Update: Underoath Made VERY Good Money on Those Summer Livestreams
In a detailed breakdown MetalSucks published yesterday, I attempted to calculate the financial viability of livestream concerts using publicly available figures from a recent series of three such concerts by Underoath, using expenses I estimated by speaking with folks in the industry with experience putting on similar events.
New information has now been brought to my attention that clarifies those estimates, and while some of them were accurate, others were not. That’s great news for Underoath, who made a good deal more money than I’d projected, and by extension other bands looking to jump into livestream concerts.
A quick recap: Underoath’s three livestream shows grossed a total of $800,000 ($266,667 per show), including tickets, merch, and vinyl sales. I estimated all expenses, including production (sound/lights/cameras/venue), crew, travel, broadcast service fees, merch printing and management’s cut to be between $230,000 and $240,000, which would have left each band member walking away with between $12,000 and $15,000 in their pockets from all three shows together (assuming they all split the pie equally). Not bad for three shows, even if it probably wouldn’t come close to what they’d make on a typical tour!
There were two key areas in which my expense estimates were off.
First, managers usually commission income on the net (gross income minus expenses), not the gross, and given that my own management deals are structured the same way I’m facepalming bigtime on that one. We always assume everyone else is making more money than us, I suppose.
Second, I’ve confirmed that Underoath utilized the broadcast streaming service Single Music for their stream. Single Music charges a much lower rate than some of the other services like Nugs and Veeps because it’s just a broadcast platform, hooking into the band’s own existing Shopify store instead of utilizing a proprietary store platform and commissioning merch sales in addition to tickets. Whereas I estimated a 20% fee for that service (some services charge even more!), at the time of Underoath’s broadcasts Single Music charged $1 per ticket sold (now they charge $2). That comes out to a very metal 6.66%. Big difference.
Some other small clarifications: this illuminating document reveals the band spent $5,700 total on social media advertising (which alone drove drove $177,000 in sales, WOW, talk about ROI), and it’s been reported that these streams sold a total of roughly 15,500 tickets.
With those corrections in mind, here is the new math for EACH show:
$20,000: live event production (venue rental, camera operators, live video switcher, lights, monitors, audio mixer)
$10,000: additional crew, flights, AirBNBs, food, miscellaneous gear
$15,500: broadcast platform fee ($1 per ticket, 15,500 tickets)
$102,000: merch printing and vinyl pressing (12,750 est. purchasers x $8 average)
$20,000: to account for merch/vinyl costs for fans who bought more than one item
$1,900: social media advertising
Total expenses: $169,400
Net profit subtotal: $97,267 ($266,667 minus $169,400)
Management commission: $14,590 (15% of $97,267):
Net profit total: $82,667
Take home pay per band member per show: $13,780 (six members)
Take home pay per band member for all three shows: $41,340
Helloooooooo! Underoath got hella paid! Great job, fellas. I have to imagine that’s well more than they would’ve gotten for their support slot on that canceled Slipknot tour.
Underoath’s success should serve as inspiration for other bands on the fence about livestreaming. You CAN do it, and it can work. But you’ve got to be smart about your expenses.
What worked for Underoath won’t work for all bands, of course. It remains to be seen whether this model is applicable to bands significantly smaller than Underoath who can’t lean as heavily on merch sales to subsidize streaming costs, or don’t have an existing webstore that can utilize a service like Single Music, or don’t have access to production, or don’t all live in the same state, etc.
Still: it can work. There is a future in livestream concerts.