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Clubs “on the verge” in key European markets

As the world's biggest electronic music event ADE draws to a close, the UK, Germany and the Netherlands publish reports on the uncertain future of nightclubs

By Lisa Henderson on 23 Oct 2020

Printworks in London was denied a grant from the UK's Culture Recovery Fund

Printworks in London was denied a grant from the UK's Culture Recovery Fund

image © Flickr/Timn.eu

Some of Europe’s key markets have delivered damning new surveys revealing the impact of Covid-19 on their night-time industries.

Germany has revealed that 94% of the participating disco and club operators are “on the verge of giving up their business,” while the Netherlands – which this week has hosted the world’s biggest electronic music event, Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) – expects to lose almost half its expected turnover of €7.4bn this year.

In the UK this week, new campaign group #SaveNightclubs conducted a survey of 101 nightclub owners and managers which revealed that 58% of nightclubs across the nation will go out of business within a month.

Four in five (81%) nightclubs will be shut by Christmas and just 10% said that they expect their business to survive longer than four months.

The vast majority of the live entertainment and nightlife businesses are shuttered due to the UK’s restrictions – which include a 10 pm curfew, capacity restrictions with social distancing and the most recently introduced Tier 2 and 3 measures – as well as being missed out of support schemes.

The survey follows the government’s announcement that selected nightclubs would receive financial assistance from the Culture Recovery Fund, though many operators have missed out and fear their clubs won’t last long without funding.

Printworks, Studio 338, Egg London and Pickle Factory/Oval Space are among the iconic London nightclubs that were denied grants from the Culture Recovery Fund.

“With only a handful of nightclubs receiving Culture Recovery Funding, the rest of the country is in dire need of a survival fund. The government must act now or permanently lose the country’s nightclub industry and the enormous economic contribution it makes,” says Asher Grant, co-owner of London club Reign and a member of #SaveNightclubs.

In the UK, 58% of nightclubs will go out of business within a month

“We’re facing mounting rent bills, ongoing running costs and the prospect of business rates in April. We’re pleading with the government to prevent a devastating tsunami of job losses, a wipeout of future economic contributions and further ruin to towns and cities across the UK which are already on their knees.”

The nightclub industry generates £3bn a year in income for the UK’s economy and is a vital source of jobs, particularly for the young, employing around 45,000 people – 72% of who are under 25 years old. Nightclubs are also an important part of domestic tourism, with 10% bar visits and 9% club visits forming part of a city break.

#SaveNightclubs launched this week, uniting over 100 late-night venues across the UK along with thousands of staff to call on the government to offer a survival plan including emergency financial aid, eviction protection and extended rate relief to April 2022.

Nightclub owners, workers and goers will be joining together to drum up noise outside Parliament Square on Wednesday 28 October at 12 pm to coincide with the prime minister’s Question Time.

In the Netherlands, Dutch organisations including Buma, Amsterdam Dance Event, and Music Ally have published a report, The electronic music industry during Covid-19, which outlines the value of its “world-famous nightlife culture” and its decline due to Covid-19.

In 2018, 73% of the €216.5m total value of Dutch music was attributed to electronic music

Buma, a copyright organisation which presents an annual report of the value of Dutch popular music, revealed that in 2018,  73% of the €216.5m total value of Dutch music was attributed to electronic music, based on recordings and performances.

Festival and party concepts developed in the Netherlands, including Sensation, DGTL, Dekmantel and Mysteryland, are rolled out all over the world with resounding success. While Dutch superstar DJs such as Tiësto, Armin van Buuren, Afrojack, Ferry Corsten, Hardwell, Martin Garrix, Joris Voorn and Chuckie perform sold-out shows around the world.

The Dutch government has released emergency funding to the cultural sector – a total of €728m through packages and €77m through the Performing Arts Fund – but the report says “very little” seems to have found its way to nightclubs or electronic music organisations so far.

Furthermore, while live music venues have been allowed to reopen, albeit with capacity restrictions, nightclubs have now been closed for over six months and will remain shuttered until a vaccine is on the market, says Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte.

In March, RTL reported that the Dutch event industry will lose almost half its expected turnover of €7.4bn this year.

In Germany, 94% of the participating disco and club operators are “on the verge of giving up their business”

Elsewhere, in Germany, according to a recent survey by the umbrella organization DEHOGA, 94% of the participating disco and club operators are “on the verge of giving up their business” as a result of the pandemic.

“The situation of clubs and discos in Germany is getting worse,” explained Knut Walsleben, the newly elected president of the Federal Association of German Discotheques and Dance Companies (BDT), part of DEHOGA, at the Club Convention industry meeting on 20 October.

“The current state aid is by far not sufficient for our existentially affected companies. The club operators and discotheque entrepreneurs are running out of breath, ”said Walsleben, and called for further political support for his branch.

This week the German government announced an extension of the bridging aid, which will allow medium-sized companies, self-employed professionals and freelancers from all industries to apply for non-repayable direct grants for operational fixed costs up to 90% for the months between September to December 2020.

BDT has welcomed the extension of the bridging aid but is calling for 100% of fixed costs to be covered; the maximum monthly limit of 50,000 euros to be increased; an appropriate entrepreneur wage for the club and discotheque operators; and a VAT reduction which includes drinks and the entrance fee.

Germany is currently operating with an 11pm curfew and a hotspot strategy to tackle Covid cases, which yesterday soared past the 10,000 mark for the first time.


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