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Fightback Lager to launch crowdfunder at ILMC 33

Fightback Lager, the start-up beer brand which raises money for UK music venues, is launching a new crowdfunding bid at ILMC next week.

The company, which makes a donation Music Venue Trust from every pint sold, is the official beer partner of the International Live Music Conference for the third year running. ILMC 33 takes place in a virtual format next week (3–5 March).

“Beer and live music is one of the all-time great partnerships. We’re using that association to provide a sustainable income for Music Venue Trust from the grassroots venues it serves,” comments Fightback Brewing co-founder Rich Smith. “We’ve already proven the concept works and is well positioned for growth when audiences return to venues.

“The cultural importance and fragility of live music has never been more understood. Our vision is that on every occasion fans come together should support the foundations of live music.

“The ILMC partnership is the perfect platform to invite all levels of the music industry to invest in our crowdfund raise to share in our growth as we begin making that vision a reality.”

“The ILMC partnership is the perfect platform to invite all levels of the music industry to invest in our crowdfund raise”

Before the lockdown of March 2020, Fightback had sold more than 10,000 pints in 61 UK venues since launching in late 2018.

Its Crowdcube pitch aims to raise £200,000 in exchange for a just over 13% equity stake in the company.

“ILMC continues to be the premier opportunity for the world’s live music industry to assemble and get business done. This year’s virtual conference is no different as we focus on live entertainment’s post-Covid recovery,” says ILMC’s head of marketing, Chris Prosser.

“The grassroots scene is important to everyone. It’s great to be working with Fightback to offer our delegates refreshment and new opportunities.”

For more information or to invest in Fightback, visit www.crowdcube.com/fightback.

 


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CAA’s Ben Kouijzer fundraising for cancer care

CAA London agent Ben Kouijzer has thanked the international live music industry for its “incredible love, support and generosity”, following a groundswell of support for his fundraising campaign to pay for cancer treatment.

Kouijzer, 36, turned to crowdfunding site GoFundMe after being diagnosed with malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumour (MPNST) – a rare and aggressive form of cancer of the connective tissue surrounding nerves, which in Kouijzer’s case later metastasised to his lungs.

After being told by doctors that the lung cancer would eventually kill him, Kouijzer “immediately began an ongoing process of researching every possible thing that I could do (conventional and integrative) to change the course of history I found myself on,” he explains, “discussing different treatments, arranging tests, ordering supplements, radically changing diet, speaking to therapists, embracing meditation and breathwork, taking in as much information as we could and trying to make sense of it all.”

MPNST is non-chemosensitive, meaning it doesn’t respond to chemotherapy. Doctors in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) suggested operating on one lung at a time to remove as much of the cancer as they can, and then follow up with chemotherapy to “manage the disease”, Kouijzer continues.

“We are embracing surgery with open arms, and feel fortunate to have an amazing surgeon within the NHS, but bog-standard chemo that isn’t likely to work just doesn’t feel good enough for a long term outcome.”

“We are more hopeful than that,” he adds, explaining that “there are other forms of treatment, targeted therapies and immunotherapies that can in some cases have better outcomes that we want to explore after surgery. Eligibility for these depends on certain genetic mutations which need to be tested for using expensive molecular testing and DNA sequencing – something that is not available as standard through the NHS. If I have certain genetic mutations, I might be eligible for some of these more promising treatments, and maybe even beat this thing!

“If I have certain genetic mutations, I might be eligible for some of these more promising treatments, and maybe even beat this thing”

“While I’m not turning my back on the NHS, who have been in so many ways amazing up until this point, we need to form the right team of people, do the necessary testing and create an individualised treatment plan for me, no matter what or where in the world this takes place.

“I just don’t have the financial resources to do all of this alone.”

Kouijzer, who is currently in hospital recovering from the first of the lung surgeries, says he has been “blown away” by the support for the fundraiser – which includes donations from friends, wellwishers and colleagues in the concert business – which smashed through its £50,000 target within a matter of hours on Friday 8 April.

At press time, the GoFundMe stood at over £117,000 – every penny of which will be put towards “treatments further down the road”, says Kouijzer, whose CAA roster includes electronic music acts 808 State, Meduza, Tough Love and Bearcubs.

“Thank you so much, everybody – I can’t tell you how this makes me feel,” he adds. “It’s been a lonely week in hospital but the support I’m feeling today is just unreal.”

To donate to Kouijzer’s campaign, visit Ben Kouijzer’s fight to survive MPNST on GoFundMe.

 


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Grass Roots Music Fund launches in the UK

A fund to support UK artists, venues and production companies hit by coronavirus cancellations has launched, inviting fans and industry supporters to donate to the grassroots music community.

The Grass Roots Music Fund is appealing for donations from fans and larger companies to support people whose income has been devastated by the rapid shutdown of all public gatherings. According to Gigseekr, the company behind the fundraiser, the fund will be available to artists, venues and related production crews “whose income would have been derived from ticket sales for gigs up to 500 capacity that have been cancelled from March to May” due to Covid-19.

