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European assocs predict 6–12 month recovery period

Today the UK inches closer towards a return to normality after delivering the very first Covid jab as part of the mass vaccination programme being rolled out across the nation.

A 90-year-old woman received the first of 800,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that will be given in the coming weeks, with up to four million more are expected by the end of the month, according to the BBC.

The rollout is a light at the end of the tunnel for the domestic live industry, especially after the UK culture minister predicted that the events industry is likely to return to normality by next Easter.

However, associations in Germany, Spain and Switzerland say the rollout for vaccines in Europe is a little further behind and predict a recovery period of between 6–12 months for live.

EU member countries have jointly agreed on the purchase, approval and distribution of the vaccines and are currently awaiting approval by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which is expected between mid-December and the end of the year.

“[BDKV] expects the industry back on track in 2022, nationally, and picking up to pre-pandemic operations in 2023”

Jens Michow, managing president of the Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry (BDKV) in Germany, says he is hoping for the domestic live industry to return for good during the course of 2021 but he expects Covid-safe regulations to stay in place until the pandemic is over.

“Vaccine status development until winter 2021/22 is crucial for the industry to be able to operate through next winter without lockdowns. If that would be possible, we expect the industry back on track in 2022, nationally, and picking up to pre-pandemic operations in 2023, but only if the international partners can operate without limitations as well,” he says.

In Germany, the federal states are responsible for rolling out the vaccines to the population and are currently setting up vaccine centres, which will be ready during the course of December, ready to follow the national vaccination strategy for distribution.

Similarly, the distribution of the vaccine in Switzerland will be organised by each individual canton, though Stefan Breitenmoser from Swiss Music Promoters Association (SMPA) says not all cantons will be ready when the vaccine is launched early next year and predicts a return to live late next year at the earliest.

“Due to planning uncertainty and limited international travel, many [Swiss] artists are postponing their tours until 2022”

“Pre-sales for events, no matter when they take place, have completely collapsed again since mid-October 2020,” says Breitenmoser. “Due to planning uncertainty and limited international travel, many artists are currently postponing their tours until 2022. We do not expect normal operations before the end of 2021, although there will be some easing of the measures before then, as we need at least six months’ lead time after the end of the measures.”

According to an interview with the Swiss head of infection control at the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), Virginie Masserey, Switzerland’s vaccination rollout should last six months and be completed by the summer of 2021.

Elsewhere, though the Association of Musical Promoters of Spain says it won’t speculate on a specific date for the return of live, “there is some optimism regarding summer 2021, though it will depend on progress in vaccination and the health situation”. A spokesperson says: “For now, what we do know is that many summer festivals have already begun to announce a 2021 edition that can be experienced normally.”

“There is some optimism [in Spain] regarding summer 2021, though it will depend on progress of the vaccination”

According to the association, approval for the first of the vaccines (Pfizer) will come on 29 December and the second (Moderna) on January 12 for Spain. Spanish president Pedro Sánchez says the government is “working at full capacity so that the vaccines are available as soon as possible.”

According to the minister of health, Salvador Illa, Spain’s vaccination campaign could begin in January and by May and June between 15–20 million people would already be vaccinated.

The minister has presented a vaccination plan that will be developed in three phases, distributed throughout 2021 and giving priority to risk groups.

The associations’ timelines roughly align with that of industry heads including CTS Eventim’s Klaus Peter Schulenburg and AEG Presents France’s Arnaud Meersseman, who shared predictions with IQ last month after news of the two vaccines. Read the feature here.


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Capacity reductions unviable, say Spanish venues

Representatives from the Spanish live industry have said that enforcing a capacity reduction for venues following their reopening would be “unsustainable”.

A collective of associations including Spanish promoters’ association (Asociación de Promotores Musicales – APM), the national association of live music venues (Asociación Estatal de Salas de Música en Directo – Acces) and the federation of associations of performing arts companies (Federación Estatal de Asociaciones de Empresas de Teatro y Danza – Faeteda) have signed a manifesto asking for an “urgent dialogue” with the state to plan necessary measures for the reopening of cultural activities.

