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How much money can an artist like John Mayer make per concert?
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16th October 2008
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How much money can an artist like John Mayer make per concert?

Just curious...how much money can an artist like John Mayer, or other big bands/acts like that make per gig. I know that live music is supposed to be the best source of income for musicians, and was wondering how much the big guys pull in a night, for themselves after paying everyone else.
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Depending on the size of the venue. He seems to play hockey rink size places in some markets, and sheds in others. For the rink size, at 15k people, he probably has the average ticket price at $50, which if he sells out is $750000 in ticket revenue. His guarantee is probably in the 200,000 - 300,000$ mark. Don't forget that most artists do 3-4$ per head in merch, so thats another possible 60k in merch money, and if he sells out, he gets money on the back end, usually a 50/50 split.....so he could gross out at around 560k in one night.

Now to expenses.....and without giving a huge list, he is spending probably over 100k a day to keep the band on the road, gig or not....which includes managers 20%, crew, busses, hotels, transport rigs, flights....the list is long.
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Thanks for the response. Anymore? It just fascinates me how much money can be made like this at a single show, and I'm curious as to what all artists have to pay for (expenses) and how much they really end up walking away with. I'm sure for big guys, even with all the expenses, they make more money than I probably even imagine.

I would be happy playing a show for $100/night...which is what I make right now doing cover gigs usually. Getting even just that to play and original set consisting of all of my own songs would be enough for me..
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I don't know about his dough (though the above sounds like the right neighborhood) and I don't know about him being back with Jennifer Aniston, but I do know this:

Last week, I got an e-mail from Berklee's alumni office inviting me to a clinic with John Mayer. I'm not a giant fan, but I like some of his music and I liked the column he wrote in Esquire. I went mostly out of curiosity. He played a bunch of tunes solo guitar and then did Q&A for a long time. 800 music students, so no celebrity questions. This guy is a great guitar player, has been taking singing lessons and is really moving beyond the sensitive whisper of his early stuff and is funny and intelligent.

It turns out that he texted the college's president and said "I have nothing going on next week, would it be cool if I came and sat in on some songwriting classes?" and did just that. Students showed up and John Mayer was there to work on their songs with him. I thought that was awfully cool of him. He had some really interesting things to talk about- practical advice like "what do you say while you're tuning?"

Of course, it's Berklee so some kid asked what gauge strings he uses and he replied "18s, of course. That's the only way to get tone".

Back to your regularly scheduled thread...
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The above is fairly accurate, but most artists get 80 - 85% of the back end. Sometimes there is a "promoter 15", which is 15% on top of the expenses going to the promoter before they start splitting money with the artist. The idea is that it is a return on the risk the promoter takes by guaranteeing the artist money and to pay the other expenses of promoting the concert. Artists that always sell out have been able to get rid of the promoter 15 in the past few years.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by $uper$tar View Post
Thanks for the response. Anymore? It just fascinates me how much money can be made like this at a single show, and I'm curious as to what all artists have to pay for (expenses) and how much they really end up walking away with. I'm sure for big guys, even with all the expenses, they make more money than I probably even imagine.

I would be happy playing a show for $100/night...which is what I make right now doing cover gigs usually. Getting even just that to play and original set consisting of all of my own songs would be enough for me..
For a small modest band playing sheds, they may be able to get away with a Crew of maybe 4 to 6, probably monitors, FOH, Lights, merch, and 1 or 2 backline Techs, and tour manager. Figure crew guys are making anywhere from $500 to $5000 a week depending on what they do. Also a tour bus cost around $7000 to $15000 a week plus gas and the drivers pay and hotel rooms if need be, the price of the bus depends on how nice it is. Then the bus may pull a trailer for your gear add more expense for the trailer, or if you have alot of gear you may need a Semi Truck and Trailer another hefty expense with driver. keep in mind this is a small band playing sheds like 500 to 2000 person shows, now on a larger scale where a band is playing stadiums etc there may be several tour busses and a couple semi trucks(a large outfit like Trans Siberian orchestra or Madonna has somehting like 20 tour busses and 20 semi trucks and a crew of 70 maybe even more, so well you do the math, add on hotels every other night, flights, console rentals, monitor and Pa rental, other gear rentals, etc and if you do the math you figure for an established act touring is not a cheap thing, not too mention that rehearsals before even hitting the road may have cost around $50000 to $300000+ just to get ready for the tour.
So its not surprising the high ticket prices for shows these days considering how much money it takes to keep a quality production on the road.
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I was with plenty of acts that did $200k per day just in merchandise doing outdoor festivals. For the show they got from $120K-300K per festival. (Note: these were all headliners)

When I did the big festivals like the Monsters of Rock in the 70s-80s the headliners each day were paid $300K to $500K plus merchandise sales.

