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NZ extends insurance scheme, expands criteria

The New Zealand government has announced plans to extend its insurance scheme for large-scale events by another year.

Under the scheme, the government underwrites 90% of “unrecoverable costs” for paid, ticketed events with audiences of more than 5,000 vaccinated people, if organisers are forced to cancel or postpone due to Covid-19 public health measures.

The new criteria include events that have been cancelled or postponed because the lead artist has to self-isolate, as well as business events with at least 200 attendees.

Touring events at multiple venues on multiple dates are now eligible on the basis that the cumulative total of attendees is over 5,000 and they meet all other criteria.

The expanded criteria also states that events must be organised by a New Zealand registered organisation (e.g., an entity registered with the Companies Office or a charitable organisation).

“These changes will provide confidence to hundreds of events throughout 2022 and into next summer”

Eligible events must also have been publicly announced or “actively in the market” before 23 January next year, unless it is a recurring event with a history of previous iterations over the last three years or a touring event held at multiple venues or on multiple dates that can demonstrate a financial commitment to the event dates at least four months prior to the event being held.

As per the first iteration of the scheme, events must require the use of Covid-19 vaccination certificates and organisers can only apply once for cancellation and once for postponement for an event.

The first incarnation of the scheme is running between 17 December 2021 and 3 April 2022. The new criteria apply to events taking place between 4 April 2022 and 31 January 2023.

The extension of the scheme follows the country’s move to red in the Covid traffic light system, under which events are limited to 100 people.

“The current Omicron variant of Covid-19 and the red setting in the protection framework are having a severe impact on the events sector,” says economic and regional development minister Stuart Nash. “We have adapted the scheme to take account of this to further support the industry for the rest of the year.”

“This is disappointing for event organisers, artists, and everyone associated with a large-scale event, including attendees… These changes will provide confidence to hundreds of events throughout 2022 and into next summer, so organisers can continue to organise events, despite the ongoing uncertainty that Covid-19 brings to our communities.”

 


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NSW gov announces $43m ‘Event Saver Fund’

The New South Wales (NSW) government has established a AUS$43 million support fund to boost the confidence of event organisers.

The Event Saver Fund will cover major events, taking place between Wednesday 15 December 2021 and Saturday 31 December 2022, that are “cancelled or significantly disrupted” by Covid-19 public health orders.

Only one claim can be made per eligible event and the maximum amount that can be paid per eligible event is $10m, according to the guidelines. Exceptions for the latter may be made for not-for-profit organisations at the sole discretion of the minister for the arts.

According to the guidelines, the financial support provided by Event Saver is intended to “contribute towards eligible
unrecoverable costs incurred by organisers of affected events; it is not intended to compensate event organisers for loss of revenue or loss of profit”.

The Event Saver fund, first announced in October 2021, comes after the Victorian state government launched an interruption insurance scheme for music festivals last November.

“It will go a long way to providing improved confidence for major festivals and events scheduled for 2022”

“Today’s announcement of an Event Saver Fund for major events has come just in time for organisers impacted by recent restrictions due to the current Omicron wave in NSW,” says Australian Festivals Association (AFA) MD Julia Robinson.

“It will go a long way to providing improved confidence for major festivals and events scheduled for 2022 and help relieve the financial burdens associated with cancellations.”

However, Byron Bay Bluesfest (pictured) promoter Peter Noble told The Music News that an insurance safety net is also needed to cover any shortfall.

The Australian festival industry has been calling for a nationwide insurance scheme for more than 18 months.

“Australia now lags behind New Zealand, the UK, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Denmark and Estonia in delivering a solution to this issue,” reads a recent statement by united live music and entertainment industry bodies including Live Performance Australia.

 


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Germany’s €2.5bn culture fund ‘hardly used’ so far

Germany’s €2.5 billion event cancellation fund has ‘hardly been used’ so far, according to a new report.

The government-backed insurance pot, announced in December 2020, was introduced to enable event organisers to plan for Q3 and Q4 2021 without the financial risk posed by a potential Covid outbreak.

