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The costs of touring

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The costs of touring

Postby Scramble » Thu Jan 31, 2013 10:07 pm

Blog post here from Fish worth reading, all about the costs involved on a tour at his level. Perhaps an eye-opener for some.
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Re: The costs of touring

Postby Steve A » Thu Jan 31, 2013 10:48 pm

It sure does bust the myth that the downloading apologists love to band about that the costs of pirated music are offset by the big bucks that artists make touring. Not that we're anywhere near Fish's level but I'll be sure to supply a copy of this article in future to all the people who continually try and blag guest list off us. Most of these costs face any band once you try and break out of the pub scene and dare to travel outside your home town.
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Re: The costs of touring

Postby Emmet » Fri Feb 01, 2013 10:45 am

Most of that seems about right, I few points though...

Venue hire: if your average is £1500, you aint bargaining hard enough. It's as hard for venues as it is for bands which means that you can drive the prices down by threatening to shop elsewhere.

Four sound tech: venue costs will include sound engineers- whats he bringing his own for? If you're playing to an average of 600-700 people, four people is an expense you can ill afford.

£5K on rehearsals for 12 shows. Really?

T shirts profit margin of 35%. Get a new supplier. I do two colour tees screen printed tees (that makes it three if you count the colour of the actual tee) £10 with round about a 100% mark up. £3 a head is good on the merch stall though, my average is £1.
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Re: The costs of touring

Postby MarkOne » Fri Feb 01, 2013 11:17 am

Emmet wrote:
Four sound tech: venue costs will include sound engineers- whats he bringing his own for? If you're playing to an average of 600-700 people, four people is an expense you can ill afford.

No 4 tour crew in total - Sound tech, backline tech, video/light tech and his tour manager who doubles as the merch guy

From what I have seen most bands at Fish's level tour with their own soundie, (and given the erm, variability of house sound guys, I can kind of see why :) )
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Re: The costs of touring

Postby GlynB » Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:07 pm

MarkOne wrote:
Emmet wrote:
Four sound tech: venue costs will include sound engineers- whats he bringing his own for? If you're playing to an average of 600-700 people, four people is an expense you can ill afford.


No 4 tour crew in total - Sound tech, backline tech, video/light tech and his tour manager who doubles as the merch guy

From what I have seen most bands at Fish's level tour with their own soundie, (and given the erm, variability of house sound guys, I can kind of see why :) )


Definitely, you want to sound as good as possible so having your own soundguy who understands the requirements of your music would be pretty crucial, especially when you need your 'customers' to have a great time and come back again next time.

Thought struck me though, if they're using venues that turn out to be only filled to half capacity, then shouldn't they be looking at smaller capacity venues which could sell out? The numbers of tickets sold would be the same, but at least venue hire cost would be lower? Better to pack out a 500 venue, than half fill a 1000 ?
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Re: The costs of touring

Postby Scramble » Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:14 pm

>£5K on rehearsals for 12 shows. Really?

Well, that's for 2 weeks of rehearsals, so it's £2500 a week. He has 5 band members, he said rehearsals were on half pay, which is £75 a day, so these guys are not exactly rolling in his money, are they? That's £375 a day for the band members at the rehearsal stage, or £1875 for a 5-day week. The rest he said goes on hotel room costs for some of them, food for all of them, and travel costs for all of them. So it sounds reasonable given his position. (Of course a young band who all live together in a squat wouldn't have this expense, but that's not Fish's situation).

You could maybe make the rehearsal period shorter, but I expect that's what's required.
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Re: The costs of touring

Postby GlynB » Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:36 pm

Little wonder many artists seem to do more solo/acoustic type shows these days! Not really an option if you're in a genre that's heavily based on spectacle.
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Re: The costs of touring

Postby artzmusic » Fri Feb 01, 2013 5:00 pm

Surely the band members must get a percentage after the break-even point because there is no way one could live on that stipend. How would one go about talking them into a gig like that?

