The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

Merch fees

On the road again program

Merch fees as a whole have been a topic of hot debate in the music industry. Imagine, as a small artist playing at a local venue, you bring your merch and your team, but the venue wants a cut of 10% of your sales. The “tax” may not seem that much, but when factoring in the total sales of merchandise, artists are stuck losing a significant amount of money with no way out.

This is why artists such as Willie Nelson and others have teamed up with a concert promotion giant, Live Nation, to end merchandising fees at club sized venues in which Live nations partnered with. The “On the Road Again” program, named after Nelson’s own song, will also be giving artists an extra $1,500 per show to help with the increasing expenses in touring for artists and their bands.

While the closest Live Nation venue is the House of Blues in Dallas, Texas, local artists in Erath county are still fighting for control of their merch sales and shady business tactics by venue owners.

In an interview with a local artist, who wished to remain anonymous, they spoke a little about their experience with merch fees at both small sets and large festivals.

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“When playing big festivals, they will give you the option to have your own merch person to sell your merch. If you want to have your merch available for the entire time of the festival, you can mail it or drop it off and the percentage they take is for their person they hired to sell your merch for the entire time the festival is open, even if you only play one day…to me seems pretty fair,” they said.

However, fairness is not always the best business practices in the industry when it comes to paying our local artist.

When asked about their experience with fees and payment they said, “I’ve never had to do merch fees, but I did have a venue guarantee a set price and have a tip bucket, then right before the last song, the venue manager grabbed my tip bucket and tried to pay me the remaining amount by subtracting the amount I made in tips from the amount I was getting paid. I was furious, like ‘nah dude’ – I’ve got this cause they enjoyed it, they stayed and kept drinking and eating because I played.  Let me see your server and bartender tips, then I can count those right? Oh, that’s not fair? Weird!”

While there are some fair and honest venue owners and managers, few ruin the lot for the rest. Merch fees as a whole can be seen as a necessary evil in order to maintain staffing for sales booths, while others see it as another way for venues to milk out an extra few dollars out of local artists.

For more information regarding the “On the Road Again” program , go to


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Jason Yelvington
Jason Yelvington, Multimedia Editor

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