Russia’s live music industry on “brink of collapse”
The Association of Concert, Theater and Ticketing Organisations (KTiBO) says Russia’s cultural sector is “on the brink of collapse” due to a lack of support from the government.
In the last year and a half, at least 10,000 events across the country have been postponed and cancelled – causing a 90% drop in revenue – according to the association.
The loss has affected more than 3,000 small and medium-sized businesses including event organisers, private theatres, concert venues and ticket operators.
“The lack of constructive dialogue has led to the fact that today the audience has 5 million tickets worth 8 billion rubles [€92m], and the industry cannot fulfil its obligations under the postponed events and is on the verge of bankruptcy,” warns the association.
“The audience has 5 million tickets worth 8 billion rubles, and the industry cannot fulfil its obligations for postponed events”
KTiBO says it has repeatedly appealed to the federal authorities, but targeted assistance for the industry has been denied.
Now, the association is calling for an open dialogue with the government about the full reopening of the industry.
In the meantime, it is organising a series of events under the banner ‘The concert is over’ to raise awareness about the lack of support.
Tomorrow (26 August), KTiBO – along with representatives from SAV Entertainment, Broadway Moscow theatre company, Russian Show Center, Kassir, Eventation, MSM Group, Artistika, NCA group, Tele-Club Group and more – will host a press conference to discuss the consequences of the pandemic for the industry. More details about ‘The concert is over’ will be revealed then.
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Catalonia rolls out €8.4m aid package for culture sector
The Catalonian government has announced its first support package for the culture sector, totalling €8.4 million, to benefit companies, performers and live event technicians.
The package contains two lines of subsidies; the first will offer compensation for the operating costs of companies and cultural organisations affected by the pandemic.
While the second will compensate Catalonian artists who were hired for concerts or festivals, inside or outside the autonomous community, but ultimately could not perform due to cancellations.
The maximum amount of the grant is established based on 40% of the fee for each cancelled concert or show that was planned within the framework of a music festival.
The government has also established a €3.6m aid for professionals and technicians in the live events sector who have been affected by the crisis and “could not benefit from the general coverage of the unemployment system due to the peculiarities of their profession, characterized especially by intermittence”.
Those who have had an income of up to €18,555 between January and September will be eligible for a €750 grant until 31 January.
“The cultural sector is a pillar of our society and therefore vital for the government”
The cultural sector is a pillar of our society and therefore vital for the government,” says prime minister Pedro Sánchez. “We expand the protection of your workers with new measures that will help alleviate the serious consequences of Covid-19. We will continue to defend culture, now more necessary than ever.”
The news comes after months of campaigning, which saw the Spanish production sector take to the streets for national and global #WeMakeEvents/Red Alert protests, as well as benefit events such as Live Nation Spain’s ‘Crew Nation Presents…’ which raised more than €150,000 for touring crew and staff.
Elsewhere in Spain’s live music sector, struggling venues are preparing for a livestream event dubbed ‘The Last Concert?’ to highlight the severity of the situation facing the country’s cultural facilities, due to ‘lack of action and political will’ from the government.
At least 15 music venues have permanently closed already, according to AP Musicales.
Spain is currently operating under a six-month state of emergency, declared last week by the government, which is set to remain in force until 9 May 2021 with periodic reviews.
The decree will allow Spain’s regional governments to order an overnight curfew to run from 11 pm to 6 am, or to begin and finish an hour earlier or later.
Promoters including Live Nation Spain, Doctor Music, Madness Live and Producciones Animadas have commented on the new wave of measures for IQ.
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#LetTheMusicPlay: UK biz mobilises to call for aid
The leading lights of Britain’s live music industry – including some of its biggest touring talent – have today (2 July) issued an urgent plea for government aid to the sector, warning that a lack of support and continued uncertainty around reopening is having a “devastating” impact in one of the world’s biggest live music markets.
