The following is by 1/2 of the band Pomplamoose and Patreon co-founder, Jack Conte.
Pomplamoose just finished a 28-day tour. We played 24 shows in 23 cities around the United States. It was awesome: Nataly crowd surfed for the first time ever, we sold just under $100,000 in tickets, and we got to rock out with people we love for a full month. We sold 1129 tickets in San Francisco at the Fillmore. I’ll remember that night for the rest of my life.
One question that our fans repeatedly asked us was “what does it feel like to have ‘made it’ as a band?” Though it’s a fair question to ask of a band with a hundred million views on YouTube, the thought of Pomplamoose having “made it” is, to me, ridiculous.
Before I write another sentence, it’s important to note that Nataly and I feel so fortunate to be making music for a living. Having the opportunity to play music as a career is a dream come true. But the phrase “made it” does not properly describe Pomplamoose. Pomplamoose is “making it.” And every day, we bust our asses to continue “making it,” but we most certainly have not “made it.”
Being in an indie band is running a never-ending, rewarding, scary, low-margin small business.
In order to plan and execute our Fall tour, we had to prepare for months, slowly gathering risk and debt before selling a single ticket. We had to rent lights. And book hotel rooms. And rent a van. And assemble a crew. And buy road cases for our instruments. And rent a trailer. And….
All of that required an upfront investment from Nataly and me. We don’t have a label lending us “tour support.” We put those expenses right on our credit cards. $17,000 on one credit card and $7,000 on the other, to be more specific. And then we planned (or hoped) to make that back in ticket sales.
We also knew that once we hit the road, we would be paying our band and crew on a weekly basis. One week of salaries for four musicians and two crew members (front of house engineer and tour manager) cost us $8794. That came out to $43,974 for the tour.
We built the tour budget ourselves and modeled projected revenue against expenses. Neither of us had experience with financial modeling, so we just did the best we could. With six figures of projected expenses, “the best we could” wasn’t super comforting.
The tour ended up costing us $147,802 to produce and execute.
Where did all those expenses come from? I’m glad you asked:
Production expenses: equipment rental, lights, lighting board, van rental, trailer rental, road cases, backline.
Hotels, and food. Two people per room, 4 rooms per night. Best Western level hotels, nothing fancy. 28 nights for the tour, plus a week of rehearsals.
Gas, airfare, parking tolls. Holy shit, parking a 42-foot van is expensive.
Insurance. In case we break someone’s face while crowdsurfing.
Salaries and per diems. Per diems are twenty dollar payments to each bandmate and crew member each day for food while we’re out. Think mechanized petty cash.
Manufacturing merchandise, publicity (a radio ad in SF, Facebook ads, venue specific advertising), supplies, shipping.
Commissions. Our awesome booking agency, High Road Touring, takes a commission for booking the tour. They deserve every penny and more: booking a four week tour is a huge job. Our business management takes a commission as well to do payroll, keep our finances in order, and produce the awesome report that lead to this analysis. Our lawyer, Kia Kamran, declined his commission because he knew how much the tour was costing us. Kia is the man.
Fortunately, Pomplamoose made some money to offset some of these expenses. Let’s look at our income from the tour:
Our cut of ticket sales. Dear fans, you are awesome. We love every ounce of your bodies. You’re the reason we can tour. Literally, 72% of our tour income came from the tickets you bought. THANK YOU.
Merch sales. Hats, t-shirts, CDs, posters. 22% of our tour income.
Sponsorship from Lenovo. Thank goodness for Lenovo! They gave us three laptops (to run our light show) and a nice chunk of cash. We thanked them on stage for saving our asses and supporting indie music. Some people think of brand deals as “selling out.” My guess is that most of those people are hobby musicians, not making a living from their music, or they’re rich and famous musicians who don’t need the income. If you’re making a living as an indie band, a tour sponsor is a shining beacon of financial light at the end of a dark tunnel of certain bankruptcy.
The Bottom Line
Add it up, and that’s $135,983 in total income for our tour. And we had $147,802 in expenses.
We lost $11,819.
But this isn’t a sob story. We knew it would be an expensive endeavor, and we still chose to make the investment. We could have played a duo show instead of hiring six people to tour with us. That would have saved us over $50,000, but it was important at this stage in Pomplamoose’s career to put on a wild and crazy rock show. We wanted to be invited back to every venue, and we wanted our fans to bring their friends next time. The loss was an investment in future tours.
At the end of the day, Pomplamoose is just fine: our patrons give us $6,326 per video through our Patreon page. We sell about $5,000 of music per month through iTunes and Loudr. After all of our expenses (yes, making music videos professionally is expensive), Nataly and I each draw a salary of about $2,500 per month from Pomplamoose. What’s left gets reinvested in the band or saved so that we don’t have to rack up $24,000 of credit card debt to book another tour.
In 2014 Nataly and I didn’t take weekends off. Releasing two, fully produced music videos per month is way more than a full time job. Because Pomplamoose doesn’t have a manager, Nataly coordinated the logistics of the tour, herself. On top of that, we recorded and released a full length album. Our music video shoots often started at 9 am and finished at 2 am. That was the norm, not the exception.
The point of publishing all the scary stats is not to dissuade people from being professional musicians. It’s simply an attempt to shine light on a new paradigm for professional artistry.
We’re entering a new era in history: the space between “starving artist” and “rich and famous” is beginning to collapse.
YouTube has signed up over a million partners (people who agree to run ads over their videos to make money from their content). The “creative class” is no longer emerging: it’s here, now.
We, the creative class, are finding ways to make a living making music, drawing webcomics, writing articles, coding games, recording podcasts. Most people don’t know our names or faces. We are not on magazine covers at the grocery store. We are not rich, and we are not famous.
We are the mom and pop corner store version of “the dream.” If Lady Gaga is McDonald’s, we’re Betty’s Diner. And we’re open 24/7.
We have not “made it.” We’re making it.
+ Why Pomplamoose Made The Right Decision To Go On A Losing Tour
The numbers in black and white. Thanks for the insight, JC.
Actually, no they’re not.
Let’s take a look at their initial deal memos, original budget and how those above numbers break down and you have a bit more insight. There were specific costs and guarantees that were constants both on the profit and expense columns and other things that were variables. From the fee side you have guarantees vs potential walk away GBOR etc, variables include merch sales etc. At some point they took a look at this and said it was worth doing.
First off, some of these costs can and will be written off, as I’m sure they’ve set up a Touring Co LLC. Jack is very business savvy, and any professional organization will set up a separate entity for tax and liability purposes.
Also, some of these are one time costs that are not specific for this tour, but add value to the touring party/entity as a whole.
They chose to bring extra production and crew out on this run, where they’re playing 500-1k capacity venues. While it adds value to a degree, their guarantees and potential walk away likely does not make this an economic move overall.
There are plenty of artists and bands that make touring work, from DIY and up, this just seems like another angle for Jack (who I respect as a businessperson) to point back to his other startup, Patreon. It’s a logical built in press grab and subtle yet effective content marketing move.
And yet, it doesn’t read that differently from David Byrne’s discussions of basic touring economics in “How Music Works”, so, if you’re asking me to believe it’s IMPOSSIBLE for Pomplamoose to have lost money touring, when can I laugh in your face: now or later?
Well, if you’re going to base an argument off of David Byrne’s book or recent missives I’m already laughing in your face. While a talented artist, he has zero skin in the game when it comes to any tangible reality that a working artist faces today. To even compare his experience as an artist in New York now, to the early 80’s is not only irrelevant, it’s a bit ridiculous. Are things harder? Of course! in some ways yes since the entire ecosystem is in constant flux, but this is a man who never has to work another day in his life, and there are people out there working everyday and making it work. It’s takes, grit, determination, intelligence, and creativity both on the artistic and business end. And while some snappy youtube covers can catapult a career, it’s going to take a bit more than that to thrive and make your mark. Jack’s legacy might very well be what Patreon creates, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but to say that it’s impossible is absurd. In the time it took illustrate his experience thousands of others are taking it in stride, moving forward and working….because that’s what successful people do.
I feel by your comment re: David Byrne’s book that you have either not read it or you simply forgot everything he said. I find his stories and discussion of the ‘way(s) it was’ as well as how he and other musicians continue to make ‘music work’ to be entertaining, insightful, current and realistic. He is not U2 and does not try to be. He is not guaranteed a huge audience for the sometimes ‘niche’ collaborations he enjoys engaging in.
He has a story of one recent album and tour that comes very close to the one above where he, too, decided to spend money instead of scaling back musicians and tour costs only to make a small profit on a multi year effort. He was never complaining but made it clear that creative and financial choices have to be made and one will undoubtedly affect the other.
Yes, I’m thinking PRECISELY of the chapter where Byrne details how he has to plan how many bodies to take out on the road for one of his post-post-post-POST Talking Heads tours.
I’m not sure what kind of book poster “Not Really.” thinks Byrne’s is.
Plus, David Byrne is a pioneer in style and musical theatrics of his time, and these guys don’t really write original music, from what I’ve gathered. So yeah, Byrne is quite relevant and his struggle was very real.
It’d be nice if you could recommend some articles or maybe even write one yourself since you’re so knowledgable. I want to know where to find the right information
“Note that in 1982 almost 40% of the revenue was divided between the “bottom” 95% of artists, while in 2003 they received only 15% of all revenue.”
And there are many, many more of them now!
Write and record Smells Like Teen Spirit, and I think your numbers will improve….
Oh boy so many issues with that comment.
Oh yes I agree so so so many issues with that comment.
Raghu and team, first my sincere deeply thoughts on the incident.
My heart broke while reading the numbers refrencend by you!
And hence I am writing….Keep up the good music which you and the team is producing and the world will witness soon the timeless music!
It’s unfortunate that you have been taken for a ride with bunch of idiots (for lack of better word) organizers.
Keep the music going and if you are touring any time in the United States, just let me know and I will be more than happy to assist you.
Your junior in college,
This article and story was a viral publicity stunt by the members of Pampelmoose to promote their artist management company that the members were starting. As a touring professional for 20 years, the numbers and math are all bullshit and they were called out on a couple of years ago. It’s interesting that it’s popping up again, out of context.
// As a touring professional for 20 years, the numbers and math are all bullshit and they were called out on a couple of years ago.
// It’s interesting that it’s popping up again, out of context.
What a load of baseless assertions to back up a smear that Pampelmoose is engaging in a stunt. It was a great article, courageous and insightful. Where are your figures to back up your assertion that it’s “bullshit”? Who are you Mike to say you’re a touring professional? Which bands? Are you a professional or a hobbyist? Do you know the figures involved in touring or are you simply plucking numbers out of the air? Until you put some skin in the game my friend by giving some specifics, I’ll have to call “bullshit” on your post.
