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Concert halls must stop cutting merchandise sales to help struggling bands, say musicians | Ents & Arts News

A coalition of musicians is calling on venues to scrap the commission they charge for the sale of merchandise, saying it will create a fairer and more sustainable touring circuit.

The Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) warns that some venues charge around 25%, which it says leaves too little for bands and artists, adding that it can be the difference between a gig breaking even or losing money. the money.

Ben Lovett of Grammy Award-winning band Mumford & Sons told Sky News it was an issue they would ‘beat and shout about’ during his touring days.

“Unfortunately, you don’t go very far to oppose this stuff,” he said.

“You can push and more importantly as you succeed you can have a platform for that. But that’s just a request, isn’t it? – if you say you’re not satisfied with the way something is going.”

Lovett, whose band has released four studio albums and three live albums, said venues must treat artists as guests and take responsibility for nurturing talent.

The 35-year-old has two venues in London and is set to open an 8,000-seat amphitheater in Alabama this year. He told Sky News that venues are nothing without artists.

“We see ourselves as hosts. We’re not here to make more money. We make enough from bar sales and things like that because we run the bars, but we don’t make the merchandising, so why would we tax it?”

Music merchandise is big business in the UK with t-shirts and hoodies often selling for upwards of £30 at gigs as fans take home souvenirs of their favorite musicians.

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Ben Lovett says Mumford & Sons would ‘kick and scream’ over merchandise commission

“I remember going to Blink 182 and No Doubt,” Lovett says, recalling the gigs he loved when he was young.

“So I would go to a concert and buy a t-shirt. It was often after the concert and you were so emboldened and passionate about being a fan that you wanted to show your stripes. It’s kind of like the sports that way.

The FAC warns that the site billing commission is ruining the careers of musicians who are already struggling to survive.

CEO David Martin told Sky News: “It’s been a perfect storm over the past two years. European tours are very difficult and have become much more expensive after Brexit. The lockdown has seen most artists suffer from the drying up of their touring revenue and we’re also facing a cost of living crisis, and that’s having a real impact on consumer confidence, which is also having an impact on ticket sales.”

Ben Lovett
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Lovett says buying merchandise is a way to ‘show off your stripes’

The FAC has launched a directory of UK venues that charge no commission on artists’ merchandise sales.

“It’s very simple,” Mr. Martin explained. “‘100% Venues’ is about removing the punitive commission fees that are charged for the sale of artists’ merchandise in venues. Many fans don’t realize when they’re paying for a t-shirt, CD or record when of a concert, often the venue will take a share, and this can go up to 25% plus gross VAT.

“There’s an idea that artists are famous and they’re on stage and they’re very wealthy. But even on a fairly large level, there’s a lot of cost involved in touring.”