Money is the last taboo. That’s especially true in the music industry, where questions about income, lifestyle, and who can afford to be an artist often go unanswered. Our new feature Balance Sheet hopes to change that, as TOLEDO break down their income and expenses from their recent tour.
Today, the buzzy Brooklyn duo TOLEDO offer an honest look at life on the road. Lifelong friends Dan Álvarez de Toledo and Jordan Dunn-Pilz are a pandemic success story, breaking out in early 2021 with folk-inflected indie pop like the irresistible “Sunday Funday.” In June of this year, TOLEDO announced their signing to Grand Jury Music — home of indie stalwarts such as Hovvdy, Samia, and former Artist of the Month Jordana — as well as a run of July tour dates. This was one of their first chances to forge a live connection with the audience they had built over the Internet, not to mention earning ticket sales and hawking merch.
For this inaugural Balance Sheet, TOLEDO kept records of nine concerts that took place from the 7th to the 18th of July. During that period, they performed shows in the Midwest and Northeast, including stops in Michigan, Kentucky, and New York.
We asked them to break down their incoming and outgoing funds across six categories: Travel, Lodging, Food, Entertainment, Music Expenses, and Income. We also requested that they disclose additional funding or outside support. Read on to discover how the band made a profit of $1,432.13 playing nine shows.
This is our second tour ever (the first one was like, a month ago), and we kind of don’t know what we are doing, but it sort of works! We took Dan’s shitty 2008 Subaru Impreza, a car loosely based on Lightning McQueen from the Cars movie, and have been driving from place to place with a broken AC compressor, dysfunctional dynamic steering, and a small air hole from when someone broke into the car. Things happen on the road all the time, but the craziest was definitely when we saw an 18-wheeler hit a highway sign and get like, scalped.
We have spent $562.88 on gas so far, with tons more to go (even though we just have two shows left).
This was weird because we are from NYC, but the first show and last show are in Michigan and Kentucky, so the start and end drives are crazy.
We mix it up, but we like to stay on couches whenever we can. A big thing is just posting on socials to see if fans have spots we can crash. We have a very friendly base of fans, so we get very lucky and feel really privileged. We have learned that staying in hotels to balance out the couches is definitely great for mental health stuff. When it comes to hotels or Airbnbs, we try to stay as cheap as we can. Sometimes a couple of little family fest spots offer accommodations, and that’s the BEST.
The craziest lodging experience we have had is definitely when we played Spruce Peak ski resort [in Vermont] and got like full suite and food and everything — but the place was almost abandoned except for staff and a bunch of lacrosse moms. We watched two lacrosse fathers fight over whose kid was better at lacrosse. Was definitely a weird place, but shrooms and weed fix everything!
Dunks and Panera always. We try to be as money conscious as possible, but it’s really, really hard to stay within our $15 per diem. We try to develop relationships with all the fans we crash with, and usually we get to cook together and save a little cash.
Miscellaneous Snacks: -$133.54
Oh, we try to do as much as we can. We went knife throwing in Albany, got lost hiking in Vermont, and we take turns playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Jordan’s Nintendo Switch. We also love to swim, so we find water when we can, since the Hudson isn’t really “clean.”
We also try to take out the people we are staying with to have fun experiences with us. Karaoke is always a winner there, because we love the theatre of it all.
We pay a bassist, Guillermo [Goldshmied], at the moment, but he also works from the road, so he takes a big pay cut with the intention of “making more when TOLEDO gets famous.” He’s making around $660 for the whole tour. Which is messed up!
Merch is the best part of everything, but also super expensive. We do our own merch because it’s the best time to hang out and talk with fans. We also do a bit of a reverse thing with our fans: Instead of signing their stuff, we have them sign our guitars and shirts, and we ask to take pictures with them. We love, love, love that part of the process; it’s the best.
Merch Design: -$400
Merch Purchase: -$2,100
Guitar Repairs: -$114
Amp for Tour: -$350
Guillermo Goldshmied (Bass) Pay: -$660
Business Manager Fee: -$366.10
Booking Agent Fee: -$265
Well, TOLEDO became a thing during the pandemic, so we never really got our sea legs with touring. We are trying to be on the road as much as we can as an opener, but recognize that COVID kind of took our window. There are so many artists out there that deserve spots over us, so we are trying to be as patient as we can.
As an opener, we make $250 a show, but nothing goes to our pockets. [Editor’s note: The band also received $400 for a show in Michigan and $500 for a Brooklyn concert, according to information provided to Consequence.]
We received money from a corporate gig in June. That helped us fund things. One of the hardest things about the road is not being able to do our own work. TOLEDO is our job and life, but we also love producing friends and artists, and that’s how we make a living since we get $0 from Spotify and DSPs right now.
The only help we had was leftover money that we saved up.
Looks like all together, we made $1,432.13 for the shows, and that’s not bad! The bad part is that now we both have no money for moving in August, and are two months late on rent already. Fun! It probably sucks worse for the bands spending a ton of money, but they have tour support, and we have opted to save our tour support for a (hopefully) big tour in the fall so we can actually rent a van, get another player or two, and maybe bump the per diem to $20… that would be cool.
Merch Revenue: $4,672
Concert Revenue: $2,650
Music Expenses: -$4,255.10