Italy’s live sector slams “useless” capacity increase
Italian promoters’ association Assomusica has slammed the country’s latest rollback of restrictions as being “inadequate and useless”.
Capacity restrictions for live events were increased last week, as experts said the use of vaccine passports is slowing the spread of coronavirus.
Football stadiums are now allowed to reach 75% capacity, up from 50 per cent at the start of the season, indoor sporting arenas rise to 50% from 35%, and indoor music venues increase to 80% from 50%.
“An increase to 80% of the capacity for indoor shows is totally inadequate and useless – both for most of the concerts already postponed several times (many of which sold out and are impossible to reschedule without having to arbitrarily choose who has the right to see the show and who does not) and for future ones who need 100% capacity and no distancing,” writes the association.
“it is still not clear what the implementing provisions will be and when they will be made such in relation to the indoor tours”
“Apart from these percentages used in the media, it is still not clear what the implementing provisions will be and when they will be made such in relation to the indoor tours and those scheduled in the summer of 2022.”
“It is, therefore, essential to set a target percentage of the vaccinated population and consequently a certain date for the restart that is no longer postponable that today can count on the Green Pass deemed suitable in any other form of ‘gathering’ but obviously not for concerts that need a lot of advance warning to be properly organised.”
The denouncement follows a “desperate appeal” to the Italian government in late September, which was backed by trade associations and more than 300 domestic and foreign artists.
The open letter demands that capacity limits and the requirement for social distancing are abolished immediately – though it is proposed that masks and temperature checks upon entry to an event are mandatory.
The association and the signatories have called for a shared plan to be formalised by the government before 31 October.
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Italian industry rebukes gov over €222bn recovery
Italy’s live industry has admonished the government for failing to recognise ‘the cultural, economical and social importance’ of live music in its new recovery plan.
The ‘National Recovery and Resilience Plan’ (PNRR), totaling €222 billion, was presented to parliament on Monday (26 April) by president Mario Draghi.
Of the €222 bn, €6.7 bn has been allocated to culture with the aim to “increase the level of attractiveness of the country’s cultural and tourist system through the modernization of both tangible and intangible infrastructures”.
However, in the spending plan for culture, music venues (or theatres, as Italy prefers to call them) are only referenced once as part of a €300m bid to “promote eco-efficiency and the reduce energy consumption” in cultural venues.
Roberto De Luca, president of Live Nation Italy, told IQ: “I am very pleased about this PNRR but unfortunately, I do not find a single line regarding live music industry. This a terrible mistake as live music is a fundamental part of our culture, as well as an industry that has a huge economic impact on every territory where live music is happening.
“I do not find a single line regarding live music industry. This a terrible mistake as live music is a fundamental part of our culture”
“Live music has both direct and indirect effects. As an example, let’s look at what the FirenzeRocks festival means for Firenze. In 2019, it generated an economic impact of more than €40m as our audience spent between €300–500 per person on hotels, museums, restaurants and so on. Not just in Italy, summer live shows are happening in historic squares, castles, Roman and Greek amphitheaters, so I truly believe that is a driver for our own culture.”
Claudio Trotta, founder of Barley Arts and Slow Music, expressed similar disappointment to IQ: “I don’t see at all in this plan the recognition of the cultural, economical and social importance of live popular music and its industry. I don’t see any investment at all in new venues for music nor attention to professional training for the future generation.
“According to this plan, culture is important only if connected to the benefits that it creates for tourism and not for the citizens and the people. Culture is important by itself, not just when it’s used to draw tourism.
“On another note, I would love to see in this full plan a real and accurate attention to the biodynamic balance and not only some generic references to a digital, ecological and green transition.”
Vincenzo Spera, president of Italy’s live music association Assomusica, tells IQ he is particularly concerned about how the measures will affect the next generation.
“According to this plan, culture is important only if connected to the benefits that it creates for tourism”
“We currently do not know if and how the €6bn envisaged by the PNRR will be allocated to the live music sector. We are therefore very worried, especially because we believe that this could be a fundamental opportunity for socio-cultural aggregation at the European level.
