We Thought Tour Would Be Like Vacation

Spencer Lee
Nov 25, 2014 · 3 min read

This story could be told in a much more concise way that leaves the band looking much less like a bunch of whiny crybabies who aren’t cut out to be professional musicians. It could simply read “We overestimated our budget.”

As someone who’s been playing in small-time touring bands with no budget, promotion, distribution, or label backing for around a decade (who has never lost more than the cost of a van rental on a tour), I’ll say this: You forfeit your right to complain about how much you lost on tour when that loss is less than half of your “production costs”. Any club where you should be doing any kind of light show will have lights and a lighting board and someone on staff who can operate it with some proficiency. Boom. Right there you just eliminated what’s surely a substantial chunk of your production costs, along with about half of the necessary crew and their associated costs. Do your own setup and tear down and don’t whine about it. This isn’t kindergarten, this is art.

An aside here: if your music absolutely needs an extravagant light show then it probably sucks. In the case of Pomplamoose, it definitely sucks.

Best Western-level hotels? Drop it to Motel 6. Even better, stay with a friend you’ve got in town. Not enough room? Someone gets to sleep in the van. Or if that prospect is just too lowly for consideration, put four people to a room. Floors are not the most comfortable surfaces in the world, but there are these great things called “camping mats” and “air mattresses” that do wonders in that department.

You’re paying for food and paying each artist and crew member a salary? If you cut the per-diem in half you’d have saved $2,400. No, $10 isn’t enough to eat for a full day, but that’s what your salary is for. Furthermore, were there no catering deals on your riders at clubs where you’re selling about 1,000 tickets? Either someone’s gotta step up the negotiations or it’s time for the band and crew to get used to eating Jimmy John’s catering trays for a month. This isn’t a vacation resort, it’s tour. Deal with it.

By the way, why is food factored into your “Hotels and food” cost AND mentioned in the per diems?

I’m not writing all this because I genuinely care whether The Great Pomplamoose makes or loses money on tour. Frankly, I find their (your?) music foul and insufferable. I’m writing it because I feel an obligation as an independent musician who HASN’T “made it” to demonstrate to people that this- this whole distasteful, whiny, throw-away “article”- isn’t how true artists think or feel about touring, whether or not they make any money.

My particular annoyance here is this: We live in an era where, fairly and truly, music and art in the US are incredibly undervalued, and awful bands posting horrid articles like this one make it seem like we’re making a pretty decent haul and just feel that it isn’t enough. Disgusting.

And yeah, it sucks losing over eleven grand. Know what sucks even more? The knowledge that you didn’t lose it- you flushed it down the goddamn toilet and then decided that the internet needed to hear your tear-jerking tale of a band that spent too much on lights and hotel rooms.

You know what else sucks even more than losing over eleven grand? Listening to eleven seconds of Pomplamoose’s “music”.

Cry me a river.

    Spencer Lee

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