Seven Hidden Costs To Managing A Successful Band

UUnfortunately, managing a (financially) successful band requires more than talent, drive and hard work. Of course you’ve probably set aside money for future recording costs — or at least thought about saving up money to record. However, if you actually plan to make money from a career in music, there are some other costs you need to plan for.

Image credit: Codefor on Flickr

  1. Business formation

    If you’re planning to run your band as a professional business rather than a hobby, you’ll need to establish it as its own entity. Although business license and registration fees aren’t exorbitant, they might set you back if you’re unprepared. Limited Liability Companies (LLC) are good options for most bands as they involve limited administrative paperwork and record keeping. And let’s not forget about paying those pesky taxes. That’s right, if your business makes money playing music, you have to pay taxes on that income just like everyone else. The easiest way to track your band finances is to set up a bank account for your band once it’s a business entity.

  2. Maintenance

    Depending on how you organize your band and allocate funds, you’ll have to determine how to pay for costs such as new guitar strings or drum sticks. These costs, of course, are rather trivial. But what happens if a band member blows an amp that can’t be repaired? Or what if repairs cost hundreds of dollars? These costs can cut into your profits quickly, but they’re obviously necessary to your band’s continued success.

  3. Booking costs

    Getting shows can be difficult unless you already have a number of influential connections at your disposal. The fact of the matter is that booking agents typically have better professional rapports with venue owners than do individual band members. Of course, you probably don’t have the funding to hire a booking agent that promotes your band exclusively. Booking agents know this, which is why they typically work with numerous bands that pay them a certain percentage of their payout for each show.

  4. Gas/transportation

    Transportation costs add up much more quickly than you might expect. For example, my boyfriend’s band generally plays shows within a three hour radius. They easily spend $100 on fuel costs for every show that’s two to three hours away. (We live in the Midwest, so you might expect to pay more.) And that’s assuming you travel in one vehicle and pull your equipment behind you in a trailer. If you travel in a bus, RV or multiple vehicles, your costs will multiply. God forbid you get a flat tire or need a new transmission after running back and forth to different venues.

  5. Insurance premiums

    If you’re on the road a lot, you simply can’t do without an insurance policy that covers thousands of dollars of equipment. If you’re hauling a trailer, accidents are much more likely as your ability to slow down and speed up will be delayed. Accidents last just a few seconds, but they can destroy much of your equipment in that time. You’ll have to start at square one if you don’t have a way to recover your losses. And while I’m on my pedestal, I’m going to go ahead and plug the importance of wearing seat belts when traveling to shows. You can’t earn a living as a musician if you’re dead.

  6. Promotion

    Realistically speaking, you can’t make money if people don’t know who you are. Nor can you make money if people know who you are but don’t attend your shows. Professional bands need professional promotional strategies that engage fans. Fortunately, since you’re a musician, you should have at least a few friends who work in photography and/or design. Take advantage of their talent. If they’re in school, they’ll likely help you out as a way to improve their portfolio. However, if you don’t have connections with photographers and designers, you’ll have to invest in some. After all, your promotional materials portray your band to the masses. If they look amateur, why should anybody take you seriously?

  7. Time

    Managing a successful band requires a significant time commitment from all involved. As they say, time is money, and everyone in the band simply MUST be on the same page when it comes to time commitments. Time spent improving, promoting and performing is time that can’t be spent with loved ones. After all, not all costs are restricted to monetary loss.

Danielle Rodabaugh is an online marketing specialist for, a nationwide bonding agency. She also manages online branding and PR for We Live In Public, an electrified folk/pop/rock band based out of Columbia, Missouri.