“Obviously this does not concern, or should not only concern Italy, but all European countries, considering that music is the tool for the greatest socialisation and aggregation among young people. It is no coincidence that there is a measure called Next Generation. By continuing in this way, however, there is a risk that future generations will not derive any benefit from the envisaged measures but rather pay the price.
“We think that there is no better opportunity than this to realize some fundamental points which, especially following the pandemic, become particularly urgent: the first point [in the spending plan] concerns technological innovation, of which we are carriers and experimenters; the second point refers, instead, to the eco-sustainability of the live entertainment system and its ability to always attract new audiences to the territories, to discover new realities and to generate ‘green economy’, helping to enhance sites that are important from the point of view historical-architectural.
“The third point concerns the possibility of finally creating premises, structures and spaces of the future, conceived as they should be today, multifunctional, interactive and synergistic between the various genres of entertainment. The time has also come to create a physical and not just a virtual platform that can allow various European cultures to circulate in different countries.”
“The government propaganda is telling everyone that Italy is slowly getting back to a sort of normality but we still have restrictions”
Fabrizio Pompeo, Radar Concerti, tells IQ: “Yes, the headline of the news is great but going deeper into it, there is no such great news for the music business as nothing is coming directly to our industry. The €6bn is going to feed a very wide range of activities and not going to the music industry.
“The government propaganda is telling everyone that Italy is slowly getting back to a sort of normality but we still have restrictions which are making impossible arranging a concert. Not only the distancing procedures but we still have a curfew on from 10 pm to 5 am.”
As of Monday (26 April), eleven of the twenty Italian regions have been permitted to reopen music venues for capped and socially distanced concerts.
The eleven regions – including Lazio, Veneto, Piedmont, Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna – have been dubbed ‘yellow’ under the country’s colour-coded system of coronavirus restrictions and are now allowed to partially reopen.
Venues in the yellow zone can now reopen at 50% capacity, with no more than 500 people inside and 1,000 people outside – all of whom must observe one-metre social distancing. The 10 pm–5 am curfew is still in place.
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Italy’s live music association appeals to EU for aid
Italy’s live music association, Assocmusica, is urging the European Commission to allocate financial aid to the creative industries via national budgets and EU funds.
Assocmusica, along with European Live Music Association (ELMC), directly addressed the European parliament directly last week to ask for support with Europe’s cultural recovery.
Members of the European parliament have also expressed strong concern the EU’s Next Generation Recovery Plan does not specify a budget for the direct benefit of the cultural and creative sectors.
The associations are now asking the European Commission and the EU countries to allocate at least 2% of the mechanism for recovery and resilience stated in the Recovery Plan in support of the cultural and creative.
“In such a critical moment, both for the future of the EU and for our sector, it is necessary to intervene to safeguard its survival”
“The digital revolution, and the chapter of investments in environmental sustainability, hypothesised in the Recovery Fund are issues we would like to discuss with the government and we hope to be heard in the appropriate forums,” says president of Assomusica, Vincenzo Spera.
“In these difficult times, many have turned to culture, music and art to overcome moments of discouragement and loneliness. In such a critical moment, both for the future of the EU and for our sector, it is necessary to intervene to safeguard its survival.”
“For these reasons, I would like to make a further, urgent appeal to our institutional representatives to work on creating an adequate financial ‘framework’ to support a key sector for the growth and cultural diversity of our continent.”
The associations have laid out a number of proposals for EU ministers to consider, including an increase in the budget for the Creative Europe Programme in the next Multiannual Financial Framework, which is renewed next year, to €2.8 billion and the introduction of the 4% reduced VAT on tickets for live performances.
An emergency fund for live entertainment workers, powered by European resources, and precise financial plans to ensure operational continuity in the industries and cultural and creative sectors and to ensure predictability for their operators, has also been called for.
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1/3 of Italians book tickets for post-corona shows
In news that bodes well for the immediate future of the Italian live industry, nearly a third of live music fans have already bought, or are planning to buy, tickets for their first post-lockdown concerts, new research suggests.
