Singer, songwriter and all-around RFT bad-ass, Bo Phillips, took to Facebook recently to do some ‘splainin’ for folks who don’t understand why artists and bands do so many fundraisers. He articulates it so well, we thought we’d give it a reprint.

In the business world, companies are expected to take profits from good times and use them to cover the bad times. Unless the business is “too big to fail”, it will do exactly that if costs outweigh income. So why is that we see established bands using crowd funding to raise money for projects?

Walk with me, if you will…

For a great album to be made, you’re looking at around $20,000 for the cost of a studio and engineer. Some are more, some are less.

Then you have to pay a producer, they can range from a few hundred dollars up to a few thousand.

Then you have to have the tracks “mastered”, which is a fancy term for tweaking the frequencies. That can also cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

Don’t forget the artwork…

Then we have to distribute the album. iTunes, Amazon, Walmart, etc… That all costs money to get the music to your ears. Some do it themselves for a lower cost, but also lower exposure, while some pay a flat fee, or percentage of album sales to accomplish this.

How about radio? Each of those songs you hear on TX/Red Dirt stations costs around $4500 PER SONG to promote and market. (Again some more, some less)

All in all, that collection of 12 songs ends up costing well over $35000 (some less, most more) to make.

And for what?

We sell the albums for $10-$15 apiece. They cost us around $2.50 if we do them ourselves. But most have a distribution deal that takes anywhere from 30-76% of the album sales.

Yep. That $10 album will net the band about $2.50 apiece (depending on the above factors)

So let’s say the distribution company orders 1000 CDs for the band. About 100 of them will go to radio stations, and let’s say 50 of them are for the band members, family etc. That will leave 850 CDs to actually sell.Let’s say all those albums are sold at $10 apiece. That’s $8500. But wait, the band will only get around $2.50 per CD, so that lets them “take home” $2125 from the 1000 CDs initially ordered. Each 1000 CDs after that will net the band around $2500.

What about money from radio play? When “Red Dirt Girl” hit #1 in 2012, I got paid about $350 from radio play. And it cost over $4000 to put it on radio. Did I receive indirect benefit? You bet, but we’re talking financials right now.

We sold about 3000 copies of the “Fishin with Grandpa” album. I thought that was pretty dang good.

That album costed me around $25000 in all expenses to make.

Just for ease of math, 3000 copies at an earning of $2.50 per album, is $7500 from album sales. Let’s not forget the big radio check of $350.

The album costed $25000 and earned $7850, for a net loss of $17500.

Folks, that album did a great deal to further our band’s success, but it goes to show you two important things.

1) we make our money on the road, so PLEASE support live music


2) please don’t criticize a band for asking for help to share their music with you.

Keep spreading the dirt.

Check out Bo Phillips on Facebook at


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