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Covid-19 news in brief: 6–10 April

Updated daily, a rolling list of coronavirus-related live music industry news and goings-on you might have missed

By IQ on 06 Apr 2020

Paul Chowdhry will take Ticketmaster UK around his home

Paul Chowdhry will take Ticketmaster UK around his home

image © Avalon/Paul Chowdhry


Thursday 9 April

Aus gov’t allocates $27m to live sector
The Australian government has made available A$27 million (US$16.8m) to the live events sector, specifically for regional and indigenous (Aborigine/Torres Strait Islander) art and industry charity Support Act.

According to arts minister Paul Fletcher, $10m will be allocated to regional arts, $7m to indigenous arts and $10m to Support Act, which provides counselling and other support to live industry workers in need.

Industry association Live Performance Australia welcomed the new funding, but says “much more is needed” in the way of financial aid to see the live entertainment business through the worst of the coronavirus crisis.

Ticketmaster launches Homecoming: At Home With…
Ticketmaster UK has updated its Homecoming series of videos for the Covid-19 age, taking fans inside artists’ homes with Homecoming: At Home With….

“As the world is encouraged to stay at home to protect our invaluable health services and to save lives, Ticketmaster Homecoming is taking you inside the homes of some of our favourite stars from the worlds of music, comedy, theatre and sport,” explains the company, which is using the series to raise funds for charities Music Venue Trust, Help Musicians UK, Cancer Research UK and the newly launched Crew Nation.

Homecoming: At Home With… begins this week on the TM UK Facebook page, featuring Hrvy, the Wombats’ Matthew Murphy, comedian Paul Chowdhry and more.

US Live Events Coalition seeks $800bn bail-out
The Live Events Coalition, the body formed to lobby the US government for live sector-specific aid, is asking for an US$800 billion ‘stabilisation’ package for the industry beyond existing stimulus measures.

“While small businesses and event workers will benefit to some degree from the stimulus packages approved thus far,” reads an update to the Change.org petition that inspired the coalition’s formation, “the live events industry as a whole is in a dire situation.

“With expected industry revenue loss between 60% to 80%, many businesses are facing permanent closure […] Across the live events industry, we are coming to terms with the fact that revenues generated by events will likely not begin to flow until August or September of this year.”

In late March, the Trump government passed the $2 trillion CARES Act, which, among other things, allocates $1,200 to US citizens earning less than $75,000 annually.


Wednesday 8 April

TikTok announces new Live Sessions
Short-form video platform TikTok has announced the launch of TikTok Live Sessions, a series of live events featuring UK artists including Ellie Goulding, Jax Jones, Mabel and Tinie Tempah.

Starting Wednesday 15 April, the shows aim to provide an insight into how artists are living while in lockdown.

Paul Hourican, head of UK music operations for TikTok, says: “We’re proud to be collaborating with some of Britain’s top music talent, giving fans an all-access-pass to their favourite artist’s living room, all from the comfort of their own home. By hosting these Live Sessions, we want to help artists connect with their fans in new ways, keeping people upbeat and positive, despite the difficult circumstances we’re all in.”

Paradigm launches employee relief fund
Paradigm Talent Agency in the US has established a US$1.1 million relief fund for laid-off employees, two weeks after making redundant an estimated 100 staff.

In a letter to staff, seen by Billboard, agency CEO Sam Gores writes: “The vital and significant actions we took, though necessary for the health of the company, were hard and painful. And while immediate action was required, I realise that the way the message was conveyed to you lacked compassion and made you feel alienated from Paradigm.”

The letter also reveals laid-off staff have had their employee health insurance extended to the end of June, and that Gores will not take a salary in 2020.

The latest intervention by Gores follows a wrongful dismissal lawsuit from a former Paradigm TV agent, filed last week, which also accuses the CEO of financial and sexual misconduct.

Coronavirus claims John Prine
Cult US folk singer-songwriter John Prine has died from complications related to Covid-19. He was 73.

Prine and his wife and manager, Fiona, tested positive for the disease after returning to the US from a European tour, although she recovered.

Widely regarded as one of the most influential songwriters of his generation, Prine was described as “a true national treasure and a songwriter for the ages” by Bruce Springsteen, who is among the artists to have paid tribute following Prine’s death yesterday afternoon (8 April).

“Prine’s stuff is pure Proustian existentialism. Midwestern mindtrips to the nth degree,” Bob Dylan told the Huffington Post in 2009. “And he writes beautiful songs. I remember when Kris Kristofferson first brought him on the scene. All that stuff about ‘Sam Stone’, the soldier junky daddy, and ‘Donald and Lydia’, where people make love from ten miles away. Nobody but Prine could write like that.”

Ex-Insomniac exec Levy joins Virgin Fest
Steve Levy, the former head of marketing at Electric Daisy Carnival promoter Insomniac, has joined Virgin Fest, the festival arm of the Virgin group, as chief marketing officer.

The appointment of Levy – which, unusually, comes as the festival market is at a standstill worldwide due to the spread of Covid-19 – follows the Los Angeles festival’s first line-up announcement, with Lizzo, Asap Rocky, Anderson Paak and Ellie Goulding, in February.

