Jack Antonoff Says Venues “Fuck Artists so Hard” by “Taxing Merch”

"The more we make it tenable for young and small artists to make a living on the road the more great music we will get"

jack antonoff taxing merch cuts venues twitter fuck artists
Jack Antonoff, photo by Ben Kaye

    Young artists on the road face death by a thousand merch cuts, as Jack Antonoff pointed out on Twitter November 18th, writing that venues “fuck artist[s] so hard” by “taxing merch.”

    The sustainability of post-pandemic touring has been hotly debated in recent months, especially with what Lorde called the “demented struggle to break even or face debt.” Antonoff, a frequent Lorde collaborator, tweeted, “while we are having the discussion can venues simply stop taxing merch of artists? this is literally the only way you make money when you start out touring.”

    In a series of posts, he added, “the more we make it tenable for young and small artists to make a living on the road the more great music we will get,” continuing, “touring is one of the most honest ways to make a living. some of the hardest and most heartfelt work you can do. so why must fuck artist[s] so hard?”


    According to Antonoff, a few “simple solutions” would be to “stop taxing merch, stop lying to artists about costs of putting on shows, [and] include artists in more areas of revenue. the stories i could tell from my years touring are bananas. young artists on tour are the last to see any money.” Check out his tweets on the subject below.

    Antonoff isn’t the only artist to talk about merch sales, though some have been more aggressive about it than others. Over the summer, metalcore act Alpha Wolf called out the venue for taking merch cuts mid-performance.

    In recent months, artists large and small have been forced to cancel tours for reasons both financial and relating to mental health, including, Animal CollectiveSantigold, Anthrax, Arlo Parks, Shawn Mendes, and Sam Fender. Revisit our recent essay, “Touring Has a Mental Health Problem. How Do We Fix It?”


    Antonoff recently produced Taylor Swift’s new album, Midnightsand she’s been bringing attention to another potential hardship facing touring musicians, which is Live Nation and Ticketmaster’s dominant market share. After misjudging pre-sale for her “The Eras Tour,” Ticketmaster was forced to cancel general on-sale, leaving Swift to state that their handling of the matter “really pisses me off.” Live Nation and Ticketmaster are also facing a Justice Department investigation into antitrust violations.

    If you’d like, you can revisit our ranking of all 275 songs that Antonoff has produced.

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