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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

U2 yet to turn profit on $750,000/day world tour


How does a band make money in the digital musc age, where bands are giving away records and labels are folding like houses of cards? It's easy: load up a truck. Drive to a city. Play a show. Sell three dozen t-shirts. Pack up the truck. Rinse and repeat, every day.

Unless, of course, you're U2, where everything is bigger, better and, naturally, more expensive.

In an interview with Reuters, band manager Paul McGuinness (can you find a better manager name for an Irish band?) reports that each show on U2's lengthy "360 World Tour" has an overhead cost of around $750,000. The band is yet to see any profit from the tour, and may not until the conclusion of the North American leg next month.

"The [tour's] engineering problems are enormous and costly," said McGuiness. "We had to find a way for it to be aesthetic and figure out a way of doing video."

The bands travelling crew for each show on the tour is impossibly enormous, though necessary to pull off the high-tech show desired. Mix in the economic factors of a slow economy, and McGuiness isn't overly optimistic that the end returns (if and when those appear) will be very substantial.

 "[It won't] exactly [be] gravy, because whether we're playing or not, the overhead is about $750,000 daily," said McGuiness. "That's just to have the crew on payroll, to rent the trucks, all that. There's about 200 trucks. Each stage is 37 trucks, so you're up to nearly 120 there. And then the universal production is another 50-odd trucks, and there are merchandise trucks and catering trucks."

- Alec Wooden

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