• Shane Blay about an average day in finances for a Mid Level Band
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Shane Blay (Oh, Sleeper)

?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.?
Why Mid-Level Bands Cannot Make Money.

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.


$75 X .15 = $11.25

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



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.

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it seems it is not a way to get rich...

me, myself, and Pie

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This is why I jumped off the 'band wagon' years ago, just no way to make a proper go at it unless you get a break and make it big. The day I got married the band stuff stopped, I had to look at what's important, so an 8 to 5 job it is with my spare time to record stuff. Thanks for posting this, it's nice to hear it from someone in the scene.
Sometimes I sits and thinks, sometimes I just sits


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Yeah, looks like a massive effort for no financial reward, can't even make a living at it for most. Stadium tickets cost hundreds, small venues want you to play 'teenage' kicks for free, whats happening? Thankfully we all have DAWs at home and this kitchen 😀😎😀😎😀😎😀
valar morghulis

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Yes I know it is terrible... If I read your story I'd say I should be glad that I made 50 euro's a gig 10 ys ago with a 6-musician formation haha. I didn't do it for the money though...
Is anybody on this forum earning a decent amount of money with their gigs/songwriting? Curious... MM
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  • Karma hunter

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Making money off music is hard, we have to remember we're in such a flooded market place that very few can make a go of it. As much as it's easier for us to now record our own stuff it also means that it's also very hard to get our names out there as the competition is massive. For me I have to keep my focus on the enjoyment of writing and recording music and not on money or fame, otherwise I get demotivated very quickly.

In terms of my own success I wrote a acoustic/rocky album a few months back that I was able to send to disk, sold enough albums to pretty much cover the cost. Let that not put anyone off making a go of it, we need to a least try, we never know who may hear something we write and give us a chance.

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