The appeal is centred on a letter to the UK’s culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, signed by 1,500 artists and bands, including Ed Sheeran, the Rolling Stones, Dua Lipa, Sir Paul McCartney, Skepta, Rita Ora, Coldplay, Eric Clapton, Annie Lennox, Sir Rod Stewart, Liam Gallagher, Florence and the Machine, Depeche Mode, Iron Maiden, Lewis Capaldi and Little Mix.
In the joint letter, the artists say: “UK live music has been one of the UK’s biggest social, cultural, and economic successes of the past decade. But, with no end to social distancing in sight or financial support from government yet agreed, the future for concerts and festivals and the hundreds of thousands of people who work in them looks bleak.
“Until these businesses can operate again, which is likely to be 2021 at the earliest, government support will be crucial to prevent mass insolvencies and the end of this world-leading industry.”
New research shows the live music sector added £4.5 billion to Britain’s economy in 2019, and supports 210,000 jobs. While the UK is the fourth-largest music market in the world by value of ticket sales – and the second-biggest per capita – the appeal notes that state support for live music lags behind other countries, with other European governments such as France and Germany using public money to kickstart their concert industries post-Covid-19.
“Government support will be crucial to prevent mass insolvencies and the end of this world-leading industry”
To coincide with the letter, hundreds of artists will today begin posting films and photos of their last live show using the hashtag #LetTheMusicPlay. Fans will also be encouraged to post about the last gig they went to, in a mass show of support for the UK’s on-pause live business.
“It’s incredibly important for artists like myself to speak up and support the live music industry in the UK,” says Dua Lipa. “From the very start, playing live concerts up and down the country has been a cornerstone for my own career. I am proud to have had the chance to play through all the levels: small clubs, then theatres and ballrooms, and into arenas, and, of course, festivals in between each touring cycle.
“But the possibility for other emerging British artists to take the same path is in danger if the industry doesn’t receive much-needed government support in the interim period before all the various venues, festivals and promoters are ready and able to operate independently again.”
The UK live music industry is asking for:
- A clear, conditional timeline for reopening venues without social distancing
- A comprehensive business and employment support package and access to finance
- Full VAT exemption on ticket sales
The business and employment support package should include, they say, a government-backed insurance scheme to allow shows to go ahead; an extension of the furlough scheme and help for the self-employed to prevent mass redundancies; rent breaks for venues to allow them to reopen; an extension of business-rate relief to the entire live music supply chain; rolling over fees for single-premises event licences for festivals; and financial support for lost box-office income.
“Every day, literally, I hear of another friend in music losing their job, shutting up shop or switching careers. This pandemic has affected everyone; it has taken many lives and forever changed many more,” says Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons and Venue Group. “Live entertainment has not been the headline, nor do I believe it should’ve been – at least until now.
“We really have to pay some attention to what our cultural landscape is going to look like on the other side of this, and we’re hoping that #LetTheMusicPlay will pull some of this into focus for a minute.”
“If the government doesn’t step up and support the British arts, we really could lose vital aspects of our culture forever”
Other artists to have signed the letter to Dowden include Take That, the Stone Roses, Foals, James Bay, Genesis, the Chemical Brothers, Johnny Marr, Slade, Biffy Clyro, Bastille, Muse, Sir Tom Jones and Manic Street Preachers.
“The UK’s venues, festivals, performers and crew bring so much to this country’s culture and economy, but they are now facing desperate financial challenges,” says Emily Eavis, organiser of Glastonbury Festival. “If the government doesn’t step up and support the British arts, we really could lose vital aspects of our culture forever.”
“July would normally see the UK embarking on a world-famous summer of live music, but this year the lights are switched off and the microphones unplugged,” adds Phil Bowdery, chairman of the Concert Promoters’ Association. “Live music has sought to play its role in helping tackle coronavirus, with many artists providing entertainment for people from their homes. But our shutdown is likely to go on for much longer than most, with many concerts and festivals unable to operate until 2021 at the earliest.
“Without rapid government support, the long-term impact will be devastating, with the loss of hundreds of thousands of highly-skilled jobs and billions of pounds from the UK economy.”
