The economics of touring

The USA list is pretty pitiful.

Live nation probably has its shitty paws in most US venues I’d wager

Virtually no venues under 1000 capacity take merch fees. The problem is when you get to bigger sized venues they are generally not independently owned* and they will take a percentage because they know bands of a certain size pretty much don’t have any other option but to play them - we don’t have a nationwide circuit of independent venues of 3000-5000 capacity.

I still think there is something odd about bands playing O2 Academies and then complaining after the event about merch fees when their booking agent / management would know in advance the venue would take a cut of their merch sales. They could boycott those venues if they wanted to, but it would probably mean they couldn’t find a suitably sized venue in a lot of towns and cities.

There is also a counter argument that those sized venues will have massive overheads compared to smaller independent venues, such as staffing costs, security, no business rate relief etc, (although their alcohol sales will also be significantly greater!)

*Still find it disappointing that the Roundhouse takes a merch fee though.


I can only speak to Belfast but technically all the venues here are independent.
The problem is that half of them are owned by one rich guy who obviously wants to grub as much money as he can - even in his venues which are 500 cap or less.


Some of the worst are the venues that get millions of arts and lottery funding

It’s a brilliant campaign. I interviewed David from FAC for the Quietus essay I wrote last year.

Should I get him on the DiS podcast for an update on the campaign and talk everyone through all of this?

Aye, why not.

They know how much it costs to run the venue so it should be priced in at the ticket pricing stage. Not by claiming a cut of something that is in no way them. Bands can go sell merch in a pub round the corner just the same as they can sell at a table (in terms of setup that is not revenue), but they can’t play an amplified gig outside the venue in the same way.

Ticket prices are set by the band / agent and generally 85% of ticket sales after costs goes to the artist and 15% to the promoter. Unless the venue is also the promoter they would normally only get a set hire fee. Venues make most of their money through bar sales.

if their overheads don’t get covered by the hire fee then that’s their fault

there’s no justification for taking a cut of something they’re not involved in at all

even if it was ‘there’s a hire fee for putting a merch stall there’ they might be able to justify it, but not taking a percentage

I agree, I’m just presenting the counter argument. Your local grassroots music venues operate at just a 0.2% profit margin, yet ironically these aren’t the type of venues charging merch fees.

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Something came up at work about recent draft anti-terrorism legislation that could potentially force any venue with a 100+ capacity to have extra security in place. Would be catastrophic for grassroots venues.

The first and only time I saw that was when Thee Oh Sees (as was) and Beak> played at Kentish Town forum and they sold the merch next door at the Bull and Gate. Most fans went to the latter first (inc me) and we bought our t shirts there. Good business model. Unlike when Beak> supported Mogwai at Ally Pally and told everyone they’d sell their t shirts from the front of the stage, and screw the system. Lasted 5 mins before the bouncers moved them on. For some of the gigs I go to it’s the same price to buy shirts that you want (that aren’t on sale at the gig, eg Chat Pile recently) and pay the shipping from Germany than buy at gigs.

Relatedly, the head of Live Nation, who own a lot of venues and promote a lot of shows, is on $139m

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While Michael Rapino is extremely well paid, that figure of $139 million is not his annual ‘salary’, contrary to what the Instagram image claims.

He has a base salary of $3 million. Live Nation entered into a new employment agreement with Rapino in July 2022, ending in 2027, which meant he also earned a $6 million signing bonus. The CEO also earned a $12 million annual cash performance bonus for 2022 and stock awards of $116 million, some of which vest in early 2024, while others vest in four installments through 2027 if the company reaches certain stock price targets. So the vast majority of his potential (and not guaranteed) $139 million earnings is spread over 4 years, starting next year.

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Wow. Hope he can make ends meet until then


oh well, hope he can stretch that $3mill (annual?) until the rest comes through. Maybe we should set them up a gofundme


let’s hope he puts on a gig featuring the world’s tiniest violin soon

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Seems like the best place to post this…:frowning:

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