David Hamilton, founder of Gigseekr, explains: “We’re acutely aware of how many shows have been cancelled and that the smaller elements of the industry are really suffering, so our concept is simply to support them through these difficult times, so that when things pick up they are able to continue.

“Analysing our event data, we can see that already over 2,600 shows have been cancelled across the UK. We estimate that this will rise to over 5,000 cancelled shows by the end of June, resulting in over £40m of lost revenues. The grassroots sector is vital to the music industry and we want to use our reach via Gigseekr to let fans show their support for their favourite artists and venues.

“I hope fans will support the artists, venues and many others who have given them so much pleasure over the years gone by”

“I hope fans will support the artists, venues and many others who have given them so much pleasure over the years gone by, which will mean they can survive and re-open to give those fans (and us all) the joy of live music for many years to come.”

Without setting a specific target, the founders’ ambitions are to raise £500,000 to distribute back to the sector.

Venues, bands and production companies are invited to apply for help from the fund for up to 80% of their losses, up to a maximum of £2,000, via www.gigseekr.com/grassrootsmusicfund/apply. Applications open Monday 13 April.

While British music freelancers are eligible for financial relief under the self-employed income support scheme, lawyer Ceri Stoner explained earlier this week why many are still excluded:

Support for UK freelancers: Close, but no cigar

 


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Therapists develop mental health guide for touring

The Music Industry Therapist Collective (MITC), a group of psychotherapists with a background in the live music industry, is seeking funding for a best practice guide tackling mental health issues in the business.

The group is aiming to raise £21,774 over the next 55 days to create an “in-depth, clinically sound practical manual to support and guide all those who struggle with mental health on tour.”

The 300-page Touring and Mental Health Manual will offer guidance on how to handle psychological difficulties that arise from touring, such as loneliness; drug-induced psychosis; performance anxiety; addiction; stress and burn-out; trauma; and post-tour depression.

Agent-turned-psychotherapist Tamsin Embleton, who founded MITC, recently told IQ that the “competitive, turbulent and stressful” nature of touring life, as well as “long working hours, poor boundaries between social and work life, and easy access to drink and drugs” can often make those in the entertainment industry susceptible to mental health-related issues.

“This is a vital and most welcomed resource for our industry and touring community”

“This is a vital and most welcomed resource for our industry and touring community,” comments Eric Mtungwazi, managing director of mental health charity Music Support.

“Understanding how to look after your mental health and wellbeing, and knowing how to pre-empt and respond to some of the unique challenges on the journey, is a critical to thriving and working sustainably in the music industry.”

Nile Rodgers, who will be crowned Artists’ Artist at the Artist and Manager Awards in November, comments that “being away from home and loved ones can be incredibly hard work mentally” while in the fast-paced touring environment.

“Having what is effectively a mental health wellness manual to keep yourself in check is a wonderful initiative,” says Rodgers.

Donations to the Touring and Mental Health Manual can be made here. Rewards including digital and physical copies of the manual, mental health training and a logo on the sponsors’ page of the guide are available for those who donate.

Any funds raised over the target amount will go towards creating a non-crisis mental health fund, offering medium- and long-term therapeutic support to those in need.

Read more about how the music business is fighting mental illness here:

A High Cost: How the biz is fighting back against mental illness

 


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PledgeMusic to be wound up amid inquiry calls

Crowdfunding platform PledgeMusic is to be liquidated, as UK Music urges government action to prevent a repeat of the “scandal” that has left hundreds of artists out of pocket.

As reported in the London Gazette and first spotted by Music Technology Policy, a Royal Courts of Justice judge today (31 July) granted an order to wind up the beleaguered company, which has failed to pay artists that raised funds through its platform. The artist-to-fan marketplace suspended operations months ago following financial difficulties.

Following the order, UK Music deputy chief executive Tom Kiehl has called on the government to take action to prevent such a situation occurring again. Kiehl states the winding up of PledgeMusic is “entirely unsatisfactory” for fans and artists.

“Many musicians across the UK relied on crowdfunding website PledgeMusic to deliver payments from patrons, to pay for album recordings and other costs,” writes Kiehl in a letter to business minister Kelly Tolhurst.

“I would like to ask for a meeting to consider further possible government interventions to ensure the issues which have arisen from PledgeMusic can never happen again”

Following on from UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher’s suggestion in May, Kiehl once again urges a referral to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, “to investigate what went wrong”.

Kiehl also asks the minster to consider taking up the case with the Financial Conduct Authority, a body responsible for regulating crowdfunding activities, to investigate any possible regulatory breaches.

“Furthermore, I would like to ask for a meeting with you to consider further possible government interventions to ensure the issues which have arisen from PledgeMusic can never happen again,” concludes Kiehl.

Industry organisations including Music Managers’ Forum (MMF), PRS Foundation, the Musicians’ Union and the Association of Independent Musicians’ (AIM) last month set up a survey to assess the damage PledgeMusic’s demise caused for artists.

 


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