Guitar legend Misha Mansoor has opened up about Periphery‘s finances, somewhat shockingly revealing that the band “make no money”.
During a new interview with Rick Beato‘s podcast (transcribed via Ultimate Guitar), the axeman explains that, despite Periphery’s success, he needs to rely on income streams outside of the band to earn a living.
“It’s my way of being able to make a life for myself,” he says. “People think sometimes, ‘Periphery is achieving a little bit of success.’ We’re not a massive band but we do alright. But we make no money. And people have a really hard time grasping that.
“Because even as we started making more money you’ll gross a lot and net nothing,” he continues. “The ability to monetise music has just dropped by a factor of god knows what – 10, 100, whatever. But the cost of touring has stayed the same. It just means that you net very little.
“And then if you want to have a nice production like us, you don’t want to just go barebones on everything. You want it to be an enjoyable show, so you spend money on that.
“So yeah, we’ll gross a fair bit but we won’t net a lot. We did a five-week tour in Europe last year, we walked away with nothing. And that’s a reality of this – European tours are very expensive.”
Mansoor goes on to explain that touring — particularly overseas — is no longer a “viable source of income for most bands”.
“Some bands are more fortunate in that, they’re sort of more merch bands and they can just really kill it on merch. But it’s tougher and tougher,” he confesses.
“One way of looking at it is, let’s say for the sake of argument, your ability to earn is decreased by a factor of 10 thanks to Spotify and downloading and whatever. You were making a million dollars per year, well now you’re making $100,000. So yeah, you can still make a living on it, you won’t be living as lavishly as before, but it’s still viable.
“But if you were making $100,000 before, now you’re making $10,000. That’s not a lot.
“I’m 33 and as people start to get older… When I was in my 20s, I didn’t mind sleeping on floors or whatever. Now I’m not gonna be doing tours while I’m slumming in a van, it’s just not fun anymore. It’s not worth it. We all paid our dues already.”
He continues: “So it’s just one of those things where for us music is just becoming more and more about just doing it for fun. But it’s because we all saw this coming. We had no delusions. When I started the band, it was like I’m playing nerdy metal, no one cared about us at all. No one cared about this style of music. I would have been amazed to get even 100 people to come to the show. So it was like, ‘I’m gonna need to figure out some other way to make a living. This is just gonna be for fun.’ And I think that is more true than ever now.”
Mansoor goes on to confess that the “business” side of being in a successful band can “suck out a lot of fun from it”.
“I’m trying to keep music fun,” he says. “And now that it’s entirely removed form my money-making… Periphery doesn’t have any impact on my finances. So now we can just be truly the passion project that I wanted it to be. And I don’t care if no one buys our albums because they weren’t gonna buy it anyways. [Laughs] It’s not like we’re gonna sell records.
“And Metallica and all that – it’s gone. It’s gonna be something else. There are bands who get a tonne of Spotify plays and make money, but metal has always been a bit of a niche genre and I don’t think that’s gonna change any time soon. I don’t think that it’s pleasing to most people so we’re not gonna be getting like billions of plays on Spotify or anything like that.
“…And in some ways it objectively does suck,” he confesses. “But I like to look at the opportunity. The freedom that comes with this is that we don’t have to anything. If we don’t want to tour Europe again we won’t. [Laughs] We will because we had some good shows there.
“But I think we’re also gonna be more strategic. There’s a lot of markets that we worked at for like a decade that have just not grown and are very expensive.” (Hopefully he’s not talking about Australia here!)
“Fans can’t have it both ways,” he continues. “They can’t be like, ‘Well, there’s not gonna be money in this industry but you still have to come out to our town.’ No. We’re gonna get strategic, this is a cost. This is what will happen.
“And sure, If you’re starting out and trying to build a name for yourself you’re investing in that. And we did that, we’ve done that for almost a decade now. And now we’re at the point where you can do just whatever we want. We’ll tour whenever we want, we’ll play the shows we want, we won’t play the shows we don’t want to.”
As a final thought, Mansoor adds that he’s “definitely not complaining”.
“There is opportunity in this industry. And I just want people who aspire to be in bands to know what they are in for. The better educated you are to the situation, the better decisions you can make.”
Periphery have been around for over a decade now, recording five studio albums and netting a Grammy nomination.
They last toured Australia in early 2017.