Mozart and Beethoven were in debt when they died. You’re in good company
and the DRUGS your on #$$$$ hmmmmm perhaps a good acountieant …. and a office man-iger
probably no van halen fans here but they owed warner brothers 1 million dollars after the first record and tour
lol “Hotel”- “crew member” “lighting board”
someone doesn’t know how to DIY…
thanks for sharing, you guys are a beacon of light for indie musicians and artists in general!
Ill read the rest after my first comment…
I hate to have to game Jack on this, but buddy, Jack, making it??
What in the truest purest sense does making it mean??
Not the modernized corporate clouded commerce controlling entity definition of making it that they banter around in order to make people feel bad about themselves to continue to bust their balls, but in music or whatever field, ill tell you want making it means, and then make sure to never forget it…
The proper definition of making it is: “When your peers in your chosen field give you respect and admiration for the work you do”.
“When other professionals and respected critics, free from any collusion and fully unbiased, give you respect for your work”.
This is a non debatable fact. The definition can be expanded upon or said differently, but thats making it.
The commercial part of it, thats just whatever man…
Why do you think some of those who paid to get their fame etc. or some of those its handed to get so bashed by professionals and respected industry people, whatever the industry?? For that reason… The proper path is to make it and then youll find the proper commercial success…
Justin said: The proper definition of making it is: “When your peers in your chosen field give you respect and admiration for the work you do”.
“When other professionals and respected critics, free from any collusion and fully unbiased, give you respect for your work”.
This is a non debatable fact. The definition can be expanded upon or said differently, but thats making it.”
Justin….I always get a chuckle when I see statements like yours. 🙂 PERIOD! = What I say Goes!!!
Having the respect of your peers means nothing if you can’t put food on the table. And musicians today have somehow convinced themselves that playing for the contents of a “Tip Jar” is OK…..that Begging for money via Kickstart so they can make an album is OK…..that losing LOTS of money in order to get your music out there is OK. It’s not.
How did these things happen and when? “Pay to Play” began in NYC and L.A. at about the same time and slowly worked its way across the country and the world…like a Cancer….destroying everything in its path because Musicians SUCK at doing business….and now it’s become the Norm.
“American Idol” and all of its offspring totally screwed the way music was viewed, heard, seen…and presented. Now we’re a Nation of “Open Mics” and anyone with a computer has a NEW CD coming out in three weeks. In the Grand Scheme of things, Music no longer has value….because there’s far too much of it…and much of what there is totally sucks and those who suck should still be in their Garage…as it was when people like me made a very nice living playing music….
Kickstarter doesn’t automatically = begging. Artists who successfully fund their albums using Kickstarter are backed by their fans… They haven’t signed away their rights and dependence to a label.
I think Pledgemusic is a better choice, but it can be really empowering for artists if they approach it correctly.
You make a solid valid point. The computer revolution permitted the audience to climb on the stage, and displace the artist who spent years honing their craft, that it’s become difficult, if not impossible to find and hear the artist, above the din of millions of garage band wannbes who chonk out a few chords, mumble a tune, making shapeless unidentifiable Mumbo jumbo that’s become a forest void of a tree that bears any fruit you can stay awhile to refresh yourself …
Pure insanity putting that on CC’s… That’s some ass puckering living for sure…
Did you manage to pay that off before interest hit it or was there a bit of interest to add to the expenses?
So opportunity cost, what exactly going forward is the benefit of that $12k loss??
What did the tour do for you where upon that loss is investment in possible future revenue and income??
Hopefully your band has just become a loss leader for other endeavors, otherwise, yeah, a pretty picture it does not paint for anyone thinking about breaching into that line of work who isnt already loaded with money or living off a trust fund…
I wouldnt categorize Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta et all as being mcdonalds… they may get in bed with mcdonalds, but certainly music even as commerce isnt mcdonalds if made by passionate professionals who care… now criminals, well yeah, many of them might be that, but never the less…
It absolutely is pure insanity putting using a credit card to fund the tour. Even more ridiculous that Jack has a business background and decided this was the best way.
WTF!!!! and how do you think many bands who dont have a record or rich management company fund their tours…..??? They utilise a line of credit, record and publishing companies dont support tours anymore
Well, assuming the band formed an entity, the entity needs to establish credit. Also, if things go awry with on-the-road expenses, the credit card user has leverage over the vendor with the ability to challenge purchases; the person paying by cash/debit is SOL.
Not insane at all. In fact, it how virtually ALL small business is done in America, and is why the big “liquidity crisis” bank shenanigans of 2008 were so bad. Every ongoing business floats capital for inventory and employees a month or so before the sale is made, then pays it back. Every month. A bar can’t sell a beer unless it has one in the fridge. They pay for next month’s sales with short-term float from the bank this month. So when the banks said “sorry, no 30 day credit for you,” mom and pop businesses crashed and burned, despite having good credit, all because the banks were assholes flexing their sphincters.
The band I play in (and tour manage) uses AmEx to buy flights and gear to go play a show and collect the cash we spent on airfares. Sure, it’s a risk…what if the show gets cancelled for weather or the singer gets sick, or the promoter runs off with the box office…but life is risk, and success is a combination of risk management and good luck. No guts, no glory!
actually, putting the expenses you know you will get return on is not crazy and, in fact, if done wisely, can be used to accumulate perks like hotels, airfare, discounts etc. I’m sure the first proceeds from the tour went to the credit card companies to avoid interest. Credit is fine in the right hands.
“But this isn’t a sob story.”
Yes it is.
Whether you want to admit it or not.
The whole industry has been in a tailspin since Napster.
Actually, this isn’t THAT uncommon for a band at this level, especially if you bring hired guns along. Playing to 1000 or so people is in that weird middle ground where sure, you sell a lot of tickets, but you’re not making large guarantees yet, to offset other costs.
He even says his band cost $50K for a month. Take them away and you go from losing 11K to making 15K each. Maybe the show wouldn’t have been as good, that’s debatable. But I can tell you with 100% certainty that nobody bought tickets because they knew there would be a full band there. So it was a gamble to make the experience better.
Take it easy. You’re trying to explain actual work, blood, sweat, and tears in the business to people who think everyone can follow the Taylor Swift model, pull their shit from Spotify, and move 2 million units.
It’s tough to truly understand what impact the full band has. I’ve never seen or experienced Pomplamoose live, so I can’t say. I will say that there’s something special about just two people on-stage, but that’s a comment removed from the experience, and there’s no easy A/B testing to do.
Funny, I checked out Ari Herstand live last weekend, and he has a part of this show that is just him looping and building a gigantic song (that you’d think was a full band if you just heard the recording). I wondered whether he really needed the full band, or if he’d be more distinctive (and have a lot more money) going ‘solo’ a-la KT Tunstall or Keller Williams.
Hey, maybe the solution is to ask for free ‘professional-ish’ volunteers every night (zing…)
Yea, it can certainly go either way.
Hell, Ed Sheeran stands on stage at arenas by himself.
I hope you didn’t do or say anything during that show. I read somewhere that he gets pretty bitchy when audience members don’t behave the way he wants them to.
These costs are nuts. Most indie bands these days are not touring like this.
Yeah, some DIY indie types are LOLing over the figures: https://medium.com/@spencerlee/this-story-could-be-told-in-a-much-more-concise-way-that-leaves-the-band-looking-much-less-like-a-ce267daf11b7
Truth told, they’re NOT sobbing; there’s little to no mention of what Pamplamoose makes from music licensing, a category where they’re still a pretty hot property, which is no doubt why their manager forewent his fee for the tour; no doubt it’s an investment in bigger things to come. (and they own all those spankin’ new roadcases, which they didn’t rent) The eleven grand, they can just write off against income from sync fees and royalties, so there was never a need for putting any of it on a credit card, unless…they just wanted to blog about it.
…yes, because any businesses will forego payments if you tell them at tax-time you may have potential business expense write-off’s… *rolls eyes*
…get a clue…
Besides this was only one month, and there are limits to what you can “write-off”, including having to make a profit being a condition of writing anything off… these are not a major label with expense accounts on tap, his comes out of real musicians pockets. So yes, the credit card is necessary.
“Cashflow” always put you in that position my friend, he obviously didnt have access to the cash or have headroom required if he did he wouldn’t have put it on his card
If [angelic choir] TAYLOR SWIFT doesn’t have to sleep in a van, why can’t a band like Pomplamoose take a gamble on the numbers and hope they can shit, shower, eat and shave like human beings?
There is a huge difference between a household name and a cut rate indie band that people are seeing live because they saw them on a commercial. I get that they want to live like the big ones, but they’re not at that level. Grind. That’s what they need to do. As someone in their 30’s who has spent 15 years touring, when I go out, I know that there is a possibility that I will take a bath, but for the past 3 years, after a 28-45 day tour, I can come home with $13k in my pocket. So will everyone involved. There are 7 of us, including our TM/Merch guy and we are playing venues of the same capacity. When one of us can come home with more than this bands losses, it’s pretty safe to say, they’re doing it wrong. Suck it up and rough it a little boys and girls.
Can I quote you the next time an avid torrenter lectures artists that they need to hit the road, live like bums, and hope they sell some T-shirts??
Come on. Taylor Swift sells $65+ tickets and fills football stadiums. Yes her expenses are way higher but that’s several million dollars per night in ticket sales. Plus she is selling those tickets months in advance of her tour so yes she can afford to stay in hotel rooms.
I am telling you, let’s convert Radio and streaming to discovery based music store. Then stay home make music and enjoy LIFE!
Please tell us again about this model which has never ever ever ever worked.
Like they do on http://www.radioloyalty.com?
Paul, do you have to censor if there is Google or Larry Page in the comment? Let m e know I will comply.
With all due respect, this band is one of the stupidest bands on earth. And anybody cheering them on is just naive.
There’s absolutely no reason to ever make that much money on the road and come home in the red.
p.s. this is just my 2 cents, but judging by this bands behavior they will surely find a way to it into -4 cents for no good reason.
“p.s. this is just my 2 cents, but judging by this bands behavior they will surely find a way to TURN it into -4 cents for no good reason.”
Yeah, still doesn’t make sense.
