The National Independent Venue Association Calls Out Live Nation Over New Merch Cuts Program

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On September 26, Live Nation announced a new program called On The Road Again . In short, the program is only available at select venues across North America and offers smaller bands the following four perks throughout the remainder of 2023:

  • Extra $1,500 per show in gas & travel cash for all headliners and openers – on top of nightly performance compensation
  • Clubs will charge no merchandise selling fees, so artists keep 100% of merch profits for each show
  • $5 million donation to Crew Nation supporting crew across the industry facing unforeseen hardship
  • Special “On The Road Again” bonuses for tour, promoter, & venue staff, the behind-the-scenes heroes helping shows happen

While that all sounds good, the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) has voiced their concerns with the program. In a statement published to their website, NIVA claims that Live Nation is using On The Road Again as a “calculated attempt” to divert bands away from independent venues. NIVA further alleges that the program threatens “the vitality of small and medium-sized venues under 3000 capacity.”

NIVA’s full statement can be found below.

“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. 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 3000 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 nonprofits. 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.”

As a refresher, these are the venues that are listed as participants in On The Road Again.

The participating venues for the On The Road Again are as follows:

  • The Van Buren (Phoenix, AZ)
  • House of Blues (Anaheim, CA)
  • The Parish at House of Blues (Anaheim, CA)
  • Belasco (Los Angeles, CA)
  • The Wiltern (Los Angeles, CA)
  • The Echo (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Echoplex (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Riverside Municipal Auditorium (Riverside, CA)
  • Ace of Spades (Sacramento, CA)
  • Observatory OC (Santa Ana, CA)
  • Constellation Room (Santa Ana, CA)
  • Observatory SD (San Diego, CA)
  • Voodoo Room at House of Blues (San Diego, CA)
  • House of Blues (San Diego, CA)
  • The Fillmore (San Francisco, CA)
  • Midway Music Hall (Edmonton, AB)
  • Commodore Ballroom (Vancouver, BC)
  • Danforth Music Hall (Toronto, ON)
  • Kee to Bala (Bala, ON)
  • History (Toronto, ON)
  • Opera House (Toronto, ON)
  • Velvet Underground (Toronto, ON)
  • Summit (Denver, CO)
  • Moon Room at Summit (Denver, CO)
  • Marquis (Denver, CO)
  • The Dome at Oakdale (Wallingford, CT)
  • House of Blues (Lake Buena Vista, FL)
  • Tabernacle (Atlanta, GA)
  • Buckhead Theatre (Atlanta, GA)
  • House of Blues (Chicago, IL)
  • Egyptian Room (Indianapolis, IN)
  • Deluxe (Indianapolis, IN)
  • Mercury Ballroom (Louisville, KY)
  • Parish at House of Blues (New Orleans, LA)
  • House of Blues (New Orleans, LA)
  • The Fillmore New Orleans (New Orleans, LA)
  • The Fillmore Silver Spring (Silver Spring, MD)
  • Citizens House of Blues (Boston, MA)
  • Shelter (Detroit, MI)
  • St. Andrew’s Hall (Detroit, MI)
  • The Fillmore Detroit (Detroit, MI)
  • GLC Live at 20 Monroe (Grand Rapids, MI)
  • Varsity Theater (Minneapolis, MN)
  • The Fillmore Minneapolis (Minneapolis, MN)
  • Uptown Theater (Minneapolis, MN)
  • Blue Note (Columbia, MO)
  • Rose Music Hall (Columbia, MO)
  • Rose Park (Columbia, MO)
  • House of Blues (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Warsaw (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Gramercy Theatre (New York, NY)
  • Irving Plaza (New York, NY)
  • Bogart’s (Cincinnati, OH)
  • The Cambridge Room at House of Blues (Cleveland, OH)
  • House of Blues (Cleveland, OH)
  • The Underground (Charlotte, NC)
  • The Fillmore Charlotte (Charlotte, NC)
  • The Ritz (Raleigh, NC)
  • Brooklyn Bowl (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Roxian Theatre (McKees Rock, PA)
  • Theatre of Living Arts (Philadelphia, PA)
  • The Fillmore Philadelphia (Philadelphia, PA)
  • The Foundry at The Fillmore Philadelphia (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Charleston Music Hall (Charleston, SC)
  • Music Farm (Charleston, SC)
  • House of Blues (North Myrtle Beach, SC)
  • Scoot Inn (Austin, TX)
  • Emo’s (Austin, TX)
  • Cambridge Room (Dallas, TX)
  • The Echo Lounge & Music Hall (Dallas, TX)
  • House of Blues (Dallas, TX)
  • House of Blues Bronze Peacock (Houston, TX)
  • House of Blues (Houston, TX)
  • The Aztec Theater (San Antonio, TX)
  • The Depot (Salt Lake City, UT)
  • Majestic Theatre (Madison, WI)
  • High Noon Saloon (Madison, WI)
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