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Barcelona protects small live music venues

The Barcelona City Council has announced the creation of the Espais de cultura viva (live culture spaces) venue classification to protect its small live music venues, allowing flexible capacity limits and relaxing sound restrictions.

The council has finalised work on the category, which applies to spaces with a capacity of up to 150 people that host a minimum of 40 live music events or other live performances a year.

The category, which does not exist in other Spanish cities, allows venues to have a flexible capacity limit. Low-capacity venues with a cafe or bar license will be able to let in a greater number of people for live events, without fear of receiving fines.

A further modification sees the creation of a “semi-acoustic music” category. Previously, small venues could only programme acoustic music events. Concerts involving electronic instruments required soundproofing equipment, unaffordable for many venues even with a state subsidy.

The new category will allow for electronic instruments to play up to a volume of 95 decibels, given that outside noise does not exceed 45 decibels.

“This kind of recognition of cultural spaces is a key tool for strengthening the scene from the bottom up”

Venues that qualify for the Espais de cultura viva category and are in special saturation zones, will have a curfew of 11 pm.

Daniel Granados, analyst at the Barcelona institute of culture, tells El Periódico that this kind of “recognition of cultural spaces” is a key tool for “strengthening the scene from the bottom up.”

“Rosalía [a famous Catalan singer] would not be where she is today if she had not performed in small venues that were illegal up until now.”

Plans for the new regulations began three years ago. The law will be implemented in two months’ time, granted political parties do not oppose the proposal.

The Association of Catalan Concert Halls (ASACC) and the Association of Women in the Music Industry (MIM), along with other local industry organisations and venues, have celebrated the initiative and urge municipal groups to vote in favour of the measure.

 


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Bluesfest threatens to leave NSW in policy dispute

The founder of Byron Bay Bluesfest, Peter Noble, is one of several music industry professionals to speak out against the New South Wales government over heightened licensing and security costs for music festivals.

“I am saying now, Bluesfest will leave NSW. We have no choice it’s a matter of survival. Will the last festival to leave NSW please turn out the light of culture in this soon to be barren state?” writes Bluesfest founder, Noble.

The NSW government introduced new licensing regulations for music festivals last month, following a string of suspected drug-related deaths at festivals in the state. The regulations place more responsibility on festival organisers to ensure the safety of patrons and incur many additional licensing and security costs.

The government continues to refuse to introduce drug testing at festivals in the state, despite calls from the Australian Festival Association and family and friends of the deceased.

The Byron Bay Bluesfest, set to take place from 18 to 22 April, this year celebrates its 30th anniversary, in what is tipped to be the festival’s “best year ever”.

Noble states that the event’s designation of ‘high risk’ under the new legislation signifies the revocation of the festival’s full-strength liquor license and “a myriad of other costs”, totalling “hundreds of thousands of dollars”.

Noble describes the policy as “poorly thought-out, unbalanced legislation”, and states the government has implemented new laws “without full consultation of stake holders, or meetings with entertainment industry professionals.”

“Will the last festival to leave NSW please turn out the light of culture in this soon to be barren state?”

“I charge the Government with a systemic failure in fairness here, and implore all politicians from all parties to quickly become involved with what is a serious injustice,” writes Noble.

In the past week, NSW music festivals Mountain Sounds and Psyfari have cancelled their events, citing “impossible” licensing and security costs imposed by the new government policy.

Mountain Sounds, which announced the cancellation a week before the event was scheduled to take place, accuses the government of “fear-mongering, bullying and oppressing the youth”, in what it refers to as a “war on festivals”.

“We were told we would have to pay an additional upfront amount of approximately $200,000 for 45 user pay police on a 24 hour cycle. This came one week out from the festival and blindsided us as we were quoted for 11 user pay police on the 18th of January,” reads the organisers’ statement.

 


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Australian music festivals face strict licensing laws

The government in New South Wales has introduced new licensing regulations for music festivals following a string of suspected drug-related deaths at festivals in the southeastern Australian state.

Since September, five young festivalgoers have died after attending music festivals in NSW. The most recent fatality occurred earlier this month, when 19-year-old Alex Ross-King collapsed and died at the Sydney edition of FOMO festival.

