Live Nation has announced it will no longer take cuts of merchandise sold by artists playing any of its club-sized venues. This is only through the end of 2023, according to the fine print from the press release, and they will offer $1,500 stipends per show to all headlining and support acts. This is in reaction to the growing unrest from bands about merch cuts including many outspoken artists and fans clapping back on the practice. Watch a video of Willie explaining what the program entails.
The decision arrives as part of a new developing-artist program the company has launched with country legend, Willie Nelson. The program, dubbed “On the Road Again” in honor of Nelson, is designed to give a helping hand to smaller, developing artists, who have faced increased economic difficulties in recent years. Now, not only have merchandise fees — which have been known to eat up to 15% – 30% of an artist’s merch sales — been removed, but artists will receive an additional $1,500 stipend to cover “gas and travel,” and crews, local promoters, tour reps, and more will all be doled out unspecified bonuses.
Live Nation has indicated that the program will be implemented over the next several months at each of its 77 club-sized venues, which includes all of the House of Blues and Fillmore locations.
Veteran punk rocker Jeff Rosenstock kicked off the conversation by sharing a breakdown of his 2023 tour and the various merch cuts venues were taking, many of which were 20% or more.
“This is going to cause us to sell our merch for higher prices than we’d like to at certain venues,” Rosenstock wrote. “We think that sucks… So much of the time all that money goes to big corporations like AEG & LiveNation. Seems like the fuckin’ rule now: if you work in a creative field, you’re supposed to feel lucky and happy enough to be there to get raked over the coals by millionaires and billionaires who will give you as small as slice of the pie as they can to perpetually show growth in profits.”
As Rosenstock commented
“Delivering for live artists is always our core mission,” Michael Rapino, President and CEO of Live Nation Entertainment, said in a statement regarding the new program. “The live music industry is continuing to grow and as it does, we want to do everything we can to support artists at all levels on their touring journey especially the developing artists in clubs.”
“Touring is important to artists, so whatever we can do to help other artists, I think we should do it,” he said in a statement. “This program will impact thousands of artists this year and help make touring a little bit easier.” Check out a video celebrating the new program below.