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The Chemical Brothers: ‘Touring in US not viable’

The Chemical Brothers are the latest act to dismiss touring in the US, as the country’s authorities consider raising touring visa fees for foreign acts by more than 250%.

In an interview with Billboard, the English electronic music duo revealed that they aren’t planning any US shows in support of their new album due to ballooning costs.

“The costs have gone up so much. It’s just not really viable at the moment,” said the duo’s Ed Simons. “I’m apologetic to the people who do want to see us that it is increasingly difficult for us to get to America because we have had the times of our lives playing there.”

The pair also commented on the state of touring post-pandemic and how they attempted to lower the costs of their live touring production to make touring the US more affordable.

“[The production] originally came from the fact that we didn’t want to inflict [audiences with] just the two of us awkwardly standing with the synthesisers,” Simons said.

“So we wanted a big back job, but it’s just grown and grown, and now we’ve got these 40-foot clowns voicing the words.”

The increasing costs of touring the US are not helped by a planned increase in the cost of paperwork to get there.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was planning to raise touring visa fees for foreign acts by more than 250%.

The current petition fee would rocket from $460 to $1,655 (a 260% increase) for a regularly processed ‘O’ work visa and soar to $1,615 (251%) for a regularly processed ‘P’ visa – putting 50% of all UK tours of the US under threat according to data from trade body LIVE.

However, DHS and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have now reportedly agreed to delay the implementation of the rise until at least March 2024 and are considering a lower increase.

Regardless, the costs of touring have still prevented several big-name artists from being able to play shows in the US in recent months.

“The costs have gone up so much. It’s just not really viable at the moment”

Last year, English rapper Little Simz cancelled a run of 10 North American tour dates due to the “huge deficit” it would leave her in financially. Santigold also cancelled a tour of the territory, citing “skyrocket[ing]” price of “gas, tour buses, hotels, and flight[s]”.

English electronic group Metronomy, who also pulled the plug on their North America tour, said “Touring America is one of the most expensive and exhausting things a band can do”.

Earlier this year, Easy Life axed their North American tour dates due to “some insane costs,” adding that “the world seems to cost 10x as much as it used to right now”.

The Who frontman Roger Daltrey has also reckoned it unlikely that his band would be able to tour America again.

“We cannot get insured and most of the big bands doing arena shows, by the time they do their first show and rehearsals and get the staging and crew together, all the buses and hotels, you’re upwards $600,000 to a million in the hole,” he said back in April.

“To earn that back, if you’re doing a 12-show run, you don’t start to earn it back until the seventh or eighth show. That’s just how the business works. The trouble now is if you get COVID after the first show, you’ve [lost] that money.”

Placebo, meanwhile, postponed their entire North American tour, last September, just two days before it was due to begin, citing “visa and logistical issues”.

The Music Managers Forum (MMF) and Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) stepped up their #LetTheMusicMove campaign earlier this year in order to oppose changes to US visa applications.

#LetTheMusicMove was originally established in June 2021 to campaign for reductions in post-Brexit costs and red tape for UK artists and musicians when touring in Europe, but extended its focus following the announcement by the DHS.


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Santigold becomes latest artist to pull tour

Santigold has become the latest artist to pull the plug on a tour, citing a smorgasbord of issues that leave her “simply unable to make it work”.

Her North American tour, ‘Holified’, would have kicked off in Atlanta next month and wrapped up in California by November.

In a lengthy statement posted on her social media channels, the US artist has cited difficulties with inflation and the post-pandemic touring industry among the reasons for the cancellation.

She also said that the financial and emotional toll of touring after the pandemic has left her with “anxiety, insomnia [and] fatigue”.

“I will not continue to sacrifice myself for an industry that has become unsustainable for, and uninterested in the welfare of the artists it is built upon,” she wrote.

Santigold says she “thinks it’s important for people to know the truth of what it’s like out here for artists”

The US artist added that she “thinks it’s important for people to know the truth of what it’s like out here for artists,” and that she doesn’t “believe enough of us are talking about it publicly.” She also said that she’d further elaborate on the reasons for her cancellation in the future.

Santigold is one of many artists to cancel a tour or shows due to similar reasons. Arlo Parks, Shawn MendesSam Fender, Russ, Wet Leg and Disclosure all recently cancelled dates due to welfare concerns, while Placebo, alt-J, Pale Waves and Anthrax are among the acts to cancel due to “logistical issues”.

Santigold concluded her statement by assuring ticket holders that they’d receive refunds, as well as promising them access to her VIP membership for early releases, announcements and other “exclusive experiences… create[ed] just for this group.”

The singer’s Holified tour would have been in support of her fourth studio album, ‘Spirituals’, which was released earlier this month. She is represented by UTA in North America and Andy Duggan at WME rest of the world.


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