Nottingham’s Rock City waives merch cut at The Charlatans gig

The venue said it was "only fair" to return its traditional cut of merch sales back to the artist, according to Tim Burgess

The CharlatansTim Burgess has said that Nottingham’s Rock City venue waived their traditional cut of merch sales during the band’s show at the venue last weekend.

Burgess has been a frequent voice of opposition against venues that take a percentage of merchandise sales from artists, saying last year that “the whole system needs addressing”.

After The Charlatans played the legendary Nottingham venue on Saturday night (May 14), Burgess tweeted that the venue had decided to give the percentage of money they would ordinarily take from merch sales and give it back to the band, saying it was “only fair”.

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Burgess tweeted: “An amazing thing happened last night. Rock City usually take a percentage of band merch income, just something they’ve always done. But they’ve listened to what artists are saying and as we left they returned the cash to our merch guy, saying they felt it was only fair.

“I’ve said before that this isn’t about money for The Charlatans but about fairness for artists and their fans – allowing them to keep an important part of the income from gigs,” he added. “So many venues don’t take a percentage and we think the others should follow their lead.”

Burgess went on to add that the Manchester Ritz venue have also agreed to waive their fee for an upcoming gig by The Lovely Eggs. “Common sense and fairness is starting to prevail,” he said.

In a separate series of tweets last December, Burgess said that the blame doesn’t solely lie with the venues. “Often it’s a completely separate ‘concession’ company that the venue deals with as part of a contract. A kid who has never heard of the band sells our stuff, while our merch person steps aside for the night.”

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He went on to say that “lots of the venue managers and staff are unhappy about this too. They aren’t even aware of what happens to the money when it’s paid to the concession company.”

Peter Hook also shared his thoughts on venues charging a commission on sales of band merchandise. “I have been battling this for many years now and fully support a change to this practise,” he said.

He went on to say that venues charging 25 per cent commission on the gross of anything sold makes having merchandise for most bands “a total vanity project”.

At the start of 2022 and on the back of Hook’s comments, the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) announced a new directory highlighting music venues that charge zero commission on the sale of merchandise.

“When fans buy merchandise from artists that they love, they want and expect that their money will go to supporting that artist,” the FAC explained, adding that the relationship between acts and venues is “essential and inseparable”.

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