Have you heard of Pomplamoose? It’s ok if you haven’t. They’re a couple that became internet famous about five years ago via weekly YouTube videos in which they do indie pop covers and originals. You might remember their annoying Hyundai commercials from 2010 where they sang Christmas carols. At any rate, given their relative level of success and exposure, not to mention their corporate involvement, one might think that the band going on tour would be a sure thing. They’d be wrong. The band’s Jack Conte recently wrote an article detailing their 28-day tour, in which they made $136,000 – and still lost nearly $12,000. While they’re not a metal act by any stretch of the imagination, it’s still an interesting story with lots of transparency that has implications for any touring band.
Pomplamoose have over 100 million views on YouTube, but they’re not necessarily a “touring” act. In the article, Conte calls being in an independent band “running a never-ending, rewarding, scary, low-margin small business.” Before even going on tour, the duo spent $24,000 on renting lights, a van and trailer, booking hotel rooms, and hiring a crew. They also had to hire a full band to tour with them.
Their expenses were this:
$26,450: production expenses
$17,589: hotels and food
$11,816: gas, airfare, parking, tolls
$48,000: Salaries and per diems
$22,000: Manufacturing merch, puclicity, supplies, shipping
$16,463: commissions for booking agency, business management, lawyer (the lawyer actually declined his commission)
Their income was this:
$97,519: income from ticket sales
$29,714: merch sales
$8,750: sponsorship from Lenovo
For a 28-day tour consisting of 24 shows, it seems like it was a successful enough tour. They sold over 1,100 tickets in San Francisco. But at the end of the day, they grossed $135,983 with $147,802 in expenses, losing $11,819. Either they’re doing it wrong, or touring is harder than ever these days. They definitely could have cut a few corners and made enough money for the tour to be profitable, from a quick read through the article. In the article, Conte makes sure to say that he’s not complaining, and he knew that it wasn’t necessarily a money-making endeavor, calling it “an investment in future tours.” In addition, the duo are (moderately) successful enough from YouTube alone that they don’t particularly need to tour. The whole article is pretty illuminating, regardless of what kind of band you tour in.