From March, festival organisers will have to apply for specific liquor licences, similar to those required for pubs and clubs. A panel of experts will decide whether to approve each application before a license can be issued.

It is thought that representatives from NSW Health, NSW Police, NSW Ambulance, and Liquor and Gaming NSW will comprise the panel. The licences will be targeted to the risks that each event entails.

“Events with a poor track record and heightened risk will face greater oversight from authorities”

The new regulations come following recommendations of an expert panel which was formed to advise the government on how to keep festivalgoers safe, following two deaths at Defqon.1 festival in September.

The licensing laws place heightened responsibility on festival organisers to ensure the safety of patrons, placing the onus on them to assess and proactively manage safety risks.

“Festival organisers will need to ensure their events meet high safety standards,” says minister for liquor, gaming and racing Paul Toole. “Events with a poor track record and heightened risk will face greater oversight from authorities.”

Until the new scheme comes into effect in March, interim measures at festivals will include “chill-out zones” staffed by medical professionals to help those who feel unwell. Obligatory free water stations will also be introduced.

However, the government has stated that it will not introduce pill testing, despite calls from the Australian Festival Association, and family and friends of the deceased.

 


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Kraftwerk in Buenos Aires to go ahead

Kraftwerk’s 23 November show in Buenos Aires will go ahead as planned after a judge ruled in favour of promoter Move Concerts.

Lisandro Fastman clarified that the ban on shows where “synthesisers or samplers are the primary instrument”, introduced in April after five people died at the Time Warp EDM festival, applies only to “festivals, and not indoor concerts, such as Kraftwerk”, a Move spokesman tells IQ, while the Kraftwerk concert is classed as “a normal recital”.

“The judge clarified his ruling was only meant for festivals, and not indoor concerts, such as Kraftwerk”

The city last week said the show would not be allowed to go ahead as Fastman “banned all electronic music festivals”, despite the fact the concert is being held in the indoor Luna Park arena.

Move says it hopes to resume sales for the event – which is roughly 70% sold out – this week.

 


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Italian ticket touts facing fines of €180,000

The sale of tickets on the secondary market in Italy could soon be punishable by a fine of up to €180,000.

Following weeks of controversy around online ticket resale – which kicked off with complaints by consumer-protection groups over widespread touting of tickets for Coldplay’s shows in Milan next July and culminated with Italian pop stars Vasco Rossi and Tiziano Ferro severing ties with Live Nation Italy for alleged collusion with Viagogo – Italy’s culture minister, Dario Franceschini, on Friday tabled an amendment to the 2017 budget act which, if passed, would provide for fines of €30,000–€180,000 for the sale of tickets by anyone but the event’s promoter or authorised resellers.

Franceschini (pictured) calls touting an “intolerable phenomenon”, and says “recent events show that self-regulation” – such as that advocated by Prof Waterson in the UK – “is not enough: we need legislative action.”

If passed into law, Franceschini’s proposal would be among the strictest ticket resale regulations in the world. The 2017 budget must be approved by the Italian parliament by 31 December 2016.

“Recent events show self-regulation is not enough… we need legislative action”

Following an admission by Live Nation Italy’s managing director, Roberto de Luca, on TV programme Le Iene that “we issue some tickets, a very limited number of tickets, on other sites, in this case Viagogo,” the company has withdrawn from Italian promoters’ association Assomusica.

A Live Nation Italy statement, however, notes: “The allegations on Le Iene relate to a small number of tickets for a handful of international artists. Live Nation Italy has never been asked to list any tickets on secondary markets by Italian artists.”

Assomusica, which recently called for “urgent legislative measures” to tackle ticket touting, welcomes Franceschini’s bill.

“I acknowledge with great satisfaction that […] Minister Franceschini announced that he will submit an amendment to the budget law to limit and counter the phenomenon of online ticket touting, or secondary ticketing,” says its president, Vincenzo Spera. “I’m really satisfied to see this unity of views between the minister and Assomusica…

“Our association has always been at the forefront of [putting an end to] touts making money from spoiling cultural events, which promote art and socialisation.”

