It’s a topic previously discussed in this board, but this example was particularly egregious, and the band’s response seems to be part of a growing campaign.
Due to manufacturing delays The Unthanks new album wasn’t available in time for their excellent show at The London Palladium last night, but that wasn’t the reason there was no merchandise desk. The reason, as Adrian McNally told us from the stage, is that Lloyd Webber Theatres wanted a 25% cut of the takings!
This isn’t new, or a post-Covid thing; a few years ago the support for Richard Thompson at The Cliffs Pavilion in Southend said they wouldn’t be selling merch as the Cliffs’ take would mean they lost money on anything they sold. It happens that the last time I saw Richard was at the Palladium, and I enjoyed opener Katherine Priddy’s set enough to seek her out in the interval and buy her CDs. The Wolf EP and her album were £20 between them, and it seems like a fiver of it went to the venue. Part of the reason I like to buy direct from the artist is that I want as much as possible to go directly to them and that isn’t the case at too many gigs.
A campaign is gaining ground based around the idea that if acts don’t get a cut of secondary income from the bar and so on then the venue shouldn’t get a cut of their secondary income from merchandise. I’ve seen Ian McNabb, Tim Burgess and now The Unthanks mention the same proposal – no cut of the artists’ secondary income without a reciprocal share of the venues’ going to them. Would venues try to raise ticket prices (already discussed here recently) and plead lost income? I have no idea. But it seems like a campaign which deserves my support.
I don’t have an image to make this post stand out, so here’s The Unthanks’ lovely new single instead.