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Support acts: Which countries are still backing live
With the continent’s coronavirus peak having now passed, concert businesses and fans alike are increasingly asking when and how live music will return to Europe’s clubs, arenas and festivals.
For promoters, agents, venues and all those involved in putting on shows, when that moment comes will depend on when they are able restart their businesses safely and profitably. This, in turn depends on a whole range of factors – such as whether they will need operate at a reduced capacity, if events will need to be held outside and, crucially, whether social distancing will be enforced.
Some three months into the global concert shutdown, then, and things are – in many ways – more uncertain than ever.
There are glimmers of hope, but the level of support from governments is remarkably different between markets. From Germany’s recent mammoth €150m package for live, to some countries – including the UK – still awaiting any sector-specific support, here’s how Europe’s biggest concert markets (defined for the purposes of this article as those which feature in PWC’s top 20 live music markets 2019) compare…
Europe’s biggest live music market, which unveiled a mammoth €550 billion aid package at the start of the crisis, has in recent weeks announced more support for Germany’s SMEs, including those in the music industry.
In addition to the €1 billion Neustart Kultur (Restart Culture) scheme, which is worth €150m to the live music sector, the German federal government is also offering “bridging aid” (Überbrückungshilfe) for small and medium-sized businesses, which can apply for extra financial help if their turnover declined by at least 60% in April or May 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, or by 50% in June and August 2020.
“Although the music industry is not specifically mentioned, [concert] organisers, booking agencies, recording studios, music publishers, record companies, venues and affiliated companies in the event industry are likely to be among those who can apply for help,” notes Backstage Pro.
The Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry (BDKV) welcomed the stimulus packages but has warned it will, in practice, be impossible to reopen with social distancing measures in place, as suggest by the government. “Protecting guests from infection must be the top priority for events,” says BDKV president Jens Michow. “However, if reopening is only be allowed with a minimum distance [between eventgoers], this would effectively mean that the current ban on events would continue.”
Increasingly frustrated figures from across the live business in the UK are still waiting for any sector-specific support from government. Many associations are calling for clarity as to when events will be allowed to return; a support package that includes VAT reduction on tickets sales and access to longterm finance; and the removal of social distancing restrictions for shows. None have been granted so far.
The UK Live Music Group – part of umbrella body UK Music – warns that the music business will lose a collective £900m (€1bn) if it fails to address these points, as well as an extension of existing furlough and self-employed schemes to stave of thousands of redundancies.
Read UK Music’s recent submission to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on the impact of coronavirus here.
Germany’s €1bn Neustart Kultur scheme is worth €150m to the live music sector
Building on previous support measures, including a ‘solidarity fund’ for small businesses, a short-term unemployment scheme for freelancers and a €50m music and festival fund, the French government is extending further aid to sectors of the economy which have suffered a “very sharp drop in activity” as a result of the coronavirus, including the live music industry.
The Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs announced on 10 June that “companies in the hotel, restaurant, café, tourism, events, sport, culture and related” sectors will continue to receive aid under the “partial activity” (ie furlough) scheme until at least September, while also benefitting from a lower bar to entry for the solidarity fund – which will be opened to companies with up to 20 employees, and with a turnover up of to €2m, until the end of 2020.
For non-leisure and tourism companies, pay-outs under the solidarity fund ended up 31 May.
Small and medium-sized businesses in these sectors will also benefit from an employer social security contributions holiday from February to June, while artists/composers will be entitled to a reduction in their contributions based on their 2019 income.
As the country enters phase three of ending lockdown, the Italian concert industry – which achieved a major (if controversial) win in April by convincing authorities to write into law a ticket voucher scheme for cancelled events – is pinning its post-Covid-19 hopes on article 186 of the Relaunch Decree (Decreto Rilancio), which sets out stimulus spending ahead of Italy’s return to normality.
Among its provisions are an extension of the voucher scheme (which allows promoters to issue credit instead of cash refunds) for another six months, taking its duration to 18 months from March 2020, and an increase in financial support for the entertainment and media sectors, from €130m to €245 in 2020.
