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Trinity Firearms, you’re right, I have not seen Grizzly Bear’s balance sheet, but I have toured many of the exact same venues and roads that they did in their past and I have a lot of knowledge regarding how much money they are/should be making. Want to know how much a band gets paid for selling out Webster Hall, 9:30 Club, The Metro, etc. etc…I can tell you. Venues have a guarantee and a baseline that the band must reach. Once the band reaches the agreed upon amount they get a percentage of the overages, say 85%. If you sell out a room with roughly 1,000 seats your band will walk away with at least $8,000 – 10,000. I know because I’ve signed the contracts. So, if Grizzly Bear is playing to 6,000 people in NYC I think it is safe to say they made a nice chunk of change. They are a good enough band to keep people’s attention with the great music they write. Why do they need to hire lighting and sound technicians? Every single venue that is the size they play already employs in-house people to take care of those duties. Again, I haven’t signed their contract, but I know what I’ve been paid, and what my friend’s bands are paid, and I would be absolutely shocked if Grizzly Bear didn’t get at least $30,000 every time they performed at a festival. I’m guessing that I’m DRASTICALLY understating how much they make, but that is a modest estimate.
Also, I call bs on the not having to pay rent for a month or two claim when discussing licensing. I had a song sold to a TV show and they paid $20,000 to use a 45 second clip. Half of that went to the record company and the other $10,000 came to our band. Figuring Grizzly Bear plays five festivals making $30,000 per appearance and licenses 5 songs for $20,000 a piece, we’re already talking about $250,000 for roughly 5 evenings of work. I just don’t buy that Ed Droste can’t live a middle-class life.
All that I’m saying is people DON’T need to be getting a cut of everything. You can make a decision to work a little harder and keep the money for yourself. My band doesn’t travel in a van, tour manage ourselves, and sell our own merch because it is the easiest thing to do. We do it because it affords us the ability to not have to work other jobs when not on tour and we believe in hard work.
I agree. I didn’t. In fact I took it upon myself to act as my band’s tour manager which kept me busy most days, but it also kept us from having to hire a tour manager. I felt connected with my business and didn’t have to pay someone 10% to babysit me. Also, we have never used a tour bus because it is incredibly wasteful and unnecessary. Those things run 24/7 so the artists can have their cool fridges and air conditioning.
All I’m saying is I know for a fact Grizzly Bear are making really good money and I just don’t see how they work any harder than any other person who puts in an honest day of work. I don’t understand why writing some good songs entitles you to lots of money. I love Grizzly Bear, I really do, but there are things they could do differently if they are truly concerned with how they are being compensated.
To that I would say, “Why do they have to earn a living off of a decade’s worth of salary?” As a performer, even on the meager level my band has achieved, we are constantly being gifted free items at all the festivals we play and get to travel the world playing rock and roll. I can only image the perks that come with being in a band as popular as Grizzly Bear.
Bands need to start realizing that it is a privilege to tour and not some pass to fortune. When you join a band you know that you are taking a risk and not following a “traditional” career path. Why can’t one be a performer, but also spend time learning new trades, reading, etc. and keeping an eye to the fact that they will need to earn an income after music.
Seriously, how many jobs allow you to party while at “work”, see the world, have people fawn over you ever night…etc etc. Being in a band is not torture. If you are so concerned with steady income, get a salaried job.
As a guy who plays in a band that sold approximately 45,000 copies of their last record – compared to the over 200,000 sold by Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest – and plays in venues less than 1/4 the size Grizzly Bear plays, I can say that Grizzly Bear most definitely ARE rich.
By rich, I mean to say that they easily make over $100,000 per year. If you don’t think that is rich, especially for playing some rock and roll, you have got your priorities screwed up. My band makes way less money and all of us are full-time touring musicians living in Brooklyn. I think Grizzly Bear needs to rethink their overhead and standard of living.