Oh Sleeper Explains Why You Can’t Win As A Mid-Level Touring Band

ohsleeper.jpgThe realities of touring can be pretty um…. REAL. Shane from the band Oh Sleeper shows off the economic side of how bad this can be on a band today. Pop over to the jump and see a post from Facebook.

Why Mid-Level Bands Cannot Make Money.

Tuesday at 20:35
Hey Everyone,

For the past 5 years my brothers in Oh, Sleeper and myself have
sacrificed our lives, our time, relationships, birthdays, holidays,
health(haha) to travel around and play shows for our fans. Not to say
that isn’t been a fun ride!

I would just like to bring a few things to our fans attention:

I would like to show you guys an average day in finances for a
“mid-level” band like us. Im going to breakdown the average monetary in
and outs of a day on tour.

On tour bands have two ways to make money. Guaranties, and
Merchandise.

On tour bands have big bills. The biggest are: Managers, Booking
agent, Merch Rates, Merch bills, Food, and of course.. the Gas bill.

Our last headliner tour was an east coast run with 3 other bands. The
average guaranty per band was 300$ per band, and around 300$ in merch.
This was the average for all 4 bands, for the entire tour.

So we have a 600$ gross income per night. Now lets break this down.

Merchandise is bough, printed, and shipped on the bands dollar. We
print most our shirts on American Apparel. They obviously offer the best
fitting shirts, and kids are smart about looking good now days. They
wont sell unless you have slim fitting, soft shirts. The demand for
better quality shirts from bands is higher in last few years.

American Apparel shirts are very pricey to print. usually $7.50 a
shirt. More for v-necks, 3/4 sleeve shirts, etc.

We sell our shirts for 15$ at our shows, UNLESS we are
on tour with a headliner that demands we price match them.

SO $15 – $7.50 = $7.50. So half is profit. So out of the 300$ the
band made in merch, they owe 150$ to the printer.

BUT HOLD ON! Merch rates!

Most nice venues have merch rates, we have seen them be as high 32%
gross. Usually they are 25%.

—–

So out of the initial $300 in merch the band made. 25% goes to venue.
Thats $75.

$300(gross) – $150(merch cost) – $75(merch venue rate) = $75 (Net
profit for the band.)

BUT the breakdown doesnt stop there. If the band has a
manager, he takes 15% of Net profit of merch.

SO MERCH TOTAL PER NIGHT:

$75 X .15 = $11.25

$75 – $11.15 = $63.75( TOTAL Net profit in merch for the
band.)

——–

Guaranties:

The breakdown in deductions from this money is: 15% to Manager, 10%
to booking agent.

$300(gross guaranty) – $45(managers cut 15%) – $30(booking agents cut
10%) = $225

Average Gas bill is around $150. some days way better some days way
worse. We have done 17 hour drives..leaveing show and showing up to next
one right before we play…many times. Those are a bit more expensive.
Most west coast tours we do the average gas bill is around 200-250…but
ill use 150 for this example.

$225(guaranty after manage and agent deductions) – $150(gas bill) =
$75

We have 6 people on tour, our 5 Guys, and our merch guy “The maze”.
We give everyone $10 bucks a day to eat on. (This isnt enough when your 6
4 and 200lbs like micah and i by the way)

6 people x $10 = $60

$75 – $60 = $15

$15 Total net profit in Guaranties.

——-

$63.75(Net merch) + $15(Net guaranty) =

$78.75 for the band for the night. out of $600 gross.

if you divide that 6 ways its $13.12 a day per band member.

——-

This doesnt include hotel costs. which are usually 50-60 bucks. Most
bands dont get hotels or shower to save money to pay for phone bills.

This does not include Tires/Van payment/Oil changes/Van upkeep
registration bla bla/Trailer tires/Gear/etc.

This doesnt include taxes. This doesnt include ROAD TOLLS.
Which in the northeast can add up to 20-40bucks a day.

Thanks for reading.

MERCH RATES HAVE TO GO.
STOP STEALING OUR CDs PLEASE.

WE DONT MAKE MONEY WHEN
YOU BUY IT FROM STORES,
COME TO SHOWS.
WE DONT MAKE MONEY FROM
LABELS.
BUY MERCH FROM US AT SHOWS
IF YOU LIKE WHAT WERE
DOING.

thanks for reading.

shane

Jesse Cannon is the editor of Musformation. He produces records at his studio Cannon Found Soundation. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseCannonMusF. For more info please visit his website.

  • Anonymous

    These finances they post are ridiculous. Most venues do not take 25% of merch. In fact, on the last 18 weeks of touring I did, playing at venues with capacities ranging from 200-800 people, the average merch & was about 10% on music and 15% soft goods. Most nights the venue did not collect. This bands booking agent is doing a bad job of working out their deal.
    Managers should be paid on net tour profits. The ‘net income’ this band is paying their manager isn’t net income as they are loosing money each day. They should re-work their management contract.
    Touring can be a financial burden. But this band is getting screwed over due to having a mediocre team working for them.

  • Almost Zach

    great article. gotta figure out some other ways to make $. sell drugs on tour? hmmm

  • Corey Ellis

    1st I would argue that a $300 a night band it not mid-level yet. They are still starting. And like the 1st person alluded to – the agent & manager cuts should not be on gross but rather on gross minus deductions. Especially the manager. This band is definitely not at the level of needing a merch person on the road.

  • Anonymous

    This guy needs to learn how to spell. I had a hard time reading the entire post due to the spelling errors. It’s “guarantee,” how hard is that??