The world is on hold it seems. Life has slowed down profoundly. Shows are cancelled. Complete tours cancelled or postponed and there is an undeniably big question mark on our festival season if only as no one can say how long the current measures need to be active. And then we move our eye towards the Grand Old Lady Britannia and see Asterix and his crew still shredding the stages there. What? Ah? No. Not Asterix. Not even Gaulish or French. But Canadian: Anvil! Yes, Anvil. Utmost resiliently these foundations of Thrash Metal keep on touring – at least for a few more shows as the continental European shows had to be cancelled, too, naturally.
It is absurd to see life in the UK was still moving on almost in its normal way while half of Europe already was on shut down or at least all education and leisure activities switched to home activities. The SARS-CoV-2 is hitting us all by spreading all over and now the UK makes no exception here (and even ignorance is certainly not going to stop it).
The impact on different bands is still individual. In addition, while even Anvil are forced to packing their gear to return home by now, numerous projects have been started to make it through this hardship. Let’s have a look at some of them and keep in mind: “People stay healthy and don’t panic. This is not the end of the world. Turmion Kätilöt is here to stay and our “GLOBAL WARNING” is just beginning” says ShagU alias Saku Solin, Turmion Kätilöt’s vocalist.
“Having a band is a business” (Nik and Johan/Cold Night For Alligators)
The very moment a band steps out of its rehearsal place to hit a stage or rent a record studio each band becomes a business. Even before rent and electricity produce continuous expenses, not to speak of buying and maintaining gear. Certainly a couple of weeks not meeting in the rehearsal places is not the biggest issue at the moment. But all the cancelled or postponed shows and tours are an existential threat – to each performer affected.
We would not see our favourite bands on stage without global mobility. But then global mobility plays a negative role in this crisis. On a third angle, virtual global mobility does offer options to keep in touch without spreading the SARS-CoV-2, and still being able to support each other. It’s mutual! Because how would we make it through the shutdown, isolation and quarantine without the music of our favourite artists? This is all the more our opportunity to prove solidarity among the community and respect the mutual give and take between musicians and audience.
There is no insurance and hardly ever any secret background investor to cover the, at the very least, ten thousands of Euros, a several weeks lasting, international tour costs. The tour has become the almost sole, only more or less reliable source of income for a band, given naturally they have made it far enough to fill the venues sufficiently! Album sales collapsed with the rise of digital media. Festivals mean an income to the headliners while most of the other performers might be lucky enough to have their expenses covered. Selling merch makes the deal and that usually works best on a tour!
International touring works only with a shitload of efforts and expenses to be covered front-up such as visa (entitling to work), shipping their equipment, booking venues, transportation and accommodation, hiring staff, promoting the tour and individual shows, producing merch and so on
And Then Covid-19 Happens …
So here are just a few samples of bands (which I like a lost, but taste is different), speaking for all of them – every artist around the world, no matter if a local folk musician, an instrumentalist in an orchestra, an opera singer or a metal artist and everyone else in between.
Turmion Kätilöt – A “Global Warning“
Turmion Kätilöt is a band from Kuopio/Finland who quit with their former label in 2012 to publish their album to download for free and in the next step to come up with their own label. This has always been focused on Turmion Katilöt and the bands run by the members of the band. Thus they were able to make a living from it although the band was mostly limited to the rather small market of Finland. In 2018, Turmion Katilöt toured supporting Beast in Black in Continental Europe and prepared further steps to conquer the worldwide markets. In late 2019 they announced touring with Nightwish in late 2020 and soon after, they confirmed being contracted by Nuclear Blast. Signing with a new label means to produce and release a new album and to promote that soon by touring. A tour of such scale requires a major investment. Turmion Katilöt have to cancel numerous gigs in Finland and thus the question arises if that has an impact on the tour with Nightwish – as the income from the national gigs could have made part of the investment for the later tour. “Well even though our shows got cancelled, our album “GLOBAL WARNING” (release September 19th, 2020) is coming and the work around it won’t stop virus or not. Naturally Nuclear Blast helps in this because they make it possible to publish in on many times bigger scale. Postponed show have no effect for the Nightwish tour. That tour is going to be truly something”, replies Saku Solin aka ShagU vocalist of Turmion Katilöt.
