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Click to email ChrisAn Inside Look at a
Live Venue Merchandise Deal
by Christopher Knab
Fourfront Media & Music
- June 2010

Back to Music Business 101

My blog today isn't by me. It is taken from the http://www.Lefsetz.com newsletter.

Everybody should subscribe to Bob Lefsetz's free newsletter. He has been doing it since analog days and is regarded as one of the most upstanding industry analysts around.

So, today there was a posting about a complaint from Jeff Beck's Manager about the merchandise deal at a certain venue, and the following is the response from the person in charge of the venue and who initiated the contract signed by Mr. Beck's manager.

It gives you an inside look on how live performance venues deal with selling merchandise. READ IT!!


"We were having a beautiful day at Wolf Trap today, June 7. The weather was mid-70s with little to no humidity, a rarity for the Washington, DC area. We had pre-sold over 5,500 tickets to our Jeff Beck performance with our fingers still crossed for a sellout. The road crew was charming. It was a beautiful day.

And then Harvey Goldsmith walked off the bus.

The back-story: Our offer for the Jeff Beck performance was accepted on December 18, 2009. The first deal point was our merch rate. It's 35% and we sell. We received the contract on February 25; the fully executed arrived on May 14. Clearly outlined was our merch rate.

It's mentioned as a deal point in every offer sheet, on every contract, and in every advance. It is not a surprise. It is also a favored nations, non-negotiable rate. If you don't like it, you may choose not to sell. I've been here 13 years and this was the merch rate long before I started in 1998. Wolf Trap has been operating for 40 years and hosted thousands of concerts and productions. As a non-profit, any penny we make on a rock show, or on merchandise, is turned into education programs for all ages.

In those 13 years, I have never encountered a bigger ass than Harvey Goldsmith.

As a promoter, Harvey of all people should know that when the deal is done, its done. He doesn't get to walk into the venue and start renegotiating the contract. He certainly shouldn't do it at the top of his lungs as he chose to do. He shouldn't scream for 20 minutes and then come back for another 10 minute round later.

I'm the promoter rep. I'm here to make sure your Artist and my patrons are taken care of. I didn't make your deal- the deal that YOU accepted 6 months ago- I'm here to fulfill our contractual end of the deal. I do a hell of a job of it, too.

Screaming at me? What's the point?

Harvey isn't likely to have this problem ever again. And it's not that our merch rate is going to change, it's that he will not be welcome in our building again due to his extraordinarily unprofessional conduct and communication.

There are major issues ailing the music industry. Attacking one another and whining and complaining- not going to solve these issues. Bitching about it via blog- not going to fix the problem.

Communicating with professionalism and common courtesy is a good start.

Attached please find his own Artist's CD cover that he ripped up and threw at me during our "discussion."

I've got close to 6,000 patrons outside. I'm going to go enjoy the show."

Barbara Parker
Director, Operations & Artistic Initiatives
Program and Production
Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts
1645 Trap Road
Vienna, VA 22182

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