If the Australian touring circuit was the show Survivor, then Perth would be in serious danger of getting voted off the island.
The WA capital’s ticket sales have become even more unpredictable than Melbourne’s weather, and Aussie promoters have had a gutful.
Reps from homegrown touring giants UNIFIED, Destroy All Lines and Select Touring have told Music Feeds that it’s getting harder and harder to break even when sending both local and international artists to Perth, and some of them have even started scratching the city off their touring itineraries altogether in favour of more lucrative regional markets.
Chris O’Brien, Head of Touring at heavy music agency Destroy All Lines, has vented his frustrations with the western capital on Twitter, saying: “Perth you are about to disappear off the touring map for a lot of our tours. Sick of the east coast (and now Canberra) propping you up.”
Perth you are about to disappear off the touring map for a lot of our tours. Sick of the East Coast (and now Canberra) propping you up.
— Chriswhatavibe (@chriswhatavibe) June 21, 2017
Of course, the shaky financials involved in sending tours out west isn’t a new one. We’ve been talking about it since back before the Perth leg of Soundwave collapsed due to poor ticket sales in 2014.
But, by almost all accounts, times have only gotten tougher since then.
“It’s just getting to the stage now where [we’re] considering just dropping Perth from the rounds altogether,” O’Brien (who’s locked in tours from the likes of AFI, All Time Low and The Dillinger Escape Plan this year) tells Music Feeds.
“To be honest as a promoter, I’m happy just to break even in Perth,” he says.
“The issue recently is that the east coast shows are propping up what the losses in Perth have been. That’s why we’re obviously looking into other markets to develop them and then work with them instead.
“Moving forward, probably around 80 to 90 per cent of our tours will not be going to Perth, just looking into other markets. Canberra was one we looked at recently and we’ve had some incredibly strong results there, and even Newcastle, Wollongong, Gold Coast, and markets like that. And we’ve done a couple of ones down in Hobart recently, which have done well.
“The vast majority of tours I’m working on at the moment are certainly not going to be going to Perth, that’s for sure.”
O’Brien’s counterpart over at UNIFIED agrees.
Touring head honcho Luke Logemann (who’s brought us live laps from the likes of Bring Me The Horizon, The Amity Affliction and the forthcoming tour from New Found Glory) has vented similar grievances about his company’s Perth woes, saying, “I’m almost at the point where I can’t justify sending any bands to Western Australia anymore. It’s somehow gotten even worse recently.”
I'm almost at the point where I can't justify sending any bands to Western Australia anymore. Its somehow gotten even worse recently.
— Luke Logemann (@lukelogemann) April 10, 2017
The UNIFIED top dog says Perth has only been selling an “insane” 15 to 20 per cent of the tickets that Sydney and Melbourne have.
Logemann reckons that while it’s always been more of a financial risk to send artists to WA, “What’s changed has been that ticket sales have become so unpredictable.
“I realise a few shows have worked over there, but for the most part even artists who have traditionally sold well in WA, the sales just aren’t there anymore.”
UNIFIED, too, are at their wits end with Perth, and future tours from the promoter are likely to bypass the WA capital altogether.
“We’ve been trying for years to make it work, but its recently that we’ve had to just say, ‘No, this isn’t going to work anymore, we’ve tried everything,'” Logemann says.
Meanwhile, Brandon Wade of Select Touring — a company that’s tee’d up Aussie tours from the likes of The Darkness, David Duchovny and At The Drive In this year — says Perth is on pretty thin ice with them as well.
“I can only speak for myself, but it’s always tough with Perth,” Wade says.
“People don’t understand that we do want to put on shows at every major state in Australia, and with most tours we do. But when barely anyone in a certain state buys tickets to a show you either have to A) Go ahead with booking a show there knowing ahead of time that you’re going to lose money on it, or B) Skip that area to keep it safe and possibly save the tour.
“With all this being said though, Perth can and has proved profitable in past tours we’ve done. It’s just becoming a lot harder as the years go on. I don’t think we’re ruling Perth out yet, but if certain factors don’t change soon then who knows?”