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Musicians’ Union backs FAC’s 100% Venues campaign

By | Published on Wednesday 15 February 2023

Musicians' Union

The UK’s Musicians’ Union has announced that it is formally supporting the Feature Artists Coalition’s 100% Venues campaign, which encourages music venues to allow artists to sell merchandise at their shows without being charged any commission on sales.

“We’re delighted to show our support for the 100% Venues initiative, which is becoming a vital resource for musicians in the UK”, says Kelly Wood, the MU’s National Organiser for Live, Theatre & Music Writers. “Touring remains a key part of many artists’ careers, and whilst it can help to grow fanbases and support releases, it can also prove very challenging from a financial perspective”.

“The UK has an incredible network of music venues, which are loved universally by artists and audiences”, she goes on. “However, to protect the viability of future tours and careers, we need consistent and fair terms for performers. Artists rely on a combination of income streams when on tour and any threats to these – such as unfair or unexpected commissions on merchandise – can have devastating effects”.

“The growing number of venues that have signed up to the initiative so far sends a very strong and positive message to artists”, she concludes. “We hope that this leads to more pressure for other venues to improve their terms and get behind the campaign”.

FAC CEO David Martin adds: “We are hugely grateful to receive support for 100% Venues from our friends at the Musicians’ Union. The MU and FAC’s members deliver the performances that the whole live music industry is built on, yet many are facing an almost impossible task to keep the show on the road. That is why the issue of merchandise commission has become so pronounced and why we will continue to fight for a fairer settlement for artists”.

The Featured Artists Coalition launched its 100% Venues campaign a year ago, after Tim Burgess of The Charlatans sparked an online debate about merch commissions.

It launched a directory that lists all the UK venues that don’t charge such commissions, which includes most grassroots venues. And then it called on other venues to drop their merch fees and get themselves a directory listing.

The campaign extended to North America late last year via an alliance with the Union Of Musicians And Allied Workers in the US and rapper Cadence Weapon in Canada.