 


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Loss of festivals no big deal, says Goan minister

There will be no decline in tourism in Goa this Christmas, despite the state government having forced two of India’s biggest musical festivals to relocate, its tourism minister has declared.

Rival dance music festivals Sunburn and Supersonic – the former of which attracted 350,000 festivalgoers in 2015 – will both move to Pune (Poona), in Maharashtra, this December after Dilip Parulekar declared they would no longer be welcome in Goa in 2016.

Speaking to the IANS news agency, Parulekar says the impact on tourism should be minimal. “People come for Goa’s culture, not because of EDM,” he comments. “It will not affect [footfall] much.”

“People come for Goa’s culture, not because of EDM”

Announcing Supersonic’s move, Saugato Bhowmik, of promoter Viacom18, praised Pune for its “openness towards modern influences” – in contrast, perhaps, to Goa, where one local politician accused dance music of being “against [Indian] culture and [pro-] pushing drugs” – and a “world-class destination” for the festival.

“Deeply-rooted in culture and traditions, the city is known for its openness towards modern influences and thought, Pune is a seamless blend of local culture and global influences, thereby making it an apt destination for the upcoming edition of Vh1 Supersonic,” says Bhowmik. “We also see this as an ongoing journey to provide transformative experiences to today’s youth by creating the Supersonic world at the kind of world-class destinations that Pune is providing to us. We are looking forward to a very successful Vh1 Supersonic, celebrating Pune as our new home.”

Insomniac held its first event in the subcontinent, Electric Daisy Carnival India, at the Buddh International Circuit near Delhi last weekend.

 


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Musicians raise concerns over Obamacare repeal

President-elect Donald Trump’s plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act (‘Obamacare’), which introduced a limited form of universal healthcare to the US, have been greeted with concern by a musicians’ advocacy group, which says millions of “newly insured musicians [could] lose their coverage” under Trump.

The Future of Music Coalition (FoMC)’s national organising director, Kevin Erickson, found in 2013 that 53% of musicians lacked private health insurance – close to three times the rate of the general population.

Erickson says: “The Affordable Care Act (ACA), […] despite its imperfections, effectively extended health insurance to millions of Americans, focusing on low-income self-employed individuals and their families, a population that includes countless musicians.

“Will countless newly insured musicians lose their coverage?”

“Provisions forbidding pre-existing conditions from being a factor in eligibility also expanded the pool of the insured.

“Since the ACA’s passage, the Republican-controlled congress has held a seemingly endless series of votes to repeal it. Now, without Obama’s veto standing in the way, its future is unclear. Will countless newly insured musicians lose their coverage?”

At least 20 US musicians and celebrities said they would leave the country should Trump be elected president.

 


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“Urgent” need for resale regulation in Italy

Italian promoters’ association Assomusica has announced its opposition to “any unauthorised resale of concert tickets” and called on the country’s competition authority to take action on speculative ticket listings.

The intervention by Assomusica, which represents more than 100 promoters and some 80% of all live shows in Italy, comes after two consumer groups complained to authorities when tickets for Coldplay’s two dates in Milan next July sold out in minutes and immediately appeared on secondary ticketing sites. One complaint, from Altroconsumo, asked the Antitrust Authority (Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato, AGCM) to investigate primary seller TicketOne for alleged unfair business practices.

Assomusica, led by veteran concert promoter Vincenzo Spera, recommends outlawing resale of tickets by anyone not “authorised to do so” – ie promoters, primary ticket agencies and “third parties authorised [by promoters], whose name and/or VAT number must appear on the ticket”.

“It is the firm belief of our association that urgent legislative measures are necessary to govern … this evolving sector”

“It is the firm belief of our association,” says a statement, “that urgent legislative measures are necessary to govern the peculiarities of this evolving sector, which is of great socio-economic impact.”

Perhaps inspired by events in Belgium, the organisation further recommends blocking ticket resale sites which “do not respect the law”.

While stamping out fraudulent resale in Italy will, naturally, be its priority, Assomusica will also seek to cooperate with associations in other EU member states. “The problem is felt, in fact, in all European countries – France and Germany, in particular,” says Spera. “Only cooperation and the appropriate synergies with other entities […] can produce the desired results.”