Only €44m was requested from the fund by mid-December 2021, according to German news magazine Spiegel, which obtained a report by the minister of state for culture to the government’s budget committee.

Of that amount, €40m has been requested from the €1.9bn ‘profitability aid’, dedicated to compensating financial losses for live events held under capacity in order to meet Covid-19 restriction.

The remaining €4m has been requested from the €600m ‘failure protection’ pool, which is used to cover up to 90% of losses incurred by the cancellation of events and shows which are called off due to the pandemic.

Despite the modest amount of applications, the report states that the fund has been met with “great response” from organisers.

“The funding programmes [may be] so complicated that as little money as possible reaches the people who urgently need help”

The minister of state for culture points out that applications for both funding pots can only be made retrospectively, when the respective event has already taken place.

However, according to Spiegel, the number of events registered for aid is significantly higher than the number of actual applications: around 23,400 events have so far been registered for economic aid, which corresponds to a funding volume of up to €795m.

Around half of the registrations are from concerts and festivals, and another 40% to performances of the performing arts.

To date, around 2,000 events have been registered for failure protection, which would mean a maximum funding volume of around €859m. Almost three-quarters of these registrations are concerts and festivals.

According to the report, it is to be expected “that the number and volume of applications will increase significantly in the coming weeks and months because events are being avoided or increasingly cancelled in the current pandemic situation.”

It’s yet to be seen how many funds will be approved.

Gesine Lötzsch, the budgetary spokeswoman for the Left, said: “I have the impression that the funding programmes are so complicated that as little money as possible reaches the people who urgently need help.”

 


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Australia and NZ announce first insurance schemes

After more than 18 months of lobbying, Australia and New Zealand have announced country-first insurance schemes for live music.

In Australia, the Victorian government yesterday (14 November) announced plans to launch a 12-month pilot scheme that will insure up to AUS$230 million (€148m) of events.

Subsidised by the government and delivered by the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA), the cover will insure concerts, festivals, sporting events and conferences “against cancellation due to public health measures, or where events have reduced capacity due to restrictions”.

Organisers who have taken out the cover will receive 100% of the event’s declared value if the event has to be cancelled for the aforementioned reasons, or 50% of the event’s declared value if the event goes ahead with reduced capacity (or the organiser chooses to cancel the event because of those capacity restrictions).

The insurance will be available in December 2021 and more information can be found here. The premium is rumoured to cost 2% of the declared value of the event.

“For music lovers, it means your favourite festivals will be up and running again, and you’ll be able to book your tickets with confidence – and for industry, you’ll be protected whether your shows goes ahead or not,” Victoria premier Daniel Andrews wrote on Facebook.

The AFA has called the scheme a “game-changer” for the domestic industry but continues to call for a national solution

The Australian Festival Association (AFA) has called the scheme a “game-changer” for the industry but continues to call on other states and the federal government for a national solution.

“The inability to insure against Covid-related cancellations and restrictions has been a huge barrier to festivals getting back to business,” says AFA MD Julia Robinson.

“Health measures such as restrictions on gatherings and lockdowns, while necessary, often come with little or no notice making it difficult when festivals are months and years in the making. Access to a product that allows organisers the certainty to balance risk and safety with commercial reality would address this market failure, and it’s needed across the country.”

In addition to the scheme, the Victorian government has announced a $20m Live Music Restart package to bolster the recovery of the live music sector.

Music venues will benefit from a $8m programme to recruit and train new staff, invest in CovidSafe infrastructure and get more musicians and industry professionals back to work.

While music festivals and events will receive a leg up with $8m to help them recover from the uncertainty and impact of rescheduled and cancelled events due to the pandemic. A further $4m will bring music performances to the CBD and inner-city, complementing a previously announced $5 million for regional and outer-suburban events.


The support comes after Victoria’s sixth lockdown ended last month, with further restrictions on venue and festival capacity limits set to be scrapped in late November once the state has reached its 90% fully vaccinated target.

