Tour Survival 101: Making Enough Money
Enter the touring economy. 2 weeks on the road, 10 shows, $25,000 has come in, and you’re still $6,000 in debt.
How does this happen?
Expenses over the course of a tour add up quickly. Between hotel rooms, salaries, and van rentals, it takes no time at all to end up in the red. So how do you dig yourself out? Assuming you were pretty savvy with your expenses, there are a few ways you can boost revenue.
1. Play Smaller Shows the Day Of
Often forgotten are the small, intimate shows that create major fans in the local setting. Since the closing of Tower Records, this has been a less sexy gig to play, but in the afternoon before a show, it is incredibly valuable in both the short and the long term to play a pop up show at a record store, bookshop, or outdoors. It’s promotion for the show that night and can connect you to fans and turn them into super-fans through intimacy.
If a pop up show isn’t your style, you can still play a smaller show. Corporate events, lunches, and the like are incredibly powerful and can pay in the thousands immediately, and, if the head of marketing likes you, a chance to get placed in an ad.
2. Travel Days Don’t Have to be Days Off
If Carpool Karaoke and Cash Cab have taught us anything, it’s that there are opportunities for entertainment and revenue within a car. Try a live Q&A from the car, make a travel vlog, or be really active on Snapchat, the car is a great place to create some content to work for you. You could use the time in the car to elevate your merch through using that time for signing or using a polaroid camera to make an exclusive merch addon. The point is, this can be time better spent than just sitting on ass.
3. Crowdfund (Pre-Tour or During)
Let’s say that you make a budget ahead of time and found out about this deficit and you don’t have the time (or don’t want) to do any of the above solutions. It’s time for you to jump on Kickstarter or PledgeMusic or a myriad of other crowdfunding sites. The upside is that you’ll create a monetary cussion before the tour. The downside is that a crowdfunding campaign is just that: a campaign. You have to put a lot of work into a crowdfunding campaign for it to be successful, but if you put that work in, the benefits are great.
4. Take the Loss
In all seriousness, if this is an early tour in your career, you should almost expect to be taking a loss, and plan on going on a similar tour within a year or so to capitalize on the audience you created on your last tour. A loss in money now does not mean a loss for your career as a whole.