Wolfheart – “The Wolves Of Karelia”
Wolfheart had to cancel their complete North Amerca Tour. One month Devastation On The Nation Tour with Borknagar and Rotting Christ in the US and Canada were completely planned and scheduled to kick off March 19th promoting their new album to be released on April 10th! Cancelled on March 13th…
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are numerous states and cities on the Devastation On The Nation Tour that are putting bans on gatherings anywhere between 100-1000 people. On top of that, the President of the United States of America has put a travel ban in place for anyone coming from Europe to America for the next 30 days which starts Friday. Three out of the five bands on this tour are from Europe which are Rotting Christ, Borknagar, and Wolfheart. We were scheduled to fly there on March 18th. Unfortunately, as you can see, our hands are tied and we have no other choice than to postpone the Devastation On The Nation Tour.
The tour will now be rescheduled to February 11th – March 14th, 2021 and will have the same route in place. The tour will still feature Rotting Christ, Borknagar, Wolfheart, Abigail Williams, and Imperial Triumphant …”
What about the cancelled tour? Can Wolfheart tour North America later?
Tuomas Saukkonen: “The same tour with same bands will take place in February/March 2021 so I guess it is the only one of the current tours that did not got cancelled but 100% rebooked. For us the result for this year is still the same: New album soon out and 0 gigs in North America this year.”
The wolves, as they speak of themselves, are resilient and resourceful. As a load of signed album copies had made it into the US already, selling them there online and in the local shops of a Newbury Comics was quickly arranged (online shop).
Being forced to remain in Finland would not stop the wolf pack from shredding a stage, naturally. Thus they rented a venue and have arranged a virtual concert (tickets). Perhaps it is understatement or the humbleness, Finns have been known for, the band set an aim of selling only 25 virtual tickets (500 Euros) for the gig. And then solidarity happened: “Over 3000€ pre-sales for our virtual gig in less than 24h. Beyond awesome!!! As an extra bonus we will shoot a “gear rundown” of each guy and add that to the package!!”
Tuomas, how did you come upon the idea of a virtual concert? “We just wanted to think something that would offer an exclusive and special ”thing” for the fans instead of just asking donations. Both fans and the band lost something when the tour did not happen. Also I wanted to have something to keep the band busy and excited instead of just sitting at home. Album release time should be a bit chaotic and exciting so I brought some chaos for the guys. 3rd big reason was the extra promo we can build around the gig now that the tour is gone. While on a tour and playing every day in a different town it is super easy to get a lot of good footage for social media and having a void of that kind of material just before the album release would be bad.”
How does the recent situation in Finland affect the preparations of this concert?
“So far it has not affected at all. A lot of things are shut, banned, denied etc at the moment but we have a small crew and no audience so there should not be any problems. At least now the venue was also empty and able to give the day for us to rent. Usually they are always full booked.”
“Something special is coming with merch too and a new single with video this Friday (March 20th, 2020). World is shutting down but we are just picking up speed!” Wolfheart posted on March 17th!
Tuomas recently released another album with his project Dawn Of Solace, promoted by some national and one international gig this spring and summer. The virus hits both bands, of course and him double in that regard. How do you see the situation personally for your bands? “It is complicated since big part of the album promo was built around the North American tour and there was also a lot of money invested from the band to visas, merchandise, flights etc. Dawn Of Solace was supposed to play only one show in May and few in summer so if those get cancelled in worst case scenario it wont be a big problem. Wolfheart, however, will continue suffering financial setback if the spring/summer shows don’t happen and I fear that if the calendar goes empty of gigs the lifespan of the new album will be really, really short.”
Insomnium Gatherum – Diary Of A Disaster And Great Solidarity
March 10th, 2020: the members of the Finnish bands Omnium Gatherum and Insomnium arrive in New York. Every tour means a major investment and this multiple times if the tour is scheduled on a different continent. They still play jokes on drinking Corona rather than giving in to it. Why did they travel to the US at all at that point? Because they had at least to give it try.
March 12th, 2020 Seven Spires, Omnium Gatherum and Insomnium play the first show of their tour: “Philadelphia! We are here and we really want to play rock n roll so much. Nobody knows what happens next but tonight we a performing. Meet & greet 18:30, doors 19:00. Come and enjoy the music, get all the merch and mosh mosh mosh.” The show in Montreal is sold out already. A true kick start!
