If you've ever been discouraged by a DIY tour, due to expenses, travel arrangements or even healthy food options, raise your hand. Epic Proportion Tour founders Gabe Kubanda and Peter Sotos were no different.
The two met at a mixer and discussed the current industry’s unreasonable touring expectations for bands to be taken seriously by various labels. Over the next few months, Kubanda, a musician and VH1 Classic cast member, and Sotos, a booking agent, developed a new concept: devise a tour that guarantees musicians will actually make money.
“We found a better way to book,” states Sotos. “We realized that there was no way to survive by just playing venues.” The only time Epic Proportions Tour books a standard club is if the venue itself is an attraction, like the Hollywood Hard Rock Café for example. For the most part, EPT sticks to the formula of colleges and military bases.
“I used to be a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne so I have a lot of military connections,” says Sotos. “I started calling around [explaining what the tour could provide as a form of entertainment] and a lot of the guys I used to serve with now [have the authority to approve our events]. We recently played a military show in El Paso with Sick Puppies in front of 2,000 servicemen.”
EPT's managers partner with the venue to promote each gig as a unique show within the area. With the booking responsibilities taken out of the hands of the artists, they can instead focus on their craft and upcoming live performances.
The tour formula is simple:
Pay $2,500 up front, and let tour management handle everything else (including hotel and bus fees). While the initial cost sounds steep, make no mistake, if a band commit to the tour, they will earn more than the initial investment back by tour’s end. “We pay the bands $150 per show day,” Sotos says. “We guarantee the bands at least 20 paid show dates. Do the math and you see you're guaranteed to make at least $500 [more than you invested]. Plus we pay a merch girl to sit at your table and sell your merch while you keep 100 percent of the sales.” And as the experienced booker explains, you don’t even need a solid fanbase. “We don't care if you don’t have a following. We don't need you to have a following. We have a built-in audience at all of our shows.”
The tour isn’t accepting just any band, however. Because of the unique venues, metal and hip-hop artists should pass on this opportunity. Epic seeks artists with clean lyrics that don’t involve drug references or hate speech. “We’re looking for clean cut, upbeat entertainment,” Sotos explains. “At the end of the day it’s our clients who decide to open the gates or not. ... And we are looking for bigger bands because Gabe is a singer-songwriter and we don't want to do just one genre. Our core audience is 14-22. The music has to fit that.”
The Epic Proportions Tour isn’t just looking to hear from artists. It is also looking for sponsorships for its bus and stage as well as media coverage. “We jump through hoops for our sponsors. We will bring products, mention you in all of our fliers, interviews, etc. We’re also looking to wrap our bus with logos which is great for anyone because we are constantly on tour.”
Should the Mayans be crazy, 2013 will be a big year for Epic Proportions Tour. Artists on the tour will be involved in EPT Spring Tour, and parts of Warped Tour, with appearances lined up for SXSW, NAMM and CMJ as well.
Contact Gabe Kubanda and Peter Sotos, firstname.lastname@example.org.