European live industry stepping up for Ukraine
Live music markets around the world are pitching in to support the citizens of Ukraine, as the Russian military continues its full-scale invasion of the country.
From helping with logistics at borders to finding employment for displaced professionals, the global sector is utilising its unique resources to help those fleeing the conflict.
Codruța Vulcu, festival director at ARTMania in Romania, is spearheading the launch of a pan-European job site that aims to help uprooted Ukrainians from the live music industry find work in other countries.
“We want to help them resume their lives with dignity in other countries and give them a sense of normality by helping them to do what they’re trained to do,” she tells IQ.
“I would call it an ideological solution for what Putin is trying to do. He’s trying to destroy a way of life and whatever these people have built and invested in.
“We want to help them resume their lives with dignity in other countries and give them a sense of normality”
“The aim is that these people don’t end up washing dishes in Berlin, for example, but that they can continue the work they’ve studied and prepared for – and all that added value will not get lost,” she says.
The platform, due to launch within the next week, is called ARTery for that very reason. “An artery keeps life going,” she explains. “It keeps the flow of blood and life – and so to say the activity of art – going.”
Michal Kascak from Pohoda, Slovakia’s biggest festival, is also involved in the project and the pair are attempting to enlist as many festivals, companies and venues within the industry as possible.
Vulcu hopes that, even after the war, the platform will be used by creatives around the world fleeing from conflict areas or dictatorial regimes – including Russians.
Alongside the launch of ARTery, ARTMania and Pohoda are deploying production staff to help organise logistics at their respective borders.
“I think that we as concert promoters, venues, clubs, festivals should offer slots in our events to Ukrainians who can play”
In addition, Pohoda also recently organised a solidarity concert for the people of Ukraine, which became a high-profile event in Slovakia.
“Slovakia’s president Zuzana Čaputová came to the event and made a great speech onstage, which was a surprise for everyone,” Kascak tells IQ.
“I was also positively surprised that public TV called us the evening before and asked to join the concert. Slovenska One, the major channel in Slovakia, broadcast the concert live on TV for three hours nonstop!”
The concert took place last Sunday (27 February) in Bratislava’s Main Square and featured more than 20 acts from Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Ukraine.
“I think that we as concert promoters, venues, clubs, festivals should offer slots in our events to Ukrainians who can play and bring a message from their country to ours,” says Kascak. “I think it can be a strong gesture and can also help to unite people and to spread the message about what’s going on in Ukraine.”
But it’s not just neighbouring countries that are pitching in to support citizens in Ukraine. In Austria, promoter Barracuda Music has transformed part of Nova Rock‘s festival site into a refugee centre.
Nova Rock Hall, which is typically used as a backstage and hospitality area during the festival, is now equipped to accommodate up to 480 refugees.
“The hall is set up in multiple sections, which are suited for 50 people each and include beds and seating,” Barracuda Music CEO Ewald Tatar explains to IQ. “Electricity, water, heating, light and hygiene and sanitation facilities (toilets, garbage disposal etc.) are all installed to accommodate the refugees.”
“It is important that the international live music industry shows solidarity with Ukraine,” adds Tatar.
Alongside the refugee centre, Nova Rock is also gearing up for a fundraising concert, titled ‘We Stand with Ukraine’.
The charity gig, announced today, is scheduled for 19 March at Ernst Happel-Stadion, Vienna, and donations will benefit people affected by the Ukraine war.
Nova Rock’s event is one of countless fundraisers around the world that have been organised to aid victims of the war.
Romanian promoter ALDA is spearheading two benefit events – We Are One at Bucharest stadium and Dance for Ukraine in Poland. Elsewhere, Brussels-based festivals, nightclubs and events have announced an open-air festival at Atomium.
Poland’s Follow the Step is gearing up to announce “the biggest show in Poland together with television and local artists”. While, across the pond, New York’s City Winery is hosting a benefit featuring Ukrainian-born Eugene Hütz & Gogol Bordello, as well as the likes of Patti Smith.
See a non-exhaustive list of benefit concerts, compiled by Music Export Ukraine, below.
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We for India benefit show raises $5m for Covid relief
We for India, a livestreamed fundraising event featuring performances from Ed Sheeran, Nile Rodgers, Annie Lennox and AR Rahman, raised more than US$5 million for the India Covid Response Fund, organisers have announced.