Dopo l’Intervallo (After the Interval), based on the results of a survey of over 32,000 Italian eventgoers between 27 May and 19 June, reveals that 30.5% of respondents are actively seeking to buy tickets for shows – nearly double the number in the UK (17%), where the first After the Interval survey was conducted on 16 April–6 May.
“Italy is considered to be 2–4 weeks ahead of the UK in their experience of Covid-19. Could these results give us an idea of how our cultural audiences might be feeling in 6–8 weeks?” asks Indigo, the consultancy behind both surveys.
Italy’s concert scene reopened for business earlier this month, with phase three of the easing of lockdown seeing indoor shows of up to 200 people and outdoor events of up to 1,000 people allowed from 15 June. Some 90% of bars and restaurants are now open, though the live industry continues to wait for news on major gatherings such as large concerts and festivals.
“[Italians] consider it an integral part of their culture … to participate in music events and live shows”
The Italian version of After the Interval – produced by Indigo for Teatro Stabile del FVG, with input from live music associations such as Assomusica and KeepOn Live – additionally reveals a huge 96% of Italian respondents said they have missed live events during the Covid-19 pandemic (73% of them “a lot”), and that nearly a quarter (23%) would return to an event “as soon as venues reopen”.
However, of the 30.5% of those who are actively booking tickets, around half of them are booking for events after November 2020, indicating there will likely not be a full-scale recovery until 2021.
Vincenzo Spera, president of promoters’ association Assomusica, says the survey results are testament to the importance the Italian public places on live events. “We can take comfort and confidence”, he explains, in the fact Italian audiences consider it an “integral part of their culture […] to participate in music events and live shows.”
Italy is the world’s sixth-largest music market, with US$635m in ticket sales in 2019, according to PwC.
Italian live business defends vouchers
Italian live music industry professionals have hit back at comments made by Sir Paul McCartney criticising the decision to offer fans vouchers, instead of cash refunds, for cancelled shows.
Representatives from industry association Assomusica and promoter D’Alessandro e Galli spoke out following a statement on McCartney’s official Facebook page in Italy. The post declared it was “outrageous” that fans were “not getting their money back” for shows he had been scheduled to play at the 23,000 square-metre Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples on 10 June and at the 45,000-capacity Mura Storiche in Lucca on 13 June.
In accordance with government regulations, ticketholders for McCartney’s Italian concerts were reimbursed with credit to spend on future shows, rather than receiving their money back. Vouchers have been championed by industry associations around the world as a way to alleviate the pressures on cash-strapped promoters facing unprecedented volumes of refund requests.
“We strongly disagree with what the Italian government are doing,” wrote McCartney. “In every other country we were going to visit this summer the fans have all been offered full refunds. This is a real insult to the fans.”
In response to the comments, D’Alessandro e Galli, the promoter for the former Beatle’s Italian shows, issued a statement acknowledging the “displeasure” McCartney may feel at “the inconvenience that his fans will have to sustain by not receiving a direct refund”.
“The voucher is the instrument that guarantees the balance between the disappointment of the fan and the vital need to support the industry”
The promoter adds that vouchers are an “extraordinary” form of reimbursement that McCartney’s team was “perfectly aware of before the cancellation” and that aims to help the Italian live industry through a crisis that could deal it, as well as the 400,000 professionals working within it, a “fatal blow”.
“We believe that the government has identified the voucher as the instrument that guarantees the correct balance between the legitimate disappointment of the fan and the vital need to support the entire entertainment industry.”
Speaking to Italian publication Rockol, Vincenzo Spera, president of Italian promoters’ association Assomusica – which has spoken out in favour of the voucher scheme – iterated that McCartney’s team were aware of the reimbursement situation and had the chance to “devise and adopt solutions that seemed most suitable”, if they so wished.
Spera also points out that the voucher scheme extends to the whole tourism and cultural sector in Italy, with similar programmes also adopted in other European countries including Germany.
In countries where voucher laws are not in place, ticketing platforms including Eventbrite, StubHub and SeatGeek are currently facing legal action for the alleged non-payment of refunds for cancelled or postponed events.
