A look at what a mid-level metal band can expect to make on a 30-day tour

January 04 2016, 5:40 PM EST By Tyler Sharp

In December, vocalist CJ McMahon left Thy Art Is Murder, which was a move that shocked just about anyone familiar with the band. In his personal statement, McMahon stated that one of the biggest reasons behind his departure was money. “I/we have been broke for years and being 32 years old I can't live like this anymore,” he wrote. “I am getting married next year and plan on having a family, these things cost money, to put the finances into perspective for you I/we have earned between $16k-$18k each over 6-7 years.”

Read more: This band made $136,000 on a 28-day tour and still lost money

This has brought about much debate regarding how much money artists actually make on tour. Derek Brewer, an employee of Outerloop Management who handles day-to-day affairs for Veil Of Maya, Crown The Empire and others, has written an in-depth op-ed piece for MetalSucks that offers worthwhile insight into the touring life of a mid-size metal band. 

Additionally, he breaks down a touring budget from 2015 that he put together and oversaw. Take a look for yourself below and let us know your thoughts.

What follows is a basic synopsis of a touring budget. This is an actual tour budget from 2015 I that I have personally overseen and put together. I feel it is a good representation of what is going on out there, but I want to give a few bullet points first before you dive in.

• Some numbers might fluctuate slightly at any given time (hotels, gas, etc.).
• These numbers are based on a typical guarantee of a touring band in the metal world that sells approximately 500 tickets at mid-size clubs. I also factored in a low-end conservative estimate of merch sales from each show, along with the typical rate that crew members would expect.
• I am running this budget with a 15-passenger van and trailer that is RENTED from a company. Because I don’t expect my clients to sleep on the floor of a van every night (that is their choice entirely if they want) I have included cheap hotels nightly into the budget as well.
• This is a 32 day tour; 30 of those days performing along with one-day driving to start and one day driving home.

Here we go…

Tour Income

$2,000.00 per night show guarantee (30 dates)= $60,000.00
$750.00 per night in gross merch sales (30 dates)= $22,500.00


Tour Expenses

Estimated merch expense (cost of goods, venue fees, shipping )= -$9,000.00
Management commissions of guarantee (15% gross) = -$9,000.00
Agent commissions of guarantee (10% gross) = -$6,000.00
Management commissions of NET sales of merch= -$2,025.00
Total commissions: $26,025.00

Crew Expenses: (weekly salary per week for 4 weeks)

TM/FOH $1,000.00 per week = -$4000.00
Merch seller $650.00 per week= -$2600.00
Driver $600.00 per week = -$2400.00
Stage tech $450.00 per week= -$1800.00
Total crew cost: $10,800.00

Vehicle and Travel expenses:

Estimated cost for 32 days van rent w/ trailer= -$5200.00
Estimated cost of fuel for full US tour at 12,660 miles ($2.50 gallon/10MPG) = -$3150.00
Estimated cost of tolls/parking= -$500.00
Hotels (25 nights x $100.00 per night [double bed, cots, band brings air mattress]) = -$2500.00
Total vehicle/travel cost= $11,350.00

Production Expenses:

Small light rig/fog machine/strobe rental = -$2,000.00
Misc. costs (gear, taxis, uber, incidentals) = -$1,500.00
Total Production cost s= $3,500.00

Band/Crew Per Diems:

$10.00 per day for 5 members/4 crew/ $90.00 per day total for 32 days = -$2,880.00
Total per diem cost= $2,880.00


GROSS INCOME = $82,500.00
Subtract EXPENSES- $54,555.00

Remaining Profit = $27,945.00

Amount that each of the five band members receives: $5,589.00 for the month-long tour.