The inaugural Virgin Fest is scheduled for 6–7 June 2020, at the Banc of California Stadium, although it is expected to be postponed to later in the year.


Tuesday 7 April

WHO announces One World: Together at Home show
Stevie Wonder, Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Chris Martin and Sirs Elton John and Paul McCartney are among the artists confirmed for One World: Together at Home, a livestreamed benefit concert, co-curated by Lady Gaga, in aid of the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 solidarity fund.

In partnership with Global Citizen, Gaga has already raised US$35 million for the WHO fund, which will go towards protective equipment for health workers and efforts to find a Covid-19 vaccine.

“We may have to be apart physically for a while, but we can still come together virtually to enjoy great music,” says Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general. “The One World: Together at Home concert represents a powerful show of solidarity against a common threat.”

The concert will also be shown on BBC One in the UK.

Viagogo furloughs most staff at Irish HQ
Viagogo has laid off 170 of its estimated 250 staff at its European customer service headquarters in Limerick, in the Republic of Ireland.

The secondary ticketing site has followed its soon-to-be subsidiary, StubHub, in temporarily slimming down its workforce in the customer service, seller support, administration and quality and training departments, reports the Irish Examiner.

In a statement explaining that the staff are on ‘protective notice’ for 30 days, a Viagogo spokesperson says: “The result of this unfortunate and uncertain environment is that some redundancies may occur, but we have not decided or acted upon this and, naturally, it will be a last resort.”

London’s Wide Awake 2020 cancels
London festival Wide Awake has cancelled its debut edition, which would have featured performances from Metronomy, Shame, Black Midi and the Comet is Coming, due to coronavirus concerns.

In a statement, organisers Bad Vibrations, Dimensions, LNZRT and SC&P say: “It deeply saddens us to announce Wide Awake is unable to take place this year, [d]ue to the continued spread of coronavirus and the current public health crisis…

“While we are unable to go ahead with this year’s debut event, be assured we will be back. It is our responsibility to take your safety and those around us as our main consideration, and with that in mind Wide Awake will save its launch until 2021.”

AIM announces freelancer hardship fund
The UK’s Association of Independent Music (AIM) has launched a support fund aimed at contractors and freelance workers in the independent music sector who have lost work as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The fund begins with assets of £500,000 committed by AIM and its members, with further contributions “urgently invited” from all sectors of the music industry and beyond. The target is to distribute £1,000 to each of 1,000 workers within two months.

“Despite government initiatives and the groundswell of support from the music industry, there are still many thousands of workers being left behind without the help that they need to get through this difficult time,” explains AIM CEO Paul Pacifico.

To pledge a contribution, email [email protected].


Monday 6 April

Eventim pulls 2020 financial projection
Owing to “current uncertainties surrounding the further development of the corona crisis and its impacts”, CTS Eventim has became the latest public live entertainment company to call off its 2020 financial forecast.

In a notice to shareholders, the Eventim board says it expects a “significant” drop in revenues and profits for the company this year, but that it can’t yet be more specific.

The letter reads: “In many European countries, no events are currently being held due to government orders. From today’s perspective, the management board therefore expects a significant year-on-year decrease in revenues and earnings in the ticketing and live entertainment segments for the 2020 financial year.

“However, that decrease cannot be quantified with any greater precision at present.” 

Record Union launches Wellness Starter Pack
With coronavirus continuing to limit opportunities for artists, digital music distribution service Record Union has unveiled the Wellness Starter Pack, a “toolbox for wellbeing” targeted at music-makers.

Comprising a collection of videos and articles, in which experts explore the impact that sleep, nutrition, exercise, mindfulness and positivity have on artists’ mental health, the Wellness Starter Pack is an initiative of the 73 Percent, launched by Record Union last year in response to a survey that showed 73% of music-makers had suffered mental illness in relation to their music creation.

“If we, by providing concrete information and tangible tools, could help just a few artists to prioritise and take better care of their mental wellbeing, I believe we will have succeeded,” says Record Union CEO Johan Svanberg.

UK’s Federation calls for more govt support
The Creative Industries Federation, an association representing UK creative-sector businesses, has sent a letter to the British government calling for urgent grants for companies and charities that “fall between the gaps”.

The federation says that although the business support measures announced by the government are welcome, early evidence suggests these will not reach a large proportion of creative businesses, many of which have lost 100% of their income due to the fall-out from Covid-19.

Caroline Norbury MBE, CEO of the Creative Industries Federation, says: “The crux of it is that creative businesses need money now, and they can’t wait another month. Through no fault of their own, many creative industries businesses are on the brink of collapse – with all the economic knock-on effects and hardship that entails. And more will follow. Government must act rapidly to get grants to where they are needed most.”

SGAE dedicates €15m to members
Spanish collection society SGAE is providing €15 million in financial aid to its most vulnerable members.

The €15m aid package is divided into various measures, including emergency social assistance for music makers most at risk of social exclusion; the SGAE-Corona fund, with offers grants of up to €3,000 for those most affected by the halt of professional activity, and who cannot benefit from other measures on offer; and loans and advance payments.

The society has also set up the ‘Solidarity Between Creators’ initiative, offering support phone calls, food delivery services to those over 70 that live alone, and a legal advice service to allow members to determine which government help they are eligible for.


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