29 Aug 2019

ACM’s Ace on Tour with Skunk Anansie: Part Four

Iconic rock band Skunk Anansie have been on tour to celebrate the band’s latest “25LIVE@25” album and mark 25 years in the industry. Written by Ace himself, find out how the band have been financing their tour, in his fourth blog instalment…

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So we are still out on the road and the tour is doing very well indeed.  We are playing huge festivals, either headlining or very high up the bill, and we are playing sold-out shows every night on our own tour, which is running parallel to the festival tour.

The merch stand has been incredible for us this time and we’ve been out signing autographs and meeting people after the shows too.  With all this money changing hands with the band on the road, you would think that we would all come home and buy Harley Davidsons and ride around for a year having earned an extended vacation.  But that’s not the case here with this band. Skunk Anansie is a totally independent and self-funded band. What this means is, when we make money we have to invest first to put the production together and then take the money and pay the bills and then fund our next cycle.  It kind of works like this: we would book the tour, after making an album, that we would have paid for beforehand. When booking the tour we would look into production and fund the lighting, the equipment hire, the PA hire, the trucking around Europe, the wages of the crew, the pre-production costs, the buses that would be driving the band and the crew around Europe and other things such as backdrops, new equipment and also PDs – these are a form of payment on the road to workers for their food.  We would also invest in a merchandising range and bring out some of our own music: box sets, CDs, vinyl, etc.

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The tour would then commence and we would start to bring back fees from festivals and gigs and the money from the merchandise.  The first thing to do then is to pay off all of the production costs. For example, two tour buses for the season and the tour could cost us £200,000.  Adding to that, the other items I mentioned of equipment and wages for crew, VAT and all the added extras, you can imagine the bill is actually very significant.  With the money after these expenses have been paid, we would take it and invest into our next recording and promotional cycle. So this means booking a studio and a quality producer and paying for these; rehearsal time; song-writing time (in studios or different locations); the recording of the album; mixing; mastering; and artwork.  Then once that product is made there would be a press agent and a radio plugger to pay as well as promotional trips. We would pay for all of these because we would be the owners of our music and then be able to sell it and take the money for ourselves or licence it.

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The way Skunk works is in a very modern way where we tend to go with how the industry is changing so now we would either licence our music to other labels in different territories, to reproduce and sell for a percentage.  Or, more often lately, we would do label services deals where we will actually pay for the stock and distribute it around Europe from England, having complete ownership of the music. As you can imagine, this is a very expensive process and usually bands sign to record labels and major companies to be able to do this, because they do not have the funding.  But we run it in a cycle so that a festival season will provide the funding for the record and all the press which will then lead up to another booking of a tour and good festival slots and release of an album to then tour after that. Which brings us back to the beginning of then making another album.

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So that is the circle of re-investment that Skunk Anansie has.  Once we have put the record out and licensed it or distributed it, the profits that then come back in from there we will pay back to ourselves in the band to help us survive as musicians until the next cycle comes.  There’s usually a gap of around two years in between these cycles so this is where we tend to bring back sales and royalties for us to personally live.

Ok, I’m off to a soundcheck.

Catch you all on the flip side…

Cheers

Ace

Read Ace’s first blog post here. 

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