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Re: The costs of touring

Postby MarkOne » Fri Feb 01, 2013 6:01 pm

Nope... Each band member is getting £150 a night. They are doing it partly because they love it. They are not a permanent band, they in all likelihood came together just for the tour - some of them may well not have played on the album.

They don't get paid on the rest days, so effectively are pulling down £750 a week for the 2 week tour + bed and board.

It's not going to keep them in champers and oysters, sure, but they might be able to pay the mortgage that month and, you know, eat and stuff.

And then next month they need to be finding another gig, or as in the case of a number of guys I know in the prog scene go back to work after taking their annual leave to do a tour.

Or if they are really lucky, teach, run workshops, write jingles for local radio, maybe an endorsement gig for a gear company at a bunch of regional music shops, the odd bit of session work on someone's album, may well be in a couple of other bands on an on-off basis recording and touring as the opportunities arise.

Oh the glamour of it all. :headbang:
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Re: The costs of touring

Postby BJG145 » Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:41 pm

Cheers Scramble, nice blog, interesting thread...
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Re: The costs of touring

Postby Scramble » Fri Feb 01, 2013 8:18 pm

artzmusic wrote:Surely the band members must get a percentage after the break-even point because there is no way one could live on that stipend. How would one go about talking them into a gig like that?


Amazingly enough that sort of life is the *goal* for most wannabee professional musicians and there's no shortage of them (of course they all have dreams of ending up in Pink Floyd's touring band, but for most of them this sort of thing is as far as they go).

Same reason that Fish can pay his support band the princely sum of £50 (a fraction of what the average pub band gets). At least he doesn't charge them.
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Re: The costs of touring

Postby TheChorltonWheelie » Fri Feb 01, 2013 10:29 pm

Emmet wrote:Venue hire: if your average is £1500, you aint bargaining hard enough. It's as hard for venues as it is for bands which means that you can drive the prices down by threatening to shop elsewhere.

No you can't: there aren't that many 500+ venues, and someone like Fish needs 300+ tickets to break-even so he can't pick and choose where he plays. I can only assume you have never hired such a venue, they never barter as their costs are fixed - they make their money on the bar etc. The best you'll get is working on a door percentage, but that's a massive gamble unless you're sure you can fill the venue to the rafters, the break-even is normally around 80% capacity.
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Re: The costs of touring

Postby Emmet » Sat Feb 02, 2013 11:18 am

TheChorltonWheelie wrote: I can only assume you have never hired such a venue, they never barter as their costs are fixed

Yes I have and no they're not, hire rates can be negotiable especially if you're a promoter booking gigs in bulk. If you're playing Tavistock (as he is then you're skuppered) however play the major metropolitan cites and you've got more options).
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Re: The costs of touring

Postby The Red Bladder » Sat Feb 02, 2013 11:55 am

Maybe it's just me, but there is something strange here that I don't 'get.'

I had a look at that blog and the whole thing seems rather chaotic. Now, I have to point out that, despite living in the UK, I have never toured in the UK - but when we toured, EVERYTHING went through a single agency, who in-turn dealt with promoters, who were the poor schmucks who took all the risks, but could also make the biggest profits. They gave the dates and the payment due for those dates and we had a set schedule of payments for those sums. Big gigs would be settled on the night, a series of small gigs would be settled in a set series of payments summed together in monthly payments.

Really BIG gigs with rented in systems and special stage designs, involved finance companies that scheduled payment to musicians, to PA and lighting companies and contingency insurance, etc., etc., etc. and had an accountant for advances and on-the-night payments and therefore evened out all the peaks and troughs of large payments when there is no money and large receipts a few weeks later.

That way, you knew in advance, where you were playing, what you were getting paid for the month and you could calculate exactly what the costs were going to be. Everything was predictable and artists and crew did not have to worry about anything. Details, such as cash, hotels, routes, were taken care of by a tour manager, whose job is was to take care of everything and everybody.

Is this chaos that Fish seems to suffer from just him, just in the UK, or have things changed. What is going on?
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Re: The costs of touring

Postby MarkOne » Sat Feb 02, 2013 2:01 pm

The Red Bladder wrote:Maybe it's just me, but there is something strange here that I don't 'get.'
... SNIP ...
Is this chaos that Fish seems to suffer from just him, just in the UK, or have things changed. What is going on?

