Igorrr recently refused to sell their merchandise during a show at the O2 Forum Kentish Town in London thanks to a 25% merch cut. It sounds bad enough on the surface, but Stray From The Path drummer Craig Reynolds is here to explain exactly how horrendous that cut actually is.
In a handful of tweets, Reynolds explained that the O2 Forum Kentish Town uses their own merchandise person and not whoever's working for the band. The venue also takes their percentage from the gross amount of sales made by a band, and not from each individual sale. So basically after merch cuts and manufacturing costs, you're walking away with your band finances in the red.
"Didn't wanna say anything because we literally NEED you guys to buy merch but this o2 venue stuff is insane: They FORCE you to use their merch seller (who is not invested in selling your merch, or doing a good job) and then they take 25% of the GROSS amount that person makes," said Reynolds.
"Let's say you do 100 long sleeves at £40 a shirt (for ease) but they cost £20 to make. that's £4000 gross. They take £1000 for their cut then you have a £2000 merch bill. band makes £1000 – same as the fuckin venue. In fact after paying the merch guy you have on tour for their day off – band would make LESS than the venue."
Reynolds then pointed out that despite the cuts and the situation at O2, not selling merchandise is not an option – income is still income. "There's literally no answer," he said. "Not selling merch is not an option. We need 25% more people to buy merch but the seller does such a terrible job you always end up doing LESS. I would actually be fine with it if they were employing seriously great merch people but…"
Boom Leeds, an independent venue close by, responded to Reynolds saying there are a few local bars that allow bands to sell their merchandise at no cost both before and after shows. "There are some cool bars near this venue that have allowed bands playing to sell merch throughout the day of the show and after. Tell your fans they can pay the inflated price at the show OR enjoy a drink in a independent bar/venue nearby grab merch there."
Merch cuts have become a hot topic lately, mostly due to the overall rise in cost of touring. Merch cuts are exactly what they sound like – a cut of the band's revenue made from merchandise that goes to the venue or promoter. Monuments recently refused to sell merchandise in Greece due to insane cuts, while our own Frank Godla penned an editorial about why Gojira is a good example of a band trying to keep their business going in a difficult touring world.
Architects drummer Dan Searle recently posited that maybe bands should get a cut of the venue's nightly alcohol sales to balance things out, while Dark Funeral guitarist Lord Ahriman has outright said that venues are killing the live music industry. So it's safe to say that bands aren't exactly thrilled with the business practice at the moment.