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The music industry in 2024 is a grim place for bands that aren’t massive. Streaming services aren’t paying very much (or sometimes nothing at all if you’re unpopular), merch cuts are reaching into the pockets of touring bands, and prices of everything are through the roof.

In an interview with ATMósferas Magazine, Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson talked at length about changes in the industry and just how hard it is for new bands. Dickinson start off by talking about how little artists get paid, and then having to split that meager paycheck among band members.

“The music industry has done two things. On the one hand, if you’re an artist, it’s contracted, as in it’s shrunk in terms of the amount of money you get paid for your art — unless you are some massive social media thing, or whatever it is, or unless you’re a DJ who turns up with a memory stick and gets paid five times what a band gets paid.

“And they have to split it eight ways, and he just turns up with his memory stick and pretends he’s doing something, and goes away with a huge amount of money. So the world has gone on its ass from that perspective. And there’s not a lot that any one individual can do about that. You just have to work with the way the world is.”

“I have no desire whatsoever to be a DJ. I’m a singer, I’m a musician, I have bands and people like that, and they all have to make a living playing with me. So I do the best I can to make sure that everybody’s happy, everybody’s making a living and we can go out and play great music.

Dickinson then went on with some Spotify criticism, because of course he did – the streaming giant is making things extremely difficult for artists. Unless you’re a fake artist, in which case you’re rolling in cash.

“In terms of the way that records are sold — well, records, downloads, things like that — I think it’s a lose-lose situation for everybody. I mean, you have all the things like Spotify and stuff like that who are basically ripping off musicians by paying them next to nothing for playing their work. And still, [Spotify] can’t make money. So they’re not making money [and] the musicians aren’t getting paid.

“New bands can hardly afford to start up, but they do. Why? Because they love what they do. It’s that that drives them. It’s that that motivates them. So, if the streaming services could manage to actually pay people properly for when people listen, which probably means that people listening have to pay more, which I frankly don’t object to, and I don’t think probably most listeners would. Maybe less people would listen, but it would be people who care, not people who just do it because it’s cheap.”

Dickinson was then asked if ticket prices going through the roof in recent years have had a negative impact on the industry. Dickinson noted that maybe the up-front seats should be cheaper so big fans of bands can actually afford to get up close, but that it’s obviously a delicate balance.

“Well, two things. One, it depends what the show is and kind of who the audience are. I mean, I’m not gonna go around and say specific artists, because most of the artists that are charging, like, 1,200 dollars a ticket — like in Las Vegas, if you wanna go and see the U2 show, I think it was 1,200 dollars per seat in the sphere. I’ve got no interest in paying 1,200 dollars to go and see U2 in the sphere — none. A hundred bucks, maybe.

“But for me, what’s important is to try and keep, on the one hand, the right type of tickets at the right price. So by that I mean the right type of tickets, I mean, the tickets that are in front of the stage, which everybody says should be the most expensive tickets. Actually, no, they should be the most reasonably priced tickets, ’cause the people who are gonna go there to the front of the stage are gonna be people who are real fans, people who are kids, people who can’t afford the crazy money, but they are the people that need to be down the front; they’re the people that are gonna keep this music alive. And then you get the people that they might be fans, but they wanna bring their wife and they don’t wanna get too hot and sweaty and all the rest of it. So, there’s some seats at the top or something else like that, what they’re gonna pick, and those get priced differently.”

“I understand how promoters try and do it to try and not lose money, because promoters are part of the whole ecosystem. Without promoters, there would be no shows. The promoters have somehow gotta make their money back. So, it’s a delicate balance, but in general, ticket prices have gone through the roof. And some of the ticket prices that people pay, well, some of the prices people pay, for me, it’s insane. I would never pay that price, but then again, I’m probably not a fan of that particular artist. People who are, maybe they think it’s worth it. I mean, certainly with my shows, we’ve always tried to keep the ticket prices within the normal, normal boundaries. And the same with Maiden.”

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