For indie artists with out belief funds or superstar dad and mom, there may be little hope that the accepted signifiers of success will convey substantial change to materials circumstances on tour. “There’s this concept at play that’s like, you pay your dues and also you get them out of the way in which,” Smith notes. “Wednesday is a profitable band. They’re nonetheless coping with this actuality. So the concept that it’s a short lived situation, I feel, is fake.”
In the meantime, the pandemic has not solely pressured musicians to shoulder the duty of conserving themselves and their followers wholesome — corresponding to begging audiences to put on masks — however has additionally burdened them with new prices and stressors on the street. After releasing Planet (i) simply earlier than the delta variant landed, Williams extensively toured all through 2021 and early 2022 with out anybody in her touring occasion testing constructive. However it has required vigilance — she continuously checks and displays the COVID numbers in every metropolis — and has come at a monetary value.
“Shopping for fast COVID checks actually sucks,” Williams says. “They’re like $10 a check. And should you’re testing a pair occasions per week for 5 folks, it actually provides up. I feel it’s form of loopy that that’s an expense that particular person folks must cowl.”
A band can conceivably forgo this value by discovering free testing websites, however it’s not simple to coordinate testing hours and areas whereas touring cross-country, Williams notes. And this isn’t to say the loss incurred to numerous acts when somebody within the touring occasion does check constructive and reveals should be postponed or canceled on the final minute. (Members of Wednesday’s touring occasion did wind up getting COVID throughout their latest leg of reveals.)
Nonetheless, for Williams, the toughest a part of touring through the pandemic has been needing to advocate for herself and her band much more than regular. Masks are a giant instance.
“There have been many venues the place we stroll in and no person is masked,” Williams says. “It’s demanding and likewise crucial for me to request that folks put their masks on. I’m there as a result of I wish to play music for folks. It simply feels shitty to must be making these calls as a result of the federal government gained’t.”
When Stephen Burdick, the lead singer of the Stone Eye, a grunge-adjacent rock band from Philadelphia, noticed Wednesday’s tour earnings, he replied with what he thought-about a useful suggestion.
“Ya’ll gotta do some DoorDash/instacart in your days off,” Burdick, a.ok.a. @TheStoneEye, tweeted. “We payed [sic] for our 3 night time, $70 an evening keep in Raleigh that manner.”
Some fellow musicians have been appalled. The thought of musicians juggling already-grueling tour itineraries with low-wage stints within the gig economic system appeared like a bleak satire of late capitalism.
However when reached for interview, Burdick, who has a small audio engineering firm, confirms that he wasn’t joking. He was lifeless severe.
Of their spare time at residence, he and his bandmates have been choosing up shifts on supply apps like DoorDash and Instacart for 2 or three years, simply as a method to make some additional money. Through the band’s latest tour by means of the South, they determined to attempt utilizing the apps on the street to pay for resort stays.
“This run was the primary time we tried it,” Burdick says. “We ended up doing 14 days out however solely eight reveals, so we have now time to kill. As a substitute of spending $200 on a resort and doing nothing, we’re like, ‘Shit, would possibly as effectively make some a refund, you realize?’ And it labored out. We ended up paying for our resort.”
The experiment was a hit, to Burdick’s thoughts. However it was solely possible as a result of the band had substantial downtime between reveals — and since the musicians have already got expertise with the supply apps.
In between gigs, “We have now no urgency to go to the following city or no matter,” Burdick says. “We’re like, ‘Alright. Let’s cut up up shifts.’ Two guys exit for a number of hours. Two guys exit for a number of extra hours. Spend like six, seven hours in complete doing it. Then come again and also you’re like, ‘Properly, the resort’s coated, and dinner tonight!’”
“It dietary supplements revenue,” Burdick provides. “Particularly when it’s a tough market proper now. It’s simply what you gotta do, I really feel like.”
Isn’t this all a bit of miserable? “Probably not,” Burdick says cheerily. “I feel it’s about figuring out your value. We’re the Stone Eye. Who is aware of the Stone Eye, know what I imply? We’re taking part in golf equipment to 30 folks. We will’t actually demand a assure.” The band excursions in a minivan, and acknowledges that they’re not sufficiently big to make a dwelling from music.
Different musicians have been disturbed by the Stone Eye’s proposed resolution to touring woes.
“I’ve by no means heard of anybody doing that. Have by no means thought-about doing that,” Ella Williams says, noting that she simply accomplished a West Coast tour, throughout which a day without work principally means driving for 13 hours. “So you realize,” she laughs, “didn’t actually have time for any additional DoorDash shifts.”
Zachary Cole Smith is aware of different money-saving tour hacks, corresponding to what he calls “the free Chipotle trick.” (In short, name Chipotle, say you’re representing such-and-such band, and ask to talk to a supervisor. Introduce your self like you will have some type of authority, and your band would possibly get free Chipotle… possibly?)
However he has by no means encountered the delivery-app resolution. And he hopes he by no means does. “It’s like, man, would you say that to anyone else working in any discipline? Like, ‘Rattling, you didn’t earn money at your job, get one other job!’” Smith says.
He discovered it notably demoralizing that the DoorDash suggestion got here from a fellow musician.
“If any person in your similar discipline is asking for higher dwelling circumstances, they’re not doing it for themselves. They’re doing it additionally for you!” Smith exclaims. “The business pits us towards one another, however we’re all in the identical fucking crab pot or no matter. We will raise one another.”