How Much Money do Musicians Make From Touring?
This is a guest post from The Musician’s Guide
If you’re in a band, then touring isn’t always a way to make money. For new bands tours are often self-funded. It can be an expensive undertaking, with van rental, petrol, food and lodgings, not to mention beer money.
With gig attendance typically low at this point in a band’s career and venues either not paying bands at all, bands often have to make money with other avenues, such as merchandise or through selling music on iTunes. This of course is also typically self-funded.
Not to mention some venues adopting a “pay to play” scheme, in which bands are asked to buy tickets at a discounted price only to then attempt to sell them themselves and keeping any profits; or shouldering any losses.
However, if you’re successful and famous enough that a tour means increasingly bizarre riders and devoted groupies, then arguably you have more opportunity to make a solid income. With illegal downloading increasing the stranglehold on the music industry, bands are increasingly turning to touring to supplement their finances. If there’s enough demand for your music then it’s not unreasonable to fill the touring calendar with at least one show a day, each pulling in tens of thousands of dollars.
Even here, there is a hierarchy. If you’re in a band like the Red Hot Chili Peppers; successful and prolific, then you can tour a few venues in handpicked parts of the world and charge an average of $50 for a ticket.
When the Chili peppers played Hyde Park in 2004, the average attendance at the show was approximately 86,000, with the band selling close to a quarter of a million tickets over the three dates.
Whereas a much smaller, but no less prolific band, such as Against Me! can charge on average $16 for a ticket, still making a gross of $13,000 per show, but they would play more often to smaller venues.
Whilst even successful bands will carry their own overheads, including merchandise, crew and equipment, they are still taking a significant slice of this pie. When one considers that more people saw the band play in Hyde Park over three days, than bought their latest album, I’m With You, in the first week of its US release, and paid close to four times as much for the privilege, then the choice is obvious.
How much you take home will depend on the theatrics involved in your stage show. You wouldn’t have to pay too much for a simple banner on stage, but the likes of Rammstein with pyrotechnics and Muse with their electronic and strobe light shows will probably spend a little bit more of their profits.
This is not to mention the festival circuit where enormous and commercially successful bands such as Rage Against the Machine can demand anything for their appearance, with the BBC website suggesting that some of the summer festivals can put million pound price tags on the appearance of such bands in order to attract the crowds and go some way to justifying the close to £200 weekend ticket.
The amount you make as a touring band can be variable. Smaller bands, still working their way up the ladder will rely on the repeat business, playing smaller venues over a longer length of time, whereas the larger bands could probably live quite happily off five or six massive shows where everyone walks home holding a t-shirt and a tour poster.
Image Credit: foraxdoeixo