They shared rooms in Best Western hardly spoiled life style. You obviously dont know the first thing about touring. A 10% margin on a tour of this size is always tight and it is certainly not a disaster or poorly managed, the one thing I would ask is why did they pay for all their accommodation that is not standard in the industry at all esp for a band on a reputed agency such as High Road. You dont do deals at these types of venues you make sure you have accommodation covered. Thats what bands without a decent agent do, or are clueless or have no pulling power do ie sleep on floors or pay for their own accommodation.
THAT’S true. A sucky agent will take a commission on your expenses rather than cut deals for a commissionable guarantee plus non-commission rooms, backline, food, and transportation that could be provided by the promoter, often at MUCH less expense.
Obviously the problem is that the band didn’t sell enough t-shirts. Sheesh, any Stanford law professor could have told them that a mile off.
Or it could be they didn’t Connect With Fans enough or give them a compelling Reason To Buy. Sheesh, any third rate Bay Area blogger could have told them that…
$97,519 for 24 shows? That’s 4000$ per show. And you said that you hab 1129 people in San Francisco.
That seems very low payment to me.
I wonder what the tickets did cost and how much the clubs did take,
Low? You’re not up with the times.
$100,000 for a month on the road – in ticket sales alone – is not low. $4,000 per show is low? Are you kidding me? The dude/gal above me is completely right, you’re not on track with the times. I’ve played local shows with a 300 person draw and gotten $200 because I was young and dumb, not savvy enough, inexperienced, couldn’t negotiate right, etc. There’s no way $4000/show is low, and there’s no way this band should have been in the red coming back from $100,000 in ticket sales. It’s purely over-expended, unnecessary costs like mid-end hotels, light shows, per-diems (for food on top of a member’s salary??) that brought this to a -$11k endeavor. I wouldn’t feel too sorry for them anyway, seeing as that the writer of the article’s site Patreon brought in like $17 million in investments recently.
bullshit. why don’t you own backline, and have cases for your gear. you CHOSE to rent supplementary lighting. not a 42′ van it’s a van with a trailer, (which you needed for your rental gear).
i’ll just stop here, because you’re so green or stupid that you won’t “get” my comments anyway.
Dude the point of backline is you don’t own it and you don’t bring it around with you. You simply can’t do 24 shows in 23 cities in 28 days without backline. Let’s say your a bass player, would it be reasonable to throw an ampeg 8×10 on an airplane 23 times or rent it for a few bucks a show?
I advance tours for a living. 25 years worth. I wouldn’t touch this with a ten foot pole.
Ya gotta make sure backline and lighting are a promoter expense. Especially when you’re going on 4000. Deal with the in-house systems! This is where they blew it! The transportation on the gear and personnel killed em. Bring a talented LD and a small floor package, one backline greaser and a foh mix engineer. Use local monitor cats.
This is how EVERYONE else on the B minus tour circut pulls it off… B minus is a gift on this one. They’re re more of a C plus tour.
They call themselves an indie band, but spent 150K on expenses for a one-month tour. Complete insanity. Yeah, you don’t take out an elaborate light show if you can’t afford it. You don’t sleep two to a room in hotels – or even get hotel rooms – if you can’t afford it. You don’t have a ‘crew’ if you can’t afford it. Especially not a ‘crew’ that costs you some large chunk of 50K for one month – one month – on the road.
Did he say a 42-foot van?
I hear they’ve even got flat-screen tee-vees in their homes.
I run an indie label in the UK called Flicknife Records (once home to Hawkwind, Dogs D’Amour, Alien Sex Fiend, Soho, Adamski, etc http://www.flickniferecords.co.uk) and have done since 1980: I made it, lost it, made it again, lost it again and now, I am just happy to be still in the music business. While I applaud what you have done (in my books, anyone who puts a band together, records, tours, etc deserve respect and a listen) and I know the difficulties of putting a tour together, you could have cut your expenses quite a bit> In 2012, we had a band doing a 24 dates tour of the US and we found a motel chain to sponsor us (free rooms) and a hire company that lent us a bus (with insurance) in exchange for their name going on the tour tickets. Also, if you pay a weekly wage to your fellow band members then it could be argued that the PD is not a must. Sometimes having a label and/or manager that knows the ins and outs might save you money that means you end up making a profit or at least, breaking even. I know and understand that many bands/artists are better off going it alone…up to a certain point! What happens when you plateau and there are not enough hours in the day for 2 people to do everything? In order to ‘make it’ you have to go worldwide: no other way. Currently, we have a band that is supporting the Who in gigantic stadiums and that is a cheaper way to tour and reach millions of people. That is an avenue you should consider: having proved your worth, any major would be lucky to have you. I know we would!
Best of luck and respect.
No per diems.
Open for the Who.
Got it. Can I subscribe you your newsletter?
I believe that they just wanted to make it the proper way… and came out short.
First thing to consider is that this band is a media/YouTube success, so the crowd buildup is based on “virtual” people and not necessary people that would actually go and pay for live music; I just saw Dirty Loops which is kind of the same story in terms of media/virtual success, and it was definitely not super crowded (as one would have thought).
Second is the fact that you see this great video work to recreate their versions between 2 people… and even if it sounds idiotic, people would be expecting to have a similar experience live (even though is highly improbable to happen). You teach your crowd that you are in fact able to do it all, and it is fun to watch… you still know that live it won’t happen the same way.
Third, following the last point, you taught your crowd that your show will never be as it is on YouTube. People that supports music (which is a small percentage), will most likely go if they are in town… and that is only 2-3% of the millions of virtual supporters.
Being an opening act is also a different story… who’s shade are you under? Is like the pilot fish that swims by the White shark: they may benefit from just being there, but they come to see the shark. A different story would be if the main act invites the other band to interact as part of the concert experience.
There might be some ways to bring it down… but not that much… not if you want to make it as proper as possible. And about slashing the per diem, that’s miserable.
I agree with you about sponsorship… that is essential. If pitched the right way, many local businesses would be more than happy to pitch in services or help as a collaboration.
where is my comment gone!?
I wish i could back this, but this is the opposite of what indie musicians need to hear. This is the kind of situation bands do that makes them end up dependent on labels, the complete opposite of what DIY/Indie should be. Spending too much on unnecessary things. It’s like going into a home renovation in the red. No one does that and every knows there are unexpected cost that come into play. I toured in a band for years from smaller to much larger rooms than this and you never factor “x merch sales” in when budgeting. That’s about as smart as buying lotto tickets in every city you play. Your guarantees should cover your expenses before you hit the road, otherwise you’re spending too much. Merch pays for itself and can be a large chunk of the profit if budgeted properly, it’s not a tangible amount of you weigh initial cost against in a budget.
Apologies for the awful typos.
If, for whatever their reasons – I don’t follow them closely – they thought that this was their time – their time do do a tour in which it was important to be professionals playing to maybe a few tourists who aren’t diehards; time to enhance the onstage personnel to keep the old faithful awake; time to look like you’re worth what the audience paid – then that is their decision. Everyone’s armchair quarterbacking.
A few more tickets, a little better action at the merch tables, and they could have broken even.
Then everybody would have been hailking them as geniuses. If YOU’RE not willing to buy a backline and put it on your personal credit card, maybe you should STFU.
I agree in parts with Jaycee: loads of avoidable expenses. We had a band on tour in the US last year and we got sponsorship with a motel chain for rooms and one with a van rental company for a van. Also, if you pay your band members a weekly wage why add a PD? PDs were paid by management or labels to band members because the band was seen as promoting a release, a kind of daily allowance. Never heard of hired hands getting PDs. Also on a 28 dates tour, your tickets income seems very low But respect for all you did: it takes guts and belief. I have run a record label in the UK since 1980 (www.flickniferecords.co.uk) and I know how difficult this is especially in the ‘digital age’.
My point is that you can NOT do it all: there will come a point when 24 hours in a day won’t be enough. The last thing you want is the music suffering because you have become jacks of all trades and masters of none.
Best of luck.
I am surprised by your comment about the payment of PDs in the UK.
In my experience the payment of PDs is sacrosanct! A completely normal procedure…
If you are in the regular habit of refusing to pay PDs you must have a bad reputation. Do good people actually work for you?
I don’t remember having a radio ad.
This is pointless. They could have easily profited on this tour if they weren’t trying to live the “rock star” life… If you have a bus/van, you can crash in there cutting hotels OR if you refuse, why not 4 people to a hotel room instead of 2? Right there they would have chopped the cost in half.
If they’ve toured before, what’s with getting road cases? Shouldn’t they already have this? And the backline.. If you’re hiring musicians/have toured already, should they not all have their own equipment?
Seems like they could have squeaked into the black if they were actually trying. Not sure what the point of the article is, or maybe they just want more patreon’s and are trying to guilt us into giving them money.
One problem is that it’s tough to project revenues. You’re seeing this after it’s all done, but they had to plan it all before anything started. So they were uncertain how many tickets they’d actually sell, and they were also unaware of unexpected costs (of course, that’s the thing about surprises, you don’t know about them beforehand).
That’s why you build your budget off of known quantities (show guarantees, sponsorships etc) and build a cushion for some of those unknowns, that’s just reality and pragmatic people do it everyday. Barring a tour sold out via presale, 85% of promoters will go back to your agent two weeks before the date and try to cut your guarantee due to low ticket sales…even in markets where walk up, DOS sales are the norm.
I think one issue no one is addressing is that this is not an established touring act, at all. They are a youtube sensation that has managed to pivot into some other areas. They may appear to be more popular than they are due to their internet presence, but have by no means put in the time to establish themselves as an act that can fill a room, or warrant bigger guarantees. Those are the things that afford the finer things. If they sold out every show, put asses in seats and had people buzzing, I can tell you right now that the promoters would be on the phone with their agent, their guarantees would double along with the room caps.
so you’re saying the internet meme of DIY, don’t need label or any support is bullshit? just “tour and sell t-shirts” and everything is hunky dory?
could have told you that..
“We also knew that once we hit the road, we would be paying our band and crew on a weekly basis. One week of salaries for four musicians and two crew members (front of house engineer and tour manager) cost us $8794. That came out to $43,974 for the tour.”
The band maybe lost 11.819,=, but the bandmembers got 7.329,= each… Pay back the 11.819 and the members (crew not included) still made 4374,25 each… not a bad salary, and no losses at all… and a well paying salary for a crew member…
I thought that at first, but no – when they talk about payments to “the band”, they’re not referring to themselves, the duo at the centre of the tour. They’re referring to the four musicians they hired to tour with them. There’s no fee or wage being paid to the two who incur the $11k loss.
to tell the truth there is nothing I see about that tour false. We toured Canada on a 30 day with guarantees in writing from our label to cover up $25,000.00 cost overag. You know so that we would break even in the worse case scenario. We knew the importance of promoting a record but I Should have read the deal closer. We received a modest ” per night guarantee ” with % of the ticket sales when sales went over 75% of the seat available. Found out later that there was a thing called cross colaterization. There were a number of sellouts but for the venues where the promoter didn’t do his job and we sold less that 75%, in one case 73% that lower% pulled down the sellout $. Long story short with manager/booking agent/business manager percentage and typical touring expenses we ended the tour $22000.00 in the hole. Oh yeah just because a a record label gives you something in writing doesn’t mean they’ll honour it. We had to eat the loss personally
Ian MacKaye would have a field day with this.
