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400+ UK venues pledge zero commission on merch

Hundreds of venues in the UK, ranging from grassroots clubs through to 3,000-capacity halls, have joined the FAC's '100% Venues' directory

By IQ on 04 Aug 2022

The FAC calls merch commission an "outdated and unfair" practice

The FAC calls merch commission an "outdated and unfair" practice


image © Patrick Gruban

Hundreds of venues in the UK have pledged not to take any commission on artists’ merchandise sold at concerts, thanks to a campaign launched by the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC).

In January, the FAC launched a public database of music venues that charge zero commission on the sale of merchandise.

The ‘100% Venues’ directory aims to address the “outdated and unfair” practice of performance spaces taking a cut of acts’ merch proceeds at gigs.

Since January, the database has garnered more than 400 entries, ranging from grassroots clubs through to 3,000-capacity halls.

The Barbican Centre (London), The Louisiana (Bristol), The Leadmill (Sheffield) and Deaf Institute (Manchester) are among the hundreds of ‘100% Venues’.

“The relationship between artists and venues represents one of the most important partnerships in the music ecosystem,” says David Martin, CEO, FAC.

“These 100% Venues are leading the way, enabling artists to take home 100% of merchandise revenue. This makes selling merchandise at gigs worthwhile for artists, creating a fairer and more sustainable touring circuit, particularly for grassroots and emerging talent.”

“That merchandise is the difference between breaking even or losing money”

And while Martin agrees that the progress is encouraging, he says that more work is required to help emerging artists break through after the hurdles caused by Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking to NME, he said: “The discussion regarding punitive fees on merchandise sales is now very much a public one, with fans increasingly voicing their displeasure at such practices.

“The true scale of the problem is hard to say, but almost every artist that we talk to about it says, ‘Yeah, that really pisses me off. It has been prevalent for a very long time.

“What is absolutely clear is that, particularly at support band level, it’s still a matter of acts being told, ‘Come and play for no expenses and £50’. That merchandise is the difference between breaking even or losing money.”

He continued: “We’re seeing now that fans are finding out that this happens, and they hate it. It really annoys them that the money that they’re spending isn’t going to the artist as they thought.”

The campaign has draw support from the likes of The Charlatans lead singer Tim Burgess, as well as Peter Hook of Joy Division and New Order, who says: “You’re treated like gods in the dressing room and then robbed blind on the merchandise stall. I fully support this campaign and have been very vocal about this injustice to artists and fans for years. I fail to understand why these charges are so high?”

Venue bosses can sign up to the 100% Venues campaign by completing a one-minute form and the FAC is encouraging acts to share the spreadsheet with their fanbase and the wider music community. You can find more information here.

 


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