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Sold-out Sportpaleis raises €50,000 for live biz

Fundraising initiative Lights for Live has raised more than €50,000 for Belgium’s live music industry after selling out the Antwerp Sportpaleis for the first time in 2021.

Over 5,000 people booked one or more virtual ‘seats’ at €2 each in the 18,400-seat arena to raise money for Live2020, a solidarity fund to support the industry during the Covid-19 pandemic. Previous fundraising events for Live2020 include the Live2020 Auction in November and last year’s Rock Werchter for Live2020.

The money raised by Lights for Live was handed over to Live2020 on Sunday (14 February), while at at the same time each seat in the Sportpaleis was illuminated to represent the fans who couldn’t be present.

“You can feel that people are really starting to look forward to concerts again”

“It is great to see so many people showing their solidarity with the live music sector through this action,” says Clouseau singer Koen Wauters. “You can feel that people are really starting to look forward to concerts again. It’s something I miss a lot myself at the moment.”

“I am genuinely touched by so much light and warmth,” comments musician and composer Miguel Wiels. “It sounds strange, but despite the fact that no one is here, you can still feel a kind of presence from the audience. Hopefully more actions like this will follow soon so that together we can lead the music sector through this crisis and we can make a new start without too much damage.”

According to Niels Destadsbader, another regular at the Sportpaleis, “I must say that I have mixed feelings being here today. On the one hand, it makes me a bit unhappy to see this beautiful concert hall empty, especially because I know from experience how this – in usual circumstances – is an insanely magical place. But on the other hand, I am very happy with the support of our fans and of everyone who supports and cares about music.”

 


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Netherlands mulls cancellation fund for concerts

The Dutch government is considering introducing a German-style fund to reimburse organisers whose events are cancelled by coronavirus restrictions.

Following lobbying by the Alliance of Event Builders (Alliantie van Evenementenbouwers), an umbrella group whose members include promoters’ association VVEM and festival/venues body VNPF, calls for a cancellation fund have reached the corridors of power in the Netherlands, with minister of culture Ingrid van Engelshoven said to be close to making a decision on the way forward for live events.

In December, Germany became the latest European country to set up a cancellation fund, worth €2.5 billion, to de-risk the organising of live events while Covid-19 (and associated restrictions on freedom of assembly and movement) is still a threat.

Austria, meanwhile, set up a €300 million fund of its own in October, while pressure is growing in the UK for a similar government-backed insurance fund.

“We are happy to make it a happy new year, but we need a guarantee fund from the government”

A spokesperson for van Engelshoven (pictured) tells the VPRO the minister will announce whether her department is backing a ‘guarantee fund’ by early February at the latest.

Jolanda Jansen, a spokesperson for the alliance, comments: “I am looking enthusiastically at the 2021 events schedule, with major international crowd-pullers, such as the Eurovision Song Contest and [the delayed] Euro 2020, set to really put the Netherlands on the map,” says alliance spokesperson Jolanda Jansen. “In addition, we have a rich festival culture with around 1,200 festivals, from small to large, throughout the country, and we know a large number of clubs and theatres.

“Almost everyone in our industry is eager and ready to get back to work. We are happy to make it a happy new year, but we need commitments and a guarantee fund, on the German model, from the government to continue.”

 


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Crew Nation raises $15m for out-of-work technicians

Crew Nation has so far raised US$15 million to help 15,000 out-of-work crew members, across 36 countries, who were impacted by the rescheduled or cancelled shows due to take place through June.

The global live music relief fund was launched with an initial $5m donation from Live Nation, which then matched the next $5 million in donations from artists, fans and employees for a total contribution of $10m from the company.

Artists including Justin Timberlake, Anderson .Paak and Kesha made contributions towards the fund, while partners and brands including Live From The Drive-In, Lollapalooza and Governors Ball came up with creative ways to encourage donations.

“Concerts wouldn’t be possible without the many crew members working behind the scenes every step of the way and we want to make sure that as independent workers, they get the support they need from both the industry and the government,” says Michael Rapino, president and CEO of Live Nation.

“Live Nation is proud to be among the many artists, donors, partners and fans who are helping drive this mission forward and support those who make the magic of live possible.”

“Concerts wouldn’t be possible without the many crew members working behind the scenes every step of the way”

The fund is powered by charitable organisation Music Forward Foundation, which will select recipients of funding “based on an objective determination of need”. Live Nation employees are not eligible to receive funding.

