Earlier this week, a band (whose music I haven’t heard) called Pomplamoose published financial data showing how they had lost money on a 28-day tour that earned them $100,000 in revenue.
Over the last couple of days I have seen a number of posts on Facebook and Twitter saying that the real story is about the band’s frivolous spending, not the high cost of touring.
But when you break it down the band spent just £35/day per person on food and accommodation and paid each of its crew and musicians something in the region of £120/day. That’s not a lot of money in any industry.
Some of the criticism seems to focus on the fact that Pomplamoose stayed in hotels and hired expensive equipment, including lighting. This to me is a classic example of how people often fail to make the distinction between making music as a hobby and music as a business.
There is no reason why a band should be expected to sleep in a van any more than an accountant or a teacher – even less so the band’s staff. The idea that lighting and backline equipment is a luxury falls into the same category. These are simply the things that are required to put on a show that several thousand people are willing to pay to see – particularly pertinent given that Pomplamoose saw this tour as an investment in the future.
One final suggestion was that if the band members pay themselves a salary then they are overstating the costs. It’s a nice idea, but a pure accounting error. The tour is only profitable if all the costs are covered, including the cost of employing all the people required to put it on.
What I find interesting about this story is not that another artist is getting publicity for making their finances public, but that people are still shocked to see the facts.
Nobody sane goes into music to make money in any case. It’s not a rational economic decision. But it sometimes doesn’t hurt for people to see what it’s really like out there – especially when touring is meant to be the silver bullet that replaces music sales.