March 13th, 2020: “With heavy hearts we inform you that we are forced to cancel this North American tour after just one show. All these government actions, bans and restrictions to fight the Corona virus are basically cancelling our shows and shutting down the country so there is nothing we can do.” They point out also that this means a financial disaster for both bands that puts a big question mark on the future of them.
March 14th, 2020: Before sunrise, the Finns decide on their way home to start a crowd-funding campaign. Overwhelmed by the amazing feedback from their fans they hope to raise some money to cover at least a part of their loss and save the bands that way. “Thank you for your encouraging messages within the last hours. We’re humbled by your support and willingness to help us in through this dark chapter. A tour in another continent, cancelled after the first show is a disaster for every band and it truly threatens the existence of INSOMNIUM and OMNIUM GATHERUM. …”
Insomnium Omnium shirt
March 14th, 2020, afternoon: “Thank you for your support and help within the past hours. We arrived in Finland now and are overwhelmed by your mind-blowing kindness. We are proud of having such phenomenal fans like you!” More than 30.000 Euros have come from the fundraising at that time already. As many fans asked for merch they decided to come up with an Insomnium Gatherum support shirt edition available in their webshops.
March 15th, 2020 just past noon: the official crowd fund raising has been on pause. The aim of 50,000 Euros has nearly been achieved within only two days. Some legal questions have to be taken care of.
I asked Jukka Pelkonen (OminiumGatherum) about his review on the crowdfunding from today’s view: “The turn out for the crowdfunding has been really amazing. Now we see in reality how wonderful fans we have around the globe. We set the time limit for 22.3, but the amount was raised much faster. Sad to say though, the Finnish laws for this kinda thing are super-over-the-top strict. So at the moment we do not know how this thing will end up. If it comes to the fact it won’t work, then naturally we will refund the money to all the people who donated.”
So, can the bands be saved with the raised funds? “Like I said in the previous answer we do not know as of yet what is going to happen to the crowdfunding endeavour. If it turns out ok, the funds will help both bands immensely.”
What impact has the current situation on you personally? “For me personally the impact of this situation has been challenging financially of course but in psychological sense not so much. I’m a bit of an introvert by nature so spending time with little old me is not a problem 🙂 I’ve done some new lyrics and composed a bit. Called to my friends etc. The only thing that is a bit annoying is the fact our tour was cancelled,but hey, it is not the end of everything. There will be more tours.”
Many times, I read that people offered to keep their tickets for cancelled shows in order to help you. But that does not help any band, right? Whom would that help? “I really don’t know who it would help. Not the bands anyway :)”
Do you have any plans for the near future already? “We have some things planned yes. There is a good probability of livestream extravaganza in the near future.”
What do you think how will this situation affect the metal scene and our culture in general on a longer term? ”It is hard to say what kind of impact this kind of situation will have in long term in general. It will teach people in many ways I think. It will teach patience and the control of emotions vs reason. I really am trying to think about positive things this kind of negative thing will surface. Human experience is both in micro and macrocosmic levels designed in a way that hardship is inevitable in some parts of the circle. This is natural and I think love rises above positive and negative.”
Cancelled! Pre-sale Tickets – Keep or Return?
There are two contrary options. ‘Insomnium Gatherum’ explicitly asked their audience of the cancelled tour to return their ticket and if they wanted to help, donate this money to their crowd funding project or to buy merch online. At the moment no one can say if their cancelled tour can be rescheduled. The expenses remain. And apparently they have no share on the pre-sales of tickets as long as they do not play the show. Consequently the pre-sales will help to support the local venue but not the band.
The German Dark Metal band Lacrimas Profundere had to cancel their German tour due to the pandemic situation. For the time being they stick to their plans for their Latin America tour in June 2020. Lacrimas Profundere asked their German audience to keep their tickets. They have been able to postpone the tour by a few months, sticking to the venues. They hope, of course, the major share of the audience can make it to their tour despite the new dates being amidst the festival season.
