Merchandise is the single component that helps pay towards the band (musicians) as well as ticket sales. However, it is merchandise that can directly go towards food, clothing, and accommodation for these traveling musicians. So where does the Booking Agent come in when it comes to merchandise?
Well, one of two things either the commission contract agrees that, yes, as a booking agent you will receive a percentage of merchandise, ticket and overall sales… or not at all. Usually, the strict contract will detail exactly the percentage (whether it’s 15-45%) from merchandise…however, merchandise a.k.a merch tends to be left to the band almost as pocket change.
So the break down comes here, the more well-known the band (plays large venues or has a regular, steady live presence) the booking agent can charge either a lower commission rate or none at all towards merchandise. This is because the band is currently at a stage in their career where money is coming as an influx and on a timed schedule. However, if the band is new or not receiving as much attention a booking agent will request through a commission a more substantial income until the band becomes more well known.
Also, check the current state in which you reside in because each state has varied booking laws. For instance, California has strict laws towards booking agents paying a band their shared cut within a 30-day timeline as well as, keeping a separate bank account for these transactions. Being sure absolutely sure about the laws that are enforced can help a booking agent as well as any musicians to ensure a properly managed account. Everyone deserves their cut and it’s about working together as a unit (this is a business after all) so know your rights.
On one last note, merchandise includes t-shirts, cd’s, posters, buttons or any other piece of merchandise designed to be sold for or by the band/record label themselves. In no way shape or form should you support bootlegged products since this does not belong to the band or record label.