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Tech startup launches financing for festivals

Easol, a festival, travel and event ecommerce startup in London, is launching a new financing solution designed for festival organisers.

According to the company, Easol Capital will create a “fairer, flexible and transparent financing process that puts control back in the hands of festival organisers”.

Organisers that take out an Easol Capital-facilitated loan will pay a fixed fee that is a percentage of a borrowed amount – typically 5-12% – rather than an interest rate.

Similarly, repayments will be a fixed percentage of weekly sales which means if revenue slows down, repayments do too.

Loans are expected to be repaid within 4–8 months but the company says that organisers can repay early or easily access more capital if their circumstances change.

Easol says organisers can create a free application within minutes, and receive a decision within a day. If approved, the loan can be withdrawn immediately.

Loans are currently live in the UK and the US, with organisers able to apply for between £1,000 and £1.5 million.

“We feel that organisers have not been given the flexibility that they require from many traditional ticketing platforms”

The company says there are plans to expand loan sizes and enter most European markets in the next few months.

“We feel that festival and event organisers have not been given the flexibility that they require from many traditional ticketing platforms and finance solutions, for too long,” says Ben Simpson, co-founder and CEO of Easol.

“We’re super proud to launch Easol Capital so that we can offer an alternative that works with organisers rather than tying them into terms which may not work for them in terms of cash flow flexibility and in the long term. More than ever, the pandemic has highlighted to us the importance of flexibility and adaptability, particularly given the unique nature of the festival sales cycle.

“With the simple and fixed fee structure of Easol Capital, there are fairer interest rates and no nasty surprises of the cost of capital. We believe there is a better way that works for everyone, and we’re excited to be leading this change in the industry!”

Benjamin Sasse, co-founder of Bulgarian festival Meadows in the Mountains, comments: “We secured funding from Easol Capital’s partners in its Beta phase and it has been a game changer for our festival. The whole application process was so easy, and we had the money in our bank within 24 hours.

“Our festival requires a huge amount of logistics and third-party suppliers to help build the site on our Bulgarian mountain, and also to provide accommodation and food. Having access to capital during this time is crucial for us to be able to pay people on time and manage our cash flow across the different stages of the festival. Easol is the only provider on the market that gives the flexibility we need. They understand how the sales cycle works and have created a perfect solution.”

Easol will be outlining the benefits of Easol Capital at its Festivals Showcase event, streamed globally on 22 September.

 


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Liveurope receives €2.1m grant to boost new talent

Venue association Liveurope has pledged to continue boosting the circulation of new European talent for the next three years after being selected for EU funding for the third consecutive time.

The Brussels-based organisation will see its annual budget increase by 40% (from €500,000 per year for 2014-2021 to €700,000 for 2022-2024), totalling €2.1m over three years, and aims to play an active role in the ongoing recovery of the live music sector post-pandemic. It has also welcomed five new venues, taking its membership from 15 to 20.

The platform supports music venues across the continent to book the most promising European artists, distributing grants to its members in proportion to the amount of young acts they book. On average, the model has helped the venues book 63% more emerging European non-national acts than prior to joining.

“After these difficult years for our sector, we’re proud to continue growing our European collaboration and support more venues boost their European programming,” says Elise Phamgia, Liveurope’s coordinator. “Through this, we hope to help them present more European music diversity to their audiences.”

“Liveurope has changed our programming approaches and given our audiences access to new acts they might not have discovered otherwise”

Established in 2014 with support from the European Union, nearly 3,000 artists have benefited from the platform’s support including now established names such as Christine and the Queens, Rosalía and MØ.

“Liveurope has changed our programming approaches and given our audiences access to new acts they might not have discovered otherwise,” says Matjaz Mancek, head of music at Kino Siska in Slovenia.

Liveurope is also introducing new priorities and activities to further strengthen its impact on the sector and the promotion of European diversity. The platform will actively engage on urgent societal topics such as ecology and gender balance, fostering cross-border discussions among the members and coming up with concrete tools to tackle them.

