I used to be a promoter, and the "artist" or "artist" representative actually takes home alot of money, what they do with it is another question.
1000 people come to the show and paid $15 to get in = $15000
Costs of the show:
Rent = $300 (including security)
Sound = $1000
Advertising = $300
Catering = $ 200
Promoter Profit (15% of expenses or $1800 in this example) = $270
Split point (total of all) = $2070
Amount to split ( total income $15000 – total expenses $ 2070) = $12930
Band gets 80% after split = $10344
Promoter gets 20% after split – $2586
Band Total = $10344
Promoter total ( promoter profit + 20% after split) = $2856
The most I ever paid a band was $15,000.
The promoter has a thing called promoter profit which is like a tax of 15% on everything you have to do so if you have to go get skittles, cigarettes, and alcohol the artist ends up paying 15% mark up on it because you went to go get it. I still don't understand why artists would put this stuff on their rider.
You are right about the risk and the reward though. I lost my ass on a show because the city was flooded and there was water leaking on the stage and the band cancelled and I had to pay the band and pay refunds. Luckily I was able to borrow money from the ticketing company (off of future shows ticket sales). after i payed off my debt I didn't stay in the promoter game much longer after that.
obviously bands at this club level had quite a sizeable staff. some of them toured in prevosts, and had a driver, manager, sound guy, light guy, 2 roadies, merch guy, and a booking agent.
So you take 15% to the manager, 15% to the booking agent, and are left with $7,000 and then you have to pay salaries for the rest of the crew, I would be surprised if each member was making $1,000 dollars at the end of it. Not bad for a nights work though. None of the bands I booked ever told me about a situation where one member was getting more than the rest. I'm sure it happens on the next level of arenas and things like that.
read steve albini's article about the problem with music. (some of this stuff is out of date, but still applies to bands on major labels)