re on the ticket purchase page on Ticketmaster, but we have high hopes and believe in the artists. With people likely to record at least one song from a show or an iconic moment, one could easily have a preview of what they’re spending they’re money on, but in the end, these comeback tour, like every tour, can have shows that are different in one stop compared to another. 

There’s so much more that can be said and debated about these comeback tours and any that weren’t mentioned. What do you think are the ral motvies for artists who have been in the industry for decades to tour again? Excited about some or all of these tours? What do you think? Continue the discussion in the comments after the jump!

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