How much do small bands make, I'm talking about everything from gigs to merch. Anyone in such a band please share experiences.
I know a guy who is in a successful local band (plays shows in a 50 mile radius of here) and he still rides the bus to school.

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absolutely nothing
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if you play a cover band in casinos, you make a pretty decent amount.

But for orig bands, not even bands that are signed to labels and have mid-level popularity make a living. Just the really famous ones and people that play pop-country.
Until you've been around a while, you'll lose money. A few friends and diehards might by merch, but if you try to keep it in stock, you'll lose money.

Gigs usually have a required number of tickets to sell or else you pay money. Sometimes selling more gets you money. Coffeehouses or Bars usually pay, and so does winning a battle.
the bands in my area seem to do pretty well, but they usually have other jobs on the side (own a recording studio, teach lessons, etc etc).
-50$ from passing out free EP's at shows and at malls =[
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I know a guy who is in a successful local band (plays shows in a 50 mile radius of here) and he still rides the bus to school.

He's just keeping his money safe .... Untill he has enough to buy Cuba and use it for his own sinister purpose.
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I play in a few bar bands on occasion. The pay is usually $300 - $500/ night + tips for the whole band depending on the size of the bar. That's on Fri. & Sat. night. The rest of the week it ain't worth it.
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Depends on your scene, where you play, size of town ect.

At one of my guitar shops, the guys play in a cover band with sown originals and they pull in enough to make a living.
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most bands do not get much of anything.

Even if you have a long lasting reputation.

My guitar teacher plays in a southern rock/country band. They play regularly at sports bars, outdoor events, etc

he has a full time job and teaches lessons. The band's gigs just do not cut it.
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I've heard of many mildly-popular touring bands that still have day jobs.

Find a job you're OK with and play music on the side so you don't have to worry about money. If you end up being able to live off your band, quit your job then.