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After Texas sued Live Nation, two Dallas venues continue its artist assistance program

Sting performs during the grand opening of The Echo Lounge & Music Hall in Dallas, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021. (Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News)
Elias Valverde II
The Dallas Morning News
Sting performs during the grand opening of The Echo Lounge & Music Hall in Dallas, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021. (Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News)

Update: June 7, 2024: 9:55 a.m. This story has been updated with comments from Live Nation. 

As Live Nation faces a lawsuit recently filed by the Justice Department that accuses the entertainment behemoth of violating antitrust laws and driving up ticket prices, the company continues forward with its little-known travel compensation program for touring musicians.

Last year, Live Nation launched On the Road Again. Under the program, both supporting and touring acts at Live Nation club venues are supposed to receive a $1,500 travel stipend on top of their performance compensation. The program also eliminated merchandise selling fees, estimated at 20%. That means artists get to keep 100% of their profits from selling merchandise. House of Blues Dallas and the Echo Lounge and Music Hall are two North Texas venues participating in the program.

Live Nation later announced as part of this program it would distribute bonuses and raise the hourly minimum wage to $20 for venue staff who work behind the scenes. Live Nation said in an email these wages went into effect at the House of Blues and Echo Lounge in December 2023. 

Those who have received the compensation have used it to help them pay for things like rent. However, Arts Access spoke to two musicians who asked not to be named due to some concerns including the possibility of losing future booking opportunities. They said they participated in the program but did not receive the additional payment. A Live Nation spokesperson said in a statement to Arts Access it had paid all qualifying artists who had participated in the program.

Llandon Broadhead, a darkwave musician based in Dallas who goes by the name Llora, was a supporting act for Twin Tribes at House of Blues in October 2023. They said they received $750 in cash and a $750 Shell station gas card as travel compensation on top of their $300 show guarantee.

“Getting paid $1,800 for a show to play for 30 minutes, I’ve never been paid that much before,” Broadhead said. “I used it to pay my rent, which was great.”

In January, Tevyn Jenkins, the Dallas rapper known as Coach Tev, performed at the House of Blues as a supporting act for rapper Reason. He said the $750 in gas cards he received paid for about four months’ worth of gas. He also used the $750 in cash to pay his DJ and photographer more than usual. He said it helped having extra cash to put into more studio time and marketing.

“I think it’s a good idea for any promotion company to have programs like these that incentivize the artists,” Jenkins said. “I look forward to working with them in the future.”

Live Nation is the biggest entertainment company in the world. It owns and operates over 265 concert venues across North America and 60 of the top 100 amphitheaters in the U.S. In 2010, Live Nation merged with Ticketmaster, the biggest ticket seller in the nation, and became Live Nation Entertainment. This means it also owns and operates venues, sells tickets, books artists, promotes concerts and more.

On the Road Again launched in September 2023. In March, Live Nation announced it would be continuing the program.

Last year, a class action lawsuit sparked an investigation into Live Nation for allegedly lying to investors by failing to disclose allegedly anti-competitive company operations. The company has been under fire since allegedly mishandling ticket sales for Taylor Swift’s 2023 “Eras Tour.” On the day presale tickets were available, an overwhelming demand for tickets caused the Ticketmaster website to crash, leaving many fans without their tickets.

And last month, the state of Texas joined a suit filed by the Department of Justice against Live Nation, which accuses the company of driving up ticket costs and violating antitrust laws. The suit alleges Live Nation has hurt the entertainment industry, including fans, artists and venues.

“Mega-corporations cannot control entire industries to create anti-competitive environments, drive up prices, and take advantage of consumers,” said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. “With this lawsuit, we aim to ensure fair competition for ticket sellers, concertgoers, venues and others in the entertainment space who have been affected by this merger.”

While the company is dealing with this suit, it still touts the On the Road Again program's success. Live Nation said in a press release that as of March, On The Road Again has distributed tens of millions of dollars to over 4,000 artists and more than 70 club venues are participating in the program.

“We’re proud to keep On The Road Again rolling strong.” Michael Rapino, president and CEO of Live Nation Entertainment, said. “Supporting club artists strengthens the future of music.”

Chandler Owen said in an email that more than 300 artists who have performed at the two North Texas venues have received the program benefits.

According to the press release, Live Nation plans to continue the On the Road Again program with no set end date.

Arts Access is an arts journalism collaboration powered by The Dallas Morning News and KERA.

This community-funded journalism initiative is funded by the Better Together Fund, Carol & Don Glendenning, City of Dallas OAC, the University of Texas at Dallas, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation, Eugene McDermott Foundation, James & Gayle Halperin Foundation, Jennifer & Peter Altabef and The Meadows Foundation. The News and KERA retain full editorial control of Arts Access’ journalism.