Australia facing live music shortage over summer
Trade body Live Performance Australia says the country’s cautious reopening has left it facing a shortage of touring artists over the summer months.
The organisation’s CEO Evelyn Richardson says the December to February summer period is shaping up to be a quiet one, with music events not expected to return “in a major way” until well into next year.
“We’ve missed the opportunity to bring in a lot of our international touring acts for this summer, and with our domestic artists, many of those are touring internationally so we haven’t got those people touring either,” Richardson told ABC. “We probably won’t see live music come back in a major way until later 2022.”
Major international artists including Kings of Leon, Rod Stewart and Kiss are due to tour the region from March next year, while acts such as Billie Eilish, Tame Impala and Dua Lipa are expected in the second half of 2022.
A recent report revealed that Covid-19 stripped Australia’s live entertainment industry of AUS $1.4 billion in revenue during 2020
New South Wales festival staple Splendour in the Grass is set for North Byron Parklands from 22-24 July, headlined by Gorillaz, The Strokes and Tyler, the Creator.
A recent report revealed that Covid-19 stripped Australia’s live entertainment industry of AUS$1.4 billion in revenue during 2020.
Following record years in 2018 and 2019, the pandemic had a “devastating impact” on the live sector, according to Live Performance Australia’s Ticket Attendance and Revenue Report. Ticketing data showed close to 70% of revenue and attendance was obliterated after the industry was shut down in March last year.
In 2020, the number of tickets issued to live performance events fell by 68% to under eight million, ticket sales revenue fell by 69% to $600m, and the average ticket price fell from $92.89 to $87.14.
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Unsung Heroes 2020: Evelyn Richardson & Glen Rainsbury
Unsung Heroes 2020, published in IQ 95 just before Christmas, is a tribute to some of the organisations and individuals who have gone above and beyond to help others during a year unlike any other – be that through their efforts to protect the industry, or helping those who were in desperate need.
We turned to the readership and asked you to nominate worthy causes and personalities for consideration as the inaugural members of our Unsung Heroes awards. Now, IQ can reveal the dozen most-voted Unsung Heroes of 2020, continuing with LEIF’s Evelyn Richardson and Glen Sainsbury, who follow Paul Reed of the Association of Independent Festivals.
In late May of 2020, when it was clear that the industry was looking at a long and uncertain return to normal operations as Australia came to grips with the Covid-19 pandemic, the concept of the Live Entertainment Industry Forum (LEIF) was brought to life by TEG chief executive Geoff Jones and Roger Field, president of Live Nation Asia Pacific.
They enlisted key players from across the music, sport and venues sectors to form an executive committee that was representative of virtually every industry sector and each state and territory across the country – the first time that parties from the full breadth of the entertainment industry had gathered around a table to collectively advocate for the industry.
One of the key deliverables identified in the first meetings was to develop guidance for the industry to which venues and promoters could operate as safely as possible in the new Covid world – a task that Frontier Touring’s Glen Rainsbury was asked to co-ordinate.
“Working with LEIF chairman James Sutherland, we developed a structure that included ten separate working groups led by subject matter experts,” says Rainsbury. “The teams were tasked with developing guidance specific to their areas of expertise and which had to be general enough to be applicable to a broad range of event settings and reflect the regulatory advice of every state and territory, and venue types from clubs to stadiums. It required a very particular approach and discipline.”
“The work has been used by clubs, arenas, stadiums, festivals, and promoters in the development of their Covid-safe plans”
Rainsbury says the commitment of the 50+ contributors was immense. In a matter of weeks, the heavy lifting was largely complete and it was a case of honing the mountain of submissions into a cohesive work. “As it stands, the work has been used by clubs, arenas, stadiums, festivals and promoters in the development of their Covid-safe plans on their way back to operating,” he says.
Various states and territories have also drawn upon the guidelines in drafting their solutions, while Rainsbury and Tim McGregor, also from LEIF, have become the sole representatives from the commercial sector on the National Covid-19 Arts and Health and Advisory Committee.
“It was a privilege to work with the extraordinarily talented people from across the industry who gave their time and IP to deliver something that has assisted the industry to bounce back so quickly. It was the team’s fine work and effort,” adds Rainsbury.
As the chief executive of Live Performance Australia, Evelyn Richardson’s dedication to the live entertainment sector has never been in question, but while many in the industry were forced to pause their careers, Richardson doubled down on her workload to help LEIF lobby for assistance.
