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Australian industry welcomes $250m rescue package

The Australian government has dedicated AU$250 million (€153.3m) to help rebuild the country’s entertainment and arts sector over the next year, as it commits to presenting a clear timetable for reopening.

The country’s creative industries joins those in Germany (€1 billion) and New Zealand ($175m/€100m) to receive significant funding to boost recovery.

The package includes $75m (€46m) for a competitive grants programme – with individual grants of up to $2m (€1.2m) – to provide capital for new festivals, concerts, tours and events, and $90m (€55.2m) in concessional show starter loans – backed with a 100% state guarantee – to assist businesses to fund new productions and events that stimulate job creation and economic activity.

A further $35m (€21.5m) will be used to provide direct support to Commonwealth-funded arts and culture organisations facing threats to financial viability, including those in theatre, dance, music and circus.

The final $50m (€30.7m) is dedicated to supporting film and television producers.

“We welcome the government’s support for both the live entertainment and live sport sectors as we push ahead with these plans”

The government has also committed to establishing a creative economy taskforce to implement a JobMaker plan for the creative economy, as well as working to give the entertainment industry greater certainty about the timetable for restarting business.

Although the funding is over $105m (€64.4m) short of the relief package previously drawn up by Live Performance Australia (LPA), industry organisations have widely welcomed the government’s support, with the LPA calling it a “significant outcome” for the industry.

The recently formed Live Entertainment Industry Forum (LEIF), which comprises Australia’s leading promoters Live Nation, TEG, Frontier Touring, Chugg Entertainment and AEG, as well as WME agency, major venues and operators, and a number of industry organisations, thanks the prime minister “for recognising the serious business of entertainment that employs hundreds of thousands of jobs and makes a significant contribution to the Australian way of life.”

LEIF chair James Sutherland adds the forum is working with health authorities to develop “nationally approved high-level principles for a safe return to live entertainment and sport at large venues”.

“Through this unprecedented collaboration across live entertainment and sport we are committed to delivering COVIDSafe live events and sport. We welcome the government’s support for both the live entertainment and live sport sectors as we push ahead with these plans.”

“I know there’s a strong desire among all Australians to see the return of gigs, performances and events”

LPA CEO Evelyn Richardson says the measures “reflect our industry’s unique characteristics and the challenges it faces”, as well as recognising “the significant economic contribution that our commercial sector makes to Australia’s economic and cultural well-being.”

According to Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, the package is designed to support “a broad range of jobs from performers, artists and roadies, to front of house staff and many who work behind the scenes, while assisting related parts of the broader economy, such as tourism and hospitality.”

“Many in the sector will find a new way to operate while the current social distancing measures remain in place,” says Morrisson, “and while that won’t be easy I know there’s a strong desire among all Australians to see the return of gigs, performances and events.”

In step three of Australia’s recovery roadmap, which individuals states can choose to activate from the start of next month, seated and ticketed outdoor venues of up to 40,000 people can hold up to 25% capacity, with larger venues limited to 10,000 people.

Indoor venues will no longer have a capacity limit, but must ensure there is enough space for four square metres per person.

Night clubs and “high-risk outdoor events”, such as unseated music festivals, are to remain closed.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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LPA designs AU$345m live business recovery plan

Industry body Live Performance Australia (LPA) has designed a live business rebuild and recovery, outlining the financial aid needed from the Australian government to get live back up and running.

The LPA is asking for an AU$345 million (€213m) recovery package, including $170m (€105m) of capital investment to help restart tours, support live industry workers and support regional venues; $30m (€18.5m) for funds focused on innovation; $70m (€43.3m) for the Australia Council for the Arts; and $75m (€46.4m) for consumer-focused campaigns.



As well as urging a six-month extension for the Australian JobKeeper scheme, currently set to expire in September, the two-year recovery plan also includes longer-term initiatives including tax incentives for pre-production costs and live music venues; an arts and entertainment loan scheme; the waiving of visa fees for international performers; and a contingency fund to support events which may be impacted by future restrictions due to Covid-19 outbreaks.

To offset a potential weakening of consumer confidence, LPA proposes a $55m (€34) ‘See It Live’ e-voucher scheme to encourage Australians to attend live events.

