We are currently in the age of digital services and streaming, where artists aren’t making as much money from recorded music as needed and deserved. To stimulate the sales of music, many acts play shows, tour and are trying to find the best possible work configuration that would present them the opportunity to establish a sustainable career. However, performing and touring is not only essential to improving the business state of one’s music career, but also to entice fans, extend the reach of your popularity and give people the opportunity to experience your live show.

However, making an ROI while performing is still difficult and artists are speaking out about this issue. Many musicians are finding ways to work with the performing and touring demands to increase revenue. But how much do artists make on tour? Did you know you can increase your revenue from performing and touring to make performing your main revenue stream?

If you didn’t, here’s some crucial information that might help you to navigate your career in the right direction.

How much do artists make on tour?

It’s not easy to answer this question. Every artist is on a different tier, has a different level of experience, different sized fanbases, different booking contracts… The list goes on.

There are too many factors to establish and develop a certain number of categories in this area, unfortunately. It’s actually easier to take an artist’s potential guarantees and calculate the possible expenses.

Let’s say a mid-level band goes on tour. These bands can attract between 500 and 1,000 audience members, possibly holding the leverage to sell out a venue. They set their guarantee at $800, which is the amount a promoter is required to pay the band.

Let’s assume you tour for five weeks and play a total of 30 shows (we are factoring in a few days off throughout the tour). This means your band will earn $24,000. And a band this size can make $1,000/night in merch, giving you another $30,000 in your pocket.

So, the total you can make on a tour is $54,000. Not bad, right?

Well, now you have to deduct all expenses:

  • Crew salaries $10,000 (varies, depending on how many crew members you have).
  • Transportation and trailer rental $11,000 (a band of this size is either driving in a van or a small bandwagon, assuming there is no personal transport involved).
  • Booking agent and manager payouts $5,000
  • Fuel $2,700
  • Hotels $450 (if you settle for low-quality hotel rooms and your band and crew shares rooms)
  • Food $5,000 (not including buy-out, which is when the promoter provides money for food as well)

Total: $34,150

This means that your band only made $54,000-$34,150=$19,850. Splitting between each band member (say, your band has five members), you each made $3,970 on the whole five-week tour. Keep in mind, this doesn’t include other expenses such as vehicle insurance and repairs (if you own your vehicle).

This sample proves that the touring process can work well and be beneficial for an artist only if it’s approached strategically and with the right preparation.

How to make touring your main revenue stream

Every artist dreams of touring. But touring is becoming more expensive every day, considering its constantly changing specifics and characteristics in the current oversaturated music market. Fortunately, you can make touring your main revenue stream.

Here are some tips that can help you to achieve that:

Optimize your merch

Optimizing your merchandise is the easiest way to increase your revenue. Even if your concert attendance is low one night, you can still draw impressive merch sales if you have the right marketing mind.

The best part about optimizing your merch sales is that there are only a few overhead expenses – designing, printing and distributing, which enables you to utilize certain tricks to maximize your merch sales.

First, give your fans what they want. For example, if your female fans stated they want girl-sized shirts, update your inventory with girls clothes. Cater your products towards your audience and don’t expect that people would be interested in whatever you offer them.

Next, start a new trend. Many artists do this by creating unique clothing. Past examples include windbreakers, jerseys, basketball shorts, and even flip flops.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with the products that you are designing and definitely make sure to not necessarily follow existing tendencies and trends that you don’t believe and like. Be creative and follow your instincts.

The audience would always appreciate the unique approach that you can offer in every aspect of your career, so your merchandise activity is not an exception to this rule. Remember to wear it, too, as you are the best ad for your merch!

Sell VIP packages

A common promotion method to generate more ticket sales is by selling VIP packages. This is when fans meet the artist, get their merchandise signed, and get a picture taken. Many VIP packages also come with perks, such as special, exclusive merchandise.

Let’s say your normal ticket is $20. You can sell a VIP ticket for at least $50. Meet-and-greets, tutoring sessions and band hangouts can easily go into 100s. Depending on the concert pricing tier you choose, the VIP packages will put some extra cash in your pocket by utilizing the potential of your brand.

Sell tickets on Show4Me

While many fans buy tickets from big-box ticketing websites, platforms such as Show4Me are becoming more convenient. Show4Me helps fans buy tickets directly on the platform, ultimately providing the artist with a bigger portion from the sold tickets, eliminating any risks and unnecessary fees.

Show4me model is based on the crowdfunding concept. You start a campaign for your upcoming concert without starting the production yet. All ticket sales are essentially presales – fans only get their tickets if the event budget is met. Otherwise, all contributions are fully refunded.

This way, a musician, band or their teams can start campaigns for shows without investing in production and gauge the demand for performances in various locations, as well as get upfront contributions that they can use to cover equipment rent, venue booking, etc.

Top find out more about risk-free concert crowdfunding, check out our blog post on the topic.

Increase your guarantees

Another way to increase tour revenues is increasing your guarantees, which is not always easy.

If a promoter isn’t confident they can pay your guarantee, they won’t book your show. This is why you can settle for a percentage of show profit instead. This is when you take a percentage of ticket sales, such as 85%. While this is riskier, you can make a serious profit if you are confident in your work ethic and your ability to attract people to your shows.

Let’s say you sell out a venue to max capacity, which is 1,000. The tickets sell for $20, meaning the show generated $20,000. If you get 85% of the sales, your band takes home $17,000 for one show! However, once again, this configuration can be quite double-sided, because you won’t get paid much for a show with low attendance. For example, if only 20 fans show up and the ticket price is $20, your band only makes $340 on that show.

Want to put on more shows? Check out our tutorial