The UK’s Musicians’ Union (MU) has given its backing to the Featured Artists Coalition’s (FAC) 100% Venues initiative, which encourages venues to allow artists to sell merchandise without charging commission fees.
The FAC launched the 100% Venues scheme – a public directory of music venues that charge zero commission on the sale of merchandise – in 2022 in a bid to address the “outdated and unfair” practice of performance spaces taking a cut of acts’ merch proceeds at gigs.
The MU, which represents over 32,000 musicians working in all sectors of the music business, says the work being done by the FAC to highlight the issue aligns with its own Fair Play Venue database, which includes details of UK venues that have committed to engage artists in line with the Fair Play Guide.
“We’re delighted to show our support for the 100% Venues initiative, which is becoming a vital resource for musicians in the UK,” says Kelly Wood, national organiser, live, theatre & music writers – Musicians’ Union. “Touring remains a key part of many artists’ careers, and whilst it can help to grow fanbases and support releases, it can also prove very challenging from a financial perspective.
“THE GROWING NUMBER OF VENUES THAT HAVE SIGNED UP TO THE INITIATIVE SO FAR SENDS A VERY STRONG AND POSITIVE MESSAGE TO ARTISTS”
“The UK has an incredible network of music venues, which are loved universally by artists and audiences. However, to protect the viability of future tours and careers, we need consistent and fair terms for performers. Artists rely on a combination of income streams when on tour, and any threats to these – such as unfair or unexpected commissions on merchandise – can have devastating effects.
“The growing number of venues that have signed up to the initiative so far sends a very strong and positive message to artists, and we hope that this leads to more pressure for other venues to improve their terms and get behind the campaign.”
The MU’s support follows the extension of the 100% Venues campaign into North America in late 2022, and after the issue of merchandise commission was raised in last month’s US Congressional hearing regarding the US live touring landscape.
“We are hugely grateful to receive support for 100% Venues from our friends at the Musicians’ Union,” adds FAC CEO David Martin. “The MU and FAC’s members deliver the performances that the whole live music industry is built on, yet many are facing an almost impossible task to keep the show on the road. That is why the issue of merchandise commission has become so pronounced and why we will continue to fight for a fairer settlement for artists.”
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