“Unlike some other parts of the economy, a gradual re-opening process is not commercially viable for most of our industry”

Although individual states have dedicated resources to aiding live’s recovery, such as Victoria’s $150m (€92.7m) experience economy aid package and $50m (€30.9m) arts and culture funding in New South Wales, the national government has yet to offer sector-specific support.

Now in the twelfth week of widespread event shutdowns, and with strict capacity limits in place where venues are allowed to reopen, LPA says the government must do more to support the live entertainment industry.

“Unlike some other parts of the economy, a gradual re-opening process is not commercially viable for most of our industry,” says LPA chief executive, Evelyn Richardson. “We can’t re-open venues that only have dozens in the audience. That’s why we will need a sustained and strategic investment by government to get our industry up and running again.”

LPA is aiming for venues to reopen fully by September, a timeframe believed to be “achievable” given the progress made by neighbouring New Zealand, which is gearing up to restart events without social distancing int he next week.

“Our $4 billion dollar industry will be a major driver of economic activity, jobs and cultural tourism recovery. Our number one priority is getting our venues open and our people back to work. We look forward to working closely with governments at all levels to make this happen in the coming months.”

Full details of the package are available on the LPA website.

 


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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. 

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Industry orgs urge gov support in face of Covid-19 [updating]

Music industry associations in a number of markets are calling on their respective governments for financial backing and relief measures in the wake of the damage coronavirus is causing to the business.

Umbrella bodies and promoters’ associations from Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Russia and the UK are among those to lobby their governments for assistance as covid-19 causes more event cancellations and temporary venue closures by the day.

Last updated 11.30 GMT on Friday 20 March. What is your association doing to tackle coronavirus? Email anna@iq-mag.net to submit missing association information.

 


Australia

Live Performance Australia (LPA)

The LPA put forward a comprehensive AU$750 million (€413m) emergency support package to the Commonwealth, state and territory governments in Australia on 20 March.

“Today all of Australia’s peak bodies and the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) stand united in calling for a clear commitment from government that it will adopt these measures, otherwise, it’s the final curtain for Australia’s world class live performance industry which has fostered generations of local and global talent,” comments LPA chief executive Evelyn Richardson.

“This is an economic, social and cultural emergency that demands a fast, creative, flexible and agile response from all levels of government.”

The live performance industry package consists of:

The package would include:

“Realistically, we’re looking at a three to six month closure period at least before any recovery phase,” says Richardson.

LPA predicts that, over the course of three months, half a billion dollars of revenue and thousands of jobs will be lost from Australia’s live industry.

“Governments need to focus on supporting our companies to keep people employed and in jobs,” states Richardson.

“They also need to provide immediate income support for our creative workers who are now facing a very uncertain future.

“We need a comprehensive support package to ensure our companies survive and our industry is in the best position it can be when it is possible to resume operations.”

“Realistically, we’re looking at a three to six month closure period at least before any recovery phase”

Bulgaria

Music Stage – Bulgarian association of concert promoters, music and cultural events

In Bulgaria, all state-owned venues, private music clubs, theatres and sports hall have been shut down until further notice, as the state has imposed a ban on gathering of more than 20 people in public places.

Music Stage has conducted meetings with government representatives and has proposed:

The association also has the intention of propsing a reduction of valued-added tax drom 20% to 5% on all cultural events.

“The only way to avoid bankruptcies is to be able to promote new shows with affordable ticket prices and lower production and promotion costs,” comments Music Stage chairman Stanislav Drazhev. “Further we hope that all travel bans will be lifted and all sectors in the economy related to our activities will be flexible in the future so we can elevate the live entertainment business once again.”

“The only way to avoid bankruptcies is to be able to promote new shows with affordable ticket prices and lower production and promotion costs”

Canada

Canadian Live Music Association (CLMA)

On 18 March, the CLMA welcomed a new federal aid package, which it believes particularly benefits in particular self-employed and freelance workers, small businesses, artists and musicians.

The government plan includes:

On Sunday 15 March, CLMA president and CEO Erin Benjamin sent a letter to the Canadian minister of finance  recommending relief measures for the country’s live industry in a time if “extreme difficulty”.