Held on Sunday 15 August 2021, India’s 75th independence day, the show featured more than 100 musicians, actors, film directors, TV stars and other celebrities and was broadcast to a global audience on Facebook. Other participants included Steven Spielberg, Mick Jagger and Indian film stars Ajay Devgan, Hrithik Roshan, Nagarjuna and Arjun Kapoor.
Shibasish Sarkar, group CEO of Reliance Entertainment, which organised We for India in association with GiveIndia, Facebook and the UN platform The World We Want, says: “The honest and sincere effort of our team and our partners is the reason behind the great success of this event. I would like to extend my gratitude to all the talent, artists, philanthropists and everyone who supported this fundraiser. It is our humble contribution to our nation’s ongoing battle against the invisible enemy.”
“I would like to extend my gratitude to all the talent, artists, philanthropists and everyone who supported this fundraiser”
The money, around 370m rupees, was raised from a combination of corporate partners, philanthropic foundations and individual donors, reports IANS. It follows a similar event, I for India, which raised $7m in May 2020.
Atul Satija, CEO of GiveIndia, comments: “We are grateful for all the support we have received from each and everyone who donated and came together to make We For India such an impactful journey. Thank you for making it a success and contributing to our India Covid Response Fund. We all know that the pandemic and the suffering it has caused is far from over. We for India is a great, timely initiative to remind us of the need to continue to provide humanitarian aid and strengthen our health infrastructure.”
“The great success of this initiative is the result of the collective efforts of so many people, and truly epitomises the power of communities,” Manish Chopra, director and head of partnerships for Facebook India, adds. “As Facebook, we are proud to have supported the voice of leading artists from all over the world and partnered Give India and Reliance Entertainment in this laudable effort towards Covid relief.”
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Stagehand launches prize draw for crew relief fund
Live production hardship fund Stagehand, along with Crowdfunder, has launched a prize draw to raise funds for production staff and stage crew impacted by the loss of work caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The #ILoveLive draw will give fans the chance to win unique memorabilia from artists and live music organisations such as signed guitars from Nile Rodgers, Liam Gallagher, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton and more; hand-written lyrics by Florence Welch, Robbie Williams and Years & Years; and a rare mask worn by FKA Twigs during her live show.
Fans can choose which artists they want to buy tickets for and can increase their chances of winning by purchasing multiple tickets, which are priced at £5 each. The draw is now live until 17 December and winners will be chosen on 23 December.
“We know that when live shows can take place again in financially viable ways, the industry will be extremely busy,” says Mike Lowe, the chair of Stagehand’s board of trustees.
“Artists, festivals and venues just want to get back to work and the public are hungry to see live entertainment again. No live show of any kind can happen without the skills and expertise of the army of live events workers. I am sure that the live events industry workers who we can help, will join me and my fellow trustees in expressing our massive appreciation for making all of this happen in the most difficult and unprecedented of times.”
“No live show of any kind can happen without the skills and expertise of the army of live events workers”
Stagehand, which is this year’s Nikos Fund – the ILMC charity of the year, aims to raise at least £1 million before Christmas.
The charity has already raised £280,000 in donations from PPL, the BPI, major record labels and artist management companies – most of which went to the 300 crew members in the most desperate need earlier this month.
Stagehand has also launched several fundraising initiatives including Prints For Music, which launched earlier this week.
Organised by photographer Ed Robinson, a slate of celebrated photographers including Rankin, Tony McGee and Jill Furmanovsky have donated iconic music shots to raise money for Stagehand’s Covid-19 Crew Relief Fund.
Over 100 iconic prints of globally treasured artists such as David Bowie, Grace Jones and The Rolling Stones, are now on sale for £95 each for a limited time of four weeks, with 100% of proceeds going to the fund.
Stagehand is one of the many funds for live technicians, most of which were set up during the pandemic. According to the charity, over 60% of the people working in the industry are freelancers without any support from a larger company and over 20% of all crew have discovered that they don’t qualify for any government support at all.
Elisa raises €230k for crew from Italian tour
Italian artist Elisa has raised €230,000 from an eight-date tour of her home country, organised in support of her band and crew.
