The National Independent Venue Association has released a statement in response to Live Nation’s new “On The Road Again” program, announced this week in collaboration with Willie Nelson. Live Nation is touting the initiative — in which more than 70 of the company’s clubs across the U.S. and Canada will forego their cuts of artists’ merch proceeds and provide artists with a $1,500 stipend per show through the end of 2023 — as a move that will help developing acts earn real money on tour. But NIVA is calling the policy a calculated effort to squeeze independent venues, already reeling from the effects of COVID, out of the business entirely.
“Temporary measures may appear to help artists in the short run but actually can squeeze out independent venues which provide the lifeblood of many artists on thin margins,” NIVA’s statement reads. “Independent venues and promoters are investing in and elevating up-and-coming artists every day, and NIVA is supporting those efforts nationally. The initiative announced yesterday may seem like a move to follow the lead of some independent venues. It is not that. Instead, it appears to be a calculated attempt to use a publicly traded conglomerate’s immeasurable resources to divert artists from independent venues and further consolidate control over the live entertainment sector. Such tactics threaten the vitality of small and medium-sized venues under 3000 capacity, many of which still struggle to keep their doors open.
“Independent stages, where the majority of artists, musicians, and comedians start their careers, are small businesses and nonprofits,” the message continues. “They are continually facing rising costs, increased deceptive ticketing practices in the resale market, and ongoing challenges following the global pandemic. Our stages are critical to the live entertainment ecosystem and local economies, and they must survive. The economics of touring must drastically improve for artists and independent venues. There has to be a better way. NIVA will continue to support artists and empower independent venues as we collectively find it.”
When reached for comment, a representative of Live Nation referred The FADER to an X post by the company’s Executive Vice President of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs, Dan Wall. “Artists are asking for support,” Wall wrote. “On The Road Again is about supporting artists. NIVA members are perfectly capable of providing similar benefits. Many already do.”
Artists are asking for support. On The Road Again is about supporting artists. NIVA members are perfectly capable of providing similar benefits. Many already do. https://t.co/VlQeoa1syH— @DanWallLN (@DanWallLN) September 27, 2023