Jack Antonoff Urges Establishments to “Stop Taxing” Sales of Goods

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Jack Antonoff called on establishments to “stop taxing” sales of goods, saying that this is “literally the only way to make money.”

On Friday evening, the Bleachers vocalist said on Twitter: “While we are having a discussion, can venues just stop taxing artists’ goods?”

“The more we make sure that young and young artists earn a living by touring, the more great music we will get,” Antonoff continued. “Tours are one of the most honest ways to make a living. (This is) one of the hardest and most sincere jobs you can do. So why do (venues) have to fuck artists so hard?” He then proposed what he considered “simple solutions.”

“Stop taxing goods, stop lying to artists about the cost of hosting shows and attract artists to more income,” Antonoff added. “The stories I can tell over the years of my touring are bananas. Young artists on tour are the last to get paid.”

“If these are my last tweets, I don’t mind,” Antonoff said.

This comes amid a broader conversation about touring and tickets after Ticketmaster canceled Taylor Swift’s general “Eras Tour” sale due to problems with various pre-sales.

“There are many reasons why it was so difficult for people to get tickets, and I’m trying to figure out how to improve this situation in the future,” Taylor wrote in an open letter in response. “It’s really amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really pisses me off that many of them feel like they’ve survived multiple bear attacks to get them.”

After the incident, Ticketmaster apologized for the incident, and the U.S. Department of Justice officially launched an antitrust investigation into Live Nation, the company that owns Ticketmaster.

In recent months, the conversation about sites receiving a share of merch sales has been gaining momentum. Last December, Tim Burgess of The Charlatans and former New Order member Peter Hook spoke out about places that unfairly take over the sale of goods, with Burgess saying that “the whole system needs a solution.” Next month, The Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) announced a new catalog of music venues that do not charge a commission on the sale of goods.

Earlier this year, The Big Moon announced that they would not be selling merch at their main show at the O2 Kentish Town Forum, but would instead open a pop-up shop in a nearby pub. The group also mentioned the practice of the institution to take a 25 percent discount plus VAT from each sale.

The Big Moon also thanked the London-based Dry Cleaning group for “uncovering this opportunity.” Dry cleaners took a similar approach to selling products at their own forum in Kentish Town earlier this year.

Speaking to NME about the practice of establishments taking money from sales of T-shirts and albums made locally, Burgess said: “This is something that has been around for many years, but when we talked to our manager and label, they just say, ‘That’s the way it is.’

“Often at Charlatans concerts, our fans break records for the number of bars in the hall,” Burgess continued. “When I first tweeted about the merch commission, Warren Ellis of The Bad Seeds replied that we could ask the establishments for a percentage of the bar. This is no more unreasonable than the taxation of goods.”

FAC CEO David Martin told NME that more than 400 locations are now registered in their catalog, and added that “the discussion of penalty fees for the sale of goods is currently very public, and fans are increasingly expressing their dissatisfaction with such practices. FAC will continue to advocate for a fairer approach and a fairer system that allows artists to develop and grow.” Learn more about the catalog here.

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