In an unexpected move, Live Nation, along with Willie Nelson, announces the halt of merchandise fees in all its club-sized venues throughout the nation to support emerging artists and their crews.
The move is a part of a burgeoning artist program named “On the Road Again”, aptly named after Nelson’s iconic song.
“Touring is important to artists, so whatever we can do to help other artists, I think we should do it. This program will impact thousands of artists this year and help make touring a little bit easier,” Nelson told Rolling Stone.
The new program promises an additional $1,500 per show to artists taking the stages of the 77 Live Nation venues, including all House of Blues and Fillmore locations. The cash injection is to offset the escalating tour expenses such as gas, transportation, and accommodations. Alongside, an unspecified bonus for crew workers and an additional $5 million towards the Crew Nation fund was announced to support the program.
The announcement comes during a period of intensified scrutiny for Live Nation and its corporate sibling Ticketmaster, both faced with criticisms and a looming Department of Justice investigation over concerns of monopolization in the live-music business.
The initiative is a welcome move, artists have long-standing frustrations against merchandise fees, (concert venues typically tax between 15 and 30 percent of merch sales from performing artists). It’s a contentious issue, with artists like Jack Antonoff and Jeff Rosenstock speaking out for working artists trying to make a living.
In a climate where both artists and indie venues face the uphill task of staying afloat post-pandemic, let's hope the “On the Road Again” program stays around and we finally see a shift towards a more supportive live music industry, ensuring artists and their crews can continue to bring music to the masses.
h/t: rolling stone