The organisations refer to measures put in place before the Spanish government declared a state of emergency on 14 March, that limited events to 1,000 people and under and reduced venues to a third of their full capacity.

Any reduction in capacity would “automatically make shows unsustainable and stigmatise them” say the venue representatives.

“The average capacity of Spanish venues is from 150 to 200 people,” Carmen Zapata, manager of the association of Catalan venues (Asociación de Salas de Conciertos de Cataluña – Assac) tells InfoLibre. “With those ticket sales, how are they going to pay for the work of musicians, technicians and venue staff?”

“With those ticket sales, how are they going to pay for the work of musicians, technicians and venue staff?”

The collective proposes the exploration of possible sanitary and hygiene measures that “would guarantee the safety of staff and the public, counting on the cooperation of the health authorities and the state”.

Such temporary measures include the use of face masks and gloves, deep cleaning technical equipment, taking temperatures on entry and making card payments obligatory.

The live events sector also asks for the launch of a communications campaign to “regain consumer confidence in attending cultural events, dissipate fear and allow the economic activity of this important sector to resume again”.

Earlier this week, the Madrid’s councillor for culture, tourism and sport, Andrea Levy, asked Spanish culture minister José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes to reduce the value-added tax (VAT) for tickets to live events from 10% to 4%.

“This seems to be a very reasonable measure that would undoubtedly be a great boost for the sector […] that is helping us all get through this terrible pandemic,” says Levy.

Photo: Fermín Rodríguez Fajardo/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) (cropped)


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Let us offer credit for cancelled shows, say assocs

As the coronavirus crisis continues to exert financial pressure on the live sector, industry associations and businesses in Europe, Asia and North America are asking for changes in the way refunds are issued for cancelled events.

In Europe, research shows digital footfall to event ticket sales sites has collapsed in recent months, with only travel agencies harder hit by concerns over the virus. According to Comscore, visits to ticketing sites fell by 47% in France, 12% in Germany, 52% in Italy, 55% in Spain and 26% in the UK between 17–23 February and 9–5 March.

The figures come as associations in the the UK warn of a cashflow “crisis” amid widespread concert cancellations – with British artists and managers alone expected to lose more than £60 million should a ban on mass gatherings last for the next six months – and other sectors, including cinema and aviation, similarly grapple with an unprecedented drop-off in ticket sales.

In countries including Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal, the UK, Russia and Kazakhstan, associations representing cash-strapped local operators are pushing for an extended refund grace period (up to 365 days), to be permitted to give vouchers in lieu of cash refunds, or a combination of the two.

“If you can afford it, you should consider whether it is really necessary to return your ticket for a refund,” reads a blog from Ticketmaster Germany, which is supporting the European Association of Event Centres (EVVC)’s #keepyourticket campaign. “Every ticket that is not returned helps organisers, venues and [sports] clubs, even after the coronavirus has passed, and enables them to be able to organise great events in future.”

The EVVC, which represents arenas and conference centres in central and southern Europe, is inviting its members to support the campaign by sharing text and visual materials calling for solidarity with promoters and venues. “For organisers, suppliers and cultural professionals, the corona pandemic is a threat to their existence,” says the association.

“If you can afford it, you should consider whether it is necessary to return your ticket for a refund”

Promoters’ association BDKV – which estimates its ~450 members will lose a combined €1.25 billion from March to May as a result of Germany’s event ban – is asking the German government to extend temporarily, to 365 days, the time within which a refund must be paid, as well as offer credit for tickets instead of cash refunds (a solution it says would especially benefit members sitting on large ticket inventories, such as theatres).

The former request (a grace period for refunds) is also believed to be the option preferred by Britain’s UK Music and Colisium, which represents promoters in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

In Spain, newly launched umbrella body Esmúsica (which includes the Association of Music Promoters) is also asking for a grace period, lasting until 31 December, for cancelled events. For postponed events, however, “given the exceptional situation”, the organisation says promoters must not be obliged to offer a refund, instead offering only a new ticket for rescheduled date(s).

“Several organisations and municipalities are cancelling events on a daily basis. Shows on sale for the end of the year and early 2021 are not selling. We have to work together on a reimbursement policy for postponed and cancelled shows that helps to minimise catastrophic losses,” says Portugal’s APEFE, which backs Esmúsica’s position on no refunds for postponed shows, suggesting that “purchased tickets must be valid for postponed shows without mandatory reimbursement”.

