INDUSTRY ORGS URGE GOV SUPPORT IN FACE OF COVID-19
Live music industry associations from around the world are demanding relief measures from governments to help see the business through difficult times.
Music industry associations in a number of markets are calling on their respective governments for financial backing and relief measures in the wake of the damage coronavirus is causing to the business.
Umbrella bodies and promoters’ associations from Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Russia and the UK are among those to lobby their governments for assistance as covid-19 causes more event cancellations and temporary venue closures by the day.
Live Performance Australia (LPA)
The LPA put forward a comprehensive AU$750 million (€413m) emergency support package to the Commonwealth, state and territory governments in Australia on 20 March.
“Today all of Australia’s peak bodies and the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) stand united in calling for a clear commitment from government that it will adopt these measures, otherwise, it’s the final curtain for Australia’s world class live performance industry which has fostered generations of local and global talent,” comments LPA chief executive Evelyn Richardson.
“This is an economic, social and cultural emergency that demands a fast, creative, flexible and agile response from all levels of government.”
The live performance industry package consists of:
The package would include:
“Realistically, we’re looking at a three to six month closure period at least before any recovery phase,” says Richardson.
LPA predicts that, over the course of three months, half a billion dollars of revenue and thousands of jobs will be lost from Australia’s live industry.
“Governments need to focus on supporting our companies to keep people employed and in jobs,” states Richardson.
“They also need to provide immediate income support for our creative workers who are now facing a very uncertain future.
“We need a comprehensive support package to ensure our companies survive and our industry is in the best position it can be when it is possible to resume operations.”
Music Stage – Bulgarian association of concert promoters, music and cultural events
In Bulgaria, all state-owned venues, private music clubs, theatres and sports hall have been shut down until further notice, as the state has imposed a ban on gathering of more than 20 people in public places.
Music Stage has conducted meetings with government representatives and has proposed:
The association also has the intention of propsing a reduction of valued-added tax drom 20% to 5% on all cultural events.
“The only way to avoid bankruptcies is to be able to promote new shows with affordable ticket prices and lower production and promotion costs,” comments Music Stage chairman Stanislav Drazhev. “Further we hope that all travel bans will be lifted and all sectors in the economy related to our activities will be flexible in the future so we can elevate the live entertainment business once again.”
Canadian Live Music Association (CLMA)
On 18 March, the CLMA welcomed a new federal aid package, which it believes particularly benefits in particular self-employed and freelance workers, small businesses, artists and musicians.
The government plan includes:
On Sunday 15 March, CLMA president and CEO Erin Benjamin sent a letter to the Canadian minister of finance recommending relief measures for the country’s live industry in a time if “extreme difficulty”.
The association estimates that over 36% of its members will “fail out-right” within the next four to weeks, with “others laying off approximately 76% of their current workforce”. The Canadian live industry currently contributes CAN $3.5bn (€3.8bn) to Canada’s GDP and employs 72,000 people.
“The economic, social and cultural output of the live music industry is entrenched in Canadian society,” reads the letter. “The severe damage done to the live music sector will send a ripple effect through our creative community and economy, one that will be hard to reverse.”
The CLMA recommends:
Danish industry association Dansk Live has been in talks with the government since recommendations were made that event over 1,000 capacity – later extended to those over 100 people – be cancelled or postponed.
“There was no other choice than to cancel events and we managed to lobby for solutions to support the promoters and venues suffering from this,” Dansk Live’s Esben Marcher tells IQ . “We are currently in talks with politicians on how to help the smaller venues that are affected by the new situation.
Dansk Live welcomes initiatives already launched by the government, such as a fund to compensate those forced to cancel events.
“Some of these [initiatives] will also be helping the venues, but the initiatives are focusing on pay for the employees and ways of postponing tax and VAT payments. There’s currently no way of compensating the income loss on bar sales,” says Marcher. “The situation will hit the the small venues quite hard.”