I don’t really get all the detracting comments.
I think it’s great that they are sharing this openly. It’s valuable information and an indicator of what the industry is like right now. However they choose to put on a show or however fairly they decide to pay their crew is up to them, and I don’t really think it should be part of the musician mindset to be content to live out of cardboard boxes while on tour. The idea is to improve the overall situation, right?
At any rate, I’m personally a big fan of their music, videos, personality and approach.
Each band member and crew member made $1,465 a week!! There is your problem. Overpaying your talent.
Gross. Take out taxes…don’t forget the SSI and Medicaid being doubled for an independent contractor, insurances, equipment, wear and tear, road food, consumables (bass strings are $50 a set), insurance on your gear.
Some people are crying about the PDs…the standard contract is based on scale or scale and a multiplier, plus a per diem. $20 a day is the bottom of the barrel.
These folks took home about $500 a week, tops.
I’ve been on both sides of the line. I’ll take production crew…at least you’ll be able to eat.
I don’t know what you do for a living but I bet you’d feel underpaid working 16hr days 7 days a week Away from your family for $1465. I certainly wouldn’t do it.
In my experience as a concert promoter hotels and food are provided by the talent buyer. Why is this an expense on your part?
Because most promoters aren’t as gracious as you.
You might be the only promoter I’ve ever heard say that. I could see a hotel for an artist traveling internationally or purely by plane but even so that would still just be factored in and lower the guarantee. Clearly food cost isn’t referring to a buy out or rider. Unless they didn’t get those, most promoters do include a buy or band rider but yet again that is factored into the guarantee.
around here accommodations are provided when you bring in the talent.. not when they are touring.. (of course that can change too)..
Wow. Thanks for sharing!
brilliant guys, thanks for the bottom. When you come to the Netherlands you can park your bus and crash at my gaf.
I don’t hate Jack Conte.
I hate the people who are forwarding me this blog.
What don’t you get about capitalism? The law of supply and demand?
What I hate about artists is the constant bitching, as if the world owed them a living. I’ll go on record once again that I believe in a social safety net, I believe no one should starve, everybody should have a roof over their head, even health care, but no one is entitled to be a successful artist.
But what the internet has wrought is a bunch of sour grapes from people who think someone stole their opportunity, that if only there’d been no online, they’d have a deep-pocketed label to support them, that they’d be rolling in dough.
Let’s start with the audience. Who don’t want to come to your show.
That’s right. The way artist development used to work was there was a series of clubs across the country, which the labels supported. The companies bought drinks and tickets and the venues could survive. But what killed these venues is not the internet so much as people’s lack of desire to attend. They’d rather go hear a deejay. Or go to a sports bar. Going out to hear live music in a club just doesn’t have the pull it once did. Which may flummox those of you on the music treadmill, but get your head out of your rear and look around, most people just don’t care that much about live club music anymore. And don’t blame it on the internet, you can’t steal a show. Then again, the internet is more interesting than most music you make.
But you decide to hit the boards anyway. You record your music, bitching all the while that no one else is paying for it. Wait, let’s stop right here. Now we’ve got crowdfunding sites, so you can raise the money to record. But not a single act has ever broken out of Kickstarter. What I mean is crowdfunding is an echo chamber. You reach your fans, but you reach no more. Probably because most people just aren’t interested. Sorry.
And then you can’t get an agent and no venue wants to book you, and you don’t realize that they too want to get paid, that they too are in business.
But let’s say you get shows via an agent. You want to do it your way, with production and support. I’d like to drive an i8, but I can’t afford one. Furthermore, I’m not presently on a path to afford one. That’s my choice. But I don’t go around bitching the system’s stacked against me, that BMW won’t give me a break, that the world isn’t raining coin into my bank account.
Music is a business. And if you’re not getting rich, give up or change.
So Pomplamoose goes on the road and loses money. Why’d they go on the road to begin with? It says right in the article it’s an investment in their career. Good for them. But to believe labels supported everybody in this way in the past is fallacious. Labels signed very few. And they didn’t support those whose careers weren’t happening. Want to experience bitter? Talk to a baby boomer who was signed to the label. If the label didn’t work it you were dead in the water, there was no YouTube, no social media, no way to cheaply reach your audience. Labels pulled tour support just after rehearsals. You were beholden to the man. You’re yearning for those days?
And Pomplamoose is bitching that they didn’t make any money even though they sold 1129 tickets at the Fillmore in San Francisco.
Please put that in perspective. San Francisco is the 14th most populous city in America, hell, it’s the center of a metropolis with many more people, San Jose is close and even bigger than San Fran, but they could only do one show there?
And then there’s all this claptrap about the million view YouTube clips. They’re novelties! Sing one Pomplamoose song, I dare you! Pomplamoose is Jenna Marbles once removed. Do you hear YouTube queen Ms. Marbles bitching that she can’t make it on the road?
OF COURSE NOT!
Jenna is leveraging what she’s got. And she’s not complaining. Which is pretty good, because her talent is limited.
I’d say the same thing about Pomplamoose. It is the MUSIC business after all. Where’s the music? So Nataly is cute and the videos contagious. OK Go can say the same thing, but I don’t see Damian Kulash bitching. And I hope Damian knows he’s the leader of a cult band, because that’s what OK Go is, and they were once on Capitol!
But Jack goes on how bleak it is for middle class artists.
And he’s right, the middle is getting squeezed. Because everybody has access to the best all the time. Want to bring back the middle? Stop shopping at Amazon, stop going to Wal-Mart. Pay a grand for a flat screen. Drive miles for your music.
I’m not saying times are not challenging. But I am saying let’s look at reality.
With the entire history of recorded music online, you’ve got to be as good as the Beatles and Led Zeppelin or else…most people are not interested. Believe me, if Led Zeppelin reunited they wouldn’t be bitching about money.
And neither does Katy Perry.
And you may say she sucks, but her producer/writer Max Martin does not. He knows how to create a hit. Which you don’t. Sorry.
That’s what I hate about the modern era. The cabal of cretins lamenting the system is stacked against them. It’s an echo chamber of delusion. The same way they used to say the major label was holding them back. It’s fifteen years after Napster. Show me all the great bands who were being held back by the man, they don’t exist. It’s all sour grapes.
But you forward articles about Spotify screwing you.
Everybody’s against you.
You’re a student of the game. You believe since you’re passionate, you deserve not only a chance, but success.
But the truth is everybody wants to play. And the sieve to success is extremely narrow. Because people don’t have time for mediocre, they don’t even have time for good! That’s right, Windows Phone can’t compete with Apple and Android and it’s a very good product, but not good enough!
But you think you are. Since you went to Guitar Center and bought an axe. Because you practiced in your bedroom and spammed everybody on social media.
I’m gonna tell you how it works. And it’s very simple.
It’s all about numbers. You’re either growing or you’re not. Either more people are consuming your art or they’re not. If you’re on the growth curve, you have the option of continuing, of even starving in the pursuit of your dream. But most people are not growing, they’re only bitching.
Evolve or die.
Ever think you weren’t destined to be a musician? That you’d be better off at the tech company? That if you hate your service job you’ve got to educate yourself and do something different?
Why does everybody believe they’re entitled to do everything?
Why does everybody have a chip on their shoulder?
Why is it that anybody who breaks through is the enemy, helped by the unseen machine?
Instead of tearing everybody else down, crying alone in your beer, why don’t you build yourself up.
That’s right, no one’s holding you back but yourself.
If you’re as great as you think you are, you’ll succeed. On what level? Who knows!
Maybe this is as big as Pomplamoose gets. Maybe the act has already peaked. Like PSY but on a smaller level. Maybe this tour document isn’t an explanation of middle class musicianship but the dying throes of someone who eluded the mainstream.
If you’re not a successful artist it’s your fault.
Over and out.
The person that I see bitching is YOU!
The person with a chip on his shoulder the size of Texas is YOU!
You are an ugly mean-spirited shithead.
And that is your fault!
“Ever think you weren’t destined to be a musician?”
What makes you think you were destined to be a human being? You ugly toe-rag….
I think Lob’s art knowledge ended at finger painting in elementary school.
OMG, I was going to say, “Calm down. This is just a brilliant, elaborate parody of a known and self-appointed pundit.”, but lo and behold, I went to that site which shall not be named, and it’s an actual, for realz column by the putz in question.
My jaw is in the floor.
Bob Lefsetz is an American music industry analyst and critic, and author of the email newsletter and blog, the Lefsetz Letter. The newsletter has tens of thousands of subscribers. Wikipedia
Born: April 22, 1953 (age 61)
Education: Middlebury College
What it doesn’t say on Wikipedia is that he’s a fat c**t who deserves a colossal kicking for his ugly mean spirited assault on people who have bands and make music in today’s complicated music biz environment.
He knows nothing. Zero. A self-appointed ugly bastard Rush Limbaugh character who has no place in these discussions.
Ok, we get you’re a the ultimate Pomplamoose fanboy. Because as much as this post sounds bitter, the guy nails many valid points. That kind of reality check isn’t bad from time to time…
Hey wise guy!
1. I am not a big fan of Pomplamoose – I just don’t like to read totally unfair bullying by fat c**ts like Bob “Rush Limbaugh” Lefsetz. I protest!
2. Please list these numerous “valid points” that you perceive in Lefstz’s pompous and ugly rant (that you agree is needlessly bitter).
3. What is your explanation for Lefsetz’s psychotic bitterness?
I dont see bullying here. I think he took that “bitter” tone because he must be pissed to see always the same complains… He took that Pamplamoose blog post as a starting point, but all his “rant” can be addressed to a lot of things happening in the music business today. I don’t need to enumerate what points he makes. The overall post sounds right on spot to me. Yes, he’s born before the “everyone is unique, everyone is beautiful” era, so he may sound harsh to people too much used to a politically correct way of telling things…
The bullying was in smearing Pomplamoose with a litany of bitter complaints which had no connection with the on-the-whole pretty reasonable post of Jack Conte.