Debut IPM Says! panel highlights live’s resilience
The inaugural virtual ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) panel, IPM Says!, took place last week, with eight live event production professionals coming together to discuss positive ways of moving forward from the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
IPM’s Carl A H Martin chaired the panel, entitled It Ain’t All Doom and Gloom, which reflected on the resilience of the industry, the creativity of those within it and the road to recovery.
ITB agent Steve Zapp stressed that different markets were moving at different speeds, with “very little” currently possible in the UK. However, whereas the earlier weeks of the crisis had been characterised by cancellations and postponements, conversation has now turned to recovery.
Andy Lenthall from trade association Production Services Association (PSA) said while members were currently doing little in live events, the organisation has been busy helping them to navigate this “temporary normal” and “helping people to help themselves”.
“I have faith in an industry that is resilient and full of resolve to get back to work,” said Lenthall, who stated he was looking forward to the release of UK government guidance on how to get back to work safely.
For Sarah Hemsley-Cole, company director of Cardiff-based SC Productions, work has not fully come to a halt, with the company getting involved in various products, including helping to set up a makeshift field hospital at the Principality Stadium.
“I have faith in an industry that is resilient and full of resolve to get back to work”
Vatiswa Gilivane, business development manager at the 20,000-capacity Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg, said her team has also found alternative ways of working, with events still prohibited in South Africa.
“We had to change the way we think,” said Gilivane. “We could no longer rely on others to bring us opportunities, but had to use our own expertise and start creating our own content.”
Máté Horváth from Hungary’s DDW Music said things are opening up in the country for open-air shows, with some venues now also beginning to open up in different ways, acting as beer gardens, for example, in order to generate some revenue.
The ban on large-scale events in Hungary expires on 15 August, said Horváth , “so there could be some major festivals going ahead after this date, with a line-up of domestic acts”.
In general, shows are being moved to 2021, added Horvath, and although this may be a less optimistic scenario, “it is much more secure” and likely to be better for the industry in the long run.
Alberto Artese from Italian industry organisation Assomusica said that live shows will be permitted again in Italy in the next week “but there will be many rules”. From 15 June, 1,000 fans will be allowed at open-air shows and 200 people – including staff and artists – at indoor shows.
“We could no longer rely on others to bring us opportunities, but had to use our own expertise and start creating our own content”
The viability of capacity limits and social distancing measures was a talking point for panellists, with many stressing the importance of proper collaboration between the industry and national governments.
ASM Global’s Paul Sergeant OBE spoke of the newly formed Live Entertainment Industry Forum in Australia, which acts as a conduit between the live industry and the government, developing a way to safely reopen events.
Neighbouring New Zealand is lifting all restrictions on live events this week, focusing on contact tracing to prevent outbreaks of the virus, rather than relying on social distancing measures. “We’d like to think Australia might follow suit in the not too distant future,” said Sergeant.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport in the UK has similarly asked for industry input on how to reopen safely, said Lenthall.
“Every government around the world sees the value of live events, but we are going to be the last to reopen as we are the most challenging environment.”
Lenthall stressed that social distancing cannot be a financially viable solution for live events. “Globally, we will see a different approach that doesn’t include distancing.”
“Every government around the world sees the value of live events, but we are going to be the last to reopen as we are the most challenging environment”
For Zapp, one of the most encouraging things throughout the crisis has been the “incredibly low” number of refund requests, which indicates that fans are keen to get back to events and has helped to avoid “massive problems” with cash flow.
Chrissy Uerlings of Germany’s CU Production Gmbh summed up much of what had been said, pointing out that problem solving and coming up with creative solutions had become key, something that the live industry has always excelled at.
“We have to be smart and it was clear that, for many of us as freelancers, we had to do this on our own.
“If you let loose, then you have two hands free – and that makes you creative.”
Industry orgs urge gov support in face of Covid-19 [updating]
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.
Last updated 11.30 GMT on Friday 20 March. What is your association doing to tackle coronavirus? Email email@example.com to submit missing association information.