According to the AFA, “Victorian audiences usually enjoy over 150 music festivals each year, and just a handful have managed to get their gates open since the pandemic started”.

On 30 October, the state hosted Play On Victoria as its first ‘Covid Safe Test Event’, welcoming 4,000 people back to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl to watch Amyl and the Sniffers, Vika and Linda, Baker Boy, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Grace Cummings.

In New Zealand, the government recently announced that it will cover 90% of “unrecoverable costs” for paid, ticketed events with audiences of more than 5,000 vaccinated people, if organisers are forced to cancel or postpone due to Covid-19 public health measures.

Eligible events must implement the use of vaccine certificates, take place live and in-person, and have been in the market prior to the announcement of the scheme, according to the government’s criteria.

They will also have to be run by New Zealand organisations and not already be funded by other government sources such as the majors events fund or the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.

The NZ government will cover 90% of “unrecoverable costs” for paid, ticketed events with audiences of more than 5,000

It will cover “actual direct costs” and organisers will have to agree to honour eligible costs incurred by suppliers.

The scheme will pay out for any events operating under alert level 2 or higher, or under the new traffic light scheme any events in an area under the new ‘red level’, or in a localised lockdown. At least 50% of the tickets will have had to be sold in order to qualify.

The event date must be scheduled to begin between 17 December 2021 and 3 April 2022 and organisers can only apply once for cancellation and once for postponement for an event.

The scheme, which is now live, has been welcomed by promoters of major events such as Rhythm & Vines (scheduled for December 2021) and Electric Avenue (slated for February 2022) but there are calls for smaller events to be included.

Insurance schemes have already been announced in the UK (£800m), Germany (€2.5bn), Austria (€300m), the Netherlands (€300m), Belgium (€60m), Norway (€34m) Denmark (DKK 500m), France and Estonia (€6m).

 


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Australia’s live event industry lost $1.4bn in 2020

Covid-19 stripped Australia’s live entertainment industry of AUS$1.4 billion in revenue during 2020, a new report has found.

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.

The ticketing data shows 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.

Live Performance Australia’s chief executive, Evelyn Richardson, says: “EY’s analysis of 2019 and 2020 data clearly shows the massive hit the live entertainment industry took in 2020.

“Ongoing restrictions, lockdowns and border closures caused significant disruption to an industry heavily reliant on national touring. These are stark numbers.”

“Ongoing restrictions, lockdowns and border closures caused disruption to an industry heavily reliant on national touring”

The report breaks down live entertainment into categories: contemporary music, music theatre, festivals (contemporary music), theatre, festivals (multi-category), circus and physical theatre, comedy, classical music, opera, children’s/family, ballet and dance, and special events.

Contemporary Music, a category that includes rock, pop and hip-hop concerts, remained the biggest category, accounting for over 50% total revenue of live performance at $309m and 37% of attendances (nearly 3 million).

However, the sector experienced an overall decline of 63% in revenue and 65% in attendance between 2019 and 2020.

Contemporary music festivals drew nearly 437,500 people in 2020, generating over $54.2m from ticket sales.

However, the category suffered a staggering 70% loss in both attendance and revenue compared to 2019, due to bans on mass gatherings, border closures and density limits introduced as part of Covid-19.

Major festivals in this category in 2020 were Falls Downtown, WOMADelaide and St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival.

Contemporary music festivals suffered a staggering 70% loss in both attendance and revenue compared to 2019

According to Richardson, Australia’s live entertainment business has a long road to recovery: “The forecast for the next 12 months indicates industry viability is seriously threatened with reactivation and recovery now delayed. The lag time required to plan and deliver events sees companies trying to retain staff to work on pipeline events through Q4 and well into the middle of next year.”

Richardson reiterated calls for an insurance scheme for the business, echoing sentiments previously shared by not only LPA but other industry bodies.

“We expect the impacts of Covid-19 in 2021 maybe even greater given our two major markets [NSW, VIC] have been closed for extended periods,” she said, “and these impacts have seen business confidence collapse and the industry needs an insurance scheme to underwrite investment risk in 2022/23.

