The LGBTIQ+ List 2022: Paul Bonham, MMF
The LGBTIQ+ List 2022 – IQ Magazine’s second annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the Pride edition (issue 112) last month.
The July 2022 issue, which is available to read now, was made possible thanks to support from Ticketmaster.
To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, we interviewed each individual on their challenges, triumphs, advice and more.
Throughout the next month, IQ will publish a new interview each day. Catch up on the previous interview with Peter Taylor, founder of Cuffe and Taylor in the UK.
The series continues with Paul Bonham (he/him/his/they/them/theirs), professional development director at Music Managers Forum in the UK.
Tell us about a personal triumph in your career
Becoming involved with Attitude is Everything in the early 2000s. I learned so much from Suzanne Bull MBE, most notably that change is always possible. Their Charter of Best Practice allowed me to understand that barriers can always be broken down, whether the obstacles are physical, economic, or attitudinal. I’ve taken that philosophy into the MMF, and it’s great to see the management community advocating for a fairer and more transparent industry.
What advice could you give to young queer professionals?
Know your history. It’s easy to become isolated as the only queer in an organisation, office or another environment. Knowing the stories of the past has helped me. Read The Velvet Mafia, Jayne County’s biog; search on YouTube for Divine’s fab TOTP performance; or McAlmont & Butler on [Later With Jools Holland]. Queers have been a cornerstone within music for a long, long time.
Tell us about a professional challenge you’ve come across as a queer person in the industry
Consistently coming out can be a drain, especially in those parts of the industry that are still quite macho. Not knowing anything about football has stalled conversations on what might otherwise have been good business relationships.
“Queers have been a cornerstone within music for a long, long time”
What’s the best mistake you’ve ever made?
Drinking. Getting drunk is awesome fun until it’s not. In an industry based on relationships and nightlife, I had amazing times and met some incredible people but these days I’m grateful for sobriety, day raves and festivals.
One thing the live industry could do to be a more inclusive place
The nighttime economy is really missing out on serving iced tea and coffee at raves or gigs. Tapped sugary drinks like cola or the energy drinks have had their time.
A cause you support
I love the work of Gendered Intelligence, Key Changes – Promoting Positive Mental Health through Music, and UK Black Pride.
The queer act you’re itching to see live this year
I’m excited about some of the acts the accelerator managers have been working such as Shygirl and Grove, Lil Nas X, girl in red, Rina Sawayama. It’s incredible – the diversity within queer music.
Your favourite queer space
NYC Downlow and Body Movements.
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MMF CEO warns touring costs will price out artists