Jack Conte of indie rock band Pamplamoose recently published the finances of their 2014 tour. At first I was worried that it was going to be one of those “musicians are losing” whining things but I was wrong from the get go.
Conte lays out in honest, straightforward detail what they did to plan their tour and why they made certain decisions. There’s no complaining anywhere–he even thanks the lawyer.
It’s a great read and even though I’m about to unload the spoiler that they lost 10 grand on the tour, I recommend you read it anyway.
There’s a common line of thought in the “music is free now” that suggests that by giving away music the artists will make it up in touring revenue. The example of Pamplamoose sort of goes against that thinking seeing as they lost money.
But looking at revenue categories of just music-object sales or just touring is probably not the way forward for anyone in classical or indie music.
There are a variety of other funding possibilities out there ranging from Kickstarter to Patreon to non-music miscellanea (Victor Wooten and other musicians giving speeches, for example).
What’s refreshing about Conte’s accounting of the Pamplamoose tour revenue is his faith that doing the tour in the manner they did was somehow worth it even though it lost money.
I’d love to see if they can attribute a growth in Patreon revenue to their tour, for example. Or whether the tour itself results in greater opportunity or music-object sales.
If the music-object is free/money-losing and therefore an investment in some future revenue opportunity, and the tour is free/money-losing and therefore an investment in some future revenue opportunity I’m still curious as to what that revenue opportunity will be.
I’m hopeful for things like Patreon and highly custom work offsetting the audience-building activity of making recordings and touring.