For average 15,000 seaters most acts get a guarantee of about $40k to start with.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brill bedroom View Post
Last week, I got an e-mail from Berklee's alumni office inviting me to a clinic with John Mayer. I'm not a giant fan, but I like some of his music and I liked the column he wrote in Esquire. I went mostly out of curiosity. He played a bunch of tunes solo guitar and then did Q&A for a long time. 800 music students, so no celebrity questions. This guy is a great guitar player, has been taking singing lessons and is really moving beyond the sensitive whisper of his early stuff and is funny and intelligent.
I did the multitrack recording of Mayer's, ummm, show. I have to admit that I didn't think he could sing that good. Plus he didn't do any of his stupid, lame ass songs, i.e. all of his early stuff.

I don't know how it was in the venue, but his guitar is really dark. I had a bright mic on it and it still needed the bottom end taken off and the top end boosted.

I also thought the string question was pretty funny. Poor stupid kid...he will now be known as that guy.

Also, a couple days after the show I asked my boss if I could have a 2 mix copy. He said no I wasn't authorized to have one, but then directed me to youtube...apparently it had been posted by the school. WTF...
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17th October 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plexisys View Post
I was with plenty of acts that did $200k per day just in merchandise doing outdoor festivals. For the show they got from $120K-300K per festival. (Note: these were all headliners)

When I did the big festivals like the Monsters of Rock in the 70s-80s the headliners each day were paid $300K to $500K plus merchandise sales.

For average 15,000 seaters most acts get a guarantee of about $40k to start with.
John mayer can headline a 15,000 seat arena? really?
I guess the spice girls could , so maybe
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John mayer can headline a 15,000 seat arena? really?
I guess the spice girls could , so maybe
I don't know what size venues he normally plays in. But I do know he plays a lot of sheds and outdoor festivals in the summers.

Hey Milli Vannelli sold out some big rooms too. Never underestimate the stupidity of the music public.
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Seems like a lot of money.
It ain't.

I just got a quote from Rock-it Cargo for SINGLE semi, driver, fuel, lodging for a twelve city U.S. tour.
The price: $64K
That is one semi truck.

An arena p.a. rig can easily cost $15K per night.
A lighting rig will cost more than that.
There is the stage to pay for in arenas.
Local union hands to set stage and work the show (almost 100% of the time.)
Local riggers (always required.)
Price per rigging point ($200, to $500 depending on venue) there can easily be thirty, forty points and I have seen as many as 92 points (Bette Midler '06.)
Power Service charges (easily $1 per amp, but usually more)
Teamsters to un-load trucks (a union requirement in many cities and venues.)
Catering

Tour crew busses and fuel.
Tour crew lodging.
Air fares.
Salaries.

Insurance (a BIG factor.)

I have known members of major tour acts (BIG acts) and they had tours that DID NOT break even.

Did you know that if you record ANYTHING in a union hall there is an AUTOMATIC $4K fee?
Always. 100% of the time.
They don't even assist except to tie in power.
Plus, they won't even tie your power in unless this fee is paid.
If you hired a generator they would either cut your cables (accidently) or not allow the show to be set-up.
Remember that the management of the halls are most likely union as well.

Touring is EXTREMELY expensive.
Unless the act and label have deep pockets they have to borrow start up money for a tour.
There is interest on that.