I repeat please list the “valid” points in Lefsetz’s rant. If you can’t do that then you are completely talking out of your ass.
And furthermore please list the points in Lefsetz’s rant that specifically apply to Conte’s post. I bet you can’t do this – because there are none.
Defending the indefensible. You are.
Dude, I’m not going to lose my time educating you. You’re free to believe the hype. Those who can understand will have a better music career than you. End of story.
I don’t believe any hype.
All I know is that you don’t know what the f**k you’re talking about.
Musical career? You have no musical career whatsoever. Zero.
steveh is boring.
Interesting article and replies, Do not know how much truth there is in it; made me look up a band that I have never heard of before, so nice move!
This is not the full story. First, uncontrolled “free market” does not lead to uniquivocal good. Furthermore, this is not even a “free market” in music, because it is lawless; music is pirated and stolen without consequence. That must be corrected before we can even evaluate supply and demand for one’s music. You cannot know what people are willing to pay for music if they are able (and morally unscrupulous) enough to easily steal it.
Nobody is “stealing” the music of bands this size, so the piracy bogey man is irrelevant to this discussion.
Totally agree with this. the people who are pissed off about Lob’s response sound like typical band douches.
“The loss was an investment in future tours…. We knew it would be an expensive endeavor, and we still chose to make the investment.”
Pretty much sums it up for me. Without that investment (particularly in the backing band), it seems they would have made a solid but modest profit. There’s no reason to get mad at the band for “mistakes,” nor any reason to get mad at the current economics of touring. Interesting look nonetheless.
Jesus christ dude, you’re such a piece of shit. I finally listened to some of your “music” the other day it was horrible. You’re just like the last delusional Canadian who came on this site; there is not some conspiracy against you. You just haven’t made it because your music fucking sucks. Period.
Regarding the bullshit you just spewed, neither I nor Paul said artists SHOULD get on stage with no bands. We both said explicitly or inferred that it works for some people and doesn’t for others. You want a band? Great! You want lights? Great! You want the greatest fucking live spectacle the world has ever seen? Awesome! But if you’re going to end up in the hole, maybe wait a tour, or save more money. Or, like this band did, expect it and have a plan. I take no issue with this article because they did it for a specific choice. Not once did I say they were right or wrong.
You even said it yourself about your show. If the money isn’t there, you don’t do it. Too bad you’re too busy being a psychotic fucking lunatic to relax for a minute and see that we were basically saying the same exact thing.
For the record, this comment was directed to the resident lunatic, Justin Mayer, whose rant Paul has graciously deleted.
He reminds me of another delusional ranting Canuck who disappeared from this site….Of Yves, what has become of you???
just to be clear..
Not ALL Canadians are crazy.. (well.. maybe a little bit)
so the moral of the story is: don’t spend money like idiots. you did not need to stay in a hotel room every night with a 42 foot van. seriously?
I think it’s encouraging they made as much as they did. If they had more confidence in their material, which seems to be electronic music, they would’ve passes on hiring a band — their biggest expense. Why the concern about “putting on a crazy rock show” if that’s not really what you’re about artistically?
Although there were many things well calculated and that make sense in terms of cost, with the amount you spent on rentals alone, you could have purchased a van and trailer. Most blue collar artists at least have their own vehicles. I would consider reducing your rental cost dramatically in the next run, if you can even afford to go back on tour after this…Too much staff in my opinion. I think the bands needs to learn how to manage much of their own affairs until it makes financial sense. I commend them for going out there with a go big or home home strategy, but damn.. let’s not put the carriage before the horse…
thanks for the article and the comments – like most things reality is found in the middle //
now go here! http://www.matt-charles.com
Shouldn’t your agent be negotiating accomms? Are you getting percentages on the back end when a concert is profitable?
Shoulda crowdsourced accomodation… couch surfing is a great way to your and with that many bodies and that many nights, it seems like you could have turned it in to a profit if that one thing were sorted out. Could have even paid someone $500 to arrange it all for you, because that is a time consuming thing… Maybe its something to consider in the future. Im sure lots of fans would have had a couch or spare room.
So… let’s be real here. Bro who runs a company with millions & millions & millions of dollars in VC funding is complaining about a tour he pretty much booked in order to purposely overspend to make the point that touring profitably is hopeless & the only way you can really make money is through the company that he funded.
*company that he founded
who the hell are these bands?!!!
lol this is the exact band that internet denizens tout as their diy “success” story…
sorry internet, your memes are bullshit.
Didn’t you read the article? They make 2 videos per month & get $5,000 for each, & then another $5,000 from digital sales. That’s $15,000 per month without touring, & they pay themselves $2,500 ea salary.
I agree that they’re a novelty act with no demonstrated ability to write a hit song, but there are a lot of acts doing things the old fashioned way who would kill for that kind of income.
This isn’t a band with a van or even road cases. You have to guess that they hit some of these markets for the first time & sold a few hundred tickets. That leaves a lot of room for growth. And this could’ve been a very profitable tour if they were willing to sacrifice some & make some smarter business decisions. Most bands who aren’t DIY success stories couldn’t afford to do the tour they did.
Great work ethic. are you meeting enough other young hardworking bands as you go?
I wonder how many people commenting on this with such conviction, one way or the other, are actually in the music industry or have a shred of actual knowledge/experience about such things. My guess, very few, and you can tell from the lingo in the comments. Lots of armchair quarterbacks and keyboard warriors.
Interesting to see how the money funnels through all different ways.
That is why you need a proper ball busting manager. So you don’t end up paying this kind of ridiculous and stupid money when smart negotiation and symbiotic co-operation would have done it for half. This band seem like good people so their ability to garner goodwill is there. At the other end of things it is that honesty and keen naivety that had got them mugged big time.
Coming late to this discussion, I am bemused by some of the bile poured out by previous commenters, the gist of which is that Pomplamoose could have cut their costs. Well, maybe they could, but let’s look at some of the main suggestions:
a) they needn’t have booked hotels, because they could have slept in the van. Really? If it wasn’t a tour bus equipped with sleeping accommodation, this would probably be unacceptable to the crew and musicians. Or they could have slept 4 to a room instead of 2. Apparently sleeping only 2 to a room is ‘living the rock star life’.
b) they could have crowdsourced accommodation from fans. Really? For the crew and musicians as well?
c) they could have done without the supporting musicians. Well, that’s an artistic decision. If a band has a drummer as a regular member, would you say they should tour without the drummer to save costs?
d) they should have bought their vehicle and equipment instead of renting. Really? For most acts who don’t tour frequently, rental makes more sense. A total cost of $24,450 for renting van, trailer, and various equipment for over a month doesn’t seem exorbitant. You couldn’t buy it for that price, and if you did, you would have the non-trivial problem of parking and storage afterwards.
e) they should have toured without their 2-person crew (engineer and tour manager). Really? It’s not exactly U2 is it?
f) they should have paid the musicians and crew less. The musicians and crew would have had some comments about that.
I dare say that by shaving costs here and there they could have come out of this financially better and maybe broken even. But I don’t think the total cost is either unusual or unreasonable. I suggest the real problem is the low ticket revenue, which implies an average audience in the low hundreds (the San Francisco gig must be an outlier). But an average audience from the low hundreds to a thousand or so is probably what most ‘middle-class’ musicians can expect. Musicians are constantly lectured by tech people and self-appointed music industry pundits that ‘the money is all in touring’. But when a moderately well-known act like Pomplamoose provide evidence to the contrary, they are mocked and insulted by buffoons like Lefsetz.
Well said. There isnt really profit unless you stay super small or rise super big. The overhead of touring is always expensive and while you certainly can cut costs the trade off is comfort and show dynamics. Youre either getting 10 k. + a show or youre sleeping in a van. There is little in between. The thing is also the more established, the more money is spent. The death of the physical product is real.
You guys should definitely rent a nightliner!
I think there is a very real issue here that is relevant across al lart forms…not just music. This band spent a lot of time and energy to provide an experience for an audience that they are seeking to deepen and broaden their relationship with. Therefore dropping 50K on additional band. Many of these posts were arguing the viability of this move. What it comes down to is how do you determine the intrinsic impact of seeing these msuciians with a band (experience A) or seeing just the duo (experience b). How likely is an audience member to continue to spend money on tickets on future tours if they had experience a or experience b. There is almost no research on the intrinsic impact of an audience members experience and their liklihood to enjoy the experience agian, but thanks to Alan Brown, the emtrics are being worked on….. but for now its still a gamble between savviness and hope.
im putting together a show slated for 7/2015. and its gonna cost a bundle…but i am picking up the cost of motels..meals..back line…stage..lights…sound..and everything else…why didn’t they get the promoter to pick up the tab and just charge a flat rate per show? maybe im missing something here
I think you’ll have better luck next tour now that you been exposed, Cheers!
The stupidity of this band….as a band manager for an exercise I showed one of my bands how 30 minutes of online negotiations could save on accommodation costs….I contacted a major American Hotel chain…and told them we were a UK band touring throughout the US, we would require 4 rooms for 35 nights to include a weeks rehearsal time…. could they arrange a room rate if we were to use their chain for the entire tour…I got the rate down to $40 per room per night for the entire tour…including New York, Chicago, LA (those were the only cities that I could confirm I told them, and they still quoted the $40 per room for those cities as well)..the hotel bill of $5600 for the 35 nights and complimentary breakfast thrown in…. wow…a reduction of $6216…. they also suggested writing to the chairman of the chain for sponsorship and gave me his direct telephone line and email address….
I hear this story all the time!!!! Drives me crazy,I have helped Indie artists with tour support for 20 years. Ignorance is their biggest enemy, Partnering with Awesome organizations that help the people on our planet ,we have given over 100 Million Dollars to artists JUST LIKE THESE GUYS!! Livemusic
That’s America folks… In Europe it is mostly unimaginable that gig organisers don’t manage artist accomodation (hotel, hostel or private acommodation) …
It is funny that a long time ago we artists thought that America is a dream for musicians. Over the years we found out that it is exactly opposite and that most of the bands even have to pay to play… LOL 😀
Not to say that you can easily life from music in Europe, it is still VERY hard work but some things are definitely better and easier here… Also found out that a lot of acts from USA actually come play to Europe to earn some money, when in USA they earn nothing and they are fairly popular acts… Nonsense…
Wake up USA and respect your artists!
Here is my point: If they don’t do math, I’m sorry!
All business do a plan to get profit, If they don’t know any about accounting to know calculate all costs and create a price for the tickets that comprehend all costs and give them a margin to earn something, they are fools!
