FAC Turns Up Pressure To End Artist Merchandise Fees


July 12, 2023

The Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) has published an open letter and launched a public petition in support of its 100% Venues Campaign – an initiative that aims for venues to stop charging commission on artist merchandise.

The 100% Venues campaign was launched in January last year, prompted by growing unhappiness among artists about the fees being levied by certain venue operators. The fees often amount to 25% of gross revenue plus VAT – meaning the venue is making more from the sales of merchandise than the artists performing on stage.

Artists to have publicly aired their views on the situation include Tim Burgess, Peter Hook, The Big Moon, The Lovely Eggs, Yard Act, New Pagans and Easy Life.

The FAC also cite the fact that many UK venues – including numerous small, independent ones – charge 0% commission on merch sales. The coalition has collated details of these venues in a public directory.

The FAC has amassed hundreds of venues that reach the 0% ‘gold standard’, from the grassroots through to 1,000+ capacity rooms including KOKO, EARTH, Village Underground, the Electric Ballroom, Troxy and the Barbican in London, The Sage in Gateshead, Cardiff’s Tramshed, SWX in Bristol and Liverpool’s Olympia.

More than 60 industry bodies and businesses have signed the open letter, including the Musicians’ Union, Music Venues Trust, PRS for Music, Black Lives In Music, the Association of Independent Promoters and the Association of Independent Festivals. Kevin Brennan MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music has also signed.

FAC CEO David Martin said, “Ironically, it is when artists step up to play bigger venues, and the moment their costs and opportunities increase, that the most crippling fees kick in. In many instances, venues have sold on or outsourced their merchandising rights to a third-party – meaning that fees appear ‘baked in’ to hire costs, with little room for negotiation.

“It is these outdated contractual terms that we now intend to address, but, if every UK venue implemented the four pragmatic principles outlined in today’s open letter it would mark a significant step forward.”

The open letter can be read here.

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