Skip to main content

Home Music Music News

Database launched to highlight venues that charge no merchandise commission

The Featured Artists Coalition's '100% Venues' database lists venues that refuse to take a cut of merch sales

By Joe Goggins

A crowd enjoys an independent gig
The Charlatans' Tim Burgess raised the issue of merchandise commission on Twitter last month. (Photo: Alamy)

A new directory from the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) will list music venues that charge no commission on merchandise sales.

Dubbed the ‘100% Venues’ database, it will shine a light on what the FAC calls the “outdated and unfair” practice of venues taking a cut of merch sales from artists. It comes after artists including Tim Burgess and Peter Hook criticised such venues last month on social media.

The sale of official merchandise, according to the FAC’s statement launching the database, is “one of the key revenue sources” for touring musicians, adding that the relationship between artist and venue is “essential and inseparable”. “When fans buy merchandise from artists that they love, they want and expect that their money will go to supporting that artist,” said the statement.

Venues including London’s Jazz Café and Leeds’ Brudenell Social Club have already signed up for the database. Owners can join the list via a one-minute form on the FAC website. “Using a collective voice will be the way to promote change which will subsequently support live artists in the future,” the FAC continued. “With a large database, other venues will more likely reconsider their fees and reassess how much they want to be charging their booked artists.”

Explaining his support for the database, Hook said: “You’re treated like gods in the dressing room and then robbed blind on the merchandise stall. I fully support this campaign and have been very vocal about this injustice to artists and fans for years. I fail to understand why these charges are so high?” 

In his Twitter statement in December, the former Joy Division and New Order man backed Burgess’ highlighting of the issue, saying: “I have lost count of how many good gigs have been ruined by the same post-show argument over a few hundred quid when the shoe has actually turned over hundreds of thousands of pounds, which of course is far more than we have been getting paid.”

In his initial tweet on the issue, Burgess had outlined the difficulties faced by touring artists when a venue levy on merch is applied. “Some places take 25%. A quarter of the full selling price,” wrote the Charlatans frontman on December 9. “Vinyl doesn’t even have that mark up to begin with.”

More information on the database can be found here.