“It was a privilege to work with the extraordinarily talented people … who gave their time and IP to deliver something that has assisted the industry to bounce back so quickly”
With LEIF’s support, the LPA led the industry advocacy for federal government to provide emergency funding to the live entertainment industry. The A$250 million (€156m) package provided by government included $75m in grants and a $90m loans scheme targeted at the commercial sector.
LEIF and LPA have further called for the establishment of a business interruption fund to offset risks of cancellation or postponement over the next three years as the industry rebuilds.
Richardson tells IQ, “The most significant achievements of LEIF have been, firstly, the collaboration with our sporting colleagues with information sharing and support during a tumultuous period across the country and globally; and secondly, providing a united voice to governments with respect to advocacy, and raising the profile of the commercial entertainment industry, both in terms of its economic and social contributions to the broader economy.
“As we move forward, we hope to build on this, so our industry is recognised for the significant role we play as employers, providers of content to commercial and government-owned venues, and our critical economic alignment with other industry sectors such as tourism and hospitality.”
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LPA designs AU$345m live business recovery plan
Industry body Live Performance Australia (LPA) has designed a live business rebuild and recovery, outlining the financial aid needed from the Australian government to get live back up and running.
The LPA is asking for an AU$345 million (€213m) recovery package, including $170m (€105m) of capital investment to help restart tours, support live industry workers and support regional venues; $30m (€18.5m) for funds focused on innovation; $70m (€43.3m) for the Australia Council for the Arts; and $75m (€46.4m) for consumer-focused campaigns.
As well as urging a six-month extension for the Australian JobKeeper scheme, currently set to expire in September, the two-year recovery plan also includes longer-term initiatives including tax incentives for pre-production costs and live music venues; an arts and entertainment loan scheme; the waiving of visa fees for international performers; and a contingency fund to support events which may be impacted by future restrictions due to Covid-19 outbreaks.
To offset a potential weakening of consumer confidence, LPA proposes a $55m (€34) ‘See It Live’ e-voucher scheme to encourage Australians to attend live events.
“Unlike some other parts of the economy, a gradual re-opening process is not commercially viable for most of our industry”
Although individual states have dedicated resources to aiding live’s recovery, such as Victoria’s $150m (€92.7m) experience economy aid package and $50m (€30.9m) arts and culture funding in New South Wales, the national government has yet to offer sector-specific support.
Now in the twelfth week of widespread event shutdowns, and with strict capacity limits in place where venues are allowed to reopen, LPA says the government must do more to support the live entertainment industry.
“Unlike some other parts of the economy, a gradual re-opening process is not commercially viable for most of our industry,” says LPA chief executive, Evelyn Richardson. “We can’t re-open venues that only have dozens in the audience. That’s why we will need a sustained and strategic investment by government to get our industry up and running again.”
LPA is aiming for venues to reopen fully by September, a timeframe believed to be “achievable” given the progress made by neighbouring New Zealand, which is gearing up to restart events without social distancing int he next week.
“Our $4 billion dollar industry will be a major driver of economic activity, jobs and cultural tourism recovery. Our number one priority is getting our venues open and our people back to work. We look forward to working closely with governments at all levels to make this happen in the coming months.”
Full details of the package are available on the LPA website.
Victoria steps up, but wider Aus response “woeful”
The state of Victoria has dedicated a sizeable financial aid package to kickstart its experience economy, as industry organisations continue to criticise the lack of support from central government.
Australia embarked on its three-step Covid-19 recovery plan last week, with gatherings of up to 100 people permitted, along with the reopening of venues and clubs, in the final stage, but many have criticised the lack of support for the industry from central government.
According to the I Lost My Gig website, which tracks event cancellations in Australia and New Zealand, over 280,000 shows have been affected by the crisis so far, with over $340m (€202m) lost in contracts by the end of April alone.
In the state of Victoria, home to the city of Melbourne, the government has recently dedicated a AU$150m (€88.2m) package to help get the “experience economy” back on track, including $4m (€2.4m) earmarked for the live music sector, $2m (€1.2m) for the sustaining creative workers fund and $32m (€19m) for the wider creative industry.
“In partnership with Michael Gudinski’s Mushroom Group, The State of Music is a new weekly livestream celebrating the Australian music community.”
