It’s harder than ever to be a band or any kind of a musician now, for the most part. While the act of distributing your music (especially online) is easier now, it’s difficult for any musician to make money with streaming over hard album sales or even music downloads. Meanwhile, the costs to ship and produce merch have increased, and higher gas prices make the general cost of living even more difficult for creatives.
Practices from music venues like merch cuts undoubtedly siphon off potential profits that musicians make, and in most cases, it’s not like the bands are getting any of the bar tabs or anything else to compensate. Bands like Australia’s Alpha Wolf have already taken to calling out predatory venues that practice these cuts, in a very public fashion. And now the entire music scene seems to be fed up with venues taking, in some cases, 20% or more of their merch profits.
In fact, Architects Dan Searle entered the fray to discuss his distaste for these cuts a couple days ago. Many bands, like Currents, Bad Omens, Fit For A King, Casey, and more had plenty of discourse to offer. Some of the solutions offered were rather interesting, to be honest.
There’s not a single band that wouldn’t have their finances completely transformed if things were to change. Theres no fathomable reason not to act other than apathy. And all it takes is everyone to say ‘no, we’re not doing this anymore, you need us to exist.’
— Dan Searle (@danarchitects) February 20, 2023
So if nothing else let’s organize just under that one idea: that we deserve peace. And then let’s hit them in the fucking mouth with it.
— Jesse Barnett (@SomeKindofJesse) February 21, 2023
While obviously there are regional differences involved (merch cuts are less likely in Europe compared to the USA, for example), the fact is that merch cuts are yet another thing to take away from hard-working bands. And frankly, it’s fucking disgusting. Considering there are multiple hands in the metaphorical cookie jar that already take away from a band’s bottom line (labels, management, distribution deals, etc.), there’s a lot of possible solutions here. The one that doesn’t work, though, is asking musicians and bands to simply work harder and pick themselves up by their bootstraps, as many like to say.
We are thinking about doing this.
— Dan Searle (@danarchitects) February 19, 2023
Ready and waiting https://t.co/RTwMM4s2x8
— Josh Franceschi (@joshmeatsix) February 20, 2023
Other solutions that have been offered include selling merch out of the back of their vans/buses on tour, or even doing a pop-up shop before the shows (when possible), where fans would also be able to interact with the musicians. The latter is a particularly good idea, as it fosters the all-important band/fan interaction. It’s not JUST merch cuts that are the problem, of course. There’s also the problem of labels that underpromote their artists or don’t pay them fairly, so merch cuts are just the tip of the iceberg.
— Zach Myers (@ZMyersOfficial) February 20, 2023
Time to sell the merch outside the venue s in the trailer behind the tour bus https://t.co/ffzjPpsZPx
— Jordan Willis (@JordanWillis18) February 21, 2023
There has been nights where our merch cut has been double our guarantee. 😂 https://t.co/sVBm6156xX
— Ali ocho (@AlexreneC) February 19, 2023