The ministry of culture has also been given control of a €210m emergency fund which will be distributed to those who have lost money as a result of the cancellation of “major events, fairs, congresses and exhibitions due to the Covid-19 emergency”.
Not everyone is happy with the content of the decree: Many in the Italian recorded music industry are concerned that it focuses too much on live music companies, with Dario Giovanni, of Carosello Records, saying record labels should also be included in the emergency fund.
French events businesses will continue to benefit from the partial-activity scheme until September
Industry associations in the Netherlands are in negotiations with the government about further financial aid for the sector, following the initial €300m support package for cultural businesses announced in April.
According to the new Alliance of Event Builders (Alliantie van Evenementenbouwers) – an umbrella organisation comprising promoters’ association VVEM, festival/venues body VNPF and more – the live industry is “positive about” a recent conversation with ministers, who invited the association’s representatives to “talk further about financial compensation” and discussed an initiative “to jointly investigate what is possible in the events sector”.
While gatherings of 100 people are set to be allowed from 1 July, industry representatives are also pushing for that cap to be raised, or abolished altogether, says the alliance, which notes that “museums, amusement parks, public transport and shopping centres” have no such limitation (beyond 1.5m social distancing).
“The Alliance of Event Builders is of the opinion that, with the proper precautions and a good event protocol, more is possible, and that customisation should be considered,” it adds. “For example, a football stadium, trade fair or concert venue has more square metres and facilities than a small theatre.”
Support for the industry has been slow coming in Europe’s sixth-largest concert market, with Chess & Jazz festival’s Nick Babin telling IQ last month that “we have [had] no support from the Russian authorities and no dialogue with the government”.
However, the Russian ministry of culture said last Thursday (11 June) that it will add to the 380bn ₽ (€49m) already allocated to state-owned theatre and concert companies with a fund to support “small private cultural institutions” when restrictions on events are lifted. This could – depending on how the government defines “culture” – offer a potential lifeline to the country’s hard-hit live music businesses.
Industry associations in the Netherlands are in negotiations with the government about further financial aid for the sector
While it says it values the government’s previously announced support for the events industry, Swedish live music association Svensk Live continues to push for an extension to a 500m kr. (€46m) scheme to compensate those forced to cancel their events.
The original cut-off date of 31 May, says the association, excludes festivals and open-air shows planned for the traditional “high season” for live music, which represents a large proportion of most companies’ turnover.
“The Covid-19 epidemic and the ban on public events have fundamentally changed this,” reads a letter sent to Sweden’s minister of culture, Amanda Lind, by Svensk Live’s Joppe Pihlgren.
“Particularly hard hit are the festival organisers around the country, preparing for their event on a yearly basis, and who finance one year of operating costs for their company with revenue from the festival, but have been forced to cancel the event,” writes Pihlgren.
As the “summer festivals that are organised after 31 May have not somehow got better conditions in order to cope with the financial situation they are in,” he concludes, the support scheme must be extended to cover the entire summer.
Although restrictions have been lifted on events of up to 300 people in Switzerland, the country’s live music sector says its needs significantly higher capacity limits – and continued support from the government – to make possible a return to normal.
Switzerland’s income support scheme for the self-employed ended at the end of May, leaving thousands of production staff, crew and other live industry freelancers without any means of support, according to Jörg Gantenbein, president of the Swiss Association of Technical Stage and Events Professionals (SVTB).
Associations like the SVTB and Swiss Music Promoters Association (SMPA) have called – unsuccessfully – for compensation for the scheme to be extended for those working in the events industry until the end of August, while the SMPA is additionally asking for emergency aid for creative-industry business and professionals to be extended until the resumption of “normal” business (ie the end of the coronavirus crisis), among other measures.
Sweden’s Svensk Live is pushing for an extension to €46m compensation scheme for those forced to cancel their events
Good news in Denmark, as Sunday 14 June saw the government confirm that the phasing out of existing relief packages would be accompanied by the introduction of a targeted scheme to help companies affected by a ban on events that lasts until 31 August.
