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(Credit: Alani Cruz)

Music

Hundreds of venues sign up to stop taking a cut of artists’ merch sales

A recent campaign for venues to stop taking a cut of artists’ merchandise sales is beginning to make movements, but its organisers have admitted that more live music venues need to get on board.

In January, an organisation known as the Featured Artists Coalition revealed a directory that stated the live music venues that charged zero commission on merch sales. The database, named ‘100% Venues’, was created to tackle the unfair distribution of merchandise revenue when artists sold their wares at different concert venues across the country.

400 venues have now reportedly signed up for the campaign, although many of the UK’s venues and arenas are yet to express interest. Peter Hook, formerly of Joy Division and New Order, as well as The Charlatans’ Tim Burgess, have both been vociferous supporters of the movement.

Burgess recently told NME, “It’s something that’s been around for years – but when we spoke up to our manager and label, they’d just say ‘That’s the way it is’. Back in 1990, you could sell 100,000 copies of a single on vinyl, so merch was important but not half as much as it is now. Streaming means new bands don’t have record sales to keep them going.”

He added, “They definitely didn’t know about the scale of it at first, but lots more fans know now. So many said that they bought merch as a way of supporting the band and thinking it helped with the costs of being on the road. It was a wake-up call. It’s a start, and I’m glad that lots of venues are listening.”

David Martin, CEO of the Featured Artists Coalition, said that the progress shown by the venues is pleasing. Still, more venues should show solidarity to the artists that perform there, especially after the pandemic and the fact that artists do not make half as much revenue from online streams as they had done from selling singles.