“The support we have received has been overwhelming, but the number of people who still need assistance is staggering and our work is nowhere near done,” said Nurit Smith, executive director at Music Forward Foundation.

“The artist community has been so incredibly supportive and creative, utilising their resources and platforms to make personal donations and drum up contributions through the release of exclusive merch, new music, livestreamed performances and much more, and our hope is that it continues to keep rolling.”

Crew Nation is accepting applications from out-of-work crew members in phases, based on when shows were originally scheduled to play.

Currently, applications are open for those who have been financially impacted from concerts originally scheduled to take place in June 2020. The deadline to submit an application is 16 August.

The fund hopes to double its impact and raise at least $30m so that it can continue providing support for independent workers from the live music industry.

Anyone who wants to contribute can either donate money or buy limited-edition merch, and all proceeds will go directly to the fund.

 


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WMG announces $100m social justice fund, IPO price

Following Black Out Tuesday yesterday, Warner Music Group (WMG) has announced a US$100 million fund to support charitable causes “related to the music industry, social justice and campaigns against violence and racism”.

The fund – jointly financed by WMG and the Blavatnik Family Foundation, the charitable foundation run by WMG vice-chairman Sir Leonard Blavatnik, whose Access Industries is the group’s majority owner – will support individuals and “organisations strengthening education, and promoting equality, opportunity, diversity and inclusion” in the music industry, according to WMG.

Along with the other two major labels, Universal Music and Sony Music, and all major live music industry companies, Warner Music was supporter of #TheShowMustBePaused initiative, which saw the music business come to a halt for on 2 June in solidarity with those protesting for racial justice.

Steve Cooper, CEO of Warner Music Group, says: “This fund will support the extraordinary, dedicated organisations that are on the front lines of the fight against racism and injustice, and that help those in need across the music industry.

“This fund will support the extraordinary, dedicated organisations that are on the front lines of the fight against racism and injustice”

“Our advisory panel, which will draw from a diverse cross-section of people from our team and the wider community, will help us be very thoughtful and accountable in how we make an impact. We’re determined to contribute, on a sustained long-term basis, to the effort to bring about real change.”

Today (3 June) also sees WMG’s return to the stock market after nine years, with a previously announced flotation (IPO) on New York’s Nasdaq set to raise nearly $2 billion from the sale of 77m shares for $25 apiece. Blavatnik purchased WMG for $3.3bn in 2011.

In addition to its labels and publishing arm, WMG has multiple live music interests, including concert discovery platform Songkick, Finnish promoter Warner Music Live and management company Umbrella Artists Productions, which it owns with German promoter FKP Scorpio.

 


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France pledges €50m for music, launches ‘festival fund’

The French government has pledged a further €50 million to support the country’s music industry, as well as establishing a ‘festival fund’ to assist events forced to cancel by the coronavirus outbreak.

In a televised address, which followed a meeting with industry representatives on Wednesday 6 March, French minister of culture Franck Riester announced that the National Music Centre (CNM) would have its budget increased by €50m – “a contribution to the aid it has already provided” to the sector, as well as to enable it to “build support plans” for the industry in future, he said.

Riester (pictured) also announced the creation of a dedicated fund for festivals, to be established in concert with local authorities and the régions, according to MGB Mag. Major live events are off limits in France until at least September, although authorities have indicated that some “small festivals” may be allowed to take place.

The French economy has lost up €1.8bn as a result of the cancellation or postponement of summer festivals

Speaking before Riester, president Emmanuel Macron said he would help to protect independent businesses such as small festivals, announcing that, in partnership with the Public Investment Bank (BPI), the state would step in to help, “so that they are not weakened and at risk of being bought by major companies”.

Macron added that his government would continue to support the “festival fabric” at the heart of French society.

The latest intervention by French authorities comes as a study reveals the economy has lost up €1.8bn as a result of the cancellation or postponement of nearly all summer festivals.

Much of France began to ease its eight-week lockdown today (11 May), with shops reopening outside Paris and people no longer required to carry permits in order to leave their homes.

 


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Live Nation launches $10m Crew Nation fund

Live entertainment behemoth Live Nation has set up a relief fund to support touring and venue crews through the coronavirus pandemic.