The association is currently collecting data on postponed or cancelled shows, loss on ticket sales and artist fees. It is launching a new questionnaire to its members in the next few days.
Europe-wide live music industry body Pearle* is calling upon the European Union and governments to provide targeted measures following the impact of Covid-19 on live events.
The body is asking the EU:
Furthermore, the organisation urges member states to enforce specific measures relating to labour and employment, tax, financial and grants, asking government to:
“In these times, culture is not a luxury but key to our societies and a unifying and mobilising force all over Europe,” reads the Pearle* statement on Covid-19. “More than ever culture is needed in a crisis situation.”
The European independent music companies association, Impala , has set up a Covid-19 task force to help address the effects on the virus on the independent sector.
To promote a co-ordinated approach across Europe, the task force will publish next week a package of recommended measures at national, European and sector level. The plan is being designed to ensure that the music ecosystem is shielded from long term harm and to promote independent music.
Impala’s task force will also hold weekly calls to monitor action taken by the European institutions, as well as sector initiatives, and establish an inventory to keep members informed and promote best practice across the continent. National associations in Europe will be able to work with the task force to help devise national strategies with governments and key sector players.
“We fully support the public health measures that are being put in place,” says Impala executive chair, Helen Smith. “Governments are, however, reacting at different speeds and some are leaving too many decisions to businesses. This is causing unnecessary confusion and hardship.”
“In times of crisis, smaller actors are the most exposed,” adds Francesca Traini, chair of Impala’s Covid-19 task force. “The Impala task force is working on a call to action on all key levels.”
Tous pour la Musique (All for music)
French association Tous pour la Musique , which represents around 30 live music organisations in the country, has called for “exceptional economic and financial aid from the public authorities for performing arts professionals”.
“There is an urgent need to strengthen support systems for businesses, to compensate employees who find themselves without a salary and temporarily adapt the unemployment compensation rules for intermittent workers in the entertainment industry,” reads a statement issued by the organisation.
BDKV – Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry
German promoters’ association BDKV has welcomed the measures put in place by the German government “to cushion the economic effects of coronavirus”, including making the short-time working allowance more flexible, introducing tax liquidity support for companies, creating the conditions for easier access to credit, and additional special programmes.
However, the association states that the measures “are not adequately suited to compensate for the loss of income due to events being cancelled over several weeks and, above all, for the preliminary costs of planned concerts and tours that have been already invested in.”
The BDKV has suggested an expansion of the catalog of measures for the event industry, asking for:
Talks between the BDKV and the government will continue this week.
German Music Council
The German Music Council, or Deutscher Musikrat (DMR), has welcomed the €550bn of financial aid dedicated to the creative industries and other German businesses by the government, but calls for more help for freelancers.
“The DMR is demanding a basic income of €1,000 for all freelance creative professionals for a period of six months,” states professor Christian Höppner, general secretary of the German Music Council.
“With the nationwide shutdown, the incomes of freelance musicians, be it in the event area or in the music education profession, immediately fall away, while costs continue to run. Given the average gross annual income for freelance musicians, there is no scope for reserves.
“It is crucial that help can now be provided quickly and without red tape.”
In Italy, the European country hit worst by the coronavirus, promoters’ association Assomusica has predicted the industry will face a loss of around €40m from 23 February until the start of April.
Measures proposed by Assomusica include:
“We really hope that President Conte and ministers Franceschini (culture) and Gualtieri (economy and finance) can take into consideration measures of real help for the organisers of concerts and music shows, and above all do not consider that the live show is only the one financed with citizens’ money,” says Assomusica president Vincenzo Spera.
All Japan Concert and Live Entertainment Promoters Conference (ACPC)
The Japanese live entertainment industry, including representatives from ACPC , called together a all-party parliamentary group for live entertainement on Tuesday (17 March), submitting a petition asking for:
“About three weeks have passed since the Japanese prime minister announced a ban on events,” ACPC spokesperson Katsuhiko Kondo tells IQ. “ Our estimation is that about 1,550 performances have been cancelled or called off, resulting in an estimated loss of 45bn yen (€381.6m).”
