STRYPER's MICHAEL SWEET: 'The Cost Of Touring Is Absurd'

August 19, 2023

In a new interview with Robert Miguel of Uvalde Radio Rocks, STRYPER frontman Michael Sweet was asked how he and his bandmates have been able to has been able to adapt to the access-over-ownership business model of streaming music. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Well, I think STRYPER is one of the few bands that's been able to kind of figure it out in a really profitable way. We're somehow able to continue on when sometimes other bands aren't. And that's regarding touring, releasing new music. We do have labels that wanna work with this. Frontiers [Music Srl] is one of 'em. As a solo artist, I've got other labels that wanna work with me that I'm working with. And we've got people that invest in the band and support the band. So it's really incredible to see the level of support that we have that helps us to continue touring and making music."

Sweet went on to say that hitting the road for many bands nowadays is simply "not affordable. The cost of touring is absurd," he explained. "A lot of fans can't afford a bus. These venues take and take and take. They're now taking more of your merchandise. They want a piece of every pie — your meet-and-greets. They want a piece of everything, and it's causing an issue with bands and basically crippling bands and making it unaffordable to tour. And the same goes with records. To do it right and not compromise, you need a decent budget, and a lot of these labels will offer you 10 or 15 thousand dollars to go make an album. And that barely gets the demos done. It's really an interesting world. Back in the day we used to get two, three, four hundred thousand dollar budgets. Now you're fortunate if you can get a forty thousand dollar budget. But STRYPER is one of those few bands that we get good budgets. We're able to go in and afford making albums and doing it the way we wanna do them without compromise, and put a little money in the account to be able to have some money for a rainy day and pay some bills and whatnot. So we're able to continue on and release new music, and that's exactly what we're gonna keep doing."

Three years ago, Sweet told Metal Express Radio that he was "not a fan" of music streaming services like Spotify. I don't know anyone at Spotify, anyone on the board," he said. "It's not to be disrespectful to them or to say something nasty about their business, but I'm just not a fan. And for many reasons. And I'm not a fan of [individual song] downloads.

"The thing I hate about it is it's disheartening when you go and spend three months of your life working so hard on an album, and you release it, and then it goes up on iTunes and people download three songs," Michael explained. "And you can literally see which songs have been downloaded more and which songs have been downloaded less.

"The album is the artwork and the piece of art — not the songs individually or on their own. So we want people to listen to the whole album. It's like reading a book — you just take two chapters and you leave the other 49. Or watching a movie — you just watch 15 minutes of it, the best scenes, and then you leave the rest. That's what's happened with albums, and it breaks my heart. It's unfortunate. And the same thing happens on Spotify — people will only take particular songs and put those in there on their playlist. And then you add the other side of the coin to that, that the artists, the bands, the people that write the songs and make it happen don't get paid properly from the streaming format."

In August 2020, Sweet took issue with Spotify CEO Daniel Ek's suggestion that artists need to be more prolific in the streaming age, telling Sonic Perspectives that he couldn't wait "until the day when Spotify is no more." He added: "I'd love to see that day. I'd love to see streaming music be done away with, and for it to get back to some sort of hard copy, whether it's vinyl or CDs again. Because that's the fair way to do things. That's when the artist who is working so hard to create the music is compensated properly."

A year ago, STRYPER postponed a number of shows in the U.S. for "economic" and "other reasons."

STRYPER is the first overtly Christian metal band to go mainstream. The group's name comes from Isaiah 53:5, which states: "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."

STRYPER's albums include "To Hell With The Devil", "Second Coming", "No More Hell To Pay", "Fallen", "Even The Devil Believes" and the band's latest effort, "The Final Battle".

Michael is joined in STRYPER by his brother Robert Sweet (drums),Oz Fox (guitars) and Perry Richardson (bass).

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