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1/3 of Italians book tickets for post-corona shows

In news that bodes well for the immediate future of the Italian live industry, nearly a third of live music fans have already bought, or are planning to buy, tickets for their first post-lockdown concerts, new research suggests.

Dopo l’Intervallo (After the Interval), based on the results of a survey of over 32,000 Italian eventgoers between 27 May and 19 June, reveals that 30.5% of respondents are actively seeking to buy tickets for shows – nearly double the number in the UK (17%), where the first After the Interval survey was conducted on 16 April–6 May.

“Italy is considered to be 2–4 weeks ahead of the UK in their experience of Covid-19. Could these results give us an idea of how our cultural audiences might be feeling in 6–8 weeks?” asks Indigo, the consultancy behind both surveys.

Italy’s concert scene reopened for business earlier this month, with phase three of the easing of lockdown seeing indoor shows of up to 200 people and outdoor events of up to 1,000 people allowed from 15 June. Some 90% of bars and restaurants are now open, though the live industry continues to wait for news on major gatherings such as large concerts and festivals.

“[Italians] consider it an integral part of their culture … to participate in music events and live shows”

The Italian version of After the Interval – produced by Indigo for Teatro Stabile del FVG, with input from live music associations such as Assomusica and KeepOn Live – additionally reveals a huge 96% of Italian respondents said they have missed live events during the Covid-19 pandemic (73% of them “a lot”), and that nearly a quarter (23%) would return to an event “as soon as venues reopen”.

However, of the 30.5% of those who are actively booking tickets, around half of them are booking for events after November 2020, indicating there will likely not be a full-scale recovery until 2021.

Vincenzo Spera, president of promoters’ association Assomusica, says the survey results are testament to the importance the Italian public places on live events. “We can take comfort and confidence”, he explains, in the fact Italian audiences consider it an “integral part of their culture […] to participate in music events and live shows.”

Italy is the world’s sixth-largest music market, with US$635m in ticket sales in 2019, according to PwC.


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Indie venues fight back against coronavirus

The grassroots music sector has been hit hard by the spread of Covid-19, with iconic venues around the world shutting for the foreseeable future.

However, in the face of adversity, many venues are showing they have the creativity, following and sector support it takes to weather even the most turbulent of storms.


Venues get creative

Venues around the UK that have temporarily closed, including Glasgow’s Hug and Pint (100-cap.), the Leadmill in Sheffield (1,150-cap.) and the Boileroom in Guildford (275-cap.), are implementing crowdfunding or other fundraising methods to generate additional income.

The team at Hug and Pint, which is owned by 432 Presents, say they have been “overwhelmed” by the support of the community, and have raised almost a third of their £30,000 crowdfunding target in just three days. Donations can be made here.

The Glaswegian venue has also launched the Hug at Home, a food and drink delivery service serving up “freshly prepared classics from the Hug and Pint menu”.

The Leadmill in Sheffield is auctioning off memorabilia including a custom guitar signed by Arctic Monkeys, a signed Biffy Clyro setlist and signed posters for the likes of Miles Kane, Feeder, Blossoms, Belle & Sebastian, Circa Waves, Goldfrapp and many more.

The team at Hug and Pint say they have been “overwhelmed” by the support of the community

The venue is also encouraging fans to buy merchandise – and toilet rolls – from its online shop.

A number of music venues across the United States have also set up Go Fund Me pages and are selling merch in a bid to raise funds following the shuttering of venues in states including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and South Carolina. A list of fundraising efforts is available on the Independent Venue Week website.

Many venues are also live streaming shows for fans to watch at home. US punk band Code Orange recently performed at a near-empty Roxian Theatre in Pittsburgh, but streamed the show live on the video game-focused platform Twitch, attracting over 13,000 concurrent viewers during the performance.

In the Germany, home to Europe’s clubbing capital Berlin, venues are taking part in the United We Stream initiative, broadcasting live DJ sets and performances from empty clubs each night. Fans are encouraged to donate €10, €20 or €30 a month in exchange for a ‘virtual club ticket’ to support venues and event organisers during the closure.

Many venues are also live streaming shows for fans to watch at home

Associations rally

Italian association KeepOn Live has launched a similar initiative, #StayON, forming a programme of live streams from clubs across a number of different channels “to gather the world of music around a single large virtual stage”.

The association is also encouraging members to fill in a questionnaire to allow them to quantify the damage done by Covid-19.

The results of similar survey initiated by the Music Venue Trust (MVT) in the UK has estimated it would cost around £3.7 million to sustain the weekly costs of all 661 venues in its Music Venues Alliance.

