Monday, May 23, 2011

Tour Summary: Through Deserts, Mountains, and Forests

the cost of touring and cashflow over 3 weeks
Another tour has come to an end. Or I suppose a tour never ends. It just pauses on this perpetual road. Of 22 booked shows, 18 actually panned out. I had to cancel two shows due to being sick and losing my voice. A Saturday night in Denver never manifested. And I was double booked in Las Cruces on the way home, but still paid. 18 shows in three weeks is still a rather dense schedule. And while I don't feel road fatigue, I would take a few more days off next time in order to better experience these incredible far away places that took a lot of driving to get to. 

The price of gas was a real killer this tour. I was expecting that though. Car expenses accounted for about half of my touring costs. It was mostly from gas, but also a $200 starter replacement and an oil change along the way. Other than that, Ruby is a true road dog, just hitting 260,000 miles upon returning. She even starting pumping out arctic air again, which she hasn't done in a year. Getting sick was also an unexpected cost, from lost revenue from canceled gigs, having to quarantine myself in a hotel for couple of nights,  and also from prescribed medication which I pay for out of pocket since I don't have health insurance.

All of my income was from music (guarantees, tips, and CD sales) other than a few bucks from a couple of rideshares. The rideshares didn't pan out so well this time since I traveled mostly off the beaten path. I also had to quarantine myself for about a week while I was sick. 

I've gotten in the habit of documenting every single expense and source of income while on the road. If I didn't, I'm not sure I would break even. I used to do this on a pad of paper, but now I use an app called iXpensit that makes it really easy.  It helps me tremendously to know exactly where I stand and what my cashflow is at all times. That way I know if I can get a hotel room or go camping instead, or whether I can treat myself to some sesame tofu at a nice vietnamese restaurant or stick to the groceries in my on board refrigerator.  Thankfully, most venues I played also offered me a meal. Usually a really good meal that also provided leftovers for lunch the next day. Traveling with a solar powered refrigerator was a true luxury. I think maybe even a necessity.  It saved me from eating any fast food on the tour and I was able to store goodies from co-ops and natural food stores that found along the way. I've traveled with a ice cooler before, but I'd have to replace the ice almost daily which is an extra expense but even a greater annoyance. And much of the food would drown in the melted ice if left an hour too long. 
Last show on the tour in Marathon, TX at the Gage hotel. Nice Lotus, but she's no Ruby. 

Anyhow, I know that this is not the romanticized version of this livelihood, where I'm flown or bussed around from show to show, and they have my favorite brand of mineral water waiting for me in my hotel suite. This is ground level, where I'm not only the musician, but also the booking agent, the soundman, the roadie, the driver, the chef, and the accountant. I don't mind being on the ground. It provides real experiences and material for new songs.

It's funny, each time I tour, I hear of a new artist that people repeatedly say I sound like throughout the course of the tour. Last year it was Iron and Wine. This year it is Ray Lamontagne. I don't mind either of those comparisons. 

And now I'm back home in Terlingua and here is the forecast for the next week:
High temps of 111 degrees expected this weekend. It is hard to believe that it was snowing just last week. 


jandean said...

Wish I'd known about your Denver gig not working out. Wondered and waited... Could have found you a number of places to play last-minute. Oh well,now you're back in paradise without the need for snowlar panels.

trevor.reichman said...

It was nice to have a day off actually. But It'd be great if you had some suggestions for next time.

jandean said...

Will work on a list...
In the meantime, I think I'd better understand your tour summary if you would enlarge those pie charts, put them on an easel, use a pointer and a Ross Perot accent...

trevor.reichman said...

Ha. That's funny. If I was Ross Perot, the charts would be in millions of dollars instead of hundreds.