“The live music and entertainment industry also urgently requires a targeted, Business Reactivation package to ensure we retain capacity to operate when border, venue capacity and operational restrictions are eased. While much of the economy will be returning to pre-Covid activity, the live music and entertainment industry will be constrained by venue capacity and border restrictions for some months.”

Read the LPA’s full report here.

 


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Concerns grow over UK government insurance scheme

Concerns are growing within the UK business about the government’s much-trumpeted £800 million insurance scheme for live events.

The Live Events Reinsurance Scheme, announced at the beginning of August, will cover costs incurred if an event has to be cancelled, postponed, relocated or abandoned due to a government-imposed lockdown in response to Covid-19.

However, Association Of Independent Festivals chief Paul Reed says that not only is the extent of the cover available limited, event organisers have not even been able to obtain quotes so far – despite the scheme being opened last month by chancellor Rishi Sunak.

“It doesn’t cover a festival needing to reduce capacity or cancel due to restrictions being reintroduced, and it’s clear from the government’s winter ‘plan B’ that restrictions will be reintroduced long before there is any sort of national lockdown,” says Reed.

“The scheme only covers you in the event of a civil authority shutdown at either local or national level, so it is extremely limited in scope. We surveyed members on this recently and asked them how likely they would be to pursue quotes, and 58% said ‘not likely’, 5% said ‘very likely’, 21% said ‘likely’ and the remainder said ‘unsure’. That isn’t indicative that the scheme is going to be widely used by the sector.

“We surveyed [AIF] members on this recently and asked them how likely they would be to pursue quotes… 58% said ‘not likely’”

“At the moment, you can’t obtain actual quotes, so that’s another issue. Until this is properly in play, we won’t know the full extent of these issues and whether it is a viable scheme or not. So they need to get on with it and get it in a position where it can be rolled out properly.”

The cover, which is a partnership between the government and the Lloyd’s of London insurance market, is now available to purchase alongside standard commercial events insurance for an additional premium.

To be eligible, event organisers must purchase the relevant cover from participating insurers within the scheme, including Arch, Beazley, Dale, Hiscox and Munich Re.

Premium is set at 5% of the total value of insured costs (plus Insurance Premium Tax) and claims will be subject to an excess of 5% of the value of the insured costs or £1,000 (whichever is higher) per policy.

“Another concern is the fact that it doesn’t cover artists or workforce”

“Another concern is the fact that it doesn’t cover artists or workforce,” adds Reed. “So I think, as it currently stands, it’s going to take a bit of work from government to get to the point where it will be more widely used.

“I appreciate government has put a lot of work into this. There are still details being thrashed roughed out around the scheme and questions that the sector has put to government, so the scheme could well change in some ways. But I think the fundamentals aren’t going to change and it’s not going to cover anything other than some sort of shutdown – that’s basically a trigger point that the government has agreed with the insurance industry.”

Solo Agency boss John Giddings previously dismissed the scheme as a “joke”.

“They want far too much money and there are too many caveats in it,” he told IQ. “I think they just keep paying us lip service like they have done all the way down the line.”

In Australia, meanwhile, live music figures continued to pressure the government to underwrite Covid cancellation insurance for live events at a parliamentary hearing last week. The Senate committee will report back on the bill by 3 November before it is voted on, reports Australasian Leisure Management.

John Watson, president of music company Eleven, described the lack of insurance options as “market failure”. More and more people are just saying it is too risky to take on touring,” he told ABC.

 


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British band crowdfund tour cancellation coverage

British band Marillion are asking their fans to become their insurers for an upcoming UK tour due to a lack of suitable commercial insurance.

The band says they’ve invested more than £150,000 on preparations for the 10-date ‘The Light at The End Of The Tunnel’ outing, but risk losing it all if just one of member is forced to isolate with Covid.

The British government recently launched its long awaited £800 million insurance scheme for live events but it does not cover cancellation in the event of an artist or performer needing to self isolate.

