Live Nation Clubs To Drop Merch Cuts As Part Of New Willie Nelson-Backed Program

image001 (8)

Live Nation-owned clubs will stop charging merchandise fees and provide gas and travel cash to artists as part of the company’s “On The Road Again” program.

The program, created by LN with Willie Nelson (naturally), seeks to provide support to artists who play small venues. According to Pollstar data, there are 4,000 such venues in the United States and they play host to 70 percent of all shows.

Nevertheless, artists at the club level rarely benefit from the economies of scale of larger tours and thus feel the fluctuations in tour costs more acutely.

Through the end of the year, the On The Road Again program will provide $1,500 in gas and travel cash per show to all headliners and supporting acts playing Live Nation clubs. Along with the aforementioned merch-cut moratorium, this will allow club-level acts to realize more profit while on the road.

Merch cuts — a controversial practice for years — has received increased scrutiny in recent weeks with acts such as singer-songwriter Tomberlin and Jeff Rosenstock calling for a change to the practice and sharing the cuts venues require them to pay.

“Touring is important to artists so whatever we can do to help other artists, I think we should do it. This program will impact thousands of artists this year and help make touring a little bit easier,” Willie Nelson, who provided his hit song “On the Road Again” as the anthem for the program, said in a release.

The program will also provide financial bonuses to local promoters and tour reps and to venue crew who’ve worked more than 500 hours this year. Live Nation is also donating $5 million to Crew Nation to support crew facing unforeseen hardship.

“Delivering for live artists is always our core mission,” said Michael Rapino, President and CEO of Live Nation Entertainment, in a statement. “The live music industry is continuing to grow and as it does, we want to do everything we can to support artists at all levels on their touring journey especially the developing artists in clubs. Like Willie says, this is all about making it a little easier for thousands of artists to continue doing what they love: going out and playing for their fans.”

Live Nation said all of On The Road Again’s benefits will be paid from existing earnings with no increase to concertgoers.

A YouTube video featuring Nelson is here. A list of participating venues is below and at

image002 (4)