The company has committed $10 million to the Crew Nation fund, contributing an initial $5m directly – including $250,000 personally from CEO Michael Rapino and his family – and matching the next $5m donated by artists, fans and employees dollar for dollar.

“Live music inspires millions around the world, but the concerts we all enjoy wouldn’t be possible without the countless crew members working behind the scenes,” reads a Live Nation statement. “As Covid-19 puts concerts on pause, we want to extend a helping hand to the touring and venue crews who depend on shows to make a living.”

The fund will give financial aid to crew members, “the backbone of the live music industry”, including tour managers, production managers, riggers, sound engineers, lighting technicians and special effects teams.

“As Covid-19 puts concerts on pause, we want to extend a helping hand to the touring and venue crews who depend on shows to make a living”

Crew members are among the most affected by the coronavirus live event shutdown, with many working on a self-employed or freelance basis and unable to practise their profession from home, unlike more office-based workers.

Although governments including those in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Australia and the USA have put in financial measures to aid the self-employed, some say measures are not available soon enough and are not applicable in many cases.

Donations to Crew Nation can be made directly or through purchasing limited edition Crew Nation merchandise.

The fund is powered by charitable organisation Music Forward Foundation, which will select recipients of funding “based on an objective determination of need”. Live Nation employees are not eligible to receive funding.

Photo: Jorge Royan/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0) (cropped)

 


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London’s Macbeth in Arts Council funding first

The Macbeth in Hoxton, east London, has become one of the first recipients of Arts Council England (ACE)’s new Support Grassroots Live Music fund.

The 300-capacity pub and venue has been successful in applying for £15,000 from the £1.5 million fund, which launched at the Great Escape in May, to support and develop its cultural programme.

“The last ten years have been incredibly challenging,” comments Mark Robinson of the Macbeth (pictured). “We know that hundreds of venues across the country were forced out of business and we really struggled to get through very tough times. This turns a corner for us, with a grant that will enable us to support and develop our programme.

“Arts Council England funding really puts us on the map as not just a great night out, but also a culturally important space that really matters to artists and to audiences. We would like to thank ACE for the opportunity of this fund and to thank Music Venue Trust for all the support they have given us in the last few years. To all the other venues out there thinking about applying: if the Macbeth can do it, you can too.”

Music Venue Trust (MVT) says it and Arts Council England have been working closely together to ensure venues have all the support they need to make an application. A special funding area at MVT’s Venues Day 2019 has been created for venues can book one-to-one appointments with ACE relationship managers and with other funders, including PRS Foundation.

“Their success demonstrates that this really is a fund grassroots music venues can apply to and get support from”

Claire Mera Nelson, head of music at ACE, says: “Arts Council England’s Supporting Grassroots Live Music fund was created in response to the needs of small venues across the country just like the Macbeth, and we are delighted that they have been successful in obtaining a grant to support a developing and expanding programme.”

At Venues Day, she adds, “we are looking forward to ensuring venues of all kinds understand how to register and apply for our grant funding”.

“This is another huge step in recognising the cultural value of our grassroots music venues, and we are so delighted it is the Macbeth that is leading the way,” adds MVT’s Mark Davyd. “Mark and his team at the venue have been through every kind of challenge you can imagine, only recently having to engage again with our emergency response team for support on a licensing review.

“Their success demonstrates that this really is a fund grassroots music venues can apply to and get support from. At Venues Day we want to make sure that every venue that wants to make an application has the skills and the opportunity to do so.”

Venues Day 2019 takes place at Islington Assembly Hall in London on Wednesday 9 October. Venue delegates who wish to book a one-to-one meeting with ACE staff during an afternoon session should contact MVT at info@musicvenuetrust.com.

 


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Online fund raises over $100,000 for unpaid Fyre festival staff

The release of a Netflix documentary investigating the fraudulent Fyre Festival has sparked an online campaign to reimburse unpaid Bahamian workers who lost life savings in the Fyre fiasco.

A GoFundMe page set up by local catering staff who received no payment for their work with the festival has raised US$129,606 in just seven days. Almost 4,000 people have donated to the page which has almost met its $123,000 target.

The owners of a local restaurant that catered for Fyre Festival staff set up the page following the airing of a Netflix documentary on Friday. The film raised awareness for the many Bahamian workers left unpaid by organisers of the disastrous festival.

