Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste Says There’s Not Enough Money For Smaller Touring Bands Because Of ‘Middle Men’

Tom Hines

It would seem that it’s hard out there for an indie band these days: Yesterday, Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste took to his Instagram to share a flurry of posts to his story about the difficulties of making money on the modern music industry. After finding out that the band is “basically losing money” during their current run of Australian shows, he wrote that the industry is “destroying bands that play music that are mid-tier or lower,” and that he believes “we are about to enter a live music drought”:

“Just found out despite huge crowds down under we are basically losing money.

People always ask: Why aren’t you coming to ‘Perth,’ ‘Singapore,’ ‘Quito’… And I’m trying to explain there is no value put on live music anymore. We feel it’s important to bring with us the fullest show we can with all the live instruments and a good light show. But now, when you cut out record sales and we haven’t had a car commercial in ages, we literally lose money.

So yeah, the evolution of the music industry is in my opinion destroying bands that play music that are mid-tier or lower. Nobody cherishes or puts any value into the craft that goes into songwriting, or studying music! Yes, pop stars write hits. Yay! They also get branding deals, and corp gigs… But when you are dealing with a dying industry and you actually care about a real live show and you aren’t a star, there’s not much you can do.

I could go on forever but I won’t. Enjoy it while it lasts. I think we are about to enter a live music drought… TBD.”

Today, he was compelled to clarify his comments, again going to Instagram to write that there “more [middle men] than ever that cut into the pie,” and that it’s not practical for the band to tour in as many cities as they used to because of a lack of alternative income:

“Just want to quickly follow up my comments about the profitability of touring by saying this is not a reflection on any concertgoer or fan. The ticket prices are already absurd if you ask me… This is IMO about the middle men, of which there are more than ever that cut into the pie. I am so grateful to be able to perform for people for the amount of years I have, even at a loss (which we’ve done many times before)…

I just wanted to explain why it’s not always possible to tour the places in the far reaches of the world we would love to, especially when we are an entirely democratic band and there is no leader of chief and have the strong desire to put on the best live show we can. Sonically, visually, etc. Also, as some people have children, I believe it becomes harder to justify disappearing from them when breaking even or at a loss, not to mention the physical and mental toll of touring, which people rarely talk about but is a common subject among peers.

So yeah, this isn’t a pity party and no audience member should feel bad! I want everyone to have the best time possible. Just wanted to shed a light on the logistics of touring places that once we could justify because there were alternative sources of income like record sales or commercials. You can see it reflected in festival lineups already in terms of genres. It’s just the way things seems to be rolling along and I’m not sure what changes will come or how the cards will fall.

Thanks for listening and coming to shows! excited to be playing Adelaide for the first time ever tonight and tomorrow.”

The band also responded to some coverage of Droste’s initial comments on Twitter, and he added one more appendix to his Instagram story, writing, “Explaining logistics to people asking is not complaining. I’m just outspoken so I seem like a whiny punk. Not afraid to be honest.”

If you want to help Grizzly Bear make ends meet, hit up one of their upcoming shows (check out their tour dates below), or buy a copy of their latest album, 2017’s Painted Ruins.

3/6-7 – Adelaide, AU @ Adelaide Festival
3/9 – Parkville, AU @ Melbourne Zoo
3/10 – Bridport, AU @ A Festival Called Panama
3/11 – Meredith, AU @ Golden Plains Festival
3/12 – Sydney, AU @ Sydney Opera House
3/14 – Brisbane, AU @ Queensland Performing Arts Centre
3/24 – Houston, TX @ In Bloom Music Festival
5/25 – George, WA @ Sasquatch! Music Festival
5/31 – Kvaerndrup, DK @ Heartland Festival
6/2 – Dublin, IE @ Royal Hospital Kilmainham
6/3 – Barcelona, ES @ Primavera Sound
6/4 – Dublin, IE @ Forbidden Fruit Festival
6/7 – Porto, PT @ NOS Primavera Sound
6/16 – North Adams, MA @ Hunter Center (MASS MoCA)
6/18 – Boston, MA @ Blue Hills Bank Pavilion ^
6/19 – Port Chester, NY @ Capitol Theatre ^
6/20 – Brooklyn, NY @ Celebrate Brooklyn ^
6/22 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE ^
6/25 – Cincinnati, OH @ PNC Pavilion ^
6/26 – Columbia, MO @ 9th Street Summerfest ^
6/28 – Des Moines, IA @ Wooly’s ^
6/30 – Minneapolis, MN @ Surly Brewery ^
8/1 – Diepholz, DE @ Appletree Garden Festival
8/8 – Oslo, NO @ Oya Festival
8/9 – Gothenburg, SE @ Way Out West Festival
8/10 – Helsinki, FI @ Flow Festival
8/13 – Prague, CZ @ Roxy
8/14 – Zurich, CH @ Kaufleuten
8/16 – Brecon Beacons, UK @ Green Man Music Festival
8/17 – Saint Malo, FR @ La Route Du Rock Festival
8/18-19 – Biddinghuizen, NL @ Lowlands Festival
9/23 – Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Bowl

^ with Spoon