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:
- A wage subsidy for industry employees who “no longer have meaningful work due to restrictions on gatherings, including casuals, sole traders, and self-employed” workers
- Business loans with zero-interest for five years
The package would include:
- A $550m (€302m) investment in the commercial sector, consisting of a cash injection of $25,000 (€13,748) to $2m (€1.1m) per company; a rebate of transaction fees through ticketing companies to be passed back to promoters, venues and festivals; and a $25,000 (€13,748) grants for 4,000 live music venues nationally
- A $180m (€98.8m) investment in Australia Council for the Arts, including a cash injection to performing arts companies and regional venues; an extension to all current government funding arrangements; and additional funding for the Four Year Funding for Organisations programme
- A $20m (€11m) support act dedicated to providing mental health and harship support for artists, performers, crew and technicians
- A recovery and reactivation package including a marketing campaign; consumer stimulus; tax incentives for live music events; and money for the support acts and Australia Council
“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.”
“Realistically, we’re looking at a three to six month closure period at least before any recovery phase”
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:
- A lift of the ban as soon as the quarantine period is over
- A period of grace in regards to current and future payments due to the local collection society, Musicautor
- Talks with managers and agents to lower fees for upcoming shows in order to offer customers lower ticket prices
- Agreements with local municipalities to promote future shows through their advertising and broadcasting channels
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.”
“The only way to avoid bankruptcies is to be able to promote new shows with affordable ticket prices and lower production and promotion costs”
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:
- An Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 (€478) bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks to provide income support to workers – including the self-emplyed – who must stay home and do not have access to paid sick leave
- An Emergency Support Benefit of up to $5bn (€2.7bn) in support to workers who are not eligible for employment insurance benefits and who are facing unemployment
- A 10% wage subsidy for small businesses for the next 90 days, up to a maximum of $1,375 (€731) per employee and $25,000 (€13,285) per employer
- An increase in the credit available to small, medium, and large Canadian businesses
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:
- A large-scale compensation fund for concert and festival producers, such as the €12 million fund recently approved by the European Commission for Danish concerts and festivals.
- Assistance for self-employed workers and small businesses, who are “exceptionally vulnerable” to the effects the virus may have on the industry.
- Short-term work benefits for all live music workers including easy access to Employment Insurance benefits.
- Tax relief for all those involved in the live industry.
- Insurance accountability to ensure insurers are “following proper protocol by paying out on claims where legally applicable”.
- Eligibility for grants and loans for live music companies, “regardless of ‘perceived risk’”
The CMLA is among those surveying members to measure the impact of Covid-19 on the Canadian music industry. The survey, which can be accessed here, is running until 19 March.
“The economic, social and cultural output of the live music industry is entrenched in Canadian society”
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.
“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”
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:
- To provide clarity regarding state aid rules
- To define the corona-crisis as “force majeure” throughout the EU
- To provide clear guidance on the consumer rules in relation to the reimbursement
Furthermore, the organisation urges member states to enforce specific measures relating to labour and employment, tax, financial and grants, asking government to:
- Exempt or postpone payments of employers social security contributions
- Introduce the possibility for temporary unemployment and where relevant access to unemployment benefits without a waiting period
- Provide a specific fund for freelancers to compensate the lost income which cannot be accessed through unemployment social benefits
- Ensure quick access to short-term work, provision of flexible work measures and support mechanisms to provide additional benefits for short-term workers
- Reduce business tax for private entities
- Reduce or remove VAT rates on tickets and/or on cultural services
- Introduce non-accrual of interest in case of late payments, especially as regards general services such as electricity, gas, water
- Suspend the application of the right to levy withholding tax on artist income in the case of touring groups and artists in the context of double tax treaties
- Extend deadlines to submit reports for grants/subsidies
- Create special strands of support in the period 2020-2021 to make touring and co-productions possible again
“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.”
“In these times, culture is not a luxury but key to our societies and a unifying and mobilising force all over Europe”
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.”
“In times of crisis, smaller actors are the most exposed”
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.
“There is an urgent need to strengthen support systems for businesses”
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:
- An extension to the period within which organisers can reschedule an event before having to refund tickets, allowing them a full year to do so
- An option to offer ticketholders a voucher worth the original ticket price, instead of a cash refund, for cases when an event cannot be rescheduled
- The creation of another emergency state fund to support service providers in the event industry
- The introduction of proper regulatory action and “clear and binding cancellation orders” from the authorities to ensure promoters are not liable to pay damages
Talks between the BDKV and the government will continue this week.