Maryann Rolle, owner of Exuma Point Restaurant Bar and Grill, explains in an interview for the documentary how she lost $50,000 of her life savings due to the festival’s failings.

“My life was changed forever, and my credit was ruined by Fyre Fest”

“It has been an unforgettable experience catering to the organisers of Fyre Festival. Back in April 2017 I pushed myself to the limit catering no less than a 1,000 meals per day,” writes Rolle on the GoFundMe page.

“As I make this plea it’s hard to believe and embarrassing to admit that I was not paid… I was left in a big hole! My life was changed forever, and my credit was ruined by Fyre Fest.”

The online fundraiser has verified the page, which has received the endorsement of the film’s producers.

Festival organiser and “serial fraudster”, Billy McFarland, received a six year prison sentence and US$26 million fine for his role in the festival, defrauding investors, fans and staff alike.

 


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£500k up for grabs as TheTicketSellers turns 20

As part of its 20th anniversary celebrations, independent UK ticket agency TheTicketSellers has announced a £500,000 fund earmarked for investing with new partners.

The Birmingham-based company, founded in 1998 by Mo Jones and Jimmy Hewson, is marking its 20 years in business by committing to doing ’20 great things’, the first of which is “a huge investment that will be allocated to support UK festivals and events looking for a new ticketing partner,” it explains. “Earmarking a whopping £500,000 to the fund, TheTicketSellers will allocate investment to event organisers they’ve not worked with before who run a ticketed event of any size and would like to work with the team.”

Jones comments: “The last 20 years have been an incredible journey and we are really proud of what we’ve achieved, so for our 20th anniversary we want to celebrate the industry and our place in it. After years of developing our ticketing platform and investing over £1.5 million into [event management platform] Eventree, we are now at a point where we can expand our client list and help even more events streamline their processes.”

“We want to help UK festivals and events grow and become even more successful”

Recipients of the investment will benefit from both TheTicketSellers’ ticketing platform and its ‘on sale to on site’ service, which includes consulting on ticketing structure, 24-hour support agents and an on-site TheTicketSellers team. The company has previously worked with large-scale festivals such as Boomtown and Shambala, as well as clubs and sporting events.

“Since we began the company we’ve always invested in the latest technologies to ensure our clients are offered the most cutting-edge solutions,” says Hewson. We build the software in-house which gives us more flexibility when it comes to meeting client requests and our ‘on sale to on site’ service means we are a true event partner for our clients, always pulling out all the stops.

“With this huge investment we have available, we want to help UK festivals and events grow and become even more successful – now is the perfect time to get us involved and see what we can do to support the future of your event.”

For more information or to apply, email mo@theticketsellers.co.uk or jimmy@theticketsellers.co.uk.

 


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Abu Dhabi aims to woo promoters with $3m incentive grant

The tourist board of Abu Dhabi has announced a fund of almost US$3m aimed at boosting private-sector involvement in the emirate’s events sector.

The fund, initially worth Dhs10m ($2.7m), forms part of Advantage Events Abu Dhabi, an initiative by the department of culture and tourism to “attract even more visitors to explore Abu Dhabi and its tourist proposition” by boosting the number of live events. It aims to add to the emirate’s existing calendar of more than 800 events, which includes the Formula 1 grand prix, Abu Dhabi Food Festival, Abu Dhabi golf championship and Abu Dhabi Classics concert season.

The grant is open to “all entities involved in the retail and events industry, venues and IPR [intellectual property rights] owners”.

“By incentivising private sector involvement in developing a range of events we can build on the record numbers of visitors choosing to explore the emirate,” says Saif Saeed Ghobash (pictured), director-general of the department of culture and tourism of Abu Dhabi.

“By incentivising private sector involvement … we can build on the record numbers of visitors choosing to explore the emirate”

“Private companies should be aware that we now have a grant to support their business investments in Abu Dhabi and can anchor the planning of their 2018 business activities as we enter into the last quarter of 2017.”

The scheme follows a similar fund made available to film producers, which led to Hollywood blockbusters Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Furious 7 being partially filmed in Abu Dhabi.

Saudi Arabia last month announced a fund of its own, also worth around $2.7bn, in a bid to attract international partners to grow its live entertainment output.

IQ’s most recent Middle East feature revealed live music contributes a greater share of music industry revenues in the Middle East and North Africa than elsewhere in the world: 90%, compared to around 65% worldwide.

 


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