Ask Billboard

Keith Caulfield answers readers' questions about touring, Eve6 and Vanessa Williams.


Hi Keith,

All of the year-end articles listing the top-grossing concert tours had me wondering how much a performer actually takes home from their tours. I realize there must be a lot of variables, but on average how much does someone like Prince ($90 million) or Madonna ($125 million) take home versus "smaller" artists like the Donnas or Rufus Wainwright. The latter said in an article that touring is how he makes money since his album sales are not huge.


J.C. Adams

Hi J.C.

I handed this question over to Billboard's touring writer, Ray Waddell. Here is his response:

"There is no 'standard' rate that an artist is paid for performance, outside of the American Federation of Musician's AFM rate for professional musicians. Headline artists, be it Madonna or a brand new artist, are typically paid a 'guarantee' versus a percentage of gross revenues, whichever is greater. In a superstar's case, the percentage is nearly always greater than the guarantee. That traditional split was 85% of gross to the artist and 15% of the gross to the promoter, out of which the promoter paid show expenses and the artists paid their own expenses. Nowadays, with the leverage more firmly in the artists' hands, the percentage is often in the 90% range.

Out of the artists' share comes travel expenses, paying the bands, sound and lights, stage production, etc., basically anything they carry with them. The artist also keeps the lion's share of merchandise sales.

In basic terms, a 'mid-level' act with two or three hits may have a guarantee in the $20,000-$50,000 range. The actual 'take home' for the band, before taxes and not including merchandise sales, would likely be less than $10,000 per show, but that's hypothetical."

It's not unusual for a brand new act to lose money on the road and require financial support from the label, management, agency, or some other source, that must be paid back."

There you go J.C. I hope it sheds some light on your question.



A friend just told me that Eve 6 broke up earlier this year. Is it true?! I really hope it's just a rumor as I loved seeing them play live and was really hoping for another album.

I'm assuming if they broke up it must have been because of poor album sales, is that right? If so, could you tell me how well their last album in 2003 sold compared to their earlier releases?

Thanks for any help you can provide, you rock!

Austin Cassidy
Jacksonville, Fla.

Hi Austin,

Eve 6 is currently inactive as a group, however, its members have gone on to work on other ventures. Frontman Max Collins has his own new act, Brotherhood of Lost Dogs. Videos of the group's performances in and around Los Angeles can be accessed at

Eve 6 is probably best known for its debut single "Inside Out," which was inescapable on MTV and radio airwaves in the summer of 1998. The single spent four weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart and also hit No. 11 on the Mainstream Top 40 chart. The band also racked up six more top 40 hits on the Modern Rock list, including "Leech" (No. 6), "Promise" (No. 3) and "Think Twice" (No. 9).

The group's last album, "It's All in Your Head," has sold 192,000 units in the United States since its release in July 2003, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Eve6's previous effort, "Horrorscope," moved 678,000, while the band's self-titled 1998 debut has sold 1.4 million.


Hi Keith!

It seems like Vanessa Williams was everywhere during the holiday season, promoting her latest holiday CD, "Silver & Gold." How did the CD do, in terms of sales? What was its peak on any of the Billboard Charts? I know the single, "Silver & Gold" did well on the adult contemporary charts; but I was curious about the overall success of the CD.

Thank you!


Hi Marcos,

Vanessa Williams' "Silver & Gold" has shifted 92,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The Lava Records set peaked at No. 2 on Billboard's Top Gospel Albums chart, No. 24 on the Top Holiday Albums tally and No. 120 on The Billboard 200.

But now that the holiday season is over, Williams is prepping to release a new studio album, "Everlasting Love." Due Jan. 25, the set is made up of Williams' interpretations of love songs from the 1970s. The collection features such tunes as the title cut, "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," "I'll Be Good To You" and "One Less Bell to Answer." You can catch Williams performing on ABC's "The Bachelorette" on Jan. 26.

For more information about "Everlasting Love," visit Williams' official Web site at