The Ulster Hall has defended using a company to organise merchandising sales at events which charges artists commission after Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess and Brian Kennedy called out the practice.
The venue, which has hosted some of the music world’s most iconic acts and singers throughout the years, has also insisted that the rate is in line “with industry standards”.
It also stressed the policy has resulted in sales increasing “fivefold”.
The issue was raised after Burgess took to Twitter to praise venues that opted not to impose a commission on merchandise.
“Big respect to those venues that don’t take a percentage of a band’s merch sales. This isn’t about The Charlatans, it’s about those bands who need merch income to survive. Some places take 25%,” he said.
“A quarter of the full selling price. Vinyl doesn’t even have that mark up to begin with.”
In a follow-up tweet, the singer pointed out it is often an external company that sells merchandise at the venue as part of a contract — a “whole system” which he insisted “needs addressing”.
This prompted The Empire to respond to Burgess, tweeting that the Belfast venue “has never taken a cut of any merchandise sold at the venue”.
“You can buy your T-shirt, record or CD content in the knowledge that all the money goes to the act,” it continued.
Joining the debate, Belfast singer Brian Kennedy said following the logic of the commission, sales artists would then be entitled to the same for drinks sales at venues.
“So, conservatively one to two years to write, €20k to record, mix and master, 1k artwork and design, 2k to manufacture. Just to have the CD in your hand,” he said on Twitter.
“And venues think they are due a cut without any investment in the album?
"Same logic means surely we are due a cut of your bar?”
Northern Ireland music journalist and author Stuart Bailie appeared to call out the Ulster Hall, tagging it in a tweet saying: “Hello Ulster Hall, how’s it going?”
In response, a spokesperson for the Ulster Hall said that it “works with National Merchandise to support artists and promoters in increasing their merchandise sales”.
“National Merchandise provides an industry leading service, the cost of which is in line with industry standards,” they added.
“Since the partnership with National Merchandise began, merchandise sales in the Waterfront Hall and Ulster Hall have increased almost fivefold.
"Ultimately, this increases the merchandise sales for the artists.”
The spokesperson also confirmed the policy is also in place at the Waterfront Hall and ICC Belfast.