Vereniging van evenementenmakers (VVEM) – Association of event organisers
Dutch promoters’ association VVEM has welcomed a recent package of financial measures from the government that allocates up to €20bn to support companies and the self-employed and recognised the cultural sector as one of the hardest hit.
“We see that the government is well aware of the need for business, large and small, and has announced firm measures,” comments VVEM’s Willem Westermann. “Some of the measures can also be implemented quickly.
“As an industry organisation, VVEM is now busy directing the possible additional sector-specific measures. How that will work out is not yet clear, but we hope and expect to be able to report on it soon. ”
Norwegian Live Music Association
The Norwegian Live Music Association has been working to help its 420 members since the government put forward a ban on large gatherings on 5 March, later extended to a closing of all events from 12 to 24 March.
“From small festivals and promotors based on voluntary work to the big, commercial actors; this is hitting hard,” the association’s CEO, Tone Østerdal, tells IQ . “Our members report on a loss of income at NOK 430m (€33m) for March and April alone.
“If the situation continues over the summer, hitting the festival season, we can add NOK 2.8bn (€213.7m) to that.”
Through government lobbying, Østerdal says the assocaition has, to a certain extent, achieved what it has asked for, including:
Although Østerdal states the fund dedeicated to the live music sector “is not big enough”, she adds that “it’s a much-needed start”.
Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus
Colisium International Music Forum
The association requests:
“Our prognosis is that there will be a three to six month period without the events, especially in the largest hubs of Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Yekaterinburg (Russia), Minsk (Belarus), Kiev (Ukraine), and Almaty (Kazakhstan),” Colisium’s Sergey Babich tells IQ .
“We also expect there will be an economic decrease of 80 to 90% for the live event industry – before the pandemic, the live events industry in our countries collectively was worth $2.2bn a year.”
Babich adds that there is also a possibility of a 12-month gap in programming, leading to a much longer restoration period for the industry.
The federation suggests:
The federation also asks for the creation of a state fund to support the industry and the approval of an action plan to help the sector recuperate, including subsidising ticket prices, increased contracting with public entities, creating a promotional campaign for cultural activities and encouraging investment in the sector.
Swedish promoters’ association Svensk Live has asked the government to extend existing relief measures for the live industry.
“The package that has been released is focused on jobs and how to keep people in labour during this period,” explains Svensk Live’s Joppe Pihlgren. “It is about how the employer can get tax reduction, or postpone payments.”
Pihlgren says the association is in constant contact with the country’s culture minister and is preparing a suggestion on how members could get compensation for basic costs, such as rent, and for the costs for the shows that will be cancelled.
“This is a first step to help members survive.”
Tom Kiehl, acting CEO of UK Music , has called for “urgent clarity” from the UK government, following new guidelines that see emergency workers no longer provided to mass gatherings and advise people to avoid public gatherings spaces such as social venues, pubs and clubs.
“The government must spell out whether there will be a formal ban, when that might come into effect, which venues and events will be impacted and how long the measures will remain in place,” states Kiehl.
Previously, the Industry umbrella association called for a “framework of support” for the country’s music business in a letter to culture secretary Oliver Dowden on Friday (13 March).
The UK live industry contributes £5.2bn a year to the economy and sustains over 190,000 jobs.
Measures recommended by UK Music include:
“The impact of the virus could deal a hammer blow to the British music industry and threaten the livelihoods of many people,” says UK Music’s acting CEO Tom Kiehl. “It is imperative that the Government takes urgent steps to safeguard a music industry, which is the envy of the world.”
Music Venue Trust (MVT)
The independent venue charity is asking the government to:
According to the MVT, the entire grassroots music venue sector could “be mothballed for eight weeks and saved permanently” for £40 million.