 


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IAVM opposes new overtime legislation

The International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM), the Texas-based professional body which counts among its ranks more than 5,000, primarily North American, member venues, has written to the US Congress to oppose new overtime legislation introduced by President Barack Obama.

Under the new legislation, dubbed the Overtime Rule, employers will be compelled to pay anyone earning less than US$47,476 a year time and a half for any hours worked outside their normal contracted hours – an almost 102% increase on the current threshold of $23,660.

The rule, which is due to take effect on 1 December 2016, will also see the salary threshold revised every three years in line with wage growth.

IAVM is instead supporting an amendment to the legislation, the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act, which favours a more gradual increase in the threshold, staggered over three years, and seeks to remove the automatic updates.

Writing to Kurt Schrader, the Oregon congressman who introduced the bill, the organisation criticised the Overtime Rule for “doubl[ing] the salary test of those now eligible for overtime […] without any adjustment to reflect wide regional variations in the cost of living”.

“We believe the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act provides a much more reasonable timeline for organisations to comply with this significant payroll burden”

The full text of the letter (in American English) is below.

Dear Congressman Schrader,

On behalf of more than 5,500 public assembly venues and suppliers, the International Association of Venue Managers extends our support for the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act.

IAVM represents public assembly venues from around the globe. Members include managers and senior executives from auditorium, arenas, convention centers, exhibit halls, stadiums, performing arts centers, university complexes, and amphitheaters. IAVM also counts more than 500 Allied companies among its members. These companies provide products and services used by venue managers.

When the Department of Labor’s final rule, entitled “Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees,” takes effect December 1, 2016, it will more than double the salary test of those now eligible for overtime from $23,660 to $47,776 without any adjustment to reflect wide regional variations in the cost of living and will permanently index the threshold for inflation.

This will have a dramatic effect on personnel cost by greatly expanding the number of employees eligible for overtime pay. Reclassifying employees from salaried to hourly will limit an employer’s flexibility, bonus and incentive pay while demoralizing many more employees who would now be subjected to punching a time clock. In the long run, this rule will have the unintended consequence of reducing employee benefits and serve as a detriment to future hiring. The DOL ruling adds another increased cost for our membership that will lead to future consolidation in our industry and have a dramatic impact.

For these reasons, we believe the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act provides a much more reasonable timeline for organizations to comply with this significant payroll burden, starting with a salary threshold increase to $35,984 on December 1, 2016, with additional, incremental increases phased in over the next three years. IAVM also supports the provision in the bill that would eliminate the automatic increase to the salary threshold every three years to maintain the threshold at the 40th percentile of full-time salaried workers. This proposed salary threshold should also be subject to public notice and comment periods consistent with the rulemaking process.

 


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Ontario takes aim at ticket bots

Mirroring similar developments south of the border, a Canadian politician is taking aim at ticket bots with a new private member’s bill aiming to criminalise their use.

If passed, the Ticket Speculation Amendment Act (Purchase and Sale Requirements) 2016 bill – introduced by Sophie Kiwala, a Liberal member of the provincial parliament (MPP) of Ontario – will prohibit the use of software (dubbed “scalper-bots” by Kiwala) to bypass security measures on online ticket outlets in Canada’s most populous province.

It will also require the original face value of the ticket to be disclosed when resold.

“There is simply no way in which human ability can surpass how quickly a bot can purchase a large volume of tickets in only a few moments”

“I have heard my constituents say that their experiences in ticket-buying have left them frustrated and discouraged,” says Kiwala. “There is simply no way in which human ability can surpass how quickly a scalper-bot can purchase a large volume of tickets in only a few moments. This is an issue that extends beyond my riding [constituency] and has affected many consumers looking to purchase tickets for a variety of different events.”

The bill, which Kiwala says is “intended to build upon the Ticket Speculation Act 1990, and the amendments made to the act in 2015“, was presented for its first reading in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario on 22 September.

In a survey of Canadian concertgoers in July, amid controversy over the number of tickets for The Tragically Hip’s farewell tour that found their way to the secondary market, 87% of respondents said they would support prison terms for resellers caught using ticket bots.

 


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