The weight of debt

Contact Neville Hardman at [email protected].

Neville Hardman

Pomplamoose is a two-piece indie band that just came off a 28-day tour across the United States. Consisting of only two members, Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn, the band met with success as they completed their rounds.

But what really defines a band’s success?

According to an article written by Conte on Medium, the band earned a little under $100,000 in ticket sales by playing 24 shows, including selling 1,129 tickets at their San Francisco show.

To some, that could be considered successful. But “success” can mean different things to different bands, especially when it compares to how well they actually performed. 

The total income for the tour ended up being $135,983, but expenses added up to be $147,802. That means the pair is in debt by $11,819 despite having a reasonably profitable tour.

The debt can be compared to the debt college students face.

The amount of money Pomplamoose made on their tour is more than enough to pay for four years at Kent State for one student. In 24 months, a college student can accumulate roughly $20,000 while the band accumulated half of that debt in just one month. They lost more money than most college students attending state schools are in debt. 

While that sum wasn’t going directly into their wallets ­— there were expenses like booking hotels, food and paying crew members — it’s no excuse to not profit from a tour when everything worked in their favor. Tickets sold, merchandise sold, it was poor budgeting that left the band with no option other than debt.

For a band that has been producing albums since 2009, it’s disappointing to see them lose that much money because, while playing a good show is the most important job a band has, they also need to gain something from it in order to keep going.

They also went on tour with six additional people for extra instrumentals and a better production, which Conte writes set them back more than $50,000. He would have saved more than the amount of debt a college student accumulates in two years by redrawing one action.

However, he goes on to explain that hiring these extra people was an investment for the future because if it’s a better show, venues are more likely to want them back and people will want their friends to go with them.

It’s a good plan, but flawed if things don’t pan out that way and they actually don’t end up recovering the money they lost from their investment and it ends up killing them.

“If you are killing yourself financially, eventually it could lead to the end of your band,” said Will Stevenson, senior vice president of the Artery Foundation, who analyzed the story for the Alternative Press.

Pomplamoose is no different than college students right now. Like many of us, what the band makes in the future will go towards paying off what they owe to others and after, working to build a solid amount of money to live off without having to pay anything off.