Indie Artists Detail How Much Money They Made (Or Lost) Playing SXSW In 2022

This year’s South By Southwest festival just wrapped up a few days ago, and like usual, it was a chance for up-and-coming artists to play some shows and get their names out there. That said, while SXSW is great for those reasons, it’s really more of a marketing opportunity for artists than it is a money-making venture. Now, following the festival, some artists who performed are revealing how much money they managed to earn (or lose) during the week.

Asheville, North Carolina group Wednesday kicked off the conversation by sharing a list of their earnings and expenses for SXSW this year. To summarize, they made $2,084, had $2,182.39 in expenses, and walked away with a loss of $98.39. They noted, “Just for transparencies sake & cause I feel comfortable posting this: here is why it is so hard for bands to go to SX !! This is b4 paying 10% $ to the booking agent and not including food expenses. Combination of staying in COVID safe places and gas prices is p devastating.”

In subsequent tweets, they continued:

“& we are technically a band that is ‘doing very well’ at the moment!! It’s even harder for bands who are more in the DIY side of things who went to SX. I ain’t complaining abt doing my dream job, but do wanna show why being paid fairly from streaming would make a difference.

Also wanna add SX is a special circumstance and we had a gr8 time! Regardless we did get COVID and lost money. A reminder that music is simply an industry that is very inaccessible to people without a safety net of time/money. Very relieved that we are close to being able to live off our music cause working in retail and doing music full time was not sustainable for me forever. Def a good idea as always to support any bands that are struggling rn if you’re a fan and have the means!”

This prompted other performers to chime in with how they fared, like Secretly Canadian artist Le Ren, who replied, “I just did my calcs and my band m8 and I are walking away with a cool $300 each (CAD so around $230 USD).” Philadelphia group The Stone Eye noted, “Ya’ll gotta do some DoorDash/instacart on your days off. We payed for our 3 night, $70 a night stay in Raleigh that way.”

That perspective got some mixed reactions. Colin Caulfield of Diiv replied, “Horrible advice. A day off almost always = a long drive.” Drew Kennedy responded, “Respect.” Remember Sports (formerly Sports) added, not specifically of The Stone Eye’s tweet but in general, “Unbelievable how much useless unsolicited advice has appeared in these comments lmao at y’all.”

Other users wondered why merch sales weren’t included in Wednesday’s figures and the band responded. “The only place we sold merch at SX was a house show. There’s not a ton of opportunity to sell merch at showcases cause the schedules are so packed they want you in and out.”

Later, the band concluded in a tweet thread:

“Here’s the last thing I’m gonna say about the SX tweet. Touring the cheapest way isn’t always touring the ‘right’ way if it makes it unsustainable for you physically/mentally. Two bands were at the Airbnb for 5 days. We played 7 shows total, got paid for 1.

For the bands that say the numbers make you afraid to tour: the point was to highlight how inaccessible being a musician has become. I hope its easier for more people to be touring musicians if they want to in the future! But it’ll take a rethinking of how we engage with music.. Through streaming or whatever.

We’ve been touring for 5 years, working/being in school when we’re home and barely breaking even. If there was anyway we could make it easier for people to live off of music, imagine how much more music we’d be able to listen to!! I’m not gonna engage with any comments on here for my own sake… but idk that’s all I got to say about it.”