Live Nation’s “On the Road Again” plan, announced Tuesday, says it will deliver “tens of millions of dollars” for artists and touring crews by by providing $1,500 in gas and travel cash per show to all headliners and support acts, on top of nightly performance compensation, at venues the company owns, operates or exclusively books. Those clubs will also charge no merchandise-selling fees, so artists keep 100% of merch profits.
However, the National Independent Venue Association, which represents more than a thousands independently owned venues in the U.S., is not a fan of the plan, which is says is trying to “squeeze out” its members in an effort by the multibillion-dollar corporation Live Nation, the world’s largest live entertainment company, to “divert artists from independent venues and further consolidate control over the live entertainment sector.” Such merchandise fees contribute significantly to the revenue of small independent venues, while Live Nation is valued at nearly $20 billion.
“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,” the organization said in a statement Wednesday. “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,” the statement concludes. “NIVA will continue to support artists and empower independent venues as we collectively find it.”
NIVA was formed early in the pandemic and played a pivotal role in formulating the $16 billion “Save Our Stages” act to provide financial relief to independent venues and theaters, which was passed into law by Congress in December of 2020. While it took the Small Business Administration nearly six months to distribute those funds to venues, NIVA also kept pressure on the SBA until the money began to flow that summer.
They are additionally set to provide financial bonuses to local promoters and tour representatives who help execute shows, as well as venue crew members who have worked over 500 hours in 2023. Resources are being provided directly from the venue’s existing earnings. To view the complete list of participating venues, see here.