The association estimates that over 36% of its members will “fail out-right” within the next four to weeks, with “others laying off approximately 76% of their current workforce”. The Canadian live industry currently contributes CAN $3.5bn (€3.8bn) to Canada’s GDP and employs 72,000 people.

“The economic, social and cultural output of the live music industry is entrenched in Canadian society,” reads the letter. “The severe damage done to the live music sector will send a ripple effect through our creative community and economy, one that will be hard to reverse.”

The CLMA recommends:

The CMLA is among those surveying members to measure the impact of Covid-19 on the Canadian music industry. The survey, which can be accessed here, is running until 19 March.

“The economic, social and cultural output of the live music industry is entrenched in Canadian society”

Denmark

Dansk Live

Danish industry association Dansk Live has been in talks with the government since recommendations were made that event over 1,000 capacity – later extended to those over 100 people – be cancelled or postponed.

“There was no other choice than to cancel events and we managed to lobby for solutions to support the promoters and venues suffering from this,” Dansk Live’s Esben Marcher tells IQ. “We are currently in talks with politicians on how to help the smaller venues that are affected by the new situation.

Dansk Live welcomes initiatives already launched by the government, such as a fund to compensate those forced to cancel events.

“Some of these [initiatives] will also be helping the venues, but the initiatives are focusing on pay for the employees and ways of postponing tax and VAT payments. There’s currently no way of compensating the income loss on bar sales,” says Marcher. “The situation will hit the the small venues quite hard.”

The association is currently collecting data on postponed or cancelled shows, loss on ticket sales and artist fees. It is launching a new questionnaire to its members in the next few days.

“There was no other choice than to cancel events and we managed to lobby for solutions to support the promoters and venues suffering from this”

Europe 

Pearle*

Europe-wide live music industry body Pearle* is calling upon the European Union and governments to provide targeted measures following the impact of Covid-19 on live events.

The body is asking the EU:

Furthermore, the organisation urges member states to enforce specific measures relating to labour and employment, tax, financial and grants, asking government to:

“In these times, culture is not a luxury but key to our societies and a unifying and mobilising force all over Europe,” reads the Pearle* statement on Covid-19. “More than ever culture is needed in a crisis situation.”

“In these times, culture is not a luxury but key to our societies and a unifying and mobilising force all over Europe”

Impala

The European independent music companies association, Impala, has set up a Covid-19 task force to help address the effects on the virus on the independent sector.

To promote a co-ordinated approach across Europe, the task force will publish next week a package of recommended measures at national, European and sector level. The plan is being designed to ensure that the music ecosystem is shielded from long term harm and to promote independent music.

Impala’s task force will also hold weekly calls to monitor action taken by the European institutions, as well as sector initiatives, and establish an inventory to keep members informed and promote best practice across the continent. National associations in Europe will be able to work with the task force to help devise national strategies with governments and key sector players.

“We fully support the public health measures that are being put in place,” says Impala executive chair, Helen Smith. “Governments are, however, reacting at different speeds and some are leaving too many decisions to businesses. This is causing unnecessary confusion and hardship.”

“In times of crisis, smaller actors are the most exposed,” adds Francesca Traini, chair of Impala’s Covid-19 task force. “The Impala task force is working on a call to action on all key levels.”

“In times of crisis, smaller actors are the most exposed”

France

Tous pour la Musique (All for music)

French association Tous pour la Musique, which represents around 30 live music organisations in the country, has called for “exceptional economic and financial aid from the public authorities for performing arts professionals”.

“There is an urgent need to strengthen support systems for businesses, to compensate employees who find themselves without a salary and temporarily adapt the unemployment compensation rules for intermittent workers in the entertainment industry,” reads a statement issued by the organisation.

“There is an urgent need to strengthen support systems for businesses”

Germany

BDKV – Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry

German promoters’ association BDKV has welcomed the measures put in place by the German government “to cushion the economic effects of coronavirus”, including making the short-time working allowance more flexible, introducing tax liquidity support for companies, creating the conditions for easier access to credit, and additional special programmes.

However, the association states that the measures “are not adequately suited to compensate for the loss of income due to events being cancelled over several weeks and, above all, for the preliminary costs of planned concerts and tours that have been already invested in.”

