Music Industry

Published on November 3rd, 2015 | by Alan Cross

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The Story of Rock’n’Roll Insurance. (Don’t Roll Your Eyes. This is Important.)

Fate is a fickle thing. Despite your best-laid plans, things will go wrong. That’s why you need insurance. And when it comes to the music game, you gotta have insurance if you want to survive. The Guardian explains why.

A day after Katy Perry tweeted she had just completed her 151-date Prismatic world tour and that it was “only By The Grace Of God that I made each & every one of them”, One Direction had to cancel their show in Belfast at the last minute due to Liam Payne falling ill.

Insurers and underwriters looking at Perry’s next tour will regard it as low risk. But they will be keeping a closer eye on One Direction, even though the show was quickly rescheduled, and mentally reworking the numbers if more shows get cancelled. Since record sales started to tumble 15 years ago, touring has become the way that most acts make a living these days. The numbers are staggering. Taylor Swift, for example, is grossing $2.93m per night on her 1989 tour, based on from figures published by Billboard. With stakes this high, touring insurance, on the surface an admittedly dry subject, has never been more important.

Acts on the road generally take out three types of insurance: equipment (to protect against damage and theft); public liability (in case an audience member is injured during a show); and non-appearance. The last two are relatively modern developments, but it is non-appearance that is arguably the most critical, especially as tours become longer.

At the start of October, promoter and agent John Giddings spoke at the International Festival Forum and suggested that David Bowie has effectively retired from touring, having performed his last solo British show in 2004 at the Isle of Wight festival (which Giddings runs). There have been rumours that Bowie is not willing to put himself through the exertion of a world tour. Unlike, say, 74-year-old Bob Dylan, who has played between 85 and 112 shows every year this century, Bowie has not played for so long it could be difficult to insure a tour against cancellations.

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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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