The initiative – which kicks in on 9 July and lasts until 31 August – allows for compensation of up to 100% of expenses for companies which have no revenue and which are prohibited from opening by the restrictions, up to a maximum of 60m kr. (€8m). The scheme will be reviewed in September.
The government is also extending the existing support scheme for freelancers and the self-employed; launching a new aid scheme for artists; and providing 700m kr. towards organising a series of summer events, towards which promoters’ association Dansk Live will contribute.
Norway’s compensation scheme for concert organisers, as well as support for freelancers, must be extended “as long as there is a prohibition on gatherings with large audiences”, says Ole Henrik Antonsen, chair of the Norwegian Music Industry Council. (Concerts are currently capped at 200 people.)
While no new sector-specific initiatives have been announced in recent weeks, the Norwegian Live Music Association (NKA) recommended its members apply for funding to Arts Council Norway, which has a specific grant or concert promoters. “It is more important now than ever that the organisers seek support from this scheme,” says NKA GM Tone Østerdal.
In Denmark, a new scheme will benefit companies affected by the ban on major events, which lasts until 31 August
According to umbrella organisation Music Austria, the help available to music professionals in Austria finally reached the “minimum level” needed to support the business at the tail end of last month, in the form of various initiatives including fixed-cost subsidies. a hardship fund and a “bridging fund” for artists.
Not everyone agrees, however: a rally on Heldenplatz in Vienna on Sunday (15 June) called for a “special support package for our entire industry”, in the words of Stiletto Stohl, founder of production business IG Event Technicians. The rally – dubbed ‘Ohne uns’ (‘Without us’) – saw protestors demand from the government what they say is long-overdue assistance for the live business, especially compared to the help that has been given to other industry.
Stohl said the industry is a net contributor to the economy, and does not need special treatment – merely targeted help and relief in dealing with the crisis. “We do not need 600 millions euros donated for 1,000 jobs, like at AUA,” he said, in reference to the recent €600m bail-out of Austrian Airlines.
In Belgium, live events companies have similarly been largely forgotten, with companies who organise concerts and other live events eligible only for a one-off compensation payment of €3,000, according to the newly formed Alliance of Belgian Event Federations (Alliantie van Belgische Eventfederaties).
“There are good tax measures in the pipeline. But, for now, the event sector is completely outside the support measures,” says federation spokesperson Bruno Schaubroeck, who is calling for a concrete date when major live events may restart in Belgium.
“With the continuing uncertainty, the risk of bankruptcies increases every hour,” he says. “We are ready for a safe restart.”
Spain’s Es Música is asking authorities to set up a ‘state compensation fund’ to cover Covid-19-related losses
Beyond a wider campaign that seeks to extend Spain’s furlough scheme until 31 December, the Spanish live music sector, through umbrella organisation Es Música, is asking authorities to set up a ‘state compensation fund’ that would cover losses incurred by companies as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This fund, the organisation suggests, should be accompanied by other “financial incentives”, such as a temporary reduction in VAT and corporation tax, which would put the industry on a solid footing as it moves towards reopening.
Es Música – of which the Association of Music Promoters (APM) is a founding member – has put its proposals in a ‘recovery and reactivation’ roadmap it has sent to the Spanish ministry of culture and sports.
This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times. Is anything in this article incorrect or out of date? Email [email protected] with any updates.
Victoria steps up, but wider Aus response “woeful”
The state of Victoria has dedicated a sizeable financial aid package to kickstart its experience economy, as industry organisations continue to criticise the lack of support from central government.
Australia embarked on its three-step Covid-19 recovery plan last week, with gatherings of up to 100 people permitted, along with the reopening of venues and clubs, in the final stage, but many have criticised the lack of support for the industry from central government.
According to the I Lost My Gig website, which tracks event cancellations in Australia and New Zealand, over 280,000 shows have been affected by the crisis so far, with over $340m (€202m) lost in contracts by the end of April alone.
In the state of Victoria, home to the city of Melbourne, the government has recently dedicated a AU$150m (€88.2m) package to help get the “experience economy” back on track, including $4m (€2.4m) earmarked for the live music sector, $2m (€1.2m) for the sustaining creative workers fund and $32m (€19m) for the wider creative industry.
