House of Blues, Echo Lounge join Live Nation’s new developing-artist program
Editor’s note: This story is part of an ongoing series for Arts Access examining the health and well-being of our North Texas arts economy.
Two North Texas venues will be participating in Live Nation Entertainment’s new developing-artist program aimed at supporting touring musicians by giving them travel stipends and ending merchandising fees.
House of Blues Dallas and the Echo Lounge and Music Hall in Dallas are two of the 77 club venues participating in Live Nation’s On The Road Again program. Live Nation, which is the largest entertainment company in the world, created the program in partnership with Willie Nelson and named it after one of his songs.
On The Road Again will provide a $1,500 stipend for gas and travel expenses per show to all headlining and supporting acts on top of nightly performance compensation. It will also eliminate merchandise selling fees, which means acts will receive 100 percent of profits from merchandise sales.
“Touring is a crucial part of an artist’s livelihood, and we understand travel costs take one of the biggest bites out of artists’ nightly profits,” Live Nation said in a media release. “By helping with these core expenses, we aim to make it easier for artists on the road so they can keep performing to their fans in more cities across the country.”
On The Road Again’s launch comes over a month after Live Nation was accused of lying to investors by failing to disclose allegedly anticompetitive company operations. Live Nation, which owns Ticketmaster, faces a Department of Justice investigation for allegedly charging bloated fees, bundling concert promotions and ticketing services and retaliating against venues that chose a ticket-service provider other than Ticketmaster, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Evan Reyes, a former employee of House of Blues Dallas, has performed at different venues across North Texas with his band The Black Velvets. He said when a fan purchases a musician’s merchandise at a concert, usually 100 percent of that goes directly to the musician. However, that wasn’t the case at Live Nation venues like House of Blues. He said House of Blues usually took 20 percent of a band’s merchandise sales.
“A band’s main source of income is always going to be merch sales, hence why shirts are always $20 to $30, as this is the only money that goes directly to the band,” he said. “Taking 20 percent from the only income that they get directly really hurts the bands trying to make enough to continue doing the band and-or pay their bills, as well.”
He said Live Nation’s new program should have always been standard at these venues.
Local promoters, tour representatives who work behind the scenes and venue crew members that worked over 500 hours in 2023 will also receive financial bonuses under this new program. In addition, On The Road Again is donating $5 million to Crew Nation, a global relief fund for live-music crews, to support crew across the industry facing unforeseen hardships.
According to the press release, On The Road Again will roll out these benefits in the “next few months.”
Live Nation also says all benefits for this program will come directly from the venue’s existing earnings, with no increase to consumers.
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