The charity has surveyed members weekly since the start of March to gauge how venues have been affected by the outbreak. From 10 to 16 March, almost 92% of the 247 respondents, and 95% of those in London, said they had been “negatively impacted by public response to Covid-19″, jumping from just 40% the week before.

Although a large proportion – 86% and a staggering 98% in London – reported a decrease in gross income over the past week, a slightly lower number of venues (58% and 62% respectively), cancelled events last week due to the virus, although that figure jumped from just 19% the week before.

MVT is commencing a third survey on 23 March. “Following the government’s 16 March advice, we will add a first question of whether the venue is still trading,” states the MVT report.

“We expect this question to indicate that close to 100% of venues have now ceased all live music activity”

“We expect this question to indicate that close to 100% of venues have now ceased all live music activity, and will ask for details of staff layoffs and financial situations for respondents where this is the case.”

The MVT is using its data to lobby the government, asking for a legal enforcement of venue closures to allow venues to seek insurance payouts and for the creation of a £120 million relief fund.

Other European venue associations are taking a similar path. German venue association LiveKomm is lobbying the government to get measures such as the creation of an emergency fund for live events, the deferral of tax payments, grants to help cover rent and postponement of royalty payments for venues.

Petzi, which represents 113 small music venues in Switzerland, has put forward similar proposals, asking for temporary unemployed insurance for all self-employed workers in the cultural sector, easy access to short-time work for all small- and medium-sized enterprises, compensation for cancelled events , an emergency fund for cultural workers and businesses under threat and a continuation of public funding for culture.

What is your venue or association doing to fight back against Covid-19? Email anna@iq-mag.net to keep us updated on your efforts.


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Italian biz “speechless” after Lanterna Azzurra tragedy

Italy’s live music business is in mourning after six people, five of them teenagers, lost their lives in a stampede at packed nightclub in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Up to 120 people were injured after one concertgoer – reportedly a 17-year-old male, since apprehended and now in police custody – released a pepper spray-like “stinging” substance in the Lanterna Azzurra (Blue Lantern) venue in Corinaldo, in the province of Ancona, at around midnight GMT (1am local time) on 8 December, according to local media.

The incident occurred before a planned concert by Sfera Ebbasta, an Italian rapper popular with teenages, and coincided with the start of Roman Catholic holiday the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Five of the dead – three boys and two girls – were aged between 14 and 16, while the fifth was a 39-year-old woman who had taken her daughter to the show, according to police.

“We were dancing when we were struck by a pungent odour that burned our eyes,” one teenage attendee told Sky Italy.

“We were dancing when we were struck by a pungent odour that burned our eyes”

Writing on social media, Ebbasta said he “[doesn’t] want to pass judgment on those responsible”, but added: “I’d like everybody to pause and think about how dangerous and stupid it can be to use pepper spray in a discotheque.” He also offered his “love and support” to victims’ families.

Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini has suggested there could have been “more people inside [the club] than was permissible”, and Ancona chief prosecutor Monica Garulli told reporters at the scene that about 1,400 tickets had been sold for the show, against a capacity of 870. Ancona’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, who visited the scene of the tragedy, later said that while Lanterna Azzurra had three rooms, it chose to only use one, which has a capacity of 469.

However, Marco Cecchini, one of the three managers of the venue, disputes the authorities’ version of events. Speaking to QN, he says: “There were not 1,400 people, as everyone is saying. Absolutely. In my opinion, there were no more than a thousand – even taking into account those who were outside smoking, inside there were little more than 800. It is a club that has contained a lot more people.”

In a statement, Italian concert promoters’ association Assomusica says the deaths have left the country “speechless”.

“[How can it be] possible for a moment of joy and socialising to turn into sadness and the loss of young lives?” asked the association. “Assomusica and all its members share the pain […] of the families involved in this tragedy.”

“How is it possible that a moment of joy and socialising could turn into sadness and the loss of young lives?”

It adds that it invites “all our members and artists, from today, to pause for a moment of reflection at the beginning of each show” to remember the victims.

Federico Rasetti, director of venues association KeepOn Live, says it is important what happened in Corinaldo, at an allegedly overcrowded show, is not conflated with the country’s live music scene as a whole, which is professional and organised.

“This entire sector, again, is likely to be misunderstood,” says Rasetti. “Live club shows and festivals are generally well organised, and specialised in producing events […], and just as often these tragedies occur in places where there is no live music.”

He further notes that Lanterna Azzurra is not a dedicated music venue, adding: “We need clarity, to ensure that public opinion and politics do not confuse a live music venue with a pub or a disco.”

Investigations into the tragedy are still ongoing. At press time, two more men had been arrested in connection with the stampede, and police are considering the possibility that the substance was sprayed as cover for robbing club-goers.


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