Erik Hoffman has been named LN's president of Toronto and former biz dev VP John May president of media and corporate partnerships
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"This is all about making it a little easier for thousands of artists to continue doing what they love: going out and playing for their fans"
By James Hanley on 27 Sep 2023
Live Nation is dropping merchandise commission at its North American club venues as part of a new programme designed to make it easier for emerging artists to tour.
Created with music legend Willie Nelson, the On the Road Again initiative is projected to deliver tens of millions of dollars in extra earnings to club artists and crew.
As well as letting artists keep 100% of merch profits, all LN clubs will provide $1,500 (€1,425) in petrol and travel cash per show to all headliners and support acts – on top of nightly performance compensation – as part of the scheme, which is also donating $5 million (€4.75m) to global relief fund Crew Nation to support crew across the industry.
“Touring is important to artists so whatever we can do to help other artists, I think we should do it,” says Nelson. “This programme will impact thousands of artists this year and help make touring a little bit easier.”
The dozens of participating venues include The Wiltern in Los Angeles, New York’s Irving Plaza, Austin’s Scoot Inn, Shelter in Detroit and Danforth Music Hall in Toronto, Canada.
“We want to do everything we can to support artists at all levels on their touring journey, especially the developing artists in clubs”
LN says that benefits from On the Road Again are being provided directly from the venues’ existing earnings, with no increases to consumers.
“Delivering for live artists is always our core mission,” says Live Nation president and CEO Michael Rapino. “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. Like Willie says, this is all about making it a little easier for thousands of artists to continue doing what they love: going out and playing for their fans.”
Across the pond, the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) recently ramped up the pressure on UK venues that charge commission on merchandise sales at gigs.
The FAC launched the 100% Venues scheme – a public directory of music venues that charge zero commission on the sale of merchandise – in 2022 in a bid to address the “outdated and unfair” practice at gigs, which it says is making live touring “unsustainable”, especially in the midst of a cost of living crisis.
In an open letter signed by more than 60 industry bodies and businesses, the FAC urged venues not currently participating to start making change
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