Following news that Live Nation is dropping merch fees and offering travel stipends, the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) has issued a statement.
Live Nation’s new ‘On the Road Again’ initiative enlists the help of country legend Willie Nelson to help budding artists playing at small venues. The initiative only lasts through the end of December 2023 and comes as Live Nation Entertainment faces scrutiny for its anti-competitive practices—like stopping Live Nation performers from using venues that don’t use Ticketmaster. Now NIVA is highlighting how this new initiative is designed to squeeze out independent venues even more.
“Temporary measures may appear to help artists in the short run but actually can squeeze out independent venues which provide the lifeblood of many artists on thin margins,” NIVA begins. “Independent venues and promoters are investing in and elevating up-and-coming artists every day, and NIVA is supporting those efforts nationally. The initiative announced yesterday may seem like a move to follow the lead of some independent venues. It is not that.”
“Instead, it appears to be a calculated attempt to use a publicly-traded conglomerate’s immeasurable resources to divert artists from independent venues and further consolidate control over the live entertainment sector. Such tactics threaten the vitality of small and medium-sized venues under 3,000 capacity, many of which still struggle to keep their doors open.”
“Independent stages, where the majority of artists, musicians, and comedians start their careers, are small businesses and non-profits. They are continually facing rising costs, increased deceptive ticketing practices in the resale market, and ongoing challenges following the global pandemic. Our stages are critical to the live entertainment ecosystem and local economies, and they must survive.”
“The economics of touring must drastically improve for artists and independent venues. There has to be a better way. NIVA will continue to support artists and empower independent venues as we collectively find it.”