Live music crisis: Animal Collective the latest to cancel a tour due to "unsustainable costs" in snowballing trend

santigold, sampa the great and animal collective comp
(Image credit: Douglas Mason - Jason Mendez -David A. Smith)

Animal Collective have become the latest act to highlight the unsustainability of touring for many artists in 2022, citing soaring costs as they cancelled the European tour they were due to kick off in November, joining a fast-growing trend that's seeing many shows axed in the face of rising energy and transportation costs, alongside increased risk and labour and gear supply issues in our post-COVID world.


Tour bus

(Image credit: Herbert Pictures)

Tour bus price hikes blamed for cancelled tours

"Preparing for this tour we were looking at an economic reality that simply does not work and is not sustainable," they wrote in an instagram statement this week.

"From inflation, to currency devaluation, to bloated shipping and transportation costs, and much much more, we simply could not make a budget for this tour that did not lose money even if everything went as well as it could.  We have always been the kind of people to persevere through the difficult times and get on stage unless our health prevented it."

The band are just the latest of a slew of acts cancelling tours in 2022. Earlier this month Santigold pulled her entire US tour, also citing un-recoupable costs, as well as the precarious nature of gigging post-COVID.

“I think it’s important for people to know the truth of what it’s like out here for artists,” she said in a lengthy statement explaining the cancellation, “and I don’t believe enough of us are talking about it publicly.”

"We were met with the height of inflation – gas, tour buses, hotels, and flight costs skyrocketed –  many of our tried-and-true venues unavailable due to a flooded market of artists trying to book shows in the same cities, and positive test results constantly halting schedules with devastating financial consequences. 

"Some of us are finding ourselves simply unable to make it work."

Sampa The Great also cancelled the European leg of a tour this week, citing exhaustion but also noting that artists are "taking even greater financial risks when touring in this new world"

What seems clear from all of this, plus multiple tours canned due to artists' mental health concerns, is that at best touring is a risky business right now, and in many cases it's become a money pit. 

In a streaming-dominated music business where royalty payments have plunged and getting in front of an audience has become many bands' only real revenue-generator, it's a bleak picture. 

It seems inevitable that many more artists will be weighing up whether they should, in Animal Collective's words, "take the risk to our mental and physical health with the economic reality of what that tour would have been."

Will Groves

I'm lucky enough to be MusicRadar's Editor-in-chief while being, by some considerable distance, the least proficient musician on the editorial team. An undeniably ropey but occasionally enthusiastic drummer, I've worked on the world's greatest music making website in one capacity or another since its launch in 2007. I hope you enjoy the site - we do.