It’s a lie, not body do bussines to get loss.
Price must comprehend all costs and a margin for prevent loss.
Sorry, this guys sucks
Being a musician is not a solid career move, starting a band is not a solid investment. These truths haven’t ever changed. I gave up music a while back and the decision was purely financial.
No artist should feel entitled, the guy who wrote this article doesn’t come off as such, simply yet another attempt to remind music lovers to GET OUT THERE AND SUPPORT the music they love, otherwise it will fade out.
Exactly, thats the crux of this piece, artists are undervalued and need to be paid more Ticket prices need to reflect this.
I don’t think the maths are totally correct here since they are ignoring the performance royalty income for those shows. I am pretty sure that in the end they shouldn’t have any loss at all, or are they not writing their sonngs by themselves? Or did they just perform covers ? Or aren’t their songs controlled at all, either through a publisher or at least a PRO?
Huh? Where do you think the royalty income would come from? The royalty fairy?
Nobody factors potential publishing performance income from live shows into tour accounts.
For a start the income takes at least a year to18 months to come through.
Secondly it’s not very predictable.
And thirdly it’s all dependent on who composed the songs and how the shares were divided up.
Indeed it could be said that any tour management company that factored in performance income was engaging in malpractice.
This is a little ridiculous. I toured full time for 4 years as a tour manager. Most nights the bands I worked for played to less than 200 people. Even still, we had some (definitely less than half) tours where we came home profitable (barely). A few things:
1) $20 per diem is incredibly generous. I’ve done tours on $7 per diem. Also, any tour of this size will have either catering or food buyout (venue gives band money to buy their own dinner). I realize some bands consider per diems part of their salary, but it’s definitely possible to spend less per day.
2) Hotel every night? Can’t crash with friends a couple nights on tour? I’ve done month-long tours where we slept in the van every night.
3) How much musical equipment could you possibly need to rent? And you own neither a van nor trailer? I could see not owning one, but both? A trailer is a very simple, one time expense (with low maintenance costs) that will last for years.
4) Tolls and gas are the worst. I feel ya. But parking? Most venues I’ve worked (including numerous HOB) all provide parking for their bands. In 4 years, I could probably count on both hands the number of times we had to pay for parking.
Touring is expensive, grueling, exhausting, tons of fun and making money on it is EXTREMELY difficult. I just think that some of these expenses are either exaggerated or were unnecessary/could have been avoided.
Invalid argument. This article is about a cover band, not a music industry band. No one pays to go to a concert to hear another band’s songs.
I don’t know much about them, I just looked them up on Wiki and checked a few YouTube vids. As I understand it, they are best known for their cover versions, but also have original material. Their ‘USP’ is the quirky ingenuity of their cover versions. It’s not to my taste, some people must like them, because they have millions of YT views and about half a million subscribers to their channel. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen them mentioned from time to time in online discussion as examples of how the internet empowers artists and enables them to bypass traditional gatekeepers!
Sorry, my head just exploded…a cover band grossing $4k per show?
Cover bands make that every day. And way more. Wedding bands, corporate bands, tribute bands. They don’t get that from clubs. and most all don’t tour. This band is doing well. Reaching lots of folks. Sold out the Fillmore-that’s good. Losing money=bad. Maybe they will increase sales from the tour and ultimately profit. But it’s a risk. I’m a musician. I wouldn’t do what they did. I wouldn’t risk losing that kind of money to tour. I stay at home, and I make money on my gigs. I’ve played the Fillmore too, and I will also remember it the rest of my life. I didn’t sell any tickets, I was the supporting act. I made 100.00 I thought I was underpaid till I read this article….now I feel better.
I think that these guys are on the right track. OF COURSE, AMERICA IS HARD and we live in a hard earned society or smart earned. Yes, the people who are trying to enter the music industry and are not a part of the “elite” have to struggle to prove themselves. However, for those who are “haters” and want to crush these guys’ dreams, those people are naysayers and will never even come close to where you guys have made it while making it. Yes, like “Jay-Z” he spent years collecting followers. If your message is clear and the people agree and start chanting your words, then before long you will have enough followers to set your own prices and own your own stages. It takes time but I appreciate any musician who tries hard to get above the point of being always in the black. The desire to demand your price for your presence will soon be fulfilled. Keep going… I will never forget the words of “Lil-Wayne” and I loved them. He said “I will NOT stop” and he meant that he will keep creating more. I will never forget even for myself. I went into a coffee shop and played music on the piano but I only played one song. The whole idea from this story is this one point. The people loved me and did not want me to stop playing. If I had enough material to make a long enough show, I might have walked out of there with some cash. That’s how things work in the world. So don’t let anyone discourage you. Sometimes a loss is not really a loss, but you just came close. We all have to pay our dues before we end our time where we have to lose to win. So many metaphors come to mind. “Pay the cost, to be the boss” If we are in a domain that is “territory” to those who create the stage, we pay to use it at first and then in the better end, we own and draw interest from the domain we once embarked upon. Just like a church person would say “Harvesting Souls”. That’s what people are doing when their music is enchanting enough to play back in peoples’ minds and hearts. LOVE!
I believe its an investment… just like all other business endeavor..some are winner$ and some are not.. keep trying if your goal is money..
Don’t see any mention of the Lefsetz back and forth, but here’s Jack Conte’s response: https://medium.com/@jackconte/bob-lefsetz-published-accusations-about-my-integrity-4a6d03bb099d
As opposed to anyone else eking out a living on their own? If you wanted to make it big you’d be a fat black chick with a 3 note range and a crazy boyfriend who beats you. Dues to be paid, yo.
These figures are very typical of bands doing these sort of ticket sales at these sort of venues. Seen it all over the world TM’ing bands of this level. Good luck to them and I will continue to work my ass off for quality artists, quite often with little rest and not much pay but whay we deliver, every night, makes it more than worthwhile. Enjoy the show people.
One week of salaries for four musicians and two crew members (front of house engineer and tour manager) cost us $8794
So they were paying themselves close to $1500 a week on tour…no wonder they ended up in the red!
Joe Walsh alluded to the “sea change” in how musicians make a living nowadays on “Daryls House” tonight. There are some stars that do great in the money department, but for every 1 of them there is a thousand that just get by or fail (financially) every day.
Which is no different than it’s ever been. The only difference now is we have 1000 more hacks and shitty wannabes with all sorts of soapboxes to stand on thanks to the internet.
The four musicians are additional to the two members of the duo. I don’t think they have counted a salary for themselves.
So by looking at it, we see that the hired musicians earn more than the band?
Any actual DIY band would know that this is complete bullshit.
The only member of Pink Floyd that made any money out of ‘The Wall’ tour was the recently fired Richard Wright who got paid as a session musician. And they were one of the biggest bands in the world.
I had never heard of Pomplamoose before this article, and I have listened to some of their stuff. I liked it, but would I pay to watch them live? Nope, but I cannot fault them for pursuing their dream, and I don’t understand those that do.
Never heard of Pamplemousse or whatever they are called. I’m a musician who has been playing with bands for a while, and I think that the Jack guy is a moron! What stupid costs he has paid. $50,000 for a band???? Were they gold plated? Paying people very good money AND giving them twenty dollars for food every day???? What are they doing with their wages? It’s up to him if he wants to put a ‘vanity tour’ on but don’t whine and winge about how much it cost you. Absolute joke of a business model he has going on!
This is flat out ridiculous.
If you work through these numbers, you’ll get to 200 dollars per member/day, 20 dollars buyout on top, and an average of 3500 dollar-fee per show. You are spoiled.
You think $220 a day (24/7) for a skilled person is a lot? When did you last hire a plumber?
Sorry to be a spoil sport but if at the end of the “tour” your minus $11+k you’re not “making it” for very much longer.
How do you not have cases for your gear?
Can you even buy a decent guitar these days and not get a soft case?
Spent 1200 last week on a Taylor and it came with a Taylor hard shell.
That sounds like a buncha BS…like you don’t have gig bags.
( $2-300 value on shell )
Also while I understand it’s all about the Tube, but how many of
Your viewers are even old enoug to drive? Goto a show? Way less then half be my guess.
Good post tho, I know what band not to see
I don’t know, I can’t help thinking that if they hadn’t lived such a spoiled lifestyle on the road, what with hotel rooms, paychecks and such, that they were kind of asking for it. What was wrong with sleeping in the van occasionally? And let’s face it, if they paid themselves every week then THEY as individuals made money…..
A bed at night = “spoiled”.
Exactly how degraded a lifestyle for musicians and performers would satisfy you???
If I had to eat all day on $20 without a kitchen to work in, things would be difficult.
I once paid the Cramps’ tab at a shitty diner in Philly. Probably my biggest contribution to the arts.
The sleeping in the van thing can work, especially for younger performers (ha). But it’s difficult when a lot of people are involved and the tour is long.
Perhaps a smaller group could pull it off: I just saw a trio from New Zealand performing down in San Diego, with acoustic guitars and not much equipment.
Amanda Palmer would also advocate sleeping at fans houses, though who knows if that makes sense for an outfit like Pomplamoose. Sometimes it’s nice to just hit the pillow and be thankful there isn’t more than one roommate.
This article does make things sound grim for this band. But in all honest there is so many expenses they could have cut. Its always easier to cut costs then it is to sell more tickets or merch. If you go through each expense section theres literally tens of thousands of dollars they could have saved. First of all renting anything for the road is a bad investment. You’re going to tour more then once right? Buying a trailer and a fuel efficient SUV to tow it. Not only will you save thousands on the rental – you save thousands in gas and parking- if you disconnect the trailer. Rent a backline everywhere they go ? What?? They could have easily saved 10 grand just in the production section. Then they list food in the per diem column and the lodging section. And two people a room is alittle grandiose for an up and coming band four per room is more like it.. Most emerging bands are lucky to be even staying in a hotel. And then skipping down to the 48k in Salaries and Per Diems. This is the most ridiculous part. To my calculations the band and a three person staff would receive around 7k in per diems for the tour. Where did the other 41k go? What salaries? Are they paying a tour manager and roadies 41k for 28 days on the road. If they are they’re insane.
It’s really actually quite simple to book a profitable tour. You decide which regions you want to tour through and how long you want to be out on the road. Then you calculate you costs, gas, lodging, per diem, salaries and commissions – Then you book the tour to at MINIMUM cover the expenses in GUARANTEES ! And you look at merch and sponsorships as your primary source of income. This band is grossly mismanaged. This band should have made a minimum of 20k on this tour pure net. Sorry for the grammatical errors this is a massive rant.
Dear God you’re all idiots… You guys have absolutely no idea what an average tour in the good old USA pays out nor have any of you participated in anything that resembles one. Pay less? WTF are you talking about I’m paid to tour as a FOH Mixer and I can assure you that most of us don’t leave the house for less than $3500 per week. Per Diem is always $35-$65 per day period and no one shares a room.
You expect a certain level of stimulation both audibly and visually for your ticket price and what the article describes is the bare minimum.
Oh and the last comment regarding “guarantees” ha that’s a laugh and that doesn’t happen at the level being discussed. If it was as simple as you make it sound then everyone in the industry I work in daily would be without worry and flush with cash. It takes a ton of money to make a pound of profit.
Spot on post, sir.
Yes he problem is that the “idiots” you are referring to have never toured on a normal professional level.
You have, and what you say is 100% correct.
The information you give, while mostly correct, is not applicable to this band.
1) I know plenty of well qualified FOH Engineers that will go out for significantly less than $3500 per week, while working for bands that draw 500-1000 per night.
2) Paying $35-65 per diem is incredibly generous. I toured for a year on $7 per diem. I don’t recommend it, but it is possible, particularly if the venue is providing catering or a buyout (which they should be).
3) I don’t understand your statement regarding guarantees. I toured for 4 years in total and never did I work for a band that drew more than 200 people per night. Despite that, we had a guarantee 80% of the time. Guarantees should be a certainty when these shows are much larger than 200 people and should also include a backend deal.
4) I once did a 14 week run during which I slept in my own bed twice, a hotel room 6 times, and someone’s house 10-15 times. Every other night I slept in a 15 passenger van, along with the 5 band members and a merch guy. Yes it sucked, but it meant we saved tons of money on tiny tours and came home with a PROFIT(gasp). If this band simply couldn’t sleep in a van (I bet it was a sprinter van, which is luxurious compared to an econoline) they could have rented a BandWagon RV (or similar) which comes with a trailer. That would have been roughly $10k for the full tour and sleeps 8 people (plus has a fridge which allows for groceries, which saves $$$).
There are many, many different levels of touring bands. I’m sure this band had great intentions, but their expenses were simply out of control for their draw. If these were the numbers for a band pulling in 2000+ people per night and selling more than $1100 per show (a bit low if you ask me) in merch, then it would be a different story. But these are the numbers for a band that didn’t know what it means to sacrifice and grind it out on the road. You gotta crawl before you walk and you gotta eat PB&J 6 days in a row before you drop $12 on dinner every night.
I was simply trying to defend the article rather than talk about what costs they could have shaved by showing what is commonplace in the industry. Lots of qualified FOH guy’s do leave the house for far less than I described but ask any of them if they plan on staying at that rate. One man’s suffering is another’s heaven and what I stated is what you can expect working with any successful artist in the US. My response was directed at the comments and like other professionals I should have kept my opinions regarding idiots on the web to myself.
You really couldn’t be more wrong man. I’ve booked tours for groups at a much lower level then these guys and book almost exclusively booked guarantees. Its all about willingness to play less then glamorous venues in little towns. Everyone wants to play the biggest venues in the biggest towns of course your not going to get a guarantee there. And $35 to $65 a day for a stipend… You need to have your head checked… A band at this level should be looking at $20 a day tops. And as for you FOH mixer haha. That would be one of the first things this band would need to cut. A band at this level needs to have a Road Manager that can do FOH double duty. Dude… Your living in a dream world. I’ve toured at this level and I’ve booked for bands that tour at this level. You have to eat shit and wear alot of hats. Or you can just sit there and scream I need a FOH guy and a dozen roadies and my own bed and a steak dinner every night. SURE it can happen but not if you want to make a living. Stick to your faders FOH Boy you don’t know the first thing about doing business.
I think you missed my point by not reading all the arm chair quarterbacks comments on this one. I’m sorry if my thirty plus years of doing this at every level including “sharing rooms” offended someone like yourself. I never stated that they should have paid more per diem (which is what the entire world calls it btw) but rather wanted to show that they are already shaving costs by comparison. FOH/Tour Mgr very common place at the level discussed and your comments lead me to believe you are still working on improving your position. Am I wrong to say you would hope to achieve something beyond “making it”? I can assure you it’s not an imaginary dreamland and I hope you find most of my numbers rather conservative when you arrive.
We can all agree that an investment is different than a loss, right?
Conte was very clear in the management of his expectations.
He invested in the show he wants to stage. KISS could have cut back on the blood packs, too, but a larger concept was at work. Shocking that no one reads this with an eye toward self-actualizing artist development.
I tried to put it concisely, FWIW:
Dear Jack Conte, I’m Sorry No One Read Your Article Correctly
…Because what you did is pretty cool, Lefsetz notwithstanding.
I agree with you, but why do you even give Lefsetz the time of day?
Why even mention him?
That article he wrote was the worst thing I’ve read about the modern music scene in a long time.
Lefsetz should be hounded out of any position of respect. Simply awful….
I very much appreciate the article.
Self-funding is supremely brave given the risks and all that can go wrong. And I agree, it is a harbinger of the new music economy to be sure.
I have a different plan. My scheme is to work the day job until I can afford to retire. Then put on modest shows/tours etc. Problem is, I’ll be at least 50 until that can happen (plan is to be debt free and have enough cash to live on and no I don’t have a trust fund or any inheritance coming).
And yes there is an obvious problem… in media terms and in terms of popular culture, 50 is 30 years too old to get anywhere no matter how good the songs and performances are.
But here’s the kicker, I won’t care. I’ll be fine financially, I won’t have to worry about draw, I won’t have to sweat the parking space fees if I stay reasonable.
Perhaps this is a most naiive idea. No matter. Should be a great way to ride off into the sunset.
A comment from left field: the main problem in the music biz is that there are just too many bands and artists out there. It’s all white noise. I have never heard of your group until this article, and you seem relatively popular. It’s not just you, I subscribe to numerous music mags, guitar mags, etc and every issue of every mag has features and interviews of popular groups that I have never heard of at all. Just as the world is too over-populated so is the music biz. Now that the gate-keepers are gone it’s oversaturated and every body and their cousin has music on the internet, CDs, web-pages, etc. No quality control has led to both good and bad. The good news is that now anyone can do it. The bad news is that now anyone can do it.
wow so 50 grand spread around lots of people doesn’t sound like alot of money but hey they got to be rock stars and didn’t lose money, I guess that means something.
Been there done that and LONG before digital downloading was even a dream. Sorry to read the result.
Best of Luck to this hard working act. I hope they get what they deserve. Hard work does pay off!
Hopefully exposure from the tour will result in music and merch sales for them in the future.
the money is in publishing. write songs that people want to cover and you will never be in the red again.
(formerly of Chappell Music)
I agree. I have friends in an indie band, and I’ve followed them for close to 10 years now. They did the sleeping in the van thing, friends’ homes thing, etc. No light and soundboard rentals b/c they are basically a two piece with an add-on drummer and sometimes a bassist. I’ve only seen them with “tour support” once b/c their label insisted on it (they are with a large indie label). They also have different off-tour gigs: one is a writer and the other plays in various bands.
But I believe they have a decent chunk of change coming from liscensing deals. I’ve heard their music in TV commercials for large corporations, premium channel TV series as well as major network TV shows. Shoot, I even heard them on the Marshall’s over-the-speaker radio and I started dancing in the aisles saying “hey, those are my friends!” to every passer-by-shopper.
If you’re music is good enough that it tells a story someone or some company can identify with, you can have some descent cash flow and eventually be able to afford a Best Western hotel without having to charge it to the card.
FAKE tour, FAKE article- all to promote Conte’s business. Don’t believe me, look it up! http://junkee.com/the-six-sneakiest-viral-campaigns-that-tricked-you-in-2014/47267/6
Speaking as an indie artist who has toured with my band extensively for the last decade, this article is for the most part BS. The guy is obviously trying to sell a sob story to try and convince his fans (or whoever) that his band isn’t making money on the road. Maybe he thinks this will rationalize why he can continue to ask for funds on his (not-so-subtly advertised) funding site? I don’t know. Point is, it ain’t like that.
The expenses are ridiculous – $26,450 for production expenses for a 24 show tour? Are you kidding me? I get it, you want to bring lights, but unless you’re KISS, this is absurd. And don’t tell me you don’t have road cases yet. If you’re this popular of a band, you’ve toured before.
$17,589 for hotels, and food??? Again, absurd. I’ve been in a 6-piece with a roadie/driver on a month long tour and we didn’t come within a third of this. If you’re staying at Best Western every night, you really shouldn’t be in a band trying to make it anyway (IMHO). Just the fact that you would choose an $85 Best Western over a $40 Motel 6 (avg. western U.S. prices…they fluctuate throughout the country, but Best Western is always about double the price of Motel 6) tells me that right off the bat, you really aren’t touring to try and make money. Also, if you’re at the level they are as a band, you will have ample opportunity to crash with the occasional fan here and there and save your nut on the motel expense. Fans love to put you up for the night, this is guaranteed. And worst case scenario, get a motel room for your hired bandmates and then man-up and sleep in the van a few nights if you have. You’re trying to make money, right?
$11,816 – Gas. Yes, gas is unavoidable.
$5,445 – Insurance. Debatable. Totally depends on what venues you’re booking yourself into. I won’t argue this one though.
$48,094 – Salaries and per diems? This one really made me laugh. You’re paying 4 people roughly $12,000 a piece to go out on the road with you for ONE MONTH???? um, where do I sign up?
The merch and commission costs, yes, they’re there, but merch is also inventory…meaning, what you don’t sell on the tour, you can still sell at home shows or online. So that has to be factored in.
I’m not saying it doesn’t cost a hell of a lot of money to go on tour, but if you have a somewhat savvy business-head, a good work ethic, and any kind of DIY ethos, it’s absolutely nothing like how this guy explains it in this article. Good luck, kiddies!
As a musician going to ACM this article was a little scary to read. It never occurred to me until this year that going “on tour” could mean losing money. It’s a little freaky to think about really. But as off-putting as this article can seem, it is also a great resource to use for other artists planning their own tours. Although they might have lost $11,000 at least these guys are living their dream and doing what they love.
A good article….. Real world, down to earth and SHOULD provide some insight for the “youngsters” starting out in music.(I’m meeting WAY too many kids who think that music will provide them a meal ticket…. I hate to be a wet-blanket, but I’ve seen way too many really talented people just barely getting by).
I did post a link on our local CL musicians page with the following intro:
For all you “artists” out here going to make music a career…..