The p.a. and lighting has to be rented prior to a paying show for tech rehearsals.
There is at least an entire week of production rental (sound, lighting, stage) and associated salaries before any shows bring in revenue.
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I'm sure he doesn't have to spend anywhere near 100k a day to keep things on the road. Not even half of that. Not even a quarter of that. Many of the these people are working for the venue or stadium or just wonderer's that tag along for free. I've read countless books of rock stars who just have devoted fans tag along and help out. A good manager is not going to make a salary of 100k a year. Hotel expenses are going to be cheap, so are the trucks that drive your equipment around.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DielonYaMon View Post
I'm sure he doesn't have to spend anywhere near 100k a day to keep things on the road. Not even half of that. Not even a quarter of that. Many of the these people are working for the venue or stadium or just wonderer's that tag along for free. I've read countless books of rock stars who just have devoted fans tag along and help out. A good manager is not going to make a salary of 100k a year. Hotel expenses are going to be cheap, so are the trucks that drive your equipment around.
What exactly is your address in Fantasyland??
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I'm sure he doesn't have to spend anywhere near 100k a day to keep things on the road. Not even half of that. Not even a quarter of that. Many of the these people are working for the venue or stadium or just wonderer's that tag along for free. I've read countless books of rock stars who just have devoted fans tag along and help out. A good manager is not going to make a salary of 100k a year. Hotel expenses are going to be cheap, so are the trucks that drive your equipment around.
I'll give you some magic beans for your gold. It's clear you don't have clue about this part of the business.

I've had union calls in LA, NY, Cleveland and Chicago that cost more than $100k per day.
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Originally Posted by DielonYaMon View Post
I'm sure he doesn't have to spend anywhere near 100k a day to keep things on the road. Not even half of that. Not even a quarter of that. Many of the these people are working for the venue or stadium or just wonderer's that tag along for free. I've read countless books of rock stars who just have devoted fans tag along and help out. A good manager is not going to make a salary of 100k a year. Hotel expenses are going to be cheap, so are the trucks that drive your equipment around.
Oh boy...

On a separate note, John is doing very well for himself. I can tell you that much...

Ed
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Originally Posted by plexisys View Post
I don't know what size venues he normally plays in. But I do know he plays a lot of sheds and outdoor festivals in the summers.

Hey Milli Vannelli sold out some big rooms too. Never underestimate the stupidity of the music public.
Whats with the Mayer Hate? He's topping charts, so of coarse he can sell out shows. And you know you still got 'Blame it on the Rain' on your ipod.
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Sponsors people, sponsors.
Very few acts, unless they are already very well know and selling out major venues already, get sponsers.
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Originally Posted by plexisys View Post
Very few acts, unless they are already very well know and selling out major venues already, get sponsers.
Really? I've known wedding/cover bands with more sponsorships than I can count on one hand. Granted, it's not worth much $$$ at that level, but it's something.

-Dan.
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I just wanted to mention that tonight's performance is being brought to you by Jed's Thongs for Men. You can pick up a pair for $8.99 at our booth tonight, including their hot selling new El Ranchero and YMCA styles.
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Forbes, who regularly lists top paid entertainers and musicians, listed
the Police as being the top paid musicians last year with a $115 million
dollar 'take' on $200 million revenue. Did they do 85 cities? Million bucks
per show expenses? Should be pretty easy to figure out.

Search 'top paid musicians' ...

And all I want is just to be able to make a decent living
playing music...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DielonYaMon View Post
I'm sure he doesn't have to spend anywhere near 100k a day to keep things on the road. Not even half of that. Not even a quarter of that. Many of the these people are working for the venue or stadium or just wonderer's that tag along for free. I've read countless books of rock stars who just have devoted fans tag along and help out. A good manager is not going to make a salary of 100k a year. Hotel expenses are going to be cheap, so are the trucks that drive your equipment around.
This is so not true. The original quote is a bit high, but it is up there. And for the record having the "stars friends and hangers on" help out is down right dangerous and bad business. The road is not safe for the inexperienced, if your quote were true then there would be more "tech school grads" on the road.
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As I said earler It's clear he doesn't have clue about this part of the business.

Jed's Thongs for Men. Dam if I knew they were giving away Jed's Thongs for Men insted of T shirts I'd go back on the road right now.
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Tour Costs

I have been around large tours for the last 12 years of my life and can give a ballpark estimate of some of the costs;

Tour buses $1,000 per day the bus is out (not per show)Headliners like nice buses
*these tours usually don't go out with less than 6 buses, I did a Reba show that had 13 on the road...how would you like to pay gas for that! sheeeeeezz
Gas- these buses are getting about 7 miles a gallon if you are lucky.....
Insurance- you have to insure all people on the road, and the artist(imagine having to pay for John Mayer's broken hand in the middle of a tour)

Musician's are getting between $1500 and $2500 per show
Per diems have to be paid to each person on the road with you @ $45 per day.
Road crew is needed to set up all your gear, and on a headliner tour, the headliner surely has a tech for each instrument( I have seen some have 2 guitar techs!)

