I recently Had to self-book a 4-day tour for 16 musicians/performers to New York City from Milwaukee, WI. Our budget was TIGHT.
But we did it for $3,000.
We rented two vans, Chose to be COZY and stay together in an Air B&B apartment at HALF the cost of hotels, paid for all gas & tolls, etc.. and we did it for about $750/day. It was obviously more expensive to be in NYC than if we were in a smaller city, but just the choice of not paying for so many hotel rooms with Air B&B saved us HUNDREDS.
Of course we weren't paying each performer $1,500/week, but we did as has always been done on any tours I've been a part of, Pay your performers on the totals of profit after the tour. Paying a salary despite not making the money yet is just bad business. A tour is always a risk. It might snow— you might lose a day, you might have a tire blow in Albuquerque, etc.. Which is half the fun, but everyone going should know the risks, and until you’re pulling in Motley Crue money, You play your own gear, store cords in totes, and fix stuff with duct tape. The idea of a brand new road case for anything on my first tour is mind boggling.
I know this seems so snarky. But the aim of your article is misleading. Your tour could have made money. EASILY. It would have been a little leaner. But you made choices that cost money. You spent money you didn’t have yet, which is always mistake numero-uno. You chose to pay extra for the more comfortable experience. (and I know— I know— Best Westerns aren’t Trump Tower, but sleeping in the van is free…) I was trying to put my finger on why these totals made me so flabberghasted, and I really think it’s becuase Despite being 30 years old and despite knowing better, the Punk rock DIY spirit inside me is screaming. I KNOW you are adults who can do whatever you want and you chose hotels and road cases and per-diems and salaries— But maaan if that idiot Rock and Roll part of my brain isn’t just crying about how inauthentic an experience that is.