Upcoming editions of the flagship Liveurope rotating festival will also now include training and coaching sessions to further support artists’ development.

“Liveurope is a key partner in our shared efforts to give emerging artists the opportunity to go on stage, and to meet and develop their audiences across Europe,” adds Mariya Gabriel, European commissioner for innovation, research, culture, education and youth

 


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Irish gov to pay ‘basic income’ to 2,000 artists

The Irish government is set to pay approximately 2,000 artists, actors and musicians a basic income for three years.

Recipients of the scheme may receive a basic payment of €10.50 (£8.75) an hour to pursue their creative work.

A consultation on how the Basic Income for the Arts scheme will run has opened and details are yet to be determined.

Irish minister for culture Catherine Martin previously said that the government was committing about €25m (£20.87m) to the scheme and it would be up and running in early 2022.

In a statement, Martin called the Basic Income for the Arts a “once-in-a-generation policy intervention”

According to the consultation, if there are more people eligible for the scheme than there are places available then participants may have to be selected at random.

In a statement, Martin called the Basic Income for the Arts a “once-in-a-generation policy intervention”.

The scheme is the top recommendation from an arts and culture task force, set up by Martin to suggest ways in which the arts could recover from the “unprecedented damage” caused by the pandemic.

The consultation opened on Thursday (6 January) and closes on 27 January.

 


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UK ticketing platform Dice raises $122m in funding

Dice, the UK-based mobile ticketing and discovery platform for live events and live streams, has raised up to US$122 million in Series C funding.

The round was led by new investor, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, with follow on investments from Tony Fadell’s Future Shape, Blisce, French entrepreneur Xavier Niel, Mirabaud Private Equity, Cassius and Evolution.

In addition, Tony Fadell, iPod inventor and iPhone co-inventor, is joining the Dice board to support further platform development and expansion into venues.

Launched in London in 2014, the mobile-first platform now works with over 3,600 venues, festivals and promoters globally.

According to Dice, with the company’s current rate of growth, 49,000 artists and creators will use the platform by the end of 2022.

The platform is live in the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Australia and, since 2019, the US. In October, Dice rolled out its app in India.

“We’re overhauling an unfair, inefficient system by pioneering a transparent, data-led, fan-first approach”

In April 2020, Dice expanded its offering with live streams and has since worked on exclusive live streams with Laura Marling, Nick Cave, Kylie Minogue and Bjork.

“Dice is rewiring the live experiences industry. We have proven that if you treat fans well, they go out more,” says Phil Hutcheon, CEO and founder of Dice.

“We’re overhauling an unfair, inefficient system by pioneering a transparent, data-led, fan-first approach – building a scalable ecosystem that helps artists, promoters and venues thrive. To have SoftBank as a partner enables us to expand into every market.”

Fadell says: “The concert business is a tangled mess of archaic tools and taxing ‘industry standards’ where artists are paid last. Venues shell out for marketing and are beholden to ticket conglomerates. Fans have to hunt for shows and regularly buy overpriced tickets from secondary markets or scalpers. This doesn’t make sense!

“Dice re-engineers the entire live industry, not just a part of it: Venues are connected to fans and artists. Artists get transparency, access and control. Fans easily discover local shows and global live streams, and buy scalper-safe tickets with a single click. I’m ecstatic to be joining the Dice board and to be part of another entertainment revolution.”

In the last year, Dice has worked with 6,400 artists and sold tickets to fans in 179 countries.


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Spain rolls out €3 million subsidy for venue operators

The Catalan government yesterday (26 August) announced a new subsidy of €3 million for venue operators in the region.

The fund will help operators mitigate the financial impact of the Covid-19 restrictions implemented during the first half of 2021.

This is the second subsidy of its kind and is almost double the initial €1,800,000 aid for venue operators.

In the new round of funding, the maximum limit of aid that operators can receive is increased to €350,000.

In order to be eligible, venue operators must prove a minimum expenditure of €4,000, as well as programming that includes at least 24 paid concerts between 14 March 2019 and 14 March 2020.

This is the second subsidy of its kind and is almost double the initial €1,800,000 aid for venue operators

Grants will vary depending on the capacity of the venue:

The Catalan government has also announced an €800,000 subsidy for the programming of live music events.

The funding, which applies to festivals, concert series and venue operators, can be used for all projects developed from 1 June 2020 that have ended between 1 October 2020 and 30 September 2021.

Festivals and concert series must have included a minimum of four concerts in Catalonia in order to be eligible. Venue operators must have hosted a minimum of 20 concerts with paid admission in order to apply. Applicants may receive up to €45,000.

 


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Irish concert businesses receive €25m summer funding

The government of the Republic of Ireland has announced recipients of its €25 million in to assist commercial venues, producers and promoters to plan live performances across the country over the summer months, with a total of 237 organisations benefitting from the scheme.

The live performance support scheme (LPSS) is part of a €50m suite of measures to support the live entertainment sector, and follows exceptional demand for a €5m pilot scheme in in 2020. The scheme aims to support live performances, particularly where capacity for live attendance is restricted due to Covid-19 and where funding will make live performances viable or alternatively make them available online if audiences cannot attend due to restrictions.

Among the companies to benefit from LPSS funding include Festival Republic, which has been awarded €423,000 for live shows in Stradbally Hall (home to its festival Electric Picnic) and the Olympia Theatre in Dublin; Aiken Promotions, which received €500,000 for its live performances at Dublin’s Vicar Street; and Pod, which has also been awarded €500,000 for Meadows Festival, a socially distanced festival of music, comedy and spoken word.

“The scheme aims to support live performances, particularly where capacity for live attendance is restricted due to Covid-19 restrictions”

Over 400 companies and businesses applied for the scheme. A Word document of all successful applications is available here.

Irish culture minister Catherine Martin says: “I am very pleased to announce this funding, which will encompass and support a wide range of performances over the coming summer months. I know this funding will assist in the employment of performers, artists, technicians, creative and performance support staff across the sector, bringing much-needed employment to many who have not had work for many, many months.

“I look forward to the high quality artistic output, as demonstrated in the pilot, which has been so important and enjoyed by so many.”

“I have recently provided a further €5m under the local live performance programming scheme for local authorities to engage local performers and crew to stage live performances in their areas,” she adds, “creating further employment opportunities over the coming months.”

 


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Canada’s indie venues bolstered by $100k aid

Independent live music venues in Canada will have the chance to apply for a share of a CA$100,000 (US$83,000) relief fund, launched by Jägermeister Canada.

According to the Canadian Live Music Association’s (CLMA) Covid-19 Venue Closures List, 89 Canadian music venues have permanently closed during the pandemic and a further 15 venues are in imminent danger of shuttering.

Thanks to the newly announced fund, 100 struggling Canadian live music venues will receive grants of $1,000 to help them soften the financial blow of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Eligible recipients for the relief will be selected through a lottery system, which Jägermeister will run in partnership with the CLMA.

Grant applications opened yesterday (25 May) and the deadline for submissions is Wednesday 2 June 2021 at 11:59 pm EST. Successful applicants will be notified via the CLMA at the end of June.

Venues must satisfy at least three of the eligibility requirements stated below, though exceptions may be made for venues in “rural or remote areas”:

Canada’s live music venues are also set to benefit from the recently announced 2021 budget, which includes C$50 million (US$40m) to help the sector weather the pandemic during 2021 and 2022.

 


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Barcelona to provide grants for summer 2021 shows

As part of ‘Barcelona Never Stops’, the Spanish city’s post-pandemic recovery plan, Barcelona city council has announced half a million euros’ worth of subsidies for ‘large-format’ concerts in the city this summer.

The €500,000 in grants will go towards the cost of promoting shows at two of Barcelona’s most celebrated open-air venues, the Parc del Fòrum (home to festivals including Primavera Sound and Cruïlla) and the Anella Olímpica (Olympic Ring), the complex built for 1992 Olympic games.

Jaume Collboni, first deputy mayor of Barcelona, says the grants aim to help the city “regain [its] leadership as the capital of live music in southern Europe”.