“Measures are not adequately suited to compensate for the loss of income due to events being cancelled over several weeks”
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.”
The umbrella organisation is among those running surveys to gauge the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on their members. The survey, which runs until 31 March, can be found here.
“With the nationwide shutdown, the incomes of freelance musicians, immediately fall away, while costs continue to run”
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:
- Suspension of VAT payments for companies that have suffered cancellations or temporal shift of concerts
- A 12-month stop on the payment of mortgage installments and leases for the organisers of shows
- Tax credit for the costs of organizing canceled or postponed concerts
- A government guarantee on loans for entertainment companies
- Extraordinary support measures for workers and cooperatives operating in the live entertainment sector, such as tax exemptions
“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.
“We really hope that President Conte can take into consideration measures of real help for the organisers of concerts and music shows”
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:
- the government’s support and cooperation for restoring the concert industry
- economic backing
“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).”
“Our estimation is that about 1,550 performances have been cancelled or called off, costing the industry 45bn yen”
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.
- The Temporary Emergency Measure Bridging for Retention of Work that sees the government pay 90% of the salary for workers at companies that expect a 20% reduction in turnover. The scheme also applies to employees with a flexible contract and to on-call workers.
- A €4,000 emergency provision for entrepeneurs “directly affected” by measures implemented to stop the spread of the virus
- Benefits for self-emplyed workers
- A deferral of taxes and reduction of recovery charges to almost 0%
- €1.5bn of state-guaranteed loans, of up to €150m each
- A call on consumers not to request a refund for tickets purchased for cancelled events
“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. ”
“As an industry organisation, VVEM is now busy directing the possible additional sector-specific measures”
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:
- Aid for artists and self-employed actors within the cultural sectors
- Liquidity enhancing measures
- Direct support towards festivals, venues and promotors who has been given an order to close down in this period
Although Østerdal states the fund dedeicated to the live music sector “is not big enough”, she adds that “it’s a much-needed start”.
“From small festivals and promotors based on voluntary work to the big, commercial actors; this is hitting hard”
Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus
Colisium International Music Forum
Colisium, an association for promoters in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus, has put together documents seeking government support in the face of Covid-19.
The association requests:
- The delay in deadlines for paying for ticket refunds and other costs when events are cancelled or postponed
- Large state grants to help restore the industry for when the pandemic is over
“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.
“Our prognosis is that there will be a three to six month period without the events”
The federation suggests:
- Guaranteeing the liquidity of companies, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises and self-employed workers in the music industry, with backing from the ICO (Instituto de Crédito Oficial), a state-owned bank attached to the ministry of economy and business
- The postponement of tax payment, including on value added tax (VAT), income tax and foreign income tax. This should also apply to any oustanding tax debt and the accrual of interest during the period of inaction
- The reduction of VAT from 10% to 4% on tickets to music events and from 21% to 10% on all services related to live music
- A reduction of the corporate tax rate for at least two years while the sector recovers
- The approval of means of compensating the customer other than by tickets refunds, in the case of events cancelled due to Covid-19
- The possibility of an official declaration of force majeure to facilitate the postponement of concert and festivals
- For self-employed workers, the suspension of social security contributions, implement paid leave from the day one and establish a severance payment by creating an emergency fund
- The simplification and streamlining of procedures in temporary employment regulation (TER) files.
- The suspension of the obligation for companies to pay social security contributions for workers during the period of inactivity
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.
Spanish music federation has proposed a raft of measures to to help the music industry weather the coronavirus “crisis”
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.”
“The package that has been released is focused on jobs and how to keep people in labour during this period”
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:
- Help, guidance and clarity for the 72% of workers in the music industry who are self-employed
- ‘Holidays’ from VAT (value-added tax), allowing companies to delay payments to “potentially provide cash flow” to some businesses
- Compensation schemes to support live events and businesses, such as that given to Danish concerts and festivals
- Eligibility for grants and loans for all music businesses
- A holding to account of insurance companies
- An extension to the period of time within which refunds must be paid to consumers
- Business rates relief for the 132 grassroot music venues in the UK with a rateable value of above £51,000. (Last week, the UK government abolished business rates – the tax paid on non-domestic property – for businesses with a rateable value of below £51,000.)