Both Esmúsica and APEFE (Association of Promoters of Shows, Festivals and Events) are also calling for a temporary reduction in VAT charged on tickets, among other relief measures.

In the Netherlands, meanwhile, the associations’ counterpart there, VVEM (Association of Event Producers), appears to be making headway with its campaign for ticket vouchers, with the Dutch cabinet discussing the issue this week.

“It is currently impossible for us to offer immediate cash refunds to all buyers”

Dutch culture minister Ingrid van Engelshoven has previously asked ticketholders not to request cash refunds, while VVEM has also reportedly found a sympathetic ear in the form of economy minister Eric Wiebes, who has said the government will provide further “strong help” for the sector (though it remains to be seen in what form).

While European associations focus on lobbying their respective governments, US secondary ticketing giant StubHub has taken the matter into its own hands, announcing that – where legal – it will no longer provide refunds for cancelled events to its American and Canadian customers. Instead, ticketholders will receive a voucher worth 120% of the original value of the ticket.

The change in policy comes as StubHub, which is in the process of being acquired by European rival Viagogo, lays off as much as two thirds of its workforce, in what it calls a “difficult but sensible decision”.

Explaining the shift in its refund terms, a StubHub spokesperson says: “In normal times, we’ve made the decision to refund buyers before collecting money from the seller to offer buyers more convenience. And under normal circumstances, this works well, even with StubHub taking the risk of timing delays and some losses when we are unable to collect from the seller. With the coronavirus impacting 28,000+ events and the associated magnitude of challenge in recouping monies owed by sellers over the coming months, it is currently impossible for us to offer immediate cash refunds to all buyers.

“When the volume of cancellations accelerated a few weeks ago, we were the first in our industry to offer a coupon worth 120% of the ticket value. This will now be our default option in Canada and in the US. Outside of the US and Canada, fans are defaulted to a refund.”


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Spanish live industry reports another record year

The Spanish live music business generated a record €382 million (£333m) in 2019, representing its seventh consecutive year of growth.

According to the Live Music Yearbook, which is compiled by Spanish promoters’ association APM, turnover in 2019 exceeded the previous year’s record revenue by 14.6%.

Despite the positive results, the past year saw a deceleration of year-on-year growth, which had hit 20% and 24% in 2017 and 2018 respectively, following a cut in cultural tax in 2017 from 21% to 10%.

October, December, May, July and September proved to be the most profitable months of 2019, with more than €40m (£35m) generated in each.

The Spanish live music business generated a record €382 million in 2019

National tours by Manuel Carrasco, Marea and Alejandro Sanz attracted over 600,000 fans between them, with Carrasco alone selling 351,994 tickets.

In terms of international touring artists, Metallica and Ed Sheeran performed the best, drawing 122,000 and 108,386 fans respectively for just two shows each.

Morat, Muse, Mark Knopfler, Bon Jovi, Hans Zimmer, Bryan Adams, Bob Dylan and Rammstein were among other acts to visit Spain in 2019.

Formed in 2001, APM now has 78 members that together make up 80% of the Spanish live industry’s economic activity.

Last year, the association launched a festival arm, APM Festivals, as well as joining new Spanish music federation, Esmúsica.

Photo: Cristina Ruiz/Unnika (CC BY-SA 4.0) (cropped)


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Spain’s APM launches new festival arm

Spain’s Association of Music Promoters (APM) is launching APM Festivals, a new division consisting of 80 festival from across Spain.

The association will present its new division today (22 January) at Madrid’s International Tourism Trade Fair (Fitur), which is taking place at exhibition centre Ifema, at 4 p.m. local time.

APM spokesperson Carol Rodriguez, who is responsible for the festival division, will announce the objectives and demands of the new division, and name the participating festivals.

The Spanish live music industry has gone from strength to strength in recent years, with APM recording five consecutive years of growth since 2014.