The concerts organised as part of the initiative, which must place at one of the two venues between 20 May and 30 September, will follow a Covid-secure format, taking place outdoors with social distancing and mask wearing, and are expected to have a capacity of between 1,000 and 3,000, says the council.

“Barcelona wants to regain leadership as the capital of live music in southern Europe”

To be eligible for a grant, promoters must have a confirmed date at one of the venues, after which they will be reimbursed 40% of the costs of the show. Grants will be given on a first-come, first-served basis until the €0.5m fund is exhausted.

Application forms may be downloaded from the Barcelona City Council website.

The Association of Music Promoters (APM) welcomes the announcement, with spokesperson Tito Ramoneda saying the subsidies show that Barcelona is serious about retaining its crown as a music capital.

“This is very good news,” says Ramoneda. “Barcelona has historically been a city that has welcomed music in all senses; undoubtedly music is part of its identity. It it is a very powerful sector economically speaking – therefore, it must be protected and a path to normality sought.”

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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A year on, associations urge EU to ‘save culture’

No fewer than 110 music, entertainment and culture industry associations have written to the three presidents of the European Union to ask for financial support for the creative sector, which has been among the hardest hit by the impact of Covid-19.

A year on from the lockdowns of March 2020, the industry bodies – which include Yourope, the European Arenas Association, the Arena Resilience Alliance, De Concert!, Pearle, the European Festivals Association, IFPI, Live DMA and Trans Europe Halles – have called on both the EU and its individual member states to act now to secure the future of “cultural life in Europe”.

Central to the demands of the group, which also include associations representing TV producers, cinemas, fashion designers, book sellers and more, is a commitment by the EU to allocate at least 2% of its Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) – a €672.5 billion designed to kickstart European economies post-coronavirus – to the cultural sector, which they say is second only to aviation in the damage inflicted by the year-long shutdown, with some businesses’ turnover down almost 90%.

Their letter, which can be read here, is addressed to the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, and president of the European Council, Charles Michel, as well as the heads of state, heads of government and ministers for European affairs, finance and culture of the EU’s 27 member countries.

“We ask the member states to reactivate cultural life in Europe”

In addition to allocating at least 2% towards the cultural sector, the signatories ask that culture be designated a “priority sector” for RRF funds, and that member states involve industry representatives in implementing the RRF funding at a national level.

“We ask the member states to reactivate cultural life in Europe, while keeping existing, and putting in place new, dedicated support schemes far beyond the stabilisation of the situation,” the associations write. “This will help rebuild confidence of both cultural communities and citizens, ensure a smooth resumption of activities and offer hope to the millions of Europeans whose lives have become barren, devoid of cultural and social connection.”

The letter-writing campaign follows an earlier open letter, asking governments to ‘make culture central in the EU recovery’, published in November.

“Reinvigorating the cultural ecosystem not only offers hope to millions of workers who saw their jobs eradicated or endangered by the pandemic, it can offer new meaning and purpose to all Europeans and the European project,” the signatories conclude. “Let us put culture at the heart of Europe’s recovery.”

 


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Live Nation’s Crew Nation raises $18 million

Crew Nation, a global Covid-relief fund set up last year by Live Nation, has raised US$18 million for touring and venue crews impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The live entertainment behemoth launched the fund in April 2020, 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 Nation told Variety yesterday that it has far exceeded its initial goal by raising $18m in a global effort that has aided approximately 15,000 crew members in over 40 countries and across all 50 states.

The fund, which is powered by charitable organisation Music Forward Foundation, will now be allocating a second round of emergency grants to crew who need it the most.

Crew Nation has aided approximately 15,000 crew members in over 40 countries and across all 50 states

In order to qualify for a grant, applicants must have previously received a Crew Nation grant and will be required to show the need for emergency funding for covering costs such as housing or critical medical expenses.

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, and countries including Spain (pictured) and Germany organised their own Crew Nation benefit concerts.

Most recently, Kings of Leon raised $500,000 for Crew Nation through the proceeds of one of their NFTs (non-fungible tokens).

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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