How music venues rip off bands for merch sales

Originally published at: How music venues rip off bands for merch sales | Boing Boing


This tour manager pointed a lot of this stuff out on youtube with info from an arena selling band


This is shitty (especially as a lot of artists only make money from touring and merch) but not surprising. I wonder how the venues even manage it though. Do they insist on having their own staff selling the merch?

I’d also be interested to know how other countries compare.


Well we all know that Steve Albini become a millionaire via his aggressive merch negotiations. /s


Steve Albini … known for performative assholery

That’s gold, Jerry. GOLD!

I’m always wary of anyone who lionizes Albini. He is absolutely NOT a cool guy.

In the cities I have lived in, most clubs of this size are owned by a single monopoly: Live Nation. That is all.

1 Like

It is amazing how shitty touring is for small bands.

Like ticket sales - they rarely see any money from that. They might get a few hundred dollars for an appearance fee. Some places might give you a share if you sell X number of tickets. Most of the time, it barely covers the cost of showing up.

Merch is where they make their money. Buy a shirt, or stickers, or just put money in the tip jar if you can’t afford it. That $5 goes a long way as it adds up. The fact places want to start dipping into that is absurd.

And don’t get me started on larger venues where Ticket Master is basically rape and plundering artists and fans.

ETA - Danial Grave of Aesthetic Perfection has done some videos laying out the costs and how much they make touring. It is all merch sales that keep them going.


Appropriate song by MC Frontalot + MC Lars, and from 2011.

1 Like

Re: Albini

he also suggested just skipping certain cities if they can’t get a deal.

Steve Harvey Reaction GIF

(Can’t make a living wage? Just stay home!)

If my band makes over $100 in a night between payout and merch, I consider it an amazing night.

Admittedly, we’re nowhere near Jeff Rosenstock level or anything. If we were splitting that money as pay (instead of just back into the band pot), we’d be getting $25 each for an hour of active labor and 4 hours of standing around. Not so great!


A really good ethical move for your DIY crowd is to ignore the fervent fans who want to give you money cuz the capitalist venue landlords in their cities suck.

This has always been quandary for punk/post-punk underground bands… In theory, stuff like MRR was meant to help navigate DIY touring, with a sort of punk-ethical spin, but if ethically run venues don’t exist, your choices are house shows or skipping a location where you might have fans…

It’s too bad that places like 924 Gilman are few and far inbetween… A Gilman in every city!!!

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.