The state has also launched Together Victoria, an online hub to support the population through the coronavirus response. Along with hosting content from state museums, galleries and wellness practitioners, music and comedy features highly.
In partnership with Michael Gudinski’s Mushroom Group, The State of Music is a new weekly livestream celebrating the Australian music community. The second episode takes place this Saturday from 18:30AEST and features Tim Minchin, Paul Kelly, Kate Miller-Heiske, Mahalia Barnes, Mia Wray and Missy Higgins.
However, the support given by Victoria has not materialised in other states.
In New South Wales, where bars, pubs and clubs were permitted to reopen today under strict social distancing measures, little has been done to help the cultural sector.
“Our largest state has been missing in action so far in the battle to protect our cultural sector from the devastation being wreaked by the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Live Performance Australia CEO Evelyn Richardson.
“The response so far from both NSW and the Commonwealth has been woeful.”
“Some of our state governments have put in place targeted measures to support our cultural industries, but the response so far from both NSW and the Commonwealth has been woeful.
“Our world-class cultural industry was the first to be shutdown by Covid-19 and will be one of the last to recover, although for all the talk from the Federal Government of helping people cross the bridge to the other side of the pandemic, we see precious little evidence of that support for our cultural sector.”
Despite individual efforts like that seen in Victoria, the central Australian government has received criticism from the shadow arts minister Tony Burke for its $27m (€16m) arts sector stimulus package, which has been deemed insufficient to “save the industry from decimation”.
LPA has proposed a $750 million (€413m) emergency support package to support the industry through the crisis.
This week, the Australian Greens party proposed a $2.3 billion (€1.4bn) economic stimulus package for the arts sector across the entire country. The package includes the $1bn (€595m) Australia Live fund for the country’s festival, music and live performance sector.
“The arts and entertainment industry will be absolutely vital to our economic recovery,” says Greens spokesperson for the arts, Sarah Hanson-Young.
“If we are going to restore our social fabric we need to bring people back together through live performance, when it’s safe to do so, and that is going to take funding support. But it will be worth it as the return on investment from this sector will be enormous and in more ways than one.”
Photo: jetsetkiwi/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0) (cropped)
This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.
Ticket sales grow 88% in Australia in record-breaking 2017
Major international tours, including stadium and arena shows by the likes Adele, Paul McCartney, Guns N’ Roses, Bruce Springsteen, Justin Bieber, Drake and Ariana Grande, drove ticket sales to new highs in a “record-breaking” 2017 for the Australian live entertainment business, according to new figures from industry body Live Performance Australia (LPA).
LPA’s latest Ticket Attendance and Revenue Report reveals that ticket sales revenue from contemporary music concerts grew a staggering 87.8%, from A$440.1 million (US$312m) in 2016 to $826.1m (US$585m) in 2017, reaching its highest level since LPA began compiling the figures in 2004. The increase was fuelled by both significant growth in attendance (+49.6%, to 8.5m) and a 23.9% increase in the average ticket price, to $105.73 (US$75).
“The growth in contemporary music revenue is primarily due to the large number of prominent acts with arena or stadium tours that attracted large crowds and toured to almost all the five major cities [Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide] in 2017,” according to the report. Other arena- or stadium-level acts on tour last year included Sia, Elton John, Midnight Oil and Cat Stevens (Yusuf).
The figures do not include contemporary music festivals, although they also experienced strong growth, with the sector posting a 26% increase in revenue, to $100.7m (US$71.3m), and attendance, to 850,000.
“The live performance industry continues to contribute significantly to our economy and cultural ecology”
Overall, across all live performance categories – ballet and dance, children’s/family events, circus and physical theatre, classical music, comedy, contemporary music, festivals (multi-category), festivals (contemporary music), musical theatre, opera, special events, and theatre – ticket sales revenue increased 31.7% and attendance 22.6%.
“The live performance industry had a record-breaking year in 2017,” according to LPA’s chief executive, Evelyn Richardson.
“The live performance industry continues to contribute significantly to our economy and cultural ecology,” she comments. “In 2017, 23 million tickets were issued to live performance events, generating total ticket sales revenue of $1.88 billion. That’s more than the combined attendances at AFL [Australian Football League], NRL [National Rugby League], soccer, Super Rugby, cricket and NBL [National Basketball League] in 2017.”
An infographic, courtesy of LPA, showing figures for the last nine years in contemporary music, is below. For more information, read the full Ticket Attendance and Revenue Report here.