Shane Blay is a guitarist/vocalist for the indie band, Oh, Sleeper. The Texas based group has been compared to Slipknot and Underoath. You can learn more about the band here. Follow the band on Twitter @weareohsleeper.
For the past five 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. I’m going to breakdown the average monetary ins and outs of a day on tour.
On tour, bands have two ways to make money – guarantees and merchandise.
Bands have big bills on tour [including]: 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 guarantee 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 let’s break this down.
Merchandise is bought, 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 [a] days. They won’t sell unless you have slim fitting, soft shirts. The demand for better quality shirts from bands is higher in the 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.
$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, [and] 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. That’s $75.
$300 (gross) – $150 (merch cost) – $75 (merch venue rate) = $75 (Net profit for the band.)
BUT the breakdown doesn’t stop there. If the band has a manager, he takes 15% of Net profit of merch.
SO MERCH TOTAL PER NIGHT:
$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… Leaving a 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 I’ll use $150 for this example.
$225 (guarantee 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 isn’t 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 six ways it’s $13.12 a day per band member.
This doesn’t include hotel costs, which are usually $50-60 bucks. Most bands don’t 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 doesn’t include taxes. This doesn’t include ROAD TOLLS, which in the northeast, can add up to $20-40 a day.
The message that Shane is trying to convey is:
- MERCH RATES HAVE TO GO.
- STOP STEALING OUR CD’s, PLEASE.
- WE DON’T MAKE MONEY WHEN YOU BUY IT FROM STORES, COME TO SHOWS.
- WE DON’T MAKE MONEY FROM LABELS.
- BUY MERCH FROM US AT SHOWS IF YOU LIKE WHAT WERE DOING.