Russian Circles Refused to Sell Merch at Recent Show to Protest Venues Taking Their Cut


There are a number of reasons why it’s become so hard for bands to tour these days. And while most of those reasons stem from increased costs everywhere that are out of their control, one added cost is causing some bands to fight back — venue merch cuts. The latest band to stand up against the practice is Russian Circles, who opted to not sell any merch at all during their recent Paris show.

According to the band, they were playing at the L’Olympia in Paris last night when they made the decision not to sell any merch at the gig. In a statement on social media, the band blamed the lack of merch for fans on the fact that the venue “enlisted an outside company to sell artists’ merch.” That company then would take a 25% commission from all sales and would withhold a 20% VAT tax.

Rather than lose a quarter of their revenue, the band said the following:

“As you are probably aware, merch sales are vital to keeping artists financially afloat while on tour. Venues often take a percentage of merch revenue from artists, and their rates have gotten higher in recent years. At tonight’s show in Paris, the venue has enlisted an outside company to sell artists’ merch.

“This company takes a 25% commission and withholds a 20% VAT tax. Our options appear to be either raising our prices or losing money, so we’ve opted to not sell merch tonight. We apologize to our friends and fans in Paris who were hoping to grab a shirt or LP at the show, but we don’t want to partake in this arrangement with this company. If you want our merch, it is always available at Evil Greed. Thank you.”

The topic of venues getting a cut of bands’ merch sales has become a hot button issue for touring bands as of late. For those that don’t know, many venues have begun taking a percentage of merch sales. While ticket sales are nice, it’s the shirts and other shit you buy directly from a band that often funds a huge portion of their tour. As venues began taking a bigger share out of merch sales, bands have been squeezed even more as a result.

Russian Circles are just the latest band to take such a stance. I’d expect that as money gets tighter for bands and touring costs continue to rise, fans may just have to revert to buying all their tour-related merch online. At least then you know the band’s getting the most out of their sales.

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