How much will you make touring?

This is a work in progress.

INDIE ARTISTS : Shows & Touring – how much will you make?

You have to ask yourself, “why do I want to tour and perform”? Touring is grueling – lots of time spent traveling, not a lot of sleep and so forth. It’s not all fun and games. So when you are establishing music career don’t expect parties, girls, hotel suites and lots of money at the beginning. It’s all about building up a fan base.

Tour Van

Unless a promoter happens to be a hardcore fan of your music, has money to burn, or it’s an event with sponsorships dollars (Scion, Red Bull, Puma etc.) you may not get what you think you deserve in the beginning. But it’s not about what you deserve, it’s all about what you’re worth. There are many different aspects that determine what you can be paid for a show but the main one is how many people can you draw to a show. Why should a promoter/venue book you, how many patrons/customers will your name and performance bring to the event?

Do you have a full length album or albums out with distribution throughout the states? Is the album selling? Do you have press in magazines, is your music being pushed? Do you have 10,000+ fans on Facebook or did you guest appear on anything of note? Because in the end it’s all about how many people you can draw that will determine how much you can get paid for performing at an event.

As a rule of thumb, I always like to ‘guesstimate’ how many people in San Francisco will come out to see an artist if that artist in the only performer on the bill. I use SF because I’m from the city, I’ve produced many shows in the city (successes and failures) and the city has a lot of open-minded music lovers. If with a decent amount of marketing & promotion, people don’t come out in SF for a show then they probably won’t in Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles or any other cities on the West Coast. For example, if the ticket price is $10 at the door how many people would come to a venue and pay that $10 to just see you in San Francisco? If you can draw 100 paying people then “maybe” you can charge between $400-$700 and if you alone can draw 200 people paying $10 each then “maybe” you can charge between $800-$1,500. Every event and every deal is structured differently depending on the promoter/venue and the market. It could be a flat rate, guarantee versus percentage of door or just a percentage of the door.

I’ve seen many artists over the years build up their fan base by touring and releasing music on a regular basis. Most if not all of these groups lost money or didn’t make any money the first few tours but they built up a solid fan base by having a great stage show, selling their music and merch on the road, doing radio interviews and visiting retailers. Fans that they connected with the first few times would return to future shows with their friends and those new fans would buy their music & merchandise.

Please be realistic when setting your asking price and your minimum price. Be smart and don’t price yourself out of the market.


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