A good… “Real world” scenario (In fact I would call this “best case scenario)…
So.. pursue your dream (at all costs), but have a “marketable” skill to get you through the lean times (and there will be a LOT of lean times)…. (ie… Stay/Study in school… THEN go nuts with music)
Music is becoming a glorified hobby..for everyone. If touring doesn’t yield profits, if merch doesn’t yield profits, and if streaming/downloads don’t yield profits, then what have you? No one can perpetually pay out of pocket, lose money and expect to keep food on the table.
Can someone explain this to me? They made $97k as their cut of ticket sales from 24 shows
It sounds like they sold about 1000 tix per show
That’s like $4 they get from each ticket, which I’m guessing cost the punters about $50 each
Where the F does the rest of it go, straight to the venue?
I think it’s great that you’re openly sharing the breakdown of your tour expenses. It’s important information for anyone interested in being a part of a tour and indicates what the current touring industry is like. As the blogger for TourReady (www.tourready.com) – an online database that connects hiring personnel to specialized crew for concerts, tours, and festivals – we are constantly speaking with crew and hiring managers on what it takes to be successful on the road. That’s why we added a budget specification filter on TourReady, so hiring managers can search for and hire crew based on their pay rate to ensure that the tour stays within budget.
Though many other comments complain about overspending on certain parts of the budget, it is a great learning opportunity for anyone that wants to get on the road and be successful.
I have never heard of the band or anyone in the band.
How can ticket sales only be $97,519?
You had 24 shows, so $4063 per show? Assuming a meager $30 per ticket on a average, you played for 135 people every show? That’s lesser than the number of people attending my Professor’s lecture.
Very good article! I am in a band as well, and yes, people think musicians make alot of money…NOT!!…But we do have lots of fun…lots of overheard….just like you state….Our band, Lil Elmo and The Cosmos, we play many Casinos in Las Vegas…but the band lives in three different states…so when we play…lets say…Laughlin Nevada…we have to cover gas from the guys who live in Los Angeles….Las Vegas and Arizona….so whats left after that….just able to make 100 dollars a night! So it is hard work for not much money…but…MUCH BETTER THAN A 9-5 JOB…STILL! LOL
Keep Going Guys, You’re an Inspiration. Peace
Checked them out – damn, hipsters with a toy piano and a whiny chick? I thought this cliche was old and tired. Guess not.
Besides, like they said earlier in the article, they make money off hipster welfare (Pateron) which for those who don’t know, it’s like kickstarter, where you beg, but in this case, you leave your begging up and people sign up to give you money every month.
If you lack pride in yourself and what you do, it’s an easy way to clean up. For most of us though, it’s pretty hard to just beg all the time.
Write a good song.
$48K for insurance? Lose it. The business is most likely a corporation which limits personal liability. Secondly, a business without insurance and assets never gets sued as there’s nothing for lawyers to recoup in a suit that doesn’t pay out. And renting gear? EVERYTHING can be found on Craigslist for pennies on the dollar and you have equity in it. You can sell it later getting back your investment; if you’re patient you could turn a profit. All of this in addition to using all of the other good advice to save money here and the band could have turned $60K-$70K profit easily.
Sorry I misread. They put the expenses if front of it’s heading??? Still, almost $5K? another five grand in your pocket.
I read the whole article, but I skipped in the long amount of comment. I have a simple question that only needs a simple response.
Since bands are formed to create music, but I’ve heard that a lot of them protect themselves by incorporation (like an LLC) wouldn’t they be able to write off a majority of the expenses they incur on tour? Like shouldn’t they be able to deduct the cost of gas, lodging, sound techs, promotional costs, back line, etc…? I’m not in any type of band (touring or otherwise) but I have owned and LLC and there is a large amount of things that cost you money up front that can be written off at the end of the year as business expenses. I don’t mean to reduce the creative process of making music to a line item deduction, but isn’t this creating a “corporate” shell the reason that bands are able to survive past the original members in the first place? I mean, look at bands like the Misfits, Black Flag, Gwar, Megadeth, Black Sabbath, etc…. There are founding members that create the initial band, then as people join or quit, the band stays cohesive because of a commercial structure, which means that a good number of bands should be able to take advantage of the same write offs that my small business LLC does for costs we incur that drop our bottom line.
Like I said, I’m not trying to be a smart ass, just asking if the same kind of structuring would be beneficial to a band environment if I ever become part of one and want to decrease our taxable liabilities.
I can’t believe the amount of jealous carping that has gone on here. I know less than nothing about them or their music but these two young adults have been hard working, talented and courageous, It’s a mountain of work to put all this together and bedroom sharing is not even at a professional level. The four musicians they hired, if they’re professional session players, are working at below “mates rate” to help get this done. Most tour managers would expect a salary at least twice this, so again favours are being pulled all over the place. Everyone who is criticising seems to think (incorrectly) they are an expert with unsolicited (and mostly unhelpful) advice. Yes they could have done it differently but it wouldn’t be the show they creatively wanted to deliver. Best of luck and thanks for sharing the accounts. There are all kinds of different levels of touring but most, barring a handful of very high profile older name acts, demonstrate that scraping a living is the norm for working recording artists these days.
BTW – am I the only person having trouble getting this comment to post?
We are fulltime musicians, a duo, we live on the road, we are all in, downsized to 10×10 storage unit and selling the house. We love music so we bought a bus and travel town to town, for over 3 years now. Sometimes it chickens, sometimes its feathers, we prefer chickens, and feathers, well we just put them in our hat and move on down the road. All in means all in, not part time or a hobby, nothing holding you back. Keeping music in the air!!
I wish y’all the best of luck Touring. I know that the pay for playing local venues had turned to crap. Clubs expect to pay a whole band $200 for show. I knew amateur musicians in 70’s that were making that same amount plus Free Beer. But back then you could rent a van $20 per weekend, and rent a 3BR apartment for $150 with utilities.
I know musicians who play on the street because they can make more money “busking” that playing in a bar.
It is definitely hard to make a living playing music. It used to be that you Toured to promote an Album. Nowadays bands must Tour to survive, because you ain’t making any money from Album sales (no such thing).
Has anything really changed? Touring was always a huge expense and you were lucky to break even, as an indy band. It use to be album sales would kinda offset it. Kinda. Music has been all or nothing as long as I have been involved, which goes back to the 80s. You’re either very rich or very poor. No in between.
At the least, its good to see this is finally getting some attention, so it seems, and people are starting to see the insane amount of work that goes into starting and running a band. Though is that going to make up for the mediocre music out there? Definitely not. In the same way a hard working start up with a crappy product is going to go out of business.
This band is a very good cover band. They were able to tour and play in front of a lot of people. The same would have happened in 1992. A comparison between what Taylor Swift made on her tour this year and what Michael Jackson made on his tour in 1981 would be a more accurate way of judging whether things are getting better or worse, or not changing at all, in the world of touring.
Hey all. My POV is I’m a 63-year old guitarist multi-instrumentalist who made a little splash in Hollywood when I was younger in 1970’s and yes I still love to create music. I had my own experiences with Capitol, Blue Thumb, Paramount lawyers, Crusaders, VanHalen’s business and some others too.
My first wife was an in house accountant for 2 members of REO Speedwagon in 1980’s and she shared with me that even REO Speedwagon lose money on their tours all for the sake of stirring the pot to sell follow-on merchandise.
THE BUSINESS MODEL
The strategy is long-term. Venture capital out front always! That is why these guys are all seen in fan magazines spending money like they are oil sheiks; they MUST maintain the image of success or otherwise their credibility is lost to get that front money for that next video and tour. All the big shows try to put on the biggest most awesome show that no one will ever forget so you will talk and talk and buy all their stuff. UNLESS THE ARTISTS ARE REALLY PUSHY, like Elton John for example, their accountants won’t tell them they are bankrupt until it’s too late and the artists basically own only the shirts on their backs.
Those smarter, pushier artists have the leverage of being the singer songwriter usually and they invest in mundane things like strip mall real estate and private music school franchises for example.
I have been a musician and writer for over 30 years. I have only played locally and not toured so maybe I’m not in a position to comment but here goes anyway. I book and essentially manage for the band I am in now plus have created our own small scale light show that we bring into venues. I am able to run the light effects (all of which sit on the stage with the rest of our gear) via foot switches and sometimes my laptop depending on the situation. One thing in the article that struck me was the expense for equipment rental especially lighting. If I would to book a tour for my current band I would try get into venues that had their own PA and at least basic overhead lighting. I would then bring along our light set up to supplement the house lights. Yes, that would leave us open to whatever the venue had for better or worse but that’s the situation we’re in playing around town and so far it hasn’t been a problem. If the band was actually running the lighting or most of it themselves that’s one less person to pay. Also, with two members of Pomplamoose having to pay salaries to the extra musicians, that’s a problem. I work with someone who has been on American Idol twice and plays locally. He pays his band much in the way Pomplamoose did when he does a show and they make more money than he does. I spoke to about that and why they just don’t split the money evenly. Because they all play music for a living if he doesn’t pay them their required fee they won’t back him. Seems like a bunch of bullshit in my opinion but unfortunately is reality for my friend. In many ways he would be better off recruiting a band under the understanding that the money will be split evenly or maybe him getting an extra 10 or 15% for live shows for his name recognition. To sum up if I were to tour I would do my best to keep things on the cheap and as efficient and compact as possible.
you still make more from a 9-5 job that pays regular.
people need to get it through their heads that the arts are a hobby nothing more.
Your link to Kia Kamran website leads to another page, has it changed?.
From most of the bios and auto bios from musicians I have read about, most say the same thing. Expenses are HUGE ! Profits are slim to nothing. Tom Petty showed a copy of his expenses from a old tour of Europe. The band paid themselves 500 bucks a week and that was the net profit from a multi million dollar tour. Bands used to tour for the exposure to promote record sales and a love for what they do. Grueling lifestyles that takes its toll. Only the strongest have a chance to even survive it. After one major tour most bands can’t even tolerate being in the same room together unless they have to be.
Here’s the problem with the situation as you describe it …
You had, if not total control, then something very near to it, in planning the details of this tour. You could easily have found a few corners to cut or coupons to clip, so to speak, to turn that 11k deficit into an 11k profit. And if you couldn’t figure out how to do that then don’t manage your own tour, find somebody better at watching the bottom line than you are to do it, because it’s quite likely that just a few of your costlier decisions amounted to a large portion of the fat that could have been trimmed from this tour to keep it profitable. With the numbers you’re doing on ticket sales, it’s absurd to blame anybody but yourself for losing money on this, sorry.