“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.”
“The government must spell out whether there will be a formal ban, when that might come into effect, and how long the measures will remain in place”
Music Venue Trust (MVT)
The independent venue charity is asking the government to:
- Legally enforce the closure of the UK’s grassroots music venues in response to the coronavirus outbreak to avoid “the permanent closure and loss of hundreds of venues” and facilitate insurance claims
- Cancel the Festival of Britain 2022 – a one-off cultural event that the government has ring-fenced £120 million to deliver
- Reallocate the £120 million to create a Cultural Infrastructure Hardship Relief Fund, delivering funding to grassroots music venues, theatres, arts centres and other social and cultural spaces forced to close by the coronavirus
According to the MVT, the entire grassroots music venue sector could “be mothballed for eight weeks and saved permanently” for £40 million. The charity is encouraging people to support its campaign by signing a petition here.
Coronavirus puts Italy’s live scene on lockdown
Coronavirus, which has been affecting the live entertainment industry in China and other Asian countries for the past few months, is now taking its toll on the Italian business, with all public events in the north of the country cancelled until Sunday 1 March.
Over 400 cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have now been recorded in Italy, with towns in the country’s north placed in quarantine. Cases have also been reported in France, Germany, the UK, Austria, Croatia, Greece, Norway, Switzerland, Georgia and North Macedonia.
The cancellations of concerts in the affected regions, which include the cities of Milan, Venice, Bologna, Trieste and Turin, have cost the live industry an estimated €10.5 million. According to Vincenzo Spera, president of Italian trade association Assomusica, wider losses to the sector’s supply chain could reach as much as €20m.
Affected events include Venice carnival and concerts by Brit Award-winner Mabel, US rock band Algiers, UK rockers Procol HarumItalian and electronic act Tycho, as well as Italian artists Francesca Michielin, Nuclear Tactical Penguins, Negrita, Brunori Sas and Angelo Branduardi, among others.
The men’s and women’s Six Nations rugby ties between Italy and Ireland, set to be played in Dublin on 7 and 8 March, have also been postponed.
“The risk, in particular, is that many of the companies and promoters active in the local and regional territories will suffer a rapid collapse,” says Spera, noting how important the concert industry is to other sectors, such as tourism and hospitality.
“We represent one of the sectors most affected by this emergency and we find that there are still no measures in place that seem to take into account our reality.”
“The risk, in particular, is that many of the companies and promoters active in the local and regional territories will suffer a rapid collapse”
Artist manager Katia Giampaolo, who is also co-director of Bologna’s 2,000-capacity Estragon Club and organiser of the Botanique festival, tells IQ that over 7,400 musical and theatrical events have been postponed or cancelled in the past few days.
“This is without even knowing what will happen from 1 March,” says Giampaolo. “The real extent of the damage is innumerable, considering that no legislation supports independent activities and we have an entire industry that has no guarantee in these types of circumstances – hopefully the government does view this as a crisis for the entire music market.
“We are obviously aware that this is an extraordinary emergency,” adds Giampaolo, “so, despite the extreme difficulty, we are in solidarity with the government and with the prudent measures it is taking, to which we are adhering fully.”
A spokesperson for Live Nation Italy states that the authorities have given no information “regarding the shows scheduled after 1 March”, adding that although “the situation is getting better”, no long-term forecasts are possible.
Live Nation Italy is promoting upcoming shows in Milan by King Nun, Cage the Elephant, OneRepublic, Louis Tomlinson, Kelis, Rex Orange County and Avril Lavigne.
Photo: Harald Krichel/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0) (cropped)
Criticism of Italy ticket law mounts after Sting ‘chaos’
Live Nation Italy has added its voice to the chorus of criticism surrounding Italy’s new named-ticket law, after a number of concertgoers were turned away from a delayed Sting show in Assago on Tuesday (29 October).
The show, at the Mediolanum Forum, near Milan, was the first promoted by Live Nation since the new regulations, introduced on 1 July, came into effect – and was therefore an “important test” of how the law would work in practice, says the company.
