The Costs Of Being In A Band: A Lifestyle Reality Check | Hall Pass Free Shows

Costs for indie bands add up quickly. It takes money to make money, which for indie musicians, often doesn’t come from a cheque from a label. More often, bands come up with cash to pay for fees themselves, from working other jobs on the side.

It’s not an easy climb; working a minimum wage doesn’t go far, especially when you have rent and bills to cover in addition to costs associated to your band. Some bands get lucky and have multi talented members that can cover extra expenses, but costs still climb quickly.

Fans and spending habits

Bands already have a hard time getting paid fairly. To make matters more challenging, sometimes fans aren’t willing to pay for their performances or recordings.

Stuff is expensive these days: $7 for a coffee, $20 for a case of beer, $1000 for an iPhone. The list goes on. Somehow in this shuffle, many have decided that 15 bucks for a concert ticket or self-released album is too much scratch.

So, do we really value two coffees more than the lasting value of music?


Typical indie band costs (ouch)

Below are some of the typical costs an indie band may pay for, often out of their own pockets:

Recording fees

    • Producers & engineers
    • Studio Costs
    • Digital storage costs
    • Other studio supplies
    • Equipment rental fees
    • Guest Musician fees
    • Mastering fees
  • Promo fees
    • Graphic design costs
      • Album art, flyers, posters, etc
    • CD/Vinyl manufacturing & duplication fees
    • Promotional Expenses
      • Indie Radio Reps
      • Sales Reps
    • Marketing & Sales fees
      • Website creation, design, maintenance
    • Publicity & promotional material fees
    • Publicist Fees
    • Printing & copying charges
    • Photographer & duplication fees
  • Taxes
    • Local, state, and federal
    • Tax preparation costs & bookkeeper fees
  • Band Equipment Costs
    • Instrument purchases, rentals, repairs
    • Tour Luggage
    • Mixing and playback equipment
    • Sound systems
    • Rehearsal & studio fees
  • Songwriting
    • Copyright song registration & filing fees
    • Performance Rights Organization fees
  • Artist Business Costs
    • Personal Manager/Consultant fees
    • Business Manager/Accountant fees
    • Booking Agent fees
    • Publicist fees
    • Music Attorney fees
  • Transportation costs
    • Vehicle purchase or rental & insurance costs
    • Maintenance costs (gas, service & repair)
    • Airline, bus, and/or train tickets
    • Highway & ferry tolls
  • Touring expenses
    • Per Diem ( for food, lodging etc.)
    • Road Manager & roadies salaries
    • Lighting/Sound equipment & purchase or rental costs
  • Other Expenses
    • Costumes/Stage clothing
    • Insurance (health, equipment, life, etc.)
    • Union dues
    • Trade magazine subscriptions
    • Video production and manufacturing costs


Did you get all that?

That’s a long list, and that’s our point. Even if a band could get away with paying only half of those expenses, that still adds up very quickly. Let’s get together and support our musicians, so they can continue to make the songs we depend on day to day.


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Thanks to MusicBandAcademy for providing the musician cost breakdown.