Major Spanish festivals include Primavera Sound, which reported record ticket sales for its 2020 edition; Live Nation’s Mad Cool festival; Festival Internacional de Benicàssim, which was last year acquired by the Music Republic, promoter of festivals Arenal Sound and Viña Rock; Bilbao BBK Live and Superstruct-backed Sónar Festival.

Photo: (CC BY 2.0)


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Esmúsica: ‘collective voice’ of Spanish music biz is born

Organisations from the live, recorded and publishing sectors in Spain have joined forces to create Esmúsica, a federation acting as a “collective voice” for the Spanish music industry.

The umbrella body was formed yesterday (Wednesday 30 October) at industry conference BIME Pro, which is taking place until 1 November in Bilbao, north Spain. The organisation takes a similar model to that of umbrella groups in Britain (UK Music) and Canada (Music Canada).

Industry figures signed the agreement to launch the federation, with representatives from Acces (national association for live music venues); Aedem (Association of independent music publishers); AIE (Society for performing artists and publishers); APM (Association for music promoters); Arte (Association of stage technicians); Opem (Organisation of professional music publishers); Promusicae (Spanish music producers); SGAE (General society of authors and publishers); and Ufi (Union for independent phonographers).

Iñaki Gaztelumendi, founder and president of Spain Live Music and the person responsible for the new body’s strategic plan, told Spanish news agency Efe that Esmúsica will “put the demands of this sector – which is of such economic, cultural and social importance – on the public agenda, so we can improve as a collective entity.”

“Esmúsica will put the demands of this important sector on the public agenda”

Esmúsica aims to work closely with the state to aid the sustainable development of the Spanish music sector, focusing on areas of talent, creativity, intellectual property, entrepreneurship, training, innovation and internationalisation.

The association also wants to create national standards for all areas of the music industry in the country.

In addition, Esmúsica will produce a best practice guide relating to hiring in the sector and collaborate in the formation of an Academy of Spanish Music.

In terms of financing, the umbrella organisation plans to create a state fund dedicated to the development of the music industry.

The new body will also form the Observatory of Spanish Music, an analytical body looking at the current state of the Spanish music industry and working on ways to advance in the future.

Spain is the focus of the latest IQ market report, available to read online in the most recent edition of IQ Magazine here.


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Record turnover for Spanish live music business

The tenth edition of the Spanish Association of Music Promoters (APM)’s Live Music Yearbook (Anuario de la música en vivo) has brought good news, reporting a record annual turnover of €334 million for Spain’s live music industry.

The record-breaking revenue follows five consecutive years of growth for the Spanish live music market and represents a 24% increase on 2017. The consistent growth means that the 2018 turnover is the biggest-ever recorded for the Spanish industry, superior even to figures generated before the 2008 financial crisis.

The turnover signals the recovery of the sector following a cut in cultural tax in 2017, from 21% to 10%. The Spanish government had hiked tax on cultural shows in 2012, causing serious problems for the Spanish live industry, which lost €100 million and 27.5% in revenue from ticket sales between 2012 and 2013.

According to APM, the majority of revenue was taken in July and August 2018. Major one-off stadium shows from Guns N’ Roses and Iron Maiden coincided with tours from international Latin artists Luis Miguel (8 dates), Shakira (5 dates) and Alejandro Fernández (8 dates).

The association also indicated a rise in music tourism, the importance of which has now been recognised by institutions, such as the new section dedicated to festivals at the International Tourism Fair (Fitur).

The record-breaking revenue comes following five consecutive years of growth for the Spanish live music market

Bruno Mars attracted the biggest crowds, drawing 110,000 fans across two concerts in Barcelona and Madrid. Latin artists Ricky Martin and Shakira also proved popular, with Martin playing to 79,657 fans over 10 dates and Shakira performing to 71,000 over five shows.

APM announced the results of elections at its AGM in Palma de Mallorca in February. Members re-elected Albert Salmerón as president, with Tito Ramoneda as vice president and Carol Rodríguez, Maricruz Laguna and Julio Martí as board members. Patxi Miranda also joins the board.

The promoters’ association outlined its plans for the coming years, which include the modification of working regulations for musicians and the drawing up of a plan to ensure the recognition of the cultural, social and economic value of the music industry.

