How Many Concerts Do Bands Play in a Year?

As your band gains a following, things can change faster than expected. While one show a month was adequate when your band was new in town, what happens when the shows sell out and demand for your music rises? How many concerts do bands play in a year?

On average, a touring band will play between 36 and 72 concerts a year, depending on if they tour once or twice during said year. Smaller, local bands will play more often, some playing 3 or more times a week or more throughout the year. This would average out to 144 concerts in a year. 

With such a nuanced topic, averages aren’t always the most helpful. To make things a little bit clearer, let’s dive deeper into how many concerts bands play in a year.

What Affects the Number of Shows a Band Plays a Year

The question of how many concerts a band plays in a year has a lot of variables, but the most important of those variables is the band’s popularity. For example, a band that is a worldwide sensation might go on a world tour, which by definition is longer than normal, more localized tours. 

On the other hand, an up-and-coming local band may play even more shows than these popular bands because they are trying to get attention and word-of-mouth buzz going for them. Smaller bands like this can also play at smaller venues and don’t have nearly as much gear or stage production as bands that do world tours, making it much easier to set up and tear down.

Because of these reasons, it’s difficult to get a true average of how many shows a band might play in a year. A good place to start is to consider that most bands will go on tour for three months, playing multiple shows in a week with time in between for rest and travel. Bands often do one or two of these three-month tours a year. Bands who tour in this way are the ones that do it for a living.

If a band tours for fun as a hobby, their schedule will look much more chaotic. Local bands often don’t want to pay for extensive travel, so they will keep their shows local. This allows them to play whenever, wherever, as long as it’s close enough to their homes to be driven in a reasonable amount of time. 

How Often Should My Band Play Shows?

How often your band should play shows depends on what you want out of your band experience. If you are hoping to make a living from playing shows, the amount of them that you play will need to be carefully calculated to determine whether the cost of travel and the time it takes is worth the money the venue is willing to pay.

 If your band is just playing for fun and maybe some local popularity, you can be much freer in your choices of how many shows to play. 

For the first case, a band that wants to make a profit off of playing shows, a good starting point is 36 shows in a year, doing a three-month tour. From there, you can customize your touring schedule to suit your band’s needs.

If your band is a smaller local band, aim to play one show every weekend, or every other weekend. Since most band members in smaller bands like this often have day jobs, this touring schedule is ideal since it doesn’t interfere with that.

One of the most important aspects of touring, no matter your end goal, is managing burnout. Even some of the highest-paid artists experience burnout while on tour, and more artists than ever are coming forward to say that the current concert industry isn’t sustainable. 

So, at the end of the day, play shows when you’re comfortable doing so. Try not to push yourself and the rest of your band too hard!

How Many Months Do Bands Tour?

While bands might say that they are embarking on a year-long tour, it’s more than likely that they are doing smaller tour legs over an entire year, and not playing shows for all 12 months. 

Some of the most common band tour lengths are three and six-month tours. These can all be played under the same name as one large tour and not 2 separate ones, but playing longer than 3 consecutive months can be detrimental to an artist’s mental health. 

When Do Artists Release Tour Dates?

Bands don’t usually go on tour for no reason. Tours will likely coincide with new album releases, releases of greatest hit collections, album anniversaries, and in some situations, as a farewell tour when the band (or a member) is ready to call it quits.

Of all of these reasons, the most likely reason for a band to go on tour is that they have an album coming out soon, or because they have just released an album. Touring close to the release of an album has some major benefits. 

When a band tours around the time they release new music, it allows them to drum up interest and excitement for the new album and give their loyal fans a sneak peek of the new music on said album. 

Experts suggest asking yourself a few questions before embarking on a new tour to ensure you can get the most out of your time on the road. An example of a few questions to ask yourself are:

  • Do we have enough songs with enough variety to perform an entire show?
  • Is there a concrete reason for going on this tour, and is that reason important enough to bring fans out?
  • Can we make the time commitment and roll with any schedule changes that may pop up?

How Much Do Musicians Make Per Concert?

Since cost is a big factor behind why musicians go on tour, they must make money. When starting, bands can make almost nothing, but bands with small followings can make around $500. 

Larger bands can make up to $5000 per concert, with some of the largest bands making $10 thousand. This doesn’t account for mainstream bands and musicians like Beyonce, Avenged Sevenfold, The Eagles, and many more you might be thinking of. 

The Cost Breakdown of What Smaller Bands Make in a Concert

Let’s assume a ticket’s face value is around $20. So, how much of that $20 goes to the artists and musicians? Here’s a simple breakdown:

  • $20 per ticket 
  • Up to 50% goes to the venue, leaving $10.
  • The artist pays about 20% of that to a music agent (leaving $8)
  • The music manager takes 20% as well (leaving $6)
  • You need to pay an out-of-state tax rate of about 10% (leaving $5)

None of the data above accounts for the extra costs of going on tour. This might include transportation, crew members, meals, and everything else artists needs to pay for while on the road. Many of these costs are tax deductible (thankfully), but you’ll have to consult an accountant to get expert advice on that. 

So bands will likely see maybe a dollar or two after everything is said. Granted, if you are selling to a venue that seats 500 people, that’s a good chunk of change. Especially when you play three or four shows in a row. Of course, if you need to split that between four people, that chunk is divided further.

But this assumes that you’ll be able to sell out the venue every night you are there. Collaborating with your band team gives you a better chance of making this happen. Venues will also provide better cuts to bands who can sell out, as they make money through other means (like selling drinks or food). 

Independent artists seem in a better position here, as fewer people are taking a piece of the pie. But, they have to personally work to drive awareness of their upcoming shows. 

In addition, many of these shows don’t just feature one band; they feature numerous bands. If you aren’t the headliner and are opening for another band, you’ll likely end up with a smaller piece of the pie, even if the show goes up in value with adding extra bands. 

Final Thoughts

Bands can play any number of concerts throughout the year, but the numbers usually average out to 36 concerts on the low end of the spectrum, and 144 concerts on the higher end.

The popularity of the band and the reason for touring are the two biggest deciding factors in how many concerts will need to be played during a year.

Eli Smith

I'm the managing editor for this website. I like being a dad, writing, and listening to angry music. Thanks for visiting.

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