If you thought 2020 was bad for live musicians, it doesn’t look like 2021 is going to get any better. A leaked memo by Live Nation passed to Rolling Stone suggests that artists may be forced to accept punitive contracts. With deals as bad as this, is it even worth playing live anymore?
Live Nation gets tough on artists
Live Nation, the world’s largest live entertainment company, announced this week that they were implementing new policies. Policies which will subsequently make things very much harder for live artists. The memo was circulated amongst talent agencies this week and, importantly, shifts the financial responsibility onto agencies and artists.
The exact details can be a bit of a headache to wade through, but we’ve done our best to make sense of the memo on your behalf. Spoiler alert: it’s not good news for anyone other than Live Nation. As if things couldn’t get any harder for us, right?
It should be noted that much of the issue lies with the artist “Guarantee”; as a general rule, this is the amount of money an artist is guaranteed to receive before playing a show. Importantly, it would mean that even if no-one walked through the doors, the artist still gets their money. Live Nation wants to change that…
Punitive clauses for live artists
The Live Nation memo contains some extremely worrying clauses:
- Artist guarantees reduced by 20% across the board
- If a show is cancelled, artists only receive 25% of the guarantee
- If an artist cancels the performance, they have to pay the promoter twice the artist fee
Let’s try and make that “live a little” shall we? What could that mean in the real world? As a consequence, you’ll be paid 20% less, regardless of how well the show sells out or how well you perform. If the promoter cancels the show for any reason (let’s say another quarantine situation arises) then you consequently only receive a quarter of your fee.
What if you or your band members fall ill and you’re unable to play? Well, in that case, you’d be liable to pay the promoter twice what you would have been paid.
At a time when the live industry is on its knees and the industry is hurting badly, it’s hard not to feel this may cause long-term and irreparable damage. Just when we needed some solidarity from the big players, we get this.
What are your views? Would you go back into the live arena knowing your deal as an artist could end up financially ruining you?