So out of the previously mentioned $200,000-$300,000 estimated gaurantee, you first deduct about 15-20% for the booking agent. These folks go through CAA and William Morris, believe me, they are getting their cut.

Then deduct PA, Lights, etc....

Merch: the venues ALWAYS get 20-30% of the sales. That is why cd's are really expensive at shows. BTW- the Rolling Stones average 1 million dollars in gross merch sales PER NIGHT , this is not the norm for other bands of course.

So to say $100,000 per show for an expense estimate is not out of line. PLus, there is always a split on the profits. The promoters get the short end of the stick on that. I have seen a million dollar box office result in the promoter only walking away with $50,000 in their pocket after expenses and the split.......

Food for thought,
Rob
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Really? I've known wedding/cover bands with more sponsorships than I can count on one hand. Granted, it's not worth much $$$ at that level, but it's something.
Everyone should listen to what he says. He is Eru, The One.
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John Mayer rocks period. Funny, smart and he always gets the girl. He's obviously got millions and millions in the bank but how much does he make per show? Who knows, he probably doesn't even know. Every show is different I would imagine depending on how many tickets are sold etc.

I saw him play at SVA two different times which is a huge amphitheater. The first show there supporting Room for Squares was awesome, great show.
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room for squares was a great album..but yea that $$$ figure is making me dizzy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allencollins View Post
John mayer can headline a 15,000 seat arena? really?
I guess the spice girls could , so maybe
John Mayer Tour Dates

Ford Amphitheatre (Tampa) 20,000 seats.
Cruzan Amphitheatre 19,000 seats.

I've never been to his concerts tho...
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Actually, John is working for free beer and a sandwich. No sides with the sandwich, and please, keep the breaks to 15 minutes.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RMJAZZ View Post
I have been around large tours for the last 12 years of my life and can give a ballpark estimate of some of the costs;

Tour buses $1,000 per day the bus is out (not per show)Headliners like nice buses
*these tours usually don't go out with less than 6 buses, I did a Reba show that had 13 on the road...how would you like to pay gas for that! sheeeeeezz
Gas- these buses are getting about 7 miles a gallon if you are lucky.....
Insurance- you have to insure all people on the road, and the artist(imagine having to pay for John Mayer's broken hand in the middle of a tour)

Musician's are getting between $1500 and $2500 per show
Per diems have to be paid to each person on the road with you @ $45 per day.
Road crew is needed to set up all your gear, and on a headliner tour, the headliner surely has a tech for each instrument( I have seen some have 2 guitar techs!)

So out of the previously mentioned $200,000-$300,000 estimated gaurantee, you first deduct about 15-20% for the booking agent. These folks go through CAA and William Morris, believe me, they are getting their cut.

Then deduct PA, Lights, etc....

Merch: the venues ALWAYS get 20-30% of the sales. That is why cd's are really expensive at shows. BTW- the Rolling Stones average 1 million dollars in gross merch sales PER NIGHT , this is not the norm for other bands of course.

So to say $100,000 per show for an expense estimate is not out of line. PLus, there is always a split on the profits. The promoters get the short end of the stick on that. I have seen a million dollar box office result in the promoter only walking away with $50,000 in their pocket after expenses and the split.......

Food for thought,
Rob
I would say you are right on with these numbers.
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Originally Posted by Zwinter View Post
I did the multitrack recording of Mayer's, ummm, show. I have to admit that I didn't think he could sing that good. Plus he didn't do any of his stupid, lame ass songs, i.e. all of his early stuff.
..
Ooh baby, if there's one thing in this world that will never change, it's that dudes at the intersection of Mass Ave. and Boylston do not like successful musicians. Struggle to bring 35 people to Ryles on a Wednesday and you are the man, but have a hit record and you are automatically suspect. That's the tao of Berklee; stay down here with the rest of us.

The guitar sounded really nice out front- any insight into his acoustic tone? What's he got in that Martin? That sounded particularly good.
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