Do Record Labels Pay For Tours?

Do you enjoy playing music? Are you in a band, or maybe a solo performer? If so, you’ve probably been looking into taking your music career to the next level by getting signed, sending off demos, etc. 

Who wouldn’t want to travel across the country or around the world performing, right? It goes without saying that booking tours cost money, so you’re wondering, “do record labels pay for tours?”

The answer, according to www.recordlabelagreements.com, is, “It depends on the specifics of the deal.” That means you are subject to the agreements in your contract with your record label concerning paid tours. Make sure to discuss getting help to pay for tours before you sign and complete the contract if that is what you need.

Keep in mind that if you do sign with a label, they will receive most of the profits from the tour if they pay for it. Starting, artists typically make around twenty percent of the profits. But, the more popular you are, the higher the percentage goes.

Do Record Labels Pay For Tours?

Finding A Label To Fund Your Tour

So how do you find a record label? There are many different ways you can go about this. The first would be to search social media for an up-and-coming label looking for your style of music. Another way is to ask other bands or musicians how they got signed. 

You could even use the website previously mentioned as a way to find one. You should write a list of what you want and do not want from a label to prepare for your search.

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Also, consider that it is important not to rush into anything. Take your time and find the right record label for you. You don't want to be in an undesirable contract once it is too late.

What Record Label Owner, Kit Carson, Had To Say About Labels Paying For Tours

tour bus Industry Hackerz Original Art sketch

I recently interviewed a trusted friend and “DIY” record label owner, Kit Carson, to get a record label perspective. They owned Sun Eater Records; their Instagram is @wearesuneater. Their answer to the question: Do record labels pay for tours? was, “On the smaller scale verbal agreements/small contracts, you can anticipate help from your label, but not a free ride.” 

They then explain that you should expect to pay out of pocket for your first few tours; that means you get to keep most of the profits. Kit Carson also mentioned, “Larger scale contracts from larger record labels may loan you money with the expectation you will make the money back plus some.”

I also asked some questions regarding what a contract might look like. They responded with, “Many smaller labels operate exclusively under verbal agreements, while large labels often sign artists on multi-year contracts.” They go on to say that the single most important piece of information they can give young musicians is never to sign over their masters. That is when a label owns the original copies of your music. There have been many accounts of artists losing their music forever because of this practice.

So what do you do once you have found a label you want to join? I asked Mx. Carson and they said, “Labels pay attention to how much work you put in before you are signed.” In other words, make sure to have music out and already be promoting it while also showing your capabilities. Reach out to as many as you can!

I ended the interview with the question, What does a record label look for in artists?”, and was met with the answer, “When I looked for bands I had two things in mind. One, are they willing to work? Two, are they doing something different?” When a record label is looking for new music they want to see your drive and originality. They want people that know how to be unique but also appeal to a broad variety of fans.

My Experience With Touring

I actually went on a two-week tour across the eastern united states back in 2019. It was the most fun I have ever had, and I will never forget it. Although I paid for most of the expenses myself, I wish I would have had a record label to help pay for and promote it. I spent over $400 on gas and food alone.

 I can’t stress enough how important it is to be prepared! You need to have room and board set up, extra cash, and perhaps an extra form of transportation. While in New Jersey, we hit a deer with our car going 70 mph. It threw an enormous wrench in our plans, but luckily we had friends with us that stepped up and made room in their car for us.

I could not have done it if it were not for other helpful friends/musicians. When it comes to touring, it is about who you know. So make sure to do your research and reach out to others wanting to tour.

It is entirely possible to tour without a label, but help from one can never hurt!

You Decide

fans on tour Industry Hackerz Original Art sketch

With all of this in mind, you may ask, Is it worth it? The answer would be up to your discretion. If you find the right deal from the right label, they could help with so many things! They could help pay for tours, merch, awareness, and marketing. On the other hand, you do not want to get into a contract if the label just wants your money. So, be critical and patient.

If you want to tour and looking for help, a record label might be the right step for you! Just make sure to have plenty of examples of your work and the willingness to get the job done.

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