I think he touches on this:

Mainline agents (especially the good ones) are more in demand and more difficult to get than record deals these days as the live scene takes over as the artist’s main income supplier from selling recorded product.

and

With no major record company behind me and at 55 years old with the numbers I normally do it would be highly unlikely that either a mainline agent or decent manager would look at me anyway. I don’t take it personally. I am just realistic which is why we operate as we do.

I suspect that a) you were playing in a bigger fishpond ( ;) )

and b) the world has changed.
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Re: The costs of touring

Postby shufflebeat » Sat Feb 02, 2013 2:11 pm

That's how Europe used to work for us until the rise of the Irish pubs pulled the ground from under traditional music. Over a period of about 2 years audiences dwindled at concert halls and town halls as perceptions of culture went through a pretty rapid change. Agencies ended up dabbling in the 'duo playing Van Morrison' at one end of the spectrum and the Corrs at the other. CD sales went mammaries up and the eFolk thang started picking up in the UK so RNCM grads with pretty websites took over.

The way Fish seems to be operating is pretty standard for that venue size in Folk music for those who can keep it together. Not a bad system for the self employed craftsman as far as I can see.
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Re: The costs of touring

Postby The Red Bladder » Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:57 pm

MarkOne wrote:
The Red Bladder wrote:Maybe it's just me, but there is something strange here that I don't 'get.'
... SNIP ...
Is this chaos that Fish seems to suffer from just him, just in the UK, or have things changed. What is going on?


I think he touches on this:

Mainline agents (especially the good ones) are more in demand and more difficult to get than record deals these days as the live scene takes over as the artist’s main income supplier from selling recorded product.


and

With no major record company behind me and at 55 years old with the numbers I normally do it would be highly unlikely that either a mainline agent or decent manager would look at me anyway. I don’t take it personally. I am just realistic which is why we operate as we do.


I suspect that a) you were playing in a bigger fishpond ( ;) )

and b) the world has changed.


Well I was on the road with PAs and lighting from about ''80 to '90 and we sometimes played gigs where there were more people on stage, than in the audience and I have even done gigs where absolutely no one turned up! But then we also did gigs that ran to thousands.

But in those days, even mobile DJs had agents. You could lift a rock in our front yard and find some berk underneath the rock who claimed to be a mobile DJ, but at least he had an agent. Everybody had an agent, because only an agent can walk into a promoter's or venue's office and offer them a whole range of acts. But of course, I have never seen an agent have folk bands on his roster. Not then and obviously not now.

As soon as they start singing

Where be that blackbird be?
He be up a tree.
I know 'cause when I walked below,
He went and pooped on me.
Singing rum-tum-tiddle-aye-um-tie-oh!
Rum-tum-tiddle-eye-oh!

the punters all leg it and start yearning for 'Raving Jim Grunt and the Pubes.'

I remember some folk trio opened for Mike Oldfield and the audience was restless. I wouldn't say that they gave them the bird, but the bird was definitely hovering in the air. The lead singer was a girl with the obligatory straight brown hair and ankle-length skirt and when she told the audience that they were going to sing their last song, they got the first applause of the evening!

She then started haranguing the audience and told them that they were playing serious music and that they should keep quiet and listen.

The bird, until now just waiting quietly in the wings, swooped. They gave her the slow hand-clap and the folk trio had beat a hasty retreat.

And to think, some poor sap of an agent had probably bust a gut to get them that gig!
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Re: The costs of touring

Postby Beat Poet » Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:50 pm

The Red Bladder wrote:As soon as they start singing

Where be that blackbird be?
He be up a tree.
I know 'cause when I walked below,
He went and pooped on me.
Singing rum-tum-tiddle-aye-um-tie-oh!
Rum-tum-tiddle-eye-oh!

the punters all leg it and start yearning for 'Raving Jim Grunt and the Pubes.'

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