The BDKV has suggested an expansion of the catalog of measures for the event industry, asking for:

Talks between the BDKV and the government will continue this week.

“Measures are not adequately suited to compensate for the loss of income due to events being cancelled over several weeks”

German Music Council

The German Music Council, or Deutscher Musikrat (DMR), has welcomed the €550bn of financial aid dedicated to the creative industries and other German businesses by the government, but calls for more help for freelancers.

“The DMR is demanding a basic income of €1,000 for all freelance creative professionals for a period of six months,” states professor Christian Höppner, general secretary of the German Music Council.

“With the nationwide shutdown, the incomes of freelance musicians, be it in the event area or in the music education profession, immediately fall away, while costs continue to run. Given the average gross annual income for freelance musicians, there is no scope for reserves.

“It is crucial that help can now be provided quickly and without red tape.”

The umbrella organisation is among those running surveys to gauge the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on their members. The survey, which runs until 31 March, can be found here.

“With the nationwide shutdown, the incomes of freelance musicians, immediately fall away, while costs continue to run”

Italy

Assomusica

In Italy, the European country hit worst by the coronavirus, promoters’ association Assomusica has predicted the industry will face a loss of around €40m from 23 February until the start of April.

Measures proposed by Assomusica include:

“We really hope that President Conte and ministers Franceschini (culture) and Gualtieri (economy and finance) can take into consideration measures of real help for the organisers of concerts and music shows, and above all do not consider that the live show is only the one financed with citizens’ money,” says Assomusica president Vincenzo Spera.

“We really hope that President Conte can take into consideration measures of real help for the organisers of concerts and music shows”

Japan

All Japan Concert and Live Entertainment Promoters Conference (ACPC)

The Japanese live entertainment industry, including representatives from ACPC, called together a all-party parliamentary group for live entertainement on Tuesday (17 March), submitting a petition asking for:

“About three weeks have passed since the Japanese prime minister announced a ban on events,” ACPC spokesperson Katsuhiko Kondo tells IQ. “Our estimation is that about 1,550 performances have been cancelled or called off, resulting in an estimated loss of 45bn yen (€381.6m).”

Our estimation is that about 1,550 performances have been cancelled or called off, costing the industry 45bn yen”

Netherlands

Vereniging van evenementenmakers (VVEM) – Association of event organisers

Dutch promoters’ association VVEM has welcomed a recent package of financial measures from the government that allocates up to €20bn to support companies and the self-employed and recognised the cultural sector as one of the hardest hit.

Measures include:

“We see that the government is well aware of the need for business, large and small, and has announced firm measures,” comments VVEM’s Willem Westermann. “Some of the measures can also be implemented quickly.

“As an industry organisation, VVEM is now busy directing the possible additional sector-specific measures. How that will work out is not yet clear, but we hope and expect to be able to report on it soon. ”

“As an industry organisation, VVEM is now busy directing the possible additional sector-specific measures”

Norway

Norwegian Live Music Association

The Norwegian Live Music Association has been working to help its 420 members since the government put forward a ban on large gatherings on 5 March, later extended to a closing of all events from 12 to 24 March.

“From small festivals and promotors based on voluntary work to the big, commercial actors; this is hitting hard,” the association’s CEO, Tone Østerdal, tells IQ. “Our members report on a loss of income at NOK 430m (€33m) for March and April alone.

“If the situation continues over the summer, hitting the festival season, we can add NOK  2.8bn (€213.7m) to that.”

Through government lobbying, Østerdal says the assocaition has, to a certain extent, achieved what it has asked for, including:

Although Østerdal states the fund dedeicated to the live music sector “is not big enough”,  she adds that “it’s a much-needed start”.

“From small festivals and promotors based on voluntary work to the big, commercial actors; this is hitting hard”

Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus

Colisium International Music Forum

Colisium, an association for promoters in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus,  has put together documents seeking government support in the face of Covid-19.

The association requests:

“Our prognosis is that there will be a three to six month period without the events, especially in the largest hubs of Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Yekaterinburg (Russia), Minsk (Belarus), Kiev (Ukraine), and Almaty (Kazakhstan),” Colisium’s Sergey Babich tells IQ.

