Dave Mustaine Speaks Up on Massive Expenses Bands Pay on Tours, Explains What People Don’t Get About Ticket Prices

Megadeth leader and frontman Dave Mustaine reflected on the business side of things of his work and pointed out just how much resources go into a band that’s on tour.

After all, it’s not just music — it’s the music business. And it seems that it costs a lot these days. That’s what Dave confirmed during his appearance at “The SDR Show” when he was asked whether it’s true that a single day on tour, even if you’re not doing a show on that date, costs $50,000. After saying that it’s “pretty close,” Mustaine then explained (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs):

“What happens is — you have each individual, and whether they’re working or not working, they get paid on a per-day basis, or a per diem — per day. So you have whoever is out on the road.”

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And it’s not just the band and the techs. Explaining it in more detail, Dave went on to point out what you really need for a high-production show. He continued:

“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.”

And the list goes on:

“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.”

You might get the picture now. Obviously, rock ‘n’ roll isn’t all fun and games as some may think it is. And there’s a lot of responsibility with so many people involved there.

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“So the cost just keeps going up and up and up,” the Megadeth leader added. “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. Because you just can’t get from point A to point B anymore without spending a lot of money.”

Of course, there are a lot of things involved. But things become different as the band grows bigger. There’s also the issue with merch and venues — or whoever — taking cuts and especially hurting younger and smaller bands. Reminded of all of this, Dave said:

“I guess a lot of it has to do with how much influence you have. I think bands like Iron Maiden and Guns N’ Roses or AC/DC probably wouldn’t have the same kind of headaches that a different band would probably go through.”

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Looking more into Megadeth’s example, Dave added:

“When we were being charged to use the second room on our concerts — we’d already rented the entire building, the grounds, everything — and the promoters came back and said, ‘Oh, we’re gonna charge you extra.”

“Also, all the security guys, you’re already paying? We’re also gonna make you pay them twice.’ So we said, ‘No more.’ And I said, ‘I’m just not going to book any more concerts with this particular agent if that’s what he’s going to do.’ And he’s not doing it anymore, they’re not doing it anymore. Hopefully, this is the beginning of something really good for other bands — to just remember what I did and just say ‘No.'”

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One particular venue that’s a goal for many bands and artists to perform at is the Madison Square Garden in New York City. However, the costs there for the artists are insane. When asked what he knows about it, Dave replied:

“I don’t know. I mean, that’s up to the [band]. If the band says, ‘I’m not playing there,’ then they’re not playing there. You know, there are other places to play besides Madison Square Garden. And when most bands go to the Garden, and they leave, they usually end up with a kind of confusing feeling, like, ‘What just happened?'”

“The Garden’s got a great reputation, but bills are astronomical — for union, for overtime, for any little thing that you may happen to do that’s out of line with the rules and the regs — and you’re paying a fortune.”

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Photo: Tilly Antoine (Dave Mustaine au Hellfest 2022)

Author

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.