The deals between performers and venues are highly diverse. There is no general ‘a performer gets this or that’. There are expenses the venue needs to have covered such as the crew, promotion (of the shows), electricity and equipment and so on. And there are different types of deals. For example: The venue receives fix rent and sells their drinks and dishes. Therefore the band manages and gets the (nearly) complete access fees. That sort of deals is rather common in smaller clubs. In larger venues the expenses on both sides grow, third parties as the record labels or tour-managing agencies might play a role so the deals get more complicated and require exceccssive advance payments.
Anyway tickets of a cancelled show can be returned, tickets of a show postponed and moved to an exact date remain valid but can be returned usually though. But the question, who benefits from it needs to be checked individually. If you want to support your favourite bands, go to the (rescheduled) shows once this nightmare is over and in the meantime check out some more options.
Album And Merch Sales
Turmion Kätilöt merch supplies (by Turmion Kätilöt)
There is one point that needs to be clear: bands want and need to deliver. They want and need to sell their music, their shows and their merch. So this is a moment to keep particularly in mind that the music-for-free mentality is a very big part of the problem, too. And this is merely speaking of the copyright for any sort of creative output but the long list of hard facts – namely expenses of making music that any band has, even if the musicians make their living from non-music day jobs, one would wonder, how long the list of artists is who cannot rely on their music as a source of income only. So our compliance with music-is-not-for-free is the foundation of any support.
by Ms Cesar Little
Supporting any band, first of all, buy their albums and their merch as if you bought it at their shows! Make sure it is produced by the band or licensed by them (photo). Which role does the merch sale play here and now for you, I asked Turmion Katilöt’s vocalist, Saku Solin. ”Merchandise sure helps us a lot. We are in lucky situation because our company has a steady situation but personal salaries sure take a hit because of the lack of shows. Our merchandise is 100% in our hands so best way to support us is to buy it.” Saku points on a very important detail here. There is plenty of merch out there that uses the band logos or images neither of which is licensed by the referring artists nor earning them a single cent of income. How can you be sure the merch you buy is funding the band? Some bands print sort of a license label in their shirts and hoodies. Each band has a webshop these days. You can find that linked to their homepage and Facebook page. Smaller bands might manage their online merch sales via Bandcamp (see below), too. And then of course, there are the merch stalls to visit on their shows and festival gigs. Wearing patches, shirts and hoodies of your favourite bands makes you their promoter, and shows your support publicly.
How Can I Help Otherwise?
“Any kind of sum, big or small will help us getting the bands back on their feet so we can continue touring and making music.” (Insomnium Gatherum)
And there are plenty of options in general to help the bands you wish to support.
There are several platforms for crowd funding. At Gofundme, Kickstarter or Indiegogo anyone can launch a project. Participating means you actually buy an item, for example a copy of the forth-coming album, t-shirts or particularly designed exclusive packages for the individual project. The project usually has an aim, a total and a fixed price for the sold item. Often you purchase an item that can only be produced with the raised funds. So this is a sort of front-up funding in many cases.
If you wish to support continuously platforms like Patreon will be your choice. It works like a subscription or monthly donation. In return for the continuous support you receive continuously items or access to bonus material, or services (meet & greet sessions, for example). Or you may subscribe for a limited period of time and are otherwise free to cancel it on short notice.
Many unsigned and new bands use platforms like Bandcamp. Music is digitally available here. It is an option to promote your music. You can listen most of the music for free and buy digital or hard copies either for a price (determined by the band) or on pay-what-you-want terms. Additionally Bandcamp is running a fundraiser to support their network’s artists.
There are the individual projects many bands are coming up with these days. The formats are as diverse as the jungle of genres in metal. Understand them the most authentic and honest way for each of them to make it through this crisis. Watch out for their posts and just in case you have an idea, tell them.
I have tried to collect all the solidarity projects here, I have heard of. It cannot be complete. So please: sharing is caring! Share this article to raise awareness. Share the links of solidarity campaigns in the comments, your profile on whatever network. And most of all: the stricter we stick to the isolation now the sooner it will be over and back to the venue! And as a personal thought: I am honoured to see the overwhelming support many bands have already received. A BIG THANK YOU to you all!
Show Your Solidarity
Code Orange (March 20th, 2020)
Fleshgod Apocalypse, The Army Of The Apocalypse
Shiraz Lane live
Unleash The Archers
Wolfheart: Virtual Gig (April 9th), 2020; Signed Albums
Visions Of Atlantis
A large collection of webshops and band sites