We keep on hearing about how most of an artist’s money is made from touring and that’s true – but only if you’ve reached a certain level on the success ladder. For everyone else out on the road it’s all about hoping that you’ll make enough money just to cover your costs. The problem is that you can’t tour without going broke unless you have a plan before you start to drive out of town. Here are 11 cost items from this Discmaker’s Blog post (with my comments) that you should think about as far ahead of your tour as possible when preparing your budget.
1. Transportation – Do you have to rent a van, bus or trailer? How much gas will you need? How about airplane tickets if you’re flying? Don’t forget the extra baggage and freight fees for gear.
2. Accommodations – How many rooms do you need and for how long? Can band and crew double up in a room?
3. Phones and Visas – If you’re traveling out of the country, you may need visas for the countries that you’re going to and that could add up fast with a lot of band and crew members. Also, will you take burner phones with you and purchase SIM cards there? How about adding an international plan for your existing phones?
4. Merch – Don’t leave home without it, but it will also cost you money to take along. How much should you buy? Who’s going to sell it? How will it travel with you?
5. Musician’s Costs – Sometimes you might need to augment the band’s lineup with local musicians. How much will they cost?
6. Rentals – To keep costs down, will you be renting a backline wherever you gig? How much will it cost? Does that include everything you need (like cables)?
7. Food – Gotta eat, and more than once a day, so food per diems must be accounted for.
8. Insurance – If you’re traveling with precious music or sound gear, now is the time to insure it. Accidents and thefts happen all too frequently so best to be prepared.
9. Incidentals – There will be small items that you’ll need in the daily course of traveling that you’ll inevitably forget about, so best to have a fund available just for these cases.
10. Agent and Promoter Fees – Some agents get paid right off the top before you see the money, but some don’t and expect you to pay them afterwards. Don’t get caught short.
11. Emergency Fund – Likewise, unforeseen situations pop up that cost money to solve, like car or truck breakdowns, instrument repairs, or even bailing a band member out of jail. Best to be prepared with some cash.
Forgetting or miscalculating just one of these budget items could mean the difference between make or losing money on a tour. Prepare ahead as best as you can to help keep your stress level down.