Do musicians really make their money from playing live?

Interesting series of posts from indie legends Stars

This is awful. But a nagging sense also of, like - if you’re losing $20k on a tour and that comes as a surprise… is that also really bad planning on the band’s part?

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Yeah for sure. Might see residencies become more common again

This new board is doing my head in where it is. Please can it be moved lower down?


Moved it to just below Social now, let’s see how that works.


Thank you

Think you can mute boards to remove them from your homepage too

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It should really be the one just below the travel board.

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or stick it top and move “how to DiS” down

Strong agree.

I put it a bit higher to introduce it so that people noticed it

The challenge is, a lot of shows will have been booked nearly 3 years ago and costs have changed, in some cases the rearranged fees have changed. The festivals may have remained but the warm up shows dropped out. Band members not available so paying more for someone else. Vans harder to find so paying more. Hotels more expensive. Fuel more expensive.

You can easily lose £2k per day, even just with a cancelled flight or one band member going down with covid or illness - there’s a real problem getting insurance now.

Lots of tours will be budgeted on the 80% guarantee and merch sales. You make up any difference in sell out of those last 20% of sales. Some acts might expect to sell our shows but consumer confidence and a bottle neck of loads of rearranged shows so fans are spoilt for choice.

Having rearranged a May 2020 tour 3 times which will now happen next year for The Anchoress as dates that aligned weren’t available sooner (and she’s clinically vulnerable so couldn’t tour during peak of Covid cases), we’re currently trying to make it work. She’s a solo artist so has to pay all her band members for rehearsals, show days and travel days. And get them hotels. It quickly adds up and ticket prices aren’t rising and some of the show offers are less than May 2020.

Nearly everyone I speak to in the industry at the moment is struggling to find tour managers (lots of people left the industry). Bigger tours are failing to find drivers and crew - and some dates are suffering from last minute offers for crew to get double their money to move to another tour. People are spending a lot less on merch due to cost of living crisis.

They’ve deleted it now (and I guess any other pertinent Tweets they made) so I’m not sure what to make of that.

This, though:

until hotels, rentals, plane tickets, vans, gasoline, food, crew wages all went up by 60-100%. this isn’t an accident. it’s a plan. it’s a consolidation of wealth and power. it’s a cull.

I’m unsure of. I mean yes, all this stuff has gone up thanks to cost of living and all the other crap but I’m not sure it’s actually a plan. Or certainly it’s not a plan that has artists being starved out of income as even a desired outcome, just a side-effect. Whereas the Tweet makes it sound like Stars feel personally attacked by it (maybe why they deleted it).

I don’t really have enough knowledge to understand this. Do you mean they’re budgeted on breaking even if venues are all 80% sold and 80% of merchandise is sold? Although in that case there wouldn’t be a ‘difference’ to make up.

The idea the cost of living crisis is all a trap to punish musicians is quite amusing.


When you get an offer for a big show.

You’ll get a guaranteed fee based on 80% of sales

Artists then get a cut of the final 20% and sometimes a bonus on sell out

This means if a promoter does a bad job the artist still gets their guarantee

It means if an artists’ new album bombs or they don’t promote the show, they also only get a fixed amount

It’s in everyone’s interest to sell out the show

Sometimes artists will play smaller venues and assume it will sell out, and budget their cashflow accordingly

Does that make sense?

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this might sound silly but why don’t artists ask for more money?

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Yeah… I mean I get the economics of it and it sucks (hope most of the covid bottleneck stuff will resolve, fuck knows about the cost of living stuff). But in this case it seems like there’s also a chunk of quite naive budgeting involved, especially given that they sold out 4 out of 8 shows but still had a $20k gap at the end of it. I hate to say it but if the hole in your budget is still that big after selling out 50% of the tour there’s a case to say they shouldn’t have gone out at all?

Or spend less money?

Ditch the manager/agent/tour manager, book your own tour, share driving, make sandwiches, sleep on mates/promoter’s sofa etc

Bands do that stuff all the time I bet.

Think I’m behind radicalised against paying musicians at this point

Bands make all their money from playing live anyway