The Heavy Costs of Being an Indie Touring Band

It's hard out there for a Pomplamoose. The NorCal indie dance duo might rack up millions of YouTube views thanks to nifty covers of Beyonce and Pharrell Williams, but they haven't much dough to show for it. It's a tale heard around the world from too many "successful" independent artists (successful in quotes because, as member Jack Conte writes, "We have not 'made it.' We’re making it."). They bust their asses self-financing music videos, recording sessions and tours, just to end up in the hole.


Pomplamoose has blown the lid off of the world of the working musician with a detailed essay on their recent tour expenses. Conte holds nothing back, listing the salaries of their six-person crew (four touring musicians, a manager and an engineer), lodging expenses and just how deep into credit-card debt he and Nataly Dawn plunged.


Conte also broke down the twosome's income sources: mostly ticket sales and merchandise, but sponsorship from Lenovo computers and crowdfunding contributed heavily as well. (There's been some backlash courtesy crusty journalists such as Bob Lefsetz insisting Pomplamoose and other "sour grapes" stop bitching and just create "better" music, but that boot-strapping mentality is a trope across all economic issues.)


To counter that defeatist "that's just the way it is" mantra, Conte created Patreon, a fan-funded outlet akin to Kickstarter. It cuts out the middle man and lets "patrons" fund the projects from their favorite artists. Pomplamoose, for example, charge $1 for access to their news feed, $3 per month to hear their monthly podcast and $10 for unlimited audio and video viewing from the band.


More and more it's apparent that in order to thrive as a a musician (who isn't a pop princess or a classic rock god), one must go straight to the source: the fans. Pomplamoose did every emerging artist a favor by showing just how financially grueling a tour can be-- but the rewards outweigh the debt.


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