MEO 2016-2016

money to burn

Money To Burn?  Pay To Play On Steroids

Another student came to me last week and said his band was responsible for selling $1,500 worth of tickets to a show in which they were playing.  The student said they’d be opening for some pretty good bands.  We did some quick math:

$1,500 divided by 4 people in the band = $375 per person

The band had to pay for gas to get to and from the show: $30

The band had to pay tolls:  $5

The band had to eat; $10 per band member: $40

The band had no insurance, was not an LLC, and had no deal amongst each other to cover what would happen if only 2 guys in the band sold $40 worth of tickets total.

The band as a was on the hook for close to $1,600 with no hope to recoup their investment.

This, my friends, is a classic case of Pay To Play – on steroids.

I asked the student if they expected anything to come out of the show.  In other words, what would be their return on investment?  He didn’t know.

Now understand I really like this student.  He’s a good guy with a great heart and he’s full of passion and energy.  He has many of the qualities needed to succeed in the biz.

Hopefully, he has the quality titled Learn From Your Mistakes.  Because this is a big one.  And it’s not the first time his band has done this at a level this high.  I told him that if he and his bandmates thought of their group as a business instead of a band, they’d go out of business.  If they were a bagel store or Best Buy or Enron, and a whole lot more money was going out than coming in, they’d close up shop and move on with their lives.

Think like a business sometimes.  It will save you a whole lot of cash.


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Professor David Philp is Assistant Professor Music Management & Popular Music Studies at William Paterson University. He is the co-host of the only FREE advice college radio-based music & entertainment industry talk show in America, Music Biz 101 & More, which airs live most Wednesday nights and is available as a podcast HERE every night (days too).  Reach him at or find him on LinkedIn HERE.

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