“We also expect there will be an economic decrease of  80 to 90% for the live event industry – before the pandemic, the live events industry in our countries collectively was worth $2.2bn a year.”

Babich adds that there is also a possibility of a 12-month gap in programming, leading to a much longer restoration period for the industry.

“Our prognosis is that there will be a three to six month period without the events”

Spain

Esmúsica

Spanish music federation Esmúsica, which was formed towards the end of last year, has proposed a raft of measures to the government to help the music industry weather the coronavirus “crisis”.

The federation suggests:

The federation also asks for the creation of a state fund to support the industry and the approval of an action plan to help the sector recuperate, including subsidising ticket prices, increased contracting with public entities, creating a promotional campaign for cultural activities and encouraging investment in the sector.

Spanish music federation has proposed a raft of measures to to help the music industry weather the coronavirus “crisis”

Sweden

Svensk Live

Swedish promoters’ association Svensk Live has asked the government to extend existing relief measures for the live industry.

“The package that has been released is focused on jobs and how to keep people in labour during this period,” explains Svensk Live’s Joppe Pihlgren. “It is about how the employer can get tax reduction, or postpone payments.”

Pihlgren says the association is in constant contact with the country’s culture minister and is preparing a suggestion on how members could get compensation for basic costs, such as rent, and for the costs for the shows that will be cancelled.

“This is a first step to help members survive.”

“The package that has been released is focused on jobs and how to keep people in labour during this period”

UK

UK Music

Tom Kiehl, acting CEO of UK Music, has called for “urgent clarity” from the UK government, following new guidelines that see emergency workers no longer provided to mass gatherings and advise people to avoid public gatherings spaces such as social venues, pubs and clubs.

“The government must spell out whether there will be a formal ban, when that might come into effect, which venues and events will be impacted and how long the measures will remain in place,” states Kiehl.

Previously, the Industry umbrella association called for a “framework of support” for the country’s music business in a letter to culture secretary Oliver Dowden on Friday (13 March).

The UK live industry contributes £5.2bn a year to the economy and sustains over 190,000 jobs.

Measures recommended by UK Music include:

“The impact of the virus could deal a hammer blow to the British music industry and threaten the livelihoods of many people,” says UK Music’s acting CEO Tom Kiehl. “It is imperative that the Government takes urgent steps to safeguard a music industry, which is the envy of the world.”

“The government must spell out whether there will be a formal ban, when that might come into effect, and how long the measures will remain in place”

Music Venue Trust (MVT)

The MVT today issued an open letter to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, demanding he take immediate action to protect the country’s grassroots music venues.

The independent venue charity is asking the government to:

According to the MVT, the entire grassroots music venue sector could “be mothballed for eight weeks and saved permanently” for £40 million. The charity is encouraging people to support its campaign by signing a petition here.

 


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Ticket sales grow 88% in Australia in record-breaking 2017

Major international tours, including stadium and arena shows by the likes Adele, Paul McCartney, Guns N’ Roses, Bruce Springsteen, Justin Bieber, Drake and Ariana Grande, drove ticket sales to new highs in a “record-breaking” 2017 for the Australian live entertainment business, according to new figures from industry body Live Performance Australia (LPA).

LPA’s latest Ticket Attendance and Revenue Report reveals that ticket sales revenue from contemporary music concerts grew a staggering 87.8%, from A$440.1 million (US$312m) in 2016 to $826.1m (US$585m) in 2017, reaching its highest level since LPA began compiling the figures in 2004. The increase was fuelled by both significant growth in attendance (+49.6%, to 8.5m) and a 23.9% increase in the average ticket price, to $105.73 (US$75).

“The growth in contemporary music revenue is primarily due to the large number of prominent acts with arena or stadium tours that attracted large crowds and toured to almost all the five major cities [Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide] in 2017,” according to the report. Other arena- or stadium-level acts on tour last year included Sia, Elton John, Midnight Oil and Cat Stevens (Yusuf).

The figures do not include contemporary music festivals, although they also experienced strong growth, with the sector posting a 26% increase in revenue, to $100.7m (US$71.3m), and attendance, to 850,000.