APM has now partnered with four main ticketing companies: El Corte Inglés, CTS Eventims’s Spanish operation entradas.com, See Tickets and Ticketmaster. The association maintains Ifema and el Palau Sant Jordi as venue partners.


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Portugal to slash concert VAT to 6%

The Portuguese parliament has approved a new state budget that cuts the value-added tax (VAT) on tickets for live shows from 13% to 6%.

The Orçamento Geral do Estado, or General State Budget, for 2019, which was approved by Portugal’s Assembly of the Republic yesterday (29 November), provides for a reduction in the VAT paid by promoters to 6% in the Portuguese mainland, 5% in Madeira and 4% in the Azores.

Promoters’ association APEFE (Associação de Promotores de Espetáculos, Festivais e Eventos, Association of Promoters of Shows, Festivals and Events) says in a statement the VAT cut is not only a victory for APEFE, but for the entire cultural sector “and all Portuguese”.

The reduction has also been welcomed by APEFE’s counterpart in Spain, APM, whose president Albert Salmerón says Portuguese lawmakers have recognised culture as an “engine of economic growth and social progress.”

In Spain, cultural VAT was cut to 10% from a sky-high 21% in June last year, while Italy followed suit in November.


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Spanish live business up 21% in 2017

Last year brought good news for the live music industry in Spain: the fourth consecutive year of growth for the live music market, with €223.2 million generated – an increase of 20.6% on 2016.

One of the explanations for the improvement of the health of the live sector is the reduction of cultural VAT from 21% to 10%, and 2017’s figures are above those of 2012, the year in which VAT was increased. The latest statistics reflect the attractiveness of Spain as a destination for major international tours, with millions of tickets sold to shows by the likes of the Rolling Stones, U2 and Maluma.

Also key to the market’s strength are the recent legal victory against collection society SGAE over tariffs, Google’s new restrictions on secondary ticketing sites and the admission of the Association of Music Promoters (APM) to the European Live Music Association.

The biggest international tours of 2017 were Ricky Martin, who played to 115,806 people at 13 shows; Guns N’ Roses, who drew 91,200 people to his concerts in Madrid and Barcelona; and Colombian star Maluma, whose nine Spanish shows were seen by 70,914 people. The visits of the Rolling Stones, Bruno Mars, U2, Aerosmith and Ed Sheeran were also major events in the cultural calendar of 2017.

The latest statistics reflect the attractiveness of Spain as a destination for major international tours

However, the biggest success story was Spanish singer-songwriter Malendi, whose 37 Quítate las gafas (Take off your glasses) tour dates attracted 208,972 spectators. Other stand-out domestic successes included Joaquín Sabina, David Bisbal, Vanesa Martín or Manuel Carrasco.

Despite the positive developments outlined in the latest edition of APM’s Live Music Yearbook, there are still several challenges facing the industry, including small profit margins for many small and medium-sized companies and the fight against online ticket resale.

The promoters’ association, therefore, continues to search for an “adequate legal solution” to these challenges, including through further European integration. By joining the European Live Music Association (ELMA), APM hopes to “face the problems of the sector from a European perspective”, with ELMA seen as “the appropriate framework to support the sustainable development of the live music industry”.


Industria Musical is the leading Spanish-language music business website, with readers from Spain, Latin America and the United States. With daily news, reports and analysis, as well as training and digital consultancy services, IM serves as a digital reference platform for the Hispanic music industry.

APM joins European Live Music Association

The members of Spain’s Association of Music Promoters (APM) has voted to join the European Live Music Association (ELMA).

APM, which represents more than 80% of the country’s concert promoters, today held its AGM in Benidorm, where the decision to join lobbying group ELMA was ratified by a majority of its membership.

“Promoters not only create culture and socialisation, but they support the economy,” says Vincenzo Spera, president of ELMA and Italian promoters’ association Assomusica. “We are the heart of the live music sector; however, until now we had no voice in the European Union.”

Adds Georges Perot, director of ELMA and Greek association MESO: “The main objectives of the association are to lobby and influence European legislative policies.”

Other ELMA members include BDV (Germany), Sound Czech (Czech Republic), Root Music (UK) and Conseil de la Musique (France).


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