Jeff Rosenstock Breaks Down the Math on Venue Merch Cuts

"The argument for the cut is 'well, fucko, we give you a place to sell your merchandise'"

Photo: Stephen McGill

BY Kaelen BellPublished Sep 5, 2023

Jeff Rosenstock released his most recent record HELLMODE last week (read our 8/10 review here) and he's kicking off his tour in support of the album tomorrow (September 6) in Washington, DC. 

A tour means merch sales, and, unfortunately for artists, merch sales mean merch cuts. Ahead of his jaunt across North America, Rosenstock has shared a graphic that outlines the size of the merch cut taken by each venue he'll be performing in, along with a message that calls out said venues for the practice. 

Artists have so few avenues to make money these days, so it does seem genuinely wild that some (or most) venues still take pretty significant cuts from merch profits. Check out his statement below, plus the accompanying graphic. 

Felt appropriate to post this on Labor Day. Here are the merch cuts being taken by the venues on this upcoming tour. This is going to cause us to sell our merch for higher prices than we'd like to at certain venues. We think that sucks.

The argument for the cut is "well, fucko, we give you a place to sell your merchandise." By that logic, we should also be getting a cut of the bar for bringing hundreds to thousands of people and their cash to the venue that night. **For the record, we're 100% down to give a merch cut any night we get a cut of the bar.** But the thing that makes the most sense is that we don't take each other's money! We like each other and we're working together and helping each other! It makes no sense that at the end of these killer shows where we're all having a nice time, someone who was our friend all night low key robs us and goes "have a safe trip to the next gig buddies!!" That's fucking weird!!!

So much of the time all that money goes to big corporations like AEG & LiveNation. Seems like the fuckin' rule now, if you work in a creative field you're supposed to feel lucky and happy enough to be there to get raked over the coals by millionaires and billionaires who will give you as small as slice of the pie as they can to perpetually show growth in profits. It's never these people left holding the bag. It's either a musician – a field in which if you make a poverty wage that's considered *making it* – or fans who take on the burden. Even if you are older now I think many of us know what it feels like to think "well, that show costs $30, so I can't afford to go." It's fucked up that someone to whomst $1,000 is nothin' is taking that money from you for real.

I'd love to say "and as a result of all that, we'll no longer be playing venues that take merch cuts." But unfortunately, during the pandemic AEG & LiveNation bought so many of the types of venues that we play, that dodging these super high cuts is nearly impossible. But we'll never stop trying to keep the prices low for everyone out there, and we're gonna do whatever we can do to avoid it in the future. We as a band and crew just wanted to let you know what's up. Lub ya see ya soon.


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