Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Latest News


"If you want to help out your favorite band, buy their merch from them directly."

Rosenstock Albini

In a recent post on social media, musician Jeff Rosenstock called out the practice of venues taking a cut of artist merchandise sales, joining several other artists who have raised their voices about the same issue. Rosenstock, who has been touring for over 20 years, explained that these cuts can be as high as 20%, and that they can have a significant impact on an artist's bottom line.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

"Felt appropriate to post this on Labor Day," wrote Rosenstock. "Here are the merch cuts being taken by the venues on this upcoming tour. This is going to cause us to sell our merch for higher prices than we'd like to at certain venues. We think that sucks.

"The argument for the cut is 'well, fucko, we give you a place to sell your merchandise.' By that logic, we should also be getting a cut of the bar for bringing hundreds to thousands of people and their cash to the venue that night. For the record, we're 100% down to give a merch cut any night we get a cut of the bar. But the thing that makes the most sense is that we don't take each other's money! We like each other and we're working together and helping each other! It makes no sense that at the end of these killer shows where we’re all having a nice time, someone who was our friend all night low key robs us and goes 'have a safe trip to the next gig buddies!!' That's fucking weird!!!

"So much of the time all that money goes to big corporations like AEG & LiveNation. Seems like the fuckin' rule now, if you work in a creative field you're supposed to feel lucky and happy enough to be there to get raked over the coals by millionaires and billionaires who will give you as small as slice of the pie as they can to perpetually show growth in profits. It's never these people left holding the bag. It's either a musician – a field in which if you make a poverty wage that's considered making it – or fans who take on the burden. Even if you are older now I think many of us know what it feels like to think 'well, that show costs $30, so I can't afford to go.' It's fucked up that someone to whomst $1,000 is nothin' is taking that money from you for real.

"I'd love to say 'and as a result of all that, we'll no longer be playing venues that take merch cuts.' But unfortunately, during the pandemic AEG & LiveNation bought so many of the types of venues that we play, that dodging these super high cuts is nearly impossible. But we'll never stop trying to keep the prices low for everyone out there, and we're gonna do whatever we can do to avoid it in the future. We as a band and crew just wanted to let you know what's up. Lub ya see ya soon."

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Legendary producer Steve Albini added in response to Rosenstock's post that he's always negotiated merch cuts, and has never paid them. "Not often admitted, but merch cuts are 100% negotiable, to the extent that my bands over 40+ years have never, not once, ever paid them," wrote Albini. "When agents make deals, they don't care about ticket surcharges, merch cut or other leaks; they don't affect their cut. The band has to insist."

Rosenstock's post sparked a discussion among fellow musicians, many of whom shared their own experiences with venue merch cuts. "I've played shows where the venue took 50% of merch sales," wrote one musician. "It's insane."

Another musician pointed out that the practice of venue merch cuts is particularly unfair to independent artists. "When you're a big band, you can afford to take a hit on merch sales," they said. "But for smaller bands, it can be a real problem."

Recently, Sepultura's Derrick Green got pretty angry about it, while Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares spoke on how the practice is making staying afloat financially pretty difficult. Though maybe Dream Theater's Jordan Rudess along his band-mate John Petrucci put it best – "it sucks."

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Amaranthe vocalist and current Cyhra front-man Jake E has also weighed in, on a recent rant about how merch cuts are basically the mafia method of "protection."

In Flames vocalist Anders Fridén has called for everyone to band together against the cuts in order for something to happen, adding: "I tried many, many years ago to start a debate and talk about this, but not enough bands were saying 'we agree' or were acknowledging the fact that it was a huge problem. And then it kind of disappeared. Everyone has to react; it can't be just a few bands that say something. I don't know what to do against it. It's a huge cost. I mean, we sell a fair amount of merch, and the money goes to someone else, even though we sell it ourselves sometimes, it's crazy. It's insane."

Rosenstock concluded his post by calling on fans to support artists by purchasing merch directly from them. "If you want to help out your favorite bands," he said, "buy their merch from them directly. Don't buy it from the venue."

The practice of venue merch cuts is a controversial one, and there are valid arguments to be made on both sides. In the meantime, we all can do our part supporting artists by just doing what Rosenstock suggested, buying an artist's merch directly from them. This will help to ensure that artists get the full proceeds from their sales, and it will also help to cut out the middleman.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Jeff Rosenstock (@jeffrosenstock)

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.
Show Comments / Reactions

You May Also Like