Jack Conte has enabled strong revenue streams for himself and his fellow YouTube content creators by launching Patreon, but even so, turning a profit as a musician requires a constant grind. Conte, who along with Nataly Dawn makes up the musical duo Pomplamoose, has authored a blog post breaking down the expenses of his recent 28-day tour. As Conte shows, he and Dawn managed to pull in a six-figure revenue during the tour, but even that was not enough to offset the group’s expenses and turn a profit.
Pomplamoose’s tour began in Portland on September 11 and wound through the United States before concluding in the duo’s hometown of San Francisco one month later. Along the way, Conte and Dawn paid for production costs, the salaries of their band mates, gas, airfare, lodging, food, insurance, and several other costs. In total, the tour cost $147,802, and since Pomplamoose is an independent band, those funds came out of Conte and Dawn’s pockets.
Conte and Dawn did manage to recoup most of those costs. Between ticket sales, merchandise, and a sponsorship from Lenovo, they collected $135,983, which means they ultimately lost $11,819 on the tour.
Conte didn’t share his tour expenses in order to launch a Pomplamoose pity party. Instead, he is out to show that life as an independent artist is a grind–even if you’re well-regarded and blessed with a significant fan base:
“We’re entering a new era in history: the space between “starving artist” and “rich and famous” is beginning to collapse. YouTube has signed up over a million partners (people who agree to run ads over their videos to make money from their content). The “creative class” is no longer emerging: it’s here, now.
We, the creative class, are finding ways to make a living making music, drawing webcomics, writing articles, coding games, recording podcasts. Most people don’t know our names or faces. We are not on magazine covers at the grocery store. We are not rich, and we are not famous.
We are the mom and pop corner store version of “the dream.” If Lady Gaga is McDonald’s, we’re Betty’s Diner. And we’re open 24/7.”
Of course, Pomplamoose has other revenue streams that prevent Conte and Dawn from starving. Thanks to Patreon (which recently passed a seven-figure monthly payout milestone among all of its users), Pomplamoose makes more than $6,300 per video, which, combined with album sales, adds up to a monthly $2,500 salary for both Conte and Dawn. That allows them to continue creating clever music videos; their most recent effort, an ode to the Internet, arrived last month:
Conte and Dawn are lucky enough to support themselves by doing what they love, but like many other online content creators, they have little time to relax. “We have not ‘made it,'” Conte concludes. “We’re making it.”