Independent artists detail the money they made or lost at SXSW


This year’s South By Southwest festival just wrapped up a few days ago, and as usual, it was a chance for up-and-coming artists to play a few shows and get some exposure. That said, while SXSW is great for these reasons, it’s really more of a marketing opportunity for artists than a money-making business. Now, after the festival, some performers are revealing how much money they managed to make (or lose) during the week.

On Wednesday, the group from Asheville, North Carolina kicked off the conversation by sharing a list of their income and expenses for SXSW this year. To summarize, they won $2,084, had $2,182.39 in expenses, and walked away with a loss of $98.39. They noted, “Just for the sake of transparency and because I feel comfortable posting this: Here’s why it’s so hard for bands to go to SX!! It’s b4 paying 10% $ to the booking agent and not including food costs. The combination of staying in COVID safe places and gas prices is p devastating.

In subsequent tweets, they continued:

“& we’re technically a band that’s ‘doing really well’ right now!! It’s even harder for bands that are more on the DIY side and have gone to SX. I’m not complaining about getting the job done of my dreams, but I want to show why being paid fairly through streaming would make a difference.

I also want to add SX is a special circumstance and we had a great time! Anyway, we had COVID and lost money. A reminder that music is simply a very inaccessible industry for people without a time/money safety net. Very relieved that we are on the verge of being able to make a living from our music because working in retail and making music full time was not sustainable for me forever. Definitely a good idea, as always, to support any struggling bands if you’re a fan and can afford it!”

This prompted other artists to speak out about how they fared, such as secretly Canadian artist Le Ren, who replied, “I just did my math and my m8 band and I’m leaving with $300 each (CAD so around US$230). Philadelphia band The Stone Eye noted, “You gotta do DoorDash/instacart on your days off. We paid for our 3 night, $70/night stay in Raleigh this way.

This prospect drew mixed reactions. Diiv’s Colin Caulfield replied: “Horrible advice. A day off almost always = a long drive. Drew Kennedy replied, “Respect.” Remember Sports (formerly Sports) added, not specifically of The Stone Eye’s tweet but in general, “Amazing how much unnecessary unsolicited advice has appeared in these comments lmao at y’all.”

Other users questioned why merchandise sales weren’t included in Wednesday’s figures and the group responded. “The only place we sold merchandise at SX was a house show. There aren’t a ton of opportunities to sell merchandise in the storefronts because the schedules are so busy they want you to come and go. .

The group later concluded in a tweet thread:

“Here’s the last thing I’m going to say on the SX tweet. Spinning the cheapest way isn’t always the ‘right’ route if it makes it physically/mentally unsustainable for you. Two groups were at the Airbnb during 5 days.We played 7 shows in total, we were paid for 1.

For bands who say numbers are scary to turn: it was about highlighting how inaccessible being a musician has become. I hope it’s easier for more people to be touring musicians if they want to in the future! But it will take a rethink of how we engage with music. By streaming or otherwise.

We’ve been touring for 5 years, working/schooling when we’re home and barely breaking even. If there was anyway we could make it easier for people to experience music, imagine how much music we would be able to listen to!! I’m not going to engage in commentary here for my own good… but I don’t know, that’s all I have to say about it.


About Author

Comments are closed.