Touring for anyone but stadium-selling artists has been a struggle since the pandemic. Now Live Nation says it’ll stop asking for handouts from budding artists by canceling its merch fees and offering a stipend to headliners. Here’s the latest.
Live Nation finally realized that developing artists are the backbone of the live music industry. Data from Pollstar counting the number of live music shows over the United States points to small venues hosting around 70% of all live music shows each year. Artists who perform at these venues are being nickel-and-dimed out of performing because they don’t want to raise ticket prices for fans.
The company that perfected the added fee says it’s going to turn off some of them for developing artists and its enlisting the help of Willie Nelson to do so. “Touring is important to artists so whatever we can do to help other artists, I think we should do it,” Willie Nelson said in a statement. “This program will impact thousands of artists this year and help make touring a little bit easier.
Willie Nelson lends the title of his famous song “On The Road Again” to the campaign—which only lasts through the end of this year. Bummer, Live Nation. Limited time appeasement measures while Congress is so focused on the monopoly Live Nation holds over live music is to be expected. So here’s what’s on offer until December 2023.
Live Nation’s clubs will provide a $1,500 gas and travel stipend to all headliners and support acts, on top of their nightly performance compensation. These clubs will also end their merch fees, allowing developing artists to keep 100% of their merch profits. The company is also providing financial bonuses to local promoters that help execute shows, tour reps that live life on the bus, and venue crew members that work at least 500 hours in 2023.
“Delivering for live artists is always our core mission,” adds Michael Rapino in a statement. Rapino received a compensation package of $139 million in 2022. “The live music industry is continuing to grow and as it does, we want to do everything we can to support artists at all levels on their touring journey, especially the developing artists in clubs.”
That’s why Live Nation is introducing this limited-time initiative riding on one of the legends of country music to do what it already should have been doing—fostering live talent instead of shaking it down.