They may be the biggest rock band in the world, playing sold-out shows around the globe on a weekly basis, but that doesn’t mean U2 is rolling in the dough.
The longtime manager of the Irish rockers, Paul McGuinness, has revealed the extreme daily overhead costs on the band’s 360 Tour.
Whether they’re playing a show that night or not, U2 spends no less than $750,000 daily.
“That's just to have the crew on payroll, to rent the trucks, all that,” McGuinness told Billboard. “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.”
And these expenses don’t count the construction costs of the band’s 150-foot spaceship-like stage, which is called “The Claw.”
“The engineering problems are enormous and costly,” McGuinness said. “We had to find a way for it to be aesthetic and figure out a way of doing video. That cylindrical screen we have – that didn't exist, we had to get somebody to invent that. We had to design this four-legged thing (the claw) – and build three of them.”
The Irish megaband manager said that he doesn’t expect to break even until the end of the 2009 leg of the 360 Tour.
Money, however, isn’t everything, and the high production costs are worth it. The use of a 360 stage makes U2 pioneers, McGuinness says.
“We have been trying to find a way of doing 360 for years. This was not something we decided to do recently – we just couldn't find a way of doing it. The engineering to build a temporary structure capable of bearing the weight that this carries, hundreds of tons, nobody had come up with a way of doing that…it's a beautiful, beautiful thing.”
As the interviewer points out, “The fans seem to get it that you're bringing them something they've never seen before,” and U2 is doing it for cheap, selling 10,000 $30 tickets per show.
“People don't have much money,” said McGuinness. “And so worldwide we came to the decision to have really low-priced tickets.”
But even with cheap tickets and a pricey set, the band is pleased as punch with the benefits of their live performances.
When asked if he feels good about the live part of U2’s business, McGuinness said: “Absolutely, because in a way there's a memory in the audience. They've always known that when you come to a U2 show – even when we were doing theaters – we would do as much production as we could afford. Once we got into arenas, we loved it – we always played in the round in the arenas – so this seems natural to be in the round in the stadiums.”