“In partnership with Michael Gudinski’s Mushroom Group, The State of Music is a new weekly livestream celebrating the Australian music community.”
The state has also launched Together Victoria, an online hub to support the population through the coronavirus response. Along with hosting content from state museums, galleries and wellness practitioners, music and comedy features highly.
In partnership with Michael Gudinski’s Mushroom Group, The State of Music is a new weekly livestream celebrating the Australian music community. The second episode takes place this Saturday from 18:30AEST and features Tim Minchin, Paul Kelly, Kate Miller-Heiske, Mahalia Barnes, Mia Wray and Missy Higgins.
However, the support given by Victoria has not materialised in other states.
In New South Wales, where bars, pubs and clubs were permitted to reopen today under strict social distancing measures, little has been done to help the cultural sector.
“Our largest state has been missing in action so far in the battle to protect our cultural sector from the devastation being wreaked by the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Live Performance Australia CEO Evelyn Richardson.
“The response so far from both NSW and the Commonwealth has been woeful.”
“Some of our state governments have put in place targeted measures to support our cultural industries, but the response so far from both NSW and the Commonwealth has been woeful.
“Our world-class cultural industry was the first to be shutdown by Covid-19 and will be one of the last to recover, although for all the talk from the Federal Government of helping people cross the bridge to the other side of the pandemic, we see precious little evidence of that support for our cultural sector.”
Despite individual efforts like that seen in Victoria, the central Australian government has received criticism from the shadow arts minister Tony Burke for its $27m (€16m) arts sector stimulus package, which has been deemed insufficient to “save the industry from decimation”.
LPA has proposed a $750 million (€413m) emergency support package to support the industry through the crisis.
This week, the Australian Greens party proposed a $2.3 billion (€1.4bn) economic stimulus package for the arts sector across the entire country. The package includes the $1bn (€595m) Australia Live fund for the country’s festival, music and live performance sector.
“The arts and entertainment industry will be absolutely vital to our economic recovery,” says Greens spokesperson for the arts, Sarah Hanson-Young.
“If we are going to restore our social fabric we need to bring people back together through live performance, when it’s safe to do so, and that is going to take funding support. But it will be worth it as the return on investment from this sector will be enormous and in more ways than one.”
Photo: jetsetkiwi/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0) (cropped)
This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.
Australian live industry contracts in 2015
Live entertainment revenues and attendance both fell in Australia last year, reveals new data that Live Performance Australia (LPA) says underlines the “critical importance of a more strategic policy approach from the [government] for the live performance industry”.
The trade body’s Ticket Attendance and Revenue Survey 2015 reveals revenues declined 6.7%, to A$1.41 billion, and attendances 0.9%, to 18.38 million tickets sold, despite a 4.7% decline in average ticket prices.
“These figures underscore the economic and cultural value of the live performance industry for millions of Australians – but the [Malcolm] Turnbull government hasn’t always matched this with policy direction or commitments,” says LPA chief executive Evelyn Richardson.
“Instead, we have seen cuts to Australia Council funding for small to medium organisations, and more recently massive and unjustified increases in visa fees for large international touring groups.
“We strongly believe the government needs to support greater investment in our industry, which … enriches the cultural lives of millions of Australians”
“We strongly believe that the government needs to support greater investment in our industry, which creates jobs, employs more than 34,000 people, generates significant economic activity and enriches the cultural lives of millions of Australians.
“At the very least we require more effective consultation with government ministers and departments well before any changes that may affect our industry are considered.”
Continuing the trend seen in previous years, the survey found contemporary music and musical theatre to be the two largest contributors to the live industry, generating 34% and 23.8% of revenue, respectively.
Single-category festivals (ie only music) only managed third, hit by the December 2015 cancellation of Big Day Out. Similarly, 2016’s figures are likely to be affected by the surprise cancellation of SFX’s Stereosonic.
