Cadence Weapon unveiled his #MyMerch campaign in collaboration with the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) and the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) in an attempt to rally venues to not take a cut of the merchandise sold at shows.
On Cadence Weapon’s Twitter, the rapper posted a series of graphics explaining what merch cut is and how it affects artists.
— Cadence Weapon (@cadenceweapon) November 21, 2022
“Though the artists bear the financial burden of designing, manufacturing, and shipping their merch, some venues choose to exploit artists by taking a merch cut,” one of the posts read. “The percentage number has been steadily rising with some venues now taking up to 20-35% of artist merch sales.”
Merch cuts have been a recurring theme for independent artists whose primary form of income is merch sales, especially when the merch is sold on tour dates. In late October, Cadence Weapon penned a piece for Toronto Life, detailing how touring is no longer affordable for independent artists looking to make a living.
“I’ve done more than a dozen tours, and hitting the road has always been a financially risky endeavour,” he detailed. “A three-week journey can cost anywhere between $60,000 and $100,000. The expenses behind the average tour—which can include a tour manager, travel, work visas, backing musicians, and lighting and sound technicians—are mostly paid out of pocket by artists. The travel is excruciating, and the margins are incredibly thin. Bands don’t get in the van because they think they’re going to get rich; most of us hope to simply break even and gain a few new fans along the way.”
Cadence Weapon is far from the only artist to face these problems.
“Well-known musicians like Santigold, Regina Spektor, Animal Collective and Metronomy have all cancelled tours in recent months due to a combination of concerns for their mental, physical and financial well-being. I postponed a gig in New York earlier this month for similar reasons, and I know I’m not the only Canadian musician who has had to change plans recently,” he added.
In April, British rapper Little Simz cancelled her U.S. tour due to rising costs.
“I take my live shows seriously and would only want to give you guys nothing but the best of me,” she wrote. “Being an independent artist, I pay for everything encompassing my live performances out of my own pocket and touring the US for a month would leave me in a huge deficit.”
To combat merch cuts, Cadence Weapon set up a Google Form asking willing venues and festivals to add themselves to an ever-growing list of venues who have committed to stop taking merch cuts from artists.