Following the lead of Live Nation's amphitheatres, all House of Blues Entertainment venues are ditching plastic straws unless specially requested
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The On the Road Again scheme will allow artists keep 100% of merchandise profits at LN's network of club venues in the US and Canada
By James Hanley on 29 Sep 2023
The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) has spoken out against Live Nation’s new On the Road Again programme, which is intended to support developing artists and crew at club level.
Announced earlier this week, the scheme promises to allow artists keep 100% of merchandise profits at LN’s network of club venues in the US and Canada, as well as offering financial aid.
It will provide $1,500 (€1,425) in gas and travel cash per show to all headliners and support acts – on top of nightly performance compensation – while an additional $5 million (€4.75m) will be donated to global relief fund Crew Nation to support crew across the industry.
However, NIVA argues the move could cause more harm than good to the wider circuit in the longer term, adding that it “appears to be a calculated attempt” by the promoter to steer business away from independent venues.
“Temporary measures may appear to help artists in the short run but actually can squeeze out independent venues”
“Temporary measures may appear to help artists in the short run but actually can squeeze out independent venues which provide the lifeblood of many artists on thin margins,” says the US-based organisation. “Independent venues and promoters are investing in and elevating up-and-coming artists every day, and NIVA is supporting those efforts nationally. [On the Road Again] may seem like a move to follow the lead of some independent venues. It is not that.
“Instead, it appears to be a calculated attempt to use a publicly-traded conglomerate’s immeasurable resources to divert artists from independent venues and further consolidate control over the live entertainment sector. Such tactics threaten the vitality of small and medium-sized venues under 3,000 capacity, many of which still struggle to keep their doors open.”
More than 75 Live Nation venues are participating in the scheme, which has been endorsed by legendary musician Willie Nelson, including The Wiltern in Los Angeles, New York’s Irving Plaza, Austin’s Scoot Inn, Shelter in Detroit and Danforth Music Hall in Toronto, Canada, along with House of Blues venues across the United States.
“Artists are asking for support. On The Road Again is about supporting artists. NIVA members are perfectly capable of providing similar benefits”
However, critics say the initiative will only run for a limited period of time.
“Independent stages, where the majority of artists, musicians, and comedians start their careers, are small businesses and nonprofits,” adds the NIVA statement. “They are continually facing rising costs, increased deceptive ticketing practices in the resale market, and ongoing challenges following the global pandemic. Our stages are critical to the live entertainment ecosystem and local economies, and they must survive.
“The economics of touring must drastically improve for artists and independent venues. There has to be a better way. NIVA will continue to support artists and empower independent venues as we collectively find it.”
Posting on X, Live Nation’s EVP corporate & regulatory affairs Dan Wall responds: “Artists are asking for support. On The Road Again is about supporting artists. NIVA members are perfectly capable of providing similar benefits. Many already do.”
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