Sounds Australia to keep funding after gov U-turn
Sounds Australia will no longer lose its public funding following a surprise about-face by the Australian government.
The music export office – which was controversially defunded in May’s federal budget, sparking a backlash from the Australian live industry – will receive A$1.16 million over the next four years, arts minister Mitch Fifield has announced.
The funding matches investment from the Australia Council for the Arts and PRO/collection society APRA AMCOS.
“The Australian music industry is full of talent, passion and innovation, and we’re ecstatic that we can continue sharing that with the world”
Millie Millgate, Sounds Australia’s executive producer, says: “Today’s news that the Department of Communications and the Arts is supporting Sounds Australia for the next four years is exactly the result we’ve been hoping for. It’s testament to the value of the national export platform and subsequent success Australian artists are enjoying around the world.
“We can’t thank the local and international industry enough for the support they’ve shown over the past months as we’ve worked towards a funding solution. The Australian music industry is full of talent, passion and innovation, and we’re ecstatic that we can continue sharing that with the world.”
UK MPs warm to ticket resale regulation
Days after culture minister Dario Franceschini declared he would seek to make online ticket touting illegal in Italy, members of the British parliament (MPs) this morning signalled their willingness to further regulate the UK’s secondary ticketing market, with one stating: “The time has come when we have to do something.”
In three sessions, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee heard from MMF’s Annabella Coldrick, Wildlife Entertainment’s Ian McAndrew and You Me at Six frontman Josh Franceschi; Ticketmaster UK chairman Chris Edmonds, eBay/StubHub’s Alasdair McGowan and Paul Peak and the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers’ Jonathan Brown; and Professor Michael Waterson and Iridium Consultancy’s Reg Walker, respectively, with MPs backing calls for action from those hostile to online ticket resale.
“I’m on your side on this one,” Nigel Huddleston, MP for Mid-Worcestershire, told Coldrick. “The British public are more than happy to applaud entrepreneurs, but there’s a fundamental difference between that and price gouging.
“Being ripped off – that’s what the British public won’t tolerate.”
High Peak MP Andrew Bingham said: “I sat on the all-party group with Sharon [Hodgson MP] in the last parliament, and I took the view then that this market is working and we should leave well alone, but I have to say things have evolved […] and the time has come when we have to do something.”
“Things have evolved and the time has come when we have to do something”
Bingham, however, warned against acting hastily and appeared to suggest the issue still needs to be looked at in more detail. “What we don’t want to do, if we’re going to legislate, is send the industry back to blokes hanging around outside venues shouting, ‘Tickets, tickets, who wants tickets’,” he said. “As legislators, we want to get this right.”
Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney suggested “naming and shaming” promoters and venues complicit in the transfer of inventory from the primary to the secondary market, calling them “the villains in this”.
While declining to name names, Coldrick said there is a “if you can’t beat them, join them” attitude among some artists, while McAndrew revealed he had been “approached often by the ‘big four’ resale sites”. “That’s a proposal I’ve refused on a number of occasions, but I can understand how that might be a temptation for [those] who want to maximise revenue,” he said, “and that’s why I think we need to look at transfer of tickets from the primary to the secondary market.”
Nigel Adams MP, a longtime campaigner against ticket bots and professional touts, asked Coldrick, McAndrew and Franceschi: “What is the solution? Not everybody can do what Josh does, sitting in a shop and selling tickets to fans… What do we need to do?”
“For a start, the law needs to be enforced,” said Coldrick. “The Consumer Rights Act  says seat numbers and rows must be shown on tickets, that if promoters make a clear statement tickets can’t be resold they can cancel them…
“The experience was very positive, and a distinct progression from previous governments’ narrative around the issue of ticket abuse”
“There needs to be a wholesale inquiry into how these tickets are being sold and how they’re being acquired.”
McAndrew added: “We need to see criminalisation of bots, and we need to look at transfer of tickets from primary to secondary. I’d like to think that’s already an offence under existing consumer law.”
