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.”
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…
$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
TOTAL INCOME GROSS= $82,500.00
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
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
TOTAL ESTIMATED COST OF EXPENSES: $52,060.00
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.