The run kicked off in September and comprised eight dates in Italian squares ranging from 957–1,988 capacities, including Lords Square, Vicenza; Trento Square and Trieste, Ferrara; and Castello Square, Fossano.
The tour sold a total of 11,565 tickets (€34.50–€69) and, after production costs, raised €190,000 to be distributed among Elisa’s band and crew and €40,000 for a fund to help other crew.
Elisa, her management and her Italian agency, Friends and Partners, decided to forego their fees in order to pay crew and musicians double pay.
“My crew and band are the people who are in more trouble, financially, and I think it’s totally unfair – it’s just by chance that they were hit more than me,” says Elisa. “Some of my crew, technicians and musicians have been with me since I started my band around 23 years ago – they’re like my family and they would have been in trouble if I hadn’t made this decision. This is the time we have to do something and not wait for anybody else to do it.”
“This is the time we have to do something and not wait for anybody else to do it”
Elisa’s production manager Giulio Koelliker says: “I have been working with Elisa for 19 years and during this time we put together this team of amazing professionals who also became our family. This tour has been one of the most emotional tours –because of the exceptional circumstances due to Covid – but also because Elisa’s generosity towards her crew reached a new high.
“She really showed us to be the great artist she is and what a great human being she is. She gave us back what we missed the most in all those terrible months: the joy of working! We felt passion again and dedication for our job and we were all truly moved to be part of this great adventure.”
Ferdinando Salzano, CEO of Friends and Partners, Elisa’s Italian agency says: “We have participated in Elisa’s idea with enthusiasm. The importance of trying to keep the whole supply chain of music alive is fundamental to be able to perform concerts again in a normal way.”
Elisa is one of many artists that have rallied support for live events technicians who have been financially impacted the pandemic but largely left out of government support schemes.
Nick Cave, Niall Horan, Amy MacDonald and Marillion have also joined the call-to-arms for crew support – a cause which has inspired numerous campaigns and protests around the world.
Artists join call-to-arms for crew support
A number of artists including Nick Cave, Niall Horan, Amy MacDonald, and Marillion, are rallying support for live events technicians who have been financially impacted by the pandemic through fundraising events and memorabilia donations.
Solo artist and ex-One Direction member Niall Horan recently announced a one-off livestream show at London’s Royal Albert Hall on 7 November to raise money and awareness for his touring crew.
Amy MacDonald is launching her new album with a socially-distanced show and interview at The Mildmay Club in London, with proceeds going towards the #WeMakeEvents campaign. The event, titled An Evening With Amy MacDonald, will take place on 1 November and be livestreamed from 7 pm GMT.
Elsewhere, 80s rock band Marillion has already raised over £30,000 from the virtual tip jar at their Couch Convention weekend, which they split equally between their 10-man crew.
“That’s just the tip of the iceberg,” says Andy Lenthall, general manager at PSA, the live production trade association which also runs Stagehand, a live production hardship fund. “There is so much goodwill towards crew that people don’t know about,” he tells IQ.
“It is an ecosystem and artists appreciate they need crew to amplify, magnify and illuminate the shows”
“People say, ‘Why can’t the artists pay?’. Well some of them can, and some of them are, and some of them can’t. It’s about what we can do, not what we can’t do. Artists at the top of the pile work with the same crew a lot and many are supporting them,” he maintains. “It is an ecosystem and artists appreciate they need crew to amplify, magnify and illuminate the shows.”
Lenthall says Stagehand has received many anonymous contributions from artists, in the form of cash and memorabilia. Most recently Nick Cave donated one of his guitars for an upcoming memorabilia raffle, organised by the association.
The raffle, along with Stagehand’s ‘tip the crew’ concept, is part of the fund’s longtail business model based on fan engagement. “Fanbases are where we hope to make lots of small bits,” says Lenthall.
Stagehand has also received donations from companies such as PPL, BPI and Sony – though Lenthall maintains that the fund is a long-term project and will require several different initiatives to raise the money needed.
“It’s about what we can do, not what we can’t do”
“We all know it’s going to take a while for the industry to restart so we need to raise a seven-figure sum and it needs to last around six months,” he says.
The Stagehand fund opened for applications yesterday (15 October) and is initially awarding grants of £500 to help with “keeping a roof over heads and food on the table”.
“Houses are on the market and it’s the beginning of the sofa-surfing season for some people. We’ve opened the fund now because at the end of October rent arrears will be due and the mortgage holiday is over. People will have accumulated a lot of debt over the summer,” Lenthall explains.
However, he’s confident that now some companies have been saved through packages such as the Culture Recovery Fund, attention is turning to crew.
“We need to focus on retaining people. Crew are tenacious, hardworking and diligent. We don’t want to lose them.”
International music biz rallies support for Beirut
The international music industry is rallying support to help those affected by last month’s devastating explosion in Beirut with a number of livestream fundraising events.
Electronic Labor Day (ELD) and Beatport ReConnect are joining forces to broadcast 12 hours of live electronic music this Sunday (13 September), with the aim of raising $500,000 to help rebuild the Lebanese capital.
“Beirut is hurting. The events of August 4th have devastated a difficult situation. No ounce of solidarity was missing in the minutes and hours following the tragedy… Let’s put that noble sentiment to good use,” reads a statement from the organisers.
Over 100 international DJs have been enlisted for the cause, including Blond:ish, Danny Howard and Pete Tong.
The For Beirut fundraiser will be streamed on the ELD website from 1:58 pm local time with a minute of silence to mark the time of the blast and 40 days of mourning.
“No ounce of solidarity was missing in the hours following the tragedy. Let’s put that noble sentiment to good use”
Funds will be split between three causes including Beirut Emergency Fund, Impact Lebanon and Bebw’shebbek.
For Beirut follows a fundraiser which took place earlier this week (8 September), organised by Arabic streaming platform Anghami, and Sony Music Entertainment Middle East.
The Sound of Beirut featured two hours’ worth of virtual performances from Arabic and international artists including Craig David, The Chainsmokers and Maya Diab, which were streamed on Anghami.
The donations, which are yet to be announced, will go to Global Aid for Lebanon.
For Beirut will be the second edition of ELD; the first taking place earlier this year to support the nightlife non-managerial personnel who have been deeply impacted by the repercussions of Covid-19.
South Africa’s DreamStream fest breaks Zoom record
Ticketing and cashless payments platform Howler recently hosted the world’s largest Zoom music festival in aid of the South African live entertainment industry.
DreamStream – the biggest virtual festival to date to utilise videoconferencing service Zoom, and South Africa’s first large-scale online music event – ran from 24 to 26 April and featured livestreamed performances by 33 South African artists.
The festival raised nearly R500,000 (€25,000) in donations for the South African Fund 4 Entertainment (SAFE), an industry backed initiative formed to help those worst affected by the coronavirus and the ban on live events. Over 50,000 people in 130 countries viewed the stream over the course of the weekend.
“The two-way experience connected people in their homes like no other stream has done yet,” says Shai Evian, Howler CEO. “We wanted to create an experience that felt like a true festival with your friends. This was a ticket-only event and the fact that we had over 50,000 people through the online ‘gates’ for an online event that wasn’t streamed via social media is really something different.”
“We see a world where an online virtual experience will coexist alongside real-world festivals”
“What is even more exciting is that we believe we have unlocked a product that can live beyond the Covid-19 crisis,” he adds. “We see a world where an online virtual experience will coexist alongside real-world festivals, reaching far wider audiences globally and creating new revenue streams.”
The funds raised by DreamStream are being used to purchase food vouchers for the crew suffering the most under the current lockdown.
“SAFE is a platform for all online initiatives to support our crippled industry,” says Evian. “The support from the SA government is much smaller, financially, than some other countries. Based on the applications to SAFE to date we need to raise US$1 million just to feed our industry.”
Find out more, or donate to SAFE, at safefund.org.za.
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.
Tour Managers Not Touring axed after backlash
Tour Managers Not Touring (TNT), a fundraising initiative intended to aid several famous DJs’ out-of-work tour managers, has been quietly pulled following a backlash on social media, where commentators criticised the artists’ apparent reluctance to put their hands in their own pockets.
TNT saw tour managers including Ian Hussey (Carl Cox), Tim ‘Dingo’ Price (Dubfire), Zak (Seth Troxler) and Gabriel Torres (the Martinez Brothers) selling a series of self-made mixes, along with collaborations with the artists with which they work, for a minimum of €5, with all funds going direct to the tour managers involved.
While apparently well intentioned, the idea apparently went down like a cup of cold sick in the dance music world, with electronic music industry figures such as Barker, Kornél Kovács, DVS1 and Maceo Plex tweeting their displeasure. “Please give your money to real charities and NOT to rich DJs and their staff,” wrote Plex.
The most widely shared criticism came courtesy of trance producer John Askew, who recorded a now-deleted video rant (rescued by Dutch DJ Cassy) asking why the likes of Cox, Troxler and Nicole Moudaber “aren’t they covering their tour managers’ costs and giving these mixes away for free, or charging money and giving that money to the medical services, the NHS [UK National Health Service] and every other country’s equivalent?”
“Please give your money to real charities and NOT to rich DJs”
“These are guys with multiple millions of pounds, euros, dollars in the bank,” he said, “and they’re asking the general public to keep their tour managers afloat?”
As spotted by Selector, the TNT Bandcamp page went dark shortly after, and the mixes are no longer available to buy.
Cox in turn criticised the backlash, writing on his Facebook page that he has “never seen anything blown so far out of proportion without context” and saying that idea came from the TMs.
“A group of the hardest-working tour managers out there wanted to get creative and have some fun by getting together and seeing who could actually DJ,” he says. “They asked me to support them, as they support us touring DJs week after week throughout the year. All of us did that without too much thought or hesitation through our social media channels and gave them a mix from one of our shows.
“There was no suggestion ever made that this was to cover ‘wages’ – that is simply ridiculous and I feel saddened that this has even been suggested.”
Cox’s comment, however, is at odds with tour manager Tim ‘Dingo’ Price (Dubfire), who on launching the project stated: “Our goal is to release some new and interesting content to help with the #StayHome initiative and also try and gain some financial support for us tour managers during this unfortunate time, as most of us, if not all, are not paid a salary – we are paid per show.”
It remains unclear whether the aforementioned DJs will now be coughing up to support their crew, as John Askew has suggested.
Tap Music to raise £100k for mental health charities
Tap Music, whose management arm looks after the likes of Dua Lipa, Lana Del Rey and Ellie Goulding, has announced plans to raise £100,000 for mental health charities.
The global music group, which comprises Tap Management, Tap Music Publishing and Tap records, is fundraising for peer-to-peer online charity My Black Dog and suicide prevention charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (Calm).
“After the death of two close friends from suicide within weeks of each other earlier this year, we decided we wanted to do something to help awareness and funds for these two wonderful charities that do such incredible work saving lives,” says Tap Music co-founder Ben Mawson.
“I was shocked to discover how prevalent suicide is – an average of over 100 deaths/week last year in the UK – particularly tragic because so many of these deaths must be avoidable it the right help was present.”
Artists including Dua Lipa and Professor Green echo the company’s call for action.
“It’s painfully ironic that music has such power to make us happy but musicians themselves can often suffer disproportionately from mental health issues,” comments Lipa. “I have benefitted so much from this industry but I see around me every day what others can suffer: the fear of failure, loneliness and the intense pressures of social media, which I think is especially the case for female artists. It’s time for the music industry to start taking the mental health of artists seriously.
“It’s painfully ironic that music has such power to make us happy but musicians themselves can often suffer disproportionately from mental health issues”
“Mental health is the issue of our generation and it’s time the music industry woke up to it,” continues the One Kiss singer. “I’m so proud my management team is raising awareness and funds and calling this out as the crisis it is.”
Calm patron Professor Green, real name Stephen Manderson, also spoke out, saying that the “schedule and sleep deprivation” he experienced in the music industry “lead to a place of unhappiness and isolation”.
“It’s time we find a way to put support in place for people who need it,” says Manderson.
Tap embarked on a 24-hour cycle ride from London to Paris on 4 October to kickstart the fundraising initiative.
A 5-a-side charity football tournament featuring industry representatives from Live Nation, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), Paradigm, United Talent Agency and WME, among others, will take place later this week.
To donate to Tap Music’s fundraising efforts, click here.
Read more about how the music business is fighting mental illness here: