Our short tour made a profit of $16.81. Possibly more, if you count merch, but merch is so inextricably caught up with production costs for those CDs and tshirts that we didn’t bring along to sell, fees to the label, mailorder costs, etc that I’m not even going to bother. If there’s a profit from the merch, it’s also small.
In some ways, I’m kind of crowing a bit about the fact that we came out in the black. It means I managed to keep expenses down and luck out with some reasonable promotion.
In other ways, I’m am abjectly terrified of what this implies. $16.81. For 9 shows. That’s not counting food. And lodging was primarily couches and futons of sympathetic friends and promoters along the way. We’re looking at an average hourly wage of somewhere in the vicinity of a nickel, and only then because of the good graces of many, many people.
Convicts make better money than this. If there’s anything that will quickly kill the notion of the rich and famous rockstar life, this is it, right here. A nickel an hour.
Sure, yeah, we’re a tiny band that doesn’t devote all their waking time to relentlessly touring and promoting and building a reputation, and we’re in a tiny subgenre. There are a lot of ways we could do a lot better, I’m sure, to bring people out and move merch. Still – there are lots of bands who do this for a living, and even if they’re doing 100 times better, that’s still less than minimum wage. That’s no margin for error, right there. That’s “if your van blows a tire, you’re basically screwed” territory. That’s “the drummer is delirious from eating nothing but ramen for two weeks” land.
It also hammers home the notion that every night really needs to be a good night. We had maybe two shows where the door take wasn’t enough to cover the gas to get there, and thankfully one of those shows well made up for it with merch sales. I admit I was entirely unprepared for such a quick reversal of fortune. I’m not sure what exactly I expected, but damn, that’s a razor-edge.
I’m glad I’m doing this because I love the music, not because I’m trying to make a living at it.