Reflecting on the session, McAndrew told IQ this afternoon: “I think the experience was very positive, and a distinct progression from previous governments’ narrative around the issue of ticket abuse, particularly with relation to ticket resale.
“The committee clearly understands the issues around ticket resale and the harm that is caused to consumers. They also understand the opaque nature and scale of the ticket resale business and how the lack of transparency impacts negatively on music fans, and recognise the vast profits and excessive fees generated by the £1 billion-a year-resale business and how virtually none of that goes back into the live music economy.
“I hope today’s session will provoke a more in-depth investigation to the issues around ticketing in the UK.”
Lack of support ‘hurting SA live scene’
PwC expects the South African live music industry to grow at 7.9% over the next five years, but the figure could be far higher with more support from government and big business, a new study has concluded.
It Starts with a Heartbeat, commissioned by South African/Norwegian music development body Concerts SA and backed by collection society SAMRO, says “enhanced investment” in live music in the next five to ten years “could have a particularly strong impact in South Africa”, noting that “live music has returned to the top of the value chain, in terms of both revenue and cultural value” following the decline of physical media (a trend it shares with more developed countries, “though with various time-lags”).
Despite live’s natural ascendancy, there are significant problems preventing further growth: among them, says Concerts SA, “erratic programming, poor information, unfriendly spaces, access factors such as transport and affordability” and a “complex, sometimes burdensome” regulatory environment as a legacy of South Africa’s “long, disgraceful history of policing or banning black sociality”.
The solution, says the Johannesburg-based group, is backing from corporations and the local government to transform a sector still largely dominated by small, medium- and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) into a modern, professional concert industry.
“A live music circuit throughout the region could create ongoing employment … but this requires buy-in and sustained support”
“Government – especially local government – and big business can offer crucial help,” reads the report. “Government plays a key role in live music through regulation and facilitation. Big business has resources and – just as important[ly] – skills that can energise a largely SMME sector and redress the damage done to live music by apartheid.”
One such big business – the biggest: Live Nation – entered the South African market in February with the acquisition of the country’s leading tour promoter, Big Concerts.
Andre le Roux, MD of the SAMRO Foundation, says: “With enough time, a live music circuit throughout the region could create ongoing employment and heightened cultural awareness around the country. But this requires buy-in and sustained support.
“Our call to the policymakers, politicians, decision-makers, researchers, artists, venue owners, audiences and all who have a vested interest in growing the music industry is to take some time to read this research, to ponder over our suggestions and findings [and] use it as a toolkit or a menu and choose which options you can use to build the consumption of music for the wellbeing of our society, economically, socially and culturally.”
BC slashes licensing red tape for promoters
British Columbia is hoping to boost its live music sector making it easier to stage concerts and festivals.
Promoters in the province, Canada’s westernmost, will now be able to apply for a special occasion licence – a fast-tracked alcohol licence previously only available to charitable and non-profit organisations – which will be renamed the ‘special event permit’.
Allowing for-profit businesses to accept liability for the alcohol served at their events will, says the British Columbian (BC) government, “cut red tape for event organisers” and allow promoters to seek “advantageous partnerships with breweries, wineries, and distilleries in order to raise money for charity”.
“On behalf of BC’s music festival organisers, we truly appreciate the ministry’s continued focus on red-tape reduction”
Graham Henderson, the president of Music Canada, says: “Today’s announcement is one more important step to building a sustainable music industry for the benefit of our artists, the economy and live music event attendees, and for that we thank the BC government.
“Reducing red tape for live music performances is an important addition to the BC music strategy and demonstrates the government’s strong support of our growing industry sector. BC has a deep musical heritage and is home to some of the finest production facilities, artists and labels in the world. We’re very happy to see the province make changes that can better position BC to compete in an increasingly global marketplace.”
Nick Blasko, a member of the BC Music Fund’s advisory committee, adds: “On behalf of BC’s music festival organisers, we truly appreciate the ministry’s continued focus on red-tape reduction. Their effort towards a licensing strategy that will help to create more events in our province is good for BC artists and many of our province’s music companies. We look forward to seeing these changes implemented.”