How to Make Money While Touring with Your Band[Disclaimer: This article (written by the guys in the band Marbin) is intended for those who want to make a living touring with a band that plays original music. Click HERE to read Part 1 — all about booking.]

 How to make money touring with a band

The most important thing to do when dealing with money on tour is to make sure to write EVERYTHING down — both the money you spend and the money you make. A good way to keep tabs is to put all the info in Excel. We divide it into date, gas, food, lodging, salary (how much we pay our musicians), pay (from the venue), CD sales, t-shirts, thongs, tips, extra. At the end of each day we total it up.

There are two main ways a band can make money touring

1. Guarantees/door/bar percentage.

Learn what you’re worth to the venue. Venues will typically be able to pay you between ten to thirty percent of what they made that night. Try to estimate how much the venue makes on tickets and food/liquor sales, and you’ll get a good idea how much to ask. A fifty-person-capacity dive bar that sells one-dollar PBRs won’t be able to pay you $500 even if you fill up the place with fans.

2. Selling merchandise.

There are two aspects to selling merchandise:

a) Maximizing the amount of people you sell merchandise to. Even if people like your music, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to buy your albums. Here are some pointers about how to increase sales.

* Let it be known that you have merchandise for sale, what it is, where it is, and when it’s available for sale.

* Take credit cards and let it be known that you do (we use intuit).

* Talk to the audience between songs. Tell them stories about the band, about the songs, about anything really. It’s all about making a personal connection.

* Have something free you give away at the merch table (we have business cards).

* Place the merch table in a nonthreatening place. If it’s too close to the stage the audience will feel nervous about going there.

* Be nonthreatening/break the ice. It’s hard for people to approach artists. Be very outgoing and friendly. Making the initial connection with the audience (starting a conversation) will often lead to selling merch. A good icebreaker is handing out business cards.

b) Maximizing the amount of merchandise you sell to each person. Deals, deals, deals. Here are some of the things we did to increase our sales.

* One album for $15, two for $20 (instead of what most bands do, which is selling each one for $10). I always add, “Five bucks more double the pleasure.”

* One album for $15, three for $30 (if someone asks for one I sell them two for $20).

* In case I sell it to a fan that already purchased our previous albums I just ask them to get another copy of the new one and give to someone who would appreciate it.

For more info please watch: 

You can ask questions about other deals we had/have on and/or, or leave your comment in the section below.

Looking for more advice on touring?

How to Book Your Own Successful Tour