NewsMay 20, 2023 12:00 PM ET6,172 views

Dennis Lyxzén (Refused) reveals bleak reality of touring: "It is almost impossible to make a living"

Dennis Lyxzén

Stefan Müller

Dennis Lyxzén, veteran touring musician who has hit the road with bands like Refused, The (International) Noise Conspiracy, INVSN, and Fake Names, recently spoke about the financial realities of touring. In an interview with The New Scene, Lyxzén reflected on the '90s, when selling records at shows was prohibited in order to track sales through Nielsen SoundScan, leaving bands to rely on t-shirt sales as a primary source of income.

However, when asked whether things have improved since then, Lyxzén was unequivocal in his answer: "no." He cited a myriad of factors, including the rising costs of touring, reduced revenue from merchandise sales, and streaming services like Spotify paying a pittance to artists. He predicted that many bands would be forced to call it quits and exit the touring circuit because it has become increasingly difficult to earn a living through music.

Lyxzén noted that while some aspects of the industry have improved, such as the ability to sell records at shows, the complications and difficulties of being a touring band have grown exponentially. 

"When we were touring with Refused in the '90s and Noise Conspiracy in the early 2000s, labels did not want you to sell records on tour because they wanted to sell the records in record stores so you get SoundScan. It was a long time before you were even allowed to bring records on tour to sell because it was a part of that whole infrastructure where you sell records in the store and then you get the numbers."

"Now when you're touring, I'm the one packing up the LPs every night. I know how many records we sell. I know what we're paying the label. I know what we can get after the tour."

Lyxzén continues:

"I think that being a touring musician has never been this hard. Which is problematic because I think that in the years to come, you will see a lot of bands calling it quits and you will see a lot of bands that will stop touring because it is almost impossible to make a living playing music."

"I mean, in the 90s and early 2000s you could actually sell records and you could get royalty checks once in a while where you're like 'oh shit. We're actually selling records.' Noise Conspiracy wasn't the biggest band, but we sold 60 [or] 70,000 CDs, and that's just… imagine that doing that today."



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