The answer? Not very well, according to Live Nation, who blamed the new legislation for the Sting show starting an hour late, after fans stuck in queues were unable to gain access to the arena.
The so-called named ticket law – designed to curb unauthorised resale – requires the purchaser’s name to be printed on tickets for all shows over 5,000 capacity, and concertgoers’ ID to match that name, to prevent tickets being sold on the secondary market. The Italian live music industry has consistently opposed the measure, warning of potential disruption and queues, and CTS Eventim’s TicketOne, Italy’s biggest ticket seller, said in September the law isn’t even effective, with tickets still widely available on the major resale sites.
Many people were also turned away from the Sting (pictured) show for having inadequate identification, or documents that didn’t match the name on their ticket.
Roberto De Luca, chairman of Live Nation Italy, says the company found itself in the “paradox that applying the law would lead to big disruptions, with the only solution being to violate it”.
“Of course we didn’t,” he says, “although we showed maximum flexibility and gave all possible assistance to the public.” Faced with huge queues, he continues, “even the police asked us to accept photocopied and scanned [ID] documents, which is not lawful.”
In addition to Live Nation and Eventim, criticism has been levelled at named tickets by Assomusica, the Italian concert promoters’ association, whose president, Vincenzo Spera, urges the government to reconsider the legislation for the sake of fans.
“One of the main concerns about the introduction of the new regulations, which we have always brought to the attention of the public, is the inconvenience caused by the new legislation,” comments Spera. “At an event of this magnitude [the Sting concert], where the spectators, being a weekday, arrive directly after work, huge delays are inevitable due to the need to carry out the checks required by law.”
Spera adds that Assomusica hopes the Italian parliament “will review the law by the end of the year”, taking into account “the many inconveniences and inefficiencies that occurred” at the Sting show. “Moreover, the phenomenon of secondary ticketing is far from being solved, and the authorities tasked with sanctioning the sites responsible have not yet taken adequate measures.”
“This law that penalises the public and punishes organisers, putting the live entertainment industry at risk”
Unfortunately for the industry, the incident appears to have strengthened the resolve of Sergio Battelli, the deputy who introduced the named-ticket law, who has hit out at Live Nation, describing as “pure madness” a private company “using the stage for a rally against a state law”.
“I would add that if Live Nation, which in the past few months has brought 60,000 people to the Olympic Stadium in Rome for the [pre-law] Ed Sheeran concert, has had difficulty in getting 10,000 spectators into the Assago Forum, the problem is not the law but the organiser,” he wrote on Facebook.
The industry, however, largely shares the view of De Luca, who adds: “If there were these problems on a concert for 10,000 people, it’s very serious – because it’s a test to see exactly what will happen with major shows such as festivals, and on long tours.”
“Live Nation therefore reiterates its utmost opposition to a law that penalises the public and punishes organisers, putting the live entertainment industry, which is a great cultural and economic resource for our country, at risk” reads a statement provided by Live Nation. “As demonstrated by other sectors, such as sports, and football in particular, we do not need named tickets to combat ticket touting.
“In fact, for [Sting], there were still copious amounts of tickets available on the secondary ticketing platforms.”
Assomusica honours Vasco Rossi
Vincenzo Spera, president of Italian concert promoters’ association Assomusica, yesterday presented Vasco Rossi, one of Italy’s most successful popular singers, with an award recognising his songcraft and “spectacular” live shows.
Presenting Rossi with the Premio Assomusica (Assomusica Prize) on 9 June, Spera said: “Vasco Rossi is an artist who was able to convey inclusion, rebellion and moral independence never subservient to any power, and is a point of reference for the younger generation, especially in such a difficult time for our country.
“Recognising the value of Vasco is a gift we give to all of us. Because you feel less alone with him, and full of hope.”
Rossi, usually known mononymously as Vasco, has sold more than 35 million albums over a 40-plus-year career. His Modena Park 2017 performance, at Enzo Ferrari Park in Modena, Italy, was the largest ticketed concert of all time, selling more than 200,000 tickets and grossing €12 million.