“The live performance industry continues to contribute significantly to our economy and cultural ecology”

Overall, across all live performance categories – ballet and dance, children’s/family events, circus and physical theatre, classical music, comedy, contemporary music, festivals (multi-category), festivals (contemporary music), musical theatre, opera, special events, and theatre – ticket sales revenue increased 31.7% and attendance 22.6%.

“The live performance industry had a record-breaking year in 2017,” according to LPA’s chief executive, Evelyn Richardson.

“The live performance industry continues to contribute significantly to our economy and cultural ecology,” she comments. “In 2017, 23 million tickets were issued to live performance events, generating total ticket sales revenue of $1.88 billion. That’s more than the combined attendances at AFL [Australian Football League], NRL [National Rugby League], soccer, Super Rugby, cricket and NBL [National Basketball League] in 2017.”

An infographic, courtesy of LPA, showing figures for the last nine years in contemporary music, is below. For more information, read the full Ticket Attendance and Revenue Report here.

LPA Contemporary Music 2017

 


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Up and Down Under: Australia/NZ market report

IQ’s Brisbane-based correspondent, Lars Brandle, speaks with the leading players to get a feel for the billion-dollar-plus Australasian industry that never fails to impress

First, the bad news. Although there are no disasters to speak of. Business is solid, live professionals say, though dotted with hurdles and frustrations. The touring cycle has been in a trough in recent years, according to data published by Live Performance Australia (LPA), which reports that attendance is up, ticket prices are down and the business has cooled from its lava-hot peak years.

The numbers tell just part of the evolving picture. Running shows in Australia and New Zealand has always had its myriad challenges, along with some new ones. But, depending on who you speak with, it also involves some serious rewards.

Data published by LPA in October 2017 suggests the business for contemporary music concerts, which include rock, pop and hip-hop shows, has been well down from the banner years earlier in the decade. Contemporary music remains, by far, the biggest category, and is “always the engine room of the live performance industry,” says LPA’s director of policy and governance, Kim Tran, accounting for more than 30% of all revenue. During 2016, the segment experienced a 7.9% dip to AU$440 million (€284m), as attendance grew slightly by 1.9% to 5.7m. Those numbers don’t include box office data from 2017 stadium tours by Justin Bieber or Adele.

With a slew of huge tours booked for 2018, and a “golden generation” of Aussie and Kiwi acts crossing borders, many live industry professionals polled by IQ are confident that the industry is in good shape. Business right now is “the strongest I have ever seen for the local artists we represent,” says Stephen Wade, CEO of the Sydney-based Select Music agency, which has Aussie artists the Amity Affliction, the Temper Trap and Boy & Bear, and Kiwi singers Gin Wigmore, Tim Finn and Ladyhawke, on its books.

“All of the major promoters were, and are, epic businesses… It’s led us to skip a generation of concert promoters”

“Many of them have forged paths overseas, so this takes pressure off potentially overplaying the Australian market and diminishing their crowds,” explains Wade, who won Booking Agent of the Year at the inaugural Industry Observer Awards on 27 March this year.

Australia has scored a flurry of goals in the past five years, led by the likes of Sia, Vance Joy, Tame Impala, Flume, Alison Wonderland, 5 Seconds of Summer, Courtney Barnett and more, owhile the DMA’s, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Tash Sultana and others are coming through. New Zealand’s music scene is also on the up, with its best-known export Lorde snagging a no1 on the Billboard 200 in 2017 with her second album, Melodrama.

Promoters
The concert landscape of the Great Southern Land is still dominated by “the big four”: Michael Chugg (founder of Chugg Entertainment), Michael Coppel (who was promoted from CEO to chairman of Live Nation Australasia in 2017), Michael Gudinski (chairman of Mushroom Group and head of Frontier Touring) and Paul Dainty (president and CEO of TEG Dainty). That elite circle is proving tough to crack, though the young guard is making its move in a different way.

“The Australian festival culture was born out of people trying to find their way into the business without necessarily having to compete with those big businesses,” notes Live Nation’s Roger Field, who stepped up from COO to CEO in 2017. “All of the major promoters were, and are, epic businesses when you look at the turnover. It’s led us to skip a generation of concert promoters, per se, but we’ve got that mid-tier generation in festival producers.”

 


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 77, or subscribe to the magazine here