Wednesday, June 6, 2012

How Do Lesser Known Bands Survive?

So recently Shane Blay of Oh, Sleeper went to the webs to talk about how Mid-Level bands make no money. The statement surfed the internet a while and helped open the eyes of some people. In case you missed it, here is his statement:

“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. I;m 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.

So, that sort of erases the dream of making money from making music.

In confirmation of this, Alissa White-Gluz vocalist for The Agonist made this statement:

“Here’s a little insider info just to clarify, since a lot of people don’t understand how the industry now works. We would feel bad divulging this kind of info and shattering the dream, but a lot of metal musicians seem to be doing it nowadays so I think we’re ok to do so as well.
Why are we asking you to buy the album? We don’t see money from album sales. We have never seen a single royalty penny. BUT – if your band is known to sell a lot of albums, especially in the first week of release, you get more offers for tours, therefore making it more possible to play to more fans.
Ticket money: As an opener, we do not see any money from ticket sales or have any control over ticket price. As a headliner we rarely see any money from ticket sales as well.
Youtube: If you think we are making money off of YouTube plays, check out who’s channel our videos are on. hint: It ain’t our channel! ; ) Again, we’ve never seen a penny from Youtube plays.
Cd sales: To get our albums shipped out to us we need to pay about 10$. We sell them for 15$. Venue takes about 15% usually, manager takes 10%. Therefore, we are left with about 1.25$ profit per cd. T-shirts, they cost about 10$ to create and ship, we sell them for 20$, again you can do the math. So we have a few dollars profit per item sold, but about 200$ -300$ in gas per show, plus the expense of work visas (about 4000$ for the USA), vehicle and trailer leasing, and all the other expenses that go into touring.
We sleep in the van, don’t eat, don’t get to bathe. We hire no crew. We get maybe 20$ or 30$ a day to get food or save up to pay rent. We invested years of our lives into this and some had to take time off work to record this album. And this is not just our band. We can safely say that this applies to every opening metal act we have ever toured with.
Sorry to shatter the rockstar fantasy but the truth is, we all work 9-5 as soon as we get home from tour, if our jobs are gracious enough to allow us to leave and return. Otherwise we scramble to find even the most menial jobs just to cover our bills in between tours.
So – taking our project without paying for it is STEALING. But, if you repay us by spreading the word about the band, getting your friends to come out to our shows, buying our merch, giving us a place to stay or some other form of support, you’ve paid us back. Nobody wants to go to work and not get their salary, but bands do it ALL THE TIME. So, have some respect for the work they do and support in whatever way you can.
Hope that clarified everything! Enjoy PRISONERS!”
There are two things I take away from these statements. Both these bands are rather popular and do fairly well album sales wise, but if they aren't seeing any of that money and aren't loaded for being apart of a metalcore band, all the elitest douches out there have lost a 'point' in their argument that metalcore is a sellout genre. Who would have thought bands in a popular genre still have a hard time?

The other thing I took away from this is that since the bands aren't making any money from thier music, is that not enough prove that this is entirely a labor of love? If they didn't love what they were doing even though it was really only costing them money, would they still be in it? The fact that they continue to do so makes me appreciate the music more and I would hope it would drive people to go see their shows and buy the album at the show.

Anyhow, I know it won't stop pirating, but if word gets around more that bands aren't making money even when you buy their album, maybe it will boost show attendance, and merch sales at show.

Bottom line, if you love a band support them.

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