Last week, the internet got in an uproar about the band Pomplamoose, who wrote an article about going on tour and making $136,000, but still losing money. At the very least, the article created a lot of discussion. Most of it was about the myriad ways the band could have saved money (like not getting four hotel rooms every night or buying lights to bring out on tour when most venues have them). In an op-ed on Pitchfork yesterday, Old Man Gloom drummer Santos Montano weighed in on the whole situation.
Instead of taking aim at the band themselves (which would be easy to do if you look at their twee videos), Montano instead debated some of their spending. As a 37 year-old in a touring band, he didn’t begrudge the band for wanting to stay in hotels every night. Hiring a band seemed extremely unnecessary to him. Coupled with the fact that even though they were playing professionals, they still needed to buy road cases:
These people don’t have instruments? These hired guns don’t have cases for those instruments? These maybe weren’t great choices. Even flyers at Guitar Center always end with “Pro gear, pro attitude. Own transportation a must.” You know why? Because meeting a person who is a really good musician is not that hard, but finding one who can keep their shit together enough to not sell their guitar to make rent is kinda hard. It’s the eternal struggle.
Montano also takes issue with the band paying a business manager, especially one that would okay a money-losing tour. He then compares and contrasts the Pomplamoose tour with Old Man Gloom’s 2012 tour where a week of West Coast shows netted the band $2,500 each. How’d they do that? By renting a van and equipment from other bands and only bringing one more person on the road (a front of house guy). They also old their own merch and didn’t need a tour manager. He sums it up by stating:
Pomplamoose should be living within the moment they exist. A band should absolutely ride their momentum, but don’t do everything assuming that things will only get bigger and better. It kinda says you’re not satisfied with how awesome things are right now. Although, after that article, and how universally hated it is, things probably aren’t that awesome for them right now. They’re probably super embarrassed.
However, no one should feel bad for the duo. Even if they lost $11,000 by making an investment in their future (Jack Conte of Pomplamoose’s words) or by making a series of money-wasting decisions (everyone else’s words), they’re not hurting. And perhaps Conte’s original post was more of a marketing stunt than a “woe-is-me,” story. Towards the end of his initial post, Conte mentions that the band are making money via Patreon, a site that basically crowd-funds artists for their music. Someone writing to industry blogger Bob Lefsetz brought up the point that Conte is the co-CEO of Patreon, which received $17 million in investments from venture capitalists. While Conte claims that he’s not drawing a salary from Patreon, it’s still a bit disingenuous that he didn’t mention his involvement in it anywhere in the article. And at the end of the day, $11,000 isn’t much for him or the duo to lose.