How To Harness The Power Of A Tour Budget

Tour Budgets
Need to do a tour budget? Numbers. Budgets. Ugh. Kill me now. Is this you? We feel ya. We used to feel the same way.

Until it dawned on us that budgeting is actually a powerful tool that – used properly, can help make or break your shows and tours. It’s our mission here today to show you some basic tricks to set yourself up with an easy budgeting template that you can use across any show to help keep your spending in check and make sure you come home without having lost money. Paying to play really sucks.

Trick 1: Work to at least 3 different sales targets to really get a clear picture in your draft tour budget

Let’s say you’re touring an album launch in a few months. It’ll be your first time in some towns, but you’ve been getting some radio play so things are looking pretty positive. Regardless, your potential audience is still going to be an unknown quantity. And other factors may come in to play. Shitty weather. A major sports event on the same night. You know how it goes.

So you need to work to a few different sales targets. The room has a 500 person capacity. Let’s set our targets up at 70% (350), 90% (450) and 100% (500).

These targets will help you work out a projected income based on your ticket price and help guide your expenditure. It can also help you tweak the ticket price you need to make sure you’re on track.

Trick Two: Really drill down into exactly what you need to spend money on

You need to really think ahead and consider everything including your flights, accommodation and transport costs through to additional production, social media ads and the all-important PER DIEMS. Don’t forget to write in your booking agency fees and management fees. Here are some sample ideas below:

Tour Budget Line Items

Trick Three: Research what it’s all going to cost

This is where tour budgets can make magic. Look at the example below:

Tour Budget Blow Out example

You can see that if you only sell 350 tickets, then you are going to lose $830 before you even spend any marketing money on posters or ads.

There are a couple of ways to use this information.

  1. You need more income. You need to up your ticket price. But what if you’re not a $20 ticket band yet? Explore some other options.
  2. You could aim to sell a whole heap of merchandise on the night? Make sure you’ve got plenty of cool merch that people will want to spend their money on and make sure that your merch is a priority – set it up with great lighting (so the audience can see it!) and aesthetics and a great salesperson.
  3. Bump some extra money into marketing which will hopefully help sell 100 more tickets, to bring you up to a 90% sales target. Better for the bottom line, better for your vibe, better for your career. But it’s a gamble.
  4. Trim some of these line items. Do you really need those extra light FX that are going to cost you $350? Maybe stay with friends rather than pay for a room. See if you can find some cheaper flights. Do you all really need $100 each in per diems?

As your ticket sales info trickles in you’ll be able to play with the numbers more confidently and maybe make some last minutes calls on extra production or lighting, etc. Once you’ve worked your way through a few of these budgets you’ll start to get a little better in learning how to translate what the numbers are telling you. You can play and tweak the numbers to see how it’ll affect the bottom line, which will in turn guide you in your decision making.

Because we love you, we cajoled our lovely mates at Amplifire Music (managers of Jungle Giants, Confidence Man and more) into sharing one of their tour budget templates with us.  So hit that link to download an excel spreadsheet template to help make those next shows and tours get a little more REAL.

If you’re still feeling like you’re fighting an uphill battle when it comes to understanding the bands’ finances, you should probably head over to our Tax and Book Keeping Course. It’s bloody excellent, if we do say so ourselves.

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