Dave Mustaine Wants You to Stop Complaining About the Price of Concert Tickets Because Touring Is Expensive Too

"It's kind of what it is nowadays if you want to go see a live band. Because you just can't get from point A to point B anymore without spending a lot of money."

Photo: Stéphane Mahot

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Dec 22, 2023

The word "inflation" has, especially over the past year, grown to send a knowing chill down one's spine. The price of everything, including concert tickets — particularly for artists like Taylor Swift, whom fans are readily spending hundreds to thousands of dollars to see (if they can even get past the Ticketmaster troll bridge) — is feeling a little beyond people's grasp, especially when they're not making a living wage.

Megadeth's Dave Mustaine wants everyone to quit complaining. He's been touring in the thrash metal band for around four decades, so it's safe to say he knows a bit about how the live music game works — and he says the rise in cost for concert tickets is just an inevitable consequence of the current cost of touring (and living, etc.).

In a recent interview with The SDR Show, Mustaine explained that fans need to realize that bands also have to make money, echoing the way Lorde spoke about how "post-" pandemic touring has become a "demented struggle to break even or face debt" last year. According to him, even an off day on a Megadeth tour costs the band around $50,000.

"What happens is — you have each individual, and whether they're working or not working, they get paid on a per-day basis… So you have whoever is out on the road," the musician said [as transcribed by MetalSucks]. "For us, it's a lot of people: we have a light man, a sound man, a monitor man. And then you go on to the deck. We've got a bunch of people up there. You've got a drum tech, guitar tech, and bass and guitar tech, another monitor guy."

Mustaine continued, "And then, there's people backstage, there's the drivers, the bus drivers, the truck drivers, the caterers, all that stuff. And then there's all the hotels, all the money to get the hotel rooms for all these people. And then you got to feed them."

"So the cost just keeps going up and up and up," he explained. "And a lot of people look at the ticket price, and they think, 'Man, I'm not paying 75 bucks to go see these guys.' And it's unfair to say that."

"Even if you had a choice in the matter, it's kind of what it is nowadays if you want to go see a live band, Mustaine said matter of factly. "Because you just can't get from point A to point B anymore without spending a lot of money."

It's worth reiterating that Megadeth are kind of a big band and kind of a big deal, so you can imagine how this is all going for smaller-scale artists. Neil Young thinks touring is broken, while Cadence Weapon predicted in 2022 that "small to mid-sized tours will become a thing of the past soon" because they simply aren't economically viable.

On the brighter side, Live Nation has stopped taking merch cuts — another huge portion of income for touring artists — and started providing travel stipends to club-sized acts to reflect current expenses. So, at least that's something?

You can listen to the full 55-minute interview with Mustaine below.


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