“The tour would be cancelled, but the group would have to honour payments for lighting, trucks, tour buses and crew. This would be on top of not receiving any money from any remaining gigs that had not been played,” says the band.

Their solution is to set up a scheme called Lightsavers where fan pledges would provide a financial buffer, if needed.

“We’re asking our fans to pledge money that will be held in escrow and if it all goes Covid free it will be returned”

“We’re asking our fans to pledge money that will be held in escrow and if it all goes Covid free it will be returned to them at the end of the tour,” explains Lucy Jordache, the band’s manager.

“But if we do have to cancel, then their money will be used to pay the band’s unavoidable expenses.”

Fans who donate, regardless of if the money is needed or not by the band, will receive rewards determined by the size of their financial pledge, such as having their names appear in the tour programme or being given a download of a show from the tour.

There are a number of pledge tiers, ranging from £25 to £250, with the top two tiers already sold out.

This isn’t the first time Marillion has broken new ground using crowdfunding, according to Marillion frontman, Steve Hogarth: “[Fans] have come to our rescue before. Way back in 1997, they helped raise $60,000 to underwrite our entire US tour. It was the first noteworthy instance of online crowdfunding – a world first in fact. We also used the same method to underwrite some of our studio albums.”

Marillion’s tour begins at Hull’s City Hall on 14 November. For a full list of dates and venues go to www.marillion.com/tour.

 


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Giddings blasts ‘joke’ government insurance scheme

Isle Of Wight Festival promoter John Giddings has criticised the British government’s long-awaited reinsurance scheme for live events.

The £800 million scheme, which opened yesterday (22 September), will cover costs incurred if an event has to be cancelled, postponed, relocated or abandoned due to a government-imposed lockdown in response to Covid-19.

The cover, which is a partnership between the government and the Lloyd’s of London insurance market, is now available to purchase alongside standard commercial events insurance for an additional premium.

However, Solo Agency boss Giddings tells IQ he believes the cover did not meet requirements.

“I think it’s a joke,” he says. “They want far too much money and there are too many caveats in it. I think they just keep paying us lip service like they have done all the way down the line.”

“[The British government] want far too much money and there are too many caveats in [the insurance scheme]”

Premium is set at 5% of the total value of insured costs (plus Insurance Premium Tax) and claims will be subject to an excess of 5% of the value of the insured costs or £1,000 (whichever is higher) per policy.

However, the scheme will not cover loss of revenue due to lower demand for tickets, reduced venue capacity, or self-isolation of staff or performers. “It was financially impossible and it didn’t cover the things it needed to cover,” adds Giddings.

On a brighter note, Giddings says last weekend’s return of the Isle Of Wight Festival, headlined by Liam Gallagher, Snow Patrol, David Guetta and Duran Duran, could not have gone better.

“It was incredible,” he says. “It was four days of sunshine, all the bands turned up and the audience were gagging for it. We had incredible demand and the audience were incredibly excited about being out in the open air again.

“It was complete absolute, utter luck on our behalf that the weekend in June we should have done it poured with rain every day and the dates in September, the sun shone every day and it was like an Indian summer.”

“Somebody said to me, ‘What do you think about 50,000 people in a field?’ and I said, ‘Well, it’s safer than going to the supermarket.’”

The 2021 event was switched to September due to the pandemic, but will return to its traditional weekend next year from June 16-19. The 2022 line-up is due to be unveiled on Monday morning (September 27).

“When it was obvious June was going to be a problem this year, we took the executive decision to move to September, so that we didn’t have to move another year,” explains Giddings. “We certainly had good ticket sales and a very excitable audience, but it’s such a gamble with the weather, that’s the problem.

“The good news was it got darker earlier, so the top three acts played in darkness as opposed to the top one and a half acts. But it does get cold at night, I have to say.”

In line with government guidelines, ticket-holders were required to either be double-jabbed at least 14 days before the festival, proof of a negative lateral flow test or an exemption in order to be permitted entry.

“Everybody was willing to do it and they expected it. It was a collective responsibility,” says Giddings. “Somebody said to me, ‘What do you think about 50,000 people in a field?’ and I said, ‘Well, it’s safer than going to the local supermarket.’”

 


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UK’s £800m government insurance scheme opens

The British government’s highly anticipated £800 million insurance scheme for live events is now open.

The Live Events Reinsurance Scheme, announced at the beginning of August, will cover costs incurred if an event has to be cancelled, postponed, relocated or abandoned due to a government-imposed lockdown in response to Covid-19.

The cover, which is a partnership between the government and the Lloyd’s of London insurance market, is now available to purchase alongside standard commercial events insurance for an additional premium.

To be eligible, event organisers must purchase the relevant cover from participating insurers within the scheme, including Arch, Beazley, Dale, Hiscox and Munich Re.

Organisers must also have or purchase a standard events cancellation policy (or a policy that includes event cancellation coverage) provided at least in part by a participating insurer.

“This is an important and valuable step in the right direction and provides additional security as we head into autumn and winter”

The indemnification must be purchased at least eight weeks prior to the event taking place. This requirement will not apply for the first 12 weeks of the scheme, which starts today (22 September 2021) and runs until the end of September 2022.

Premium is set at 5% of the total value of insured costs (plus Insurance Premium Tax) and claims will be subject to an excess of 5% of the value of the insured costs or £1,000 (whichever is higher) per policy.

The scheme will not cover loss of revenue due to lower demand for tickets, reduced venue capacity, or self-isolation of staff or performers.

“The live music industry welcomes the introduction of a government-backed insurance scheme, which we have been calling for since the start of the pandemic,” says a spokesperson from Live, (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment) – which has been pushing for government-guaranteed insurance since at least this time last year.

“While there are still gaps in the cover available, such as for an artist withdrawal due to catching Covid or enforced social distancing, this is an important and valuable step in the right direction and provides additional security as we head into autumn and winter. After a year of almost total shutdown the industry needs a period of time where it can get back on its feet by provide the live experiences that fans are desperate for.”

Full details of the Live Events Reinsurance Scheme are available here.

 


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Australian live industry calls for UK-style insurance

A coalition of Australian live music associations has called on the government to adopt an insurance scheme for live music similar to the £750m government-backed programme announced by the UK last week.

In a joint statement, Live Performance Australia (LPA), Live Entertainment Industry Forum, the Australian Festival Association (AFA) and more warned that it will be a “very sad and quiet” summer without a reinsurance scheme to protect the industry from disruptions and cancellations.

The Australian live music and entertainment sector has long campaigned for a government-backed insurance scheme, especially after the last-minute cancellation of Bluesfest – one of Australia’s biggest and best-known festivals.

However, only the film industry so far has received government reinsurance, through the federal government’s $50m Temporary Interruption Fund, announced in June 2020.

Nations including the UK, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Denmark and Estonia have announced a financial buffer against future possible lockdowns for the live music and entertainment sectors.

“We’re not looking for a handout, promoters are willing to purchase an insurance product”

LPA’s chief executive, Evelyn Richardson, says: “The UK example shows there is a solution that can be developed in conjunction with industry on commercial terms. We’re not looking for a handout, promoters are willing to purchase an insurance product. A scheme underwritten by government just makes it viable for insurers to put policies in the market.”

AFA GM, Julia Robinson, says: “An insurance scheme will ensure that the $200m in Rise funding together with state and territory initiatives will deliver the maximum benefit for the country. Government don’t want to see these investments go to waste, and neither does the industry.”

In a comment for IQ magazine, Robinson explained warned that a lack of government-backed insurance could also impact business confidence.

Australia’s call for insurance comes after findings from the second I Lost My Gig survey – an initiative of the AFA and the Australian Music Industry Network (AMIN) – revealed that at least 23,000 gigs and events were cancelled during July due to restrictions.

Of the $64m in lost revenue, the results showed that 99% of respondents had no income protection or event cancellation insurance.

 


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