What Percentage Do Artists Get From Touring And Shows? Thursday February 15 2024, 6:00 PM
Yona Marie
Singer, Songwriter, Producer.
What Percentage Do Artists Get From Touring And Shows?

Tour Percentage Split Estimates

Touring and live shows have long been praised as one of the most lucrative and vital revenue streams for artists.

The thing is, the financial breakdown of touring can get complex, with factors such as the artist's popularity, the size of the venue, ticket prices, and the agreement with promoters all playing key roles.

For artists signed with major labels, the typical split after expenses can vary widely. The artist might see anywhere from 10% to 80% of the net profits, with the rest being allocated to various expenses and the balance going to the label, management, agents, and crew.

It's also not uncommon for the label to recoup some of the expenses they've fronted, such as marketing costs, from the artist's share.

Big tours featuring well-known artists playing in large venues or stadiums involve significant upfront costs, including stage production, crew, logistics, and marketing.

However, the scale of these tours allows for substantial ticket sales, high-margin VIP packages, and extensive merchandise sales.

The net percentage an artist takes home from a big tour can be substantial, with top acts like Taylor Swift or Beyonce potentially earning millions per show after expenses and taking home around 60% to 85% of the revenue made. 

For example, considering Beyoncé's "Formation World Tour" back in 2016, it grossed approximately $256 million from 49 shows. Given the industry standard and her stature, it's plausible she took home around $200 million after expenses. 

If you're successful enough, you can negotiate literally anything. As an impressive example, Jimmy Buffett was able to secure a unique amphitheater agreement that lasted for decades, allowing him to earn an astonishing 105% of the gross ticket sales.

How was he able to do that? Artists can significantly increase their income through merchandise sales at shows. If, on average, 20% of concertgoers buy a $25 item, that's an additional $25,000 in revenue (before costs).

Also, offering VIP experiences can also boost revenue. If 100 fans purchase a VIP package at $150, that's an additional $15,000.


Tour Split Example

Let's break down some estimates using a hypothetical scenario where an artist sells 5,000 tickets at $50 each for a concert.

Considering various costs and revenue splits, this scenario will help illustrate how revenue is generated from ticket sales and how it translates to artist income.

Scenario: 5,000 Tickets at $50 Each

Gross Revenue: Selling 5,000 tickets at $50 each generates a gross revenue of $250,000 for a single show.

Expenses and Splits

Before the artist sees any income, several expenses typically need to be covered:

Venue Costs: These can include rental fees, staffing, security, and utilities. Assuming this costs about 10% of the gross, that's $25,000.

Production Costs: The costs for sound, lighting, stage setup, and any specific show production elements. Let's estimate this at 20% of the gross, equating to $50,000.

Promotion and Marketing: Costs to advertise the show, which could be around 5% of the gross, so $12,500.

Management and Agent Fees: Typically, a management fee could be around 15-20% of the artist's net income, and agent fees might be about 10% of the gross income. For simplicity, let's calculate agent fees at 10% of the gross, which is $25,000.

After subtracting these expenses ($25,000 + $50,000 + $12,500 + $25,000 = $112,500) from the gross revenue, $137,500 remains.

Artist Income

From the remaining $137,500, the artist must cover any additional expenses not accounted for above, such as travel and accommodation for the band and crew. Let's ballpark this at $37,500 for simplicity.

Net Income Before Management Fee: $100,000

Assuming a management fee of 15% of the net income, that would be $15,000.

Artist's Take-Home Pay: $85,000


Tour Income Vs. Other Streams For Artists

Compared to streaming, the financial returns from platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal are often criticized for their low payout rates.

On average, the payout per stream can vary significantly between platforms, often falling between $0.003 and $0.008 per stream.

While this might seem negligible, high streaming numbers can accumulate into substantial earnings over time. For instance, a million streams at $0.005 per stream would generate $5,000.

For physical sales, artists can expect to earn between 10% and 15% of the retail price, while digital sales might offer slightly better margins, given the lower production and distribution costs.

However, the shift towards streaming has significantly reduced the volume of album sales, making this a less lucrative avenue than it once was.

Publishing rights and royalties represent another vital income stream, encompassing the earnings from the use of an artist's music — be it radio play, streaming, or synchronization rights for movies, TV shows, and commercials.

For successful artists, publishing can be a substantial and consistent revenue source, often outlasting the peaks and troughs of album sales and touring income. But for lesser-known artists, it won't pay that many bills. 

Touring stands out among these revenue streams for several reasons. Firstly, it offers immediate financial returns, unlike the delayed payouts of streaming and royalties.

Secondly, merchandise sales at live shows can significantly boost an artist's income, with high profit margins and direct sales to fans. 

Another way of earning big is with sponsorship deals, which can range from a few thousand dollars for emerging artists to millions for globally recognized stars. The key advantage is that sponsorship money is often guaranteed income, independent of ticket sales, making it a less variable source of revenue.

The music industry is constantly evolving, and so are the opportunities for artists to earn a living. By diversifying income streams, artists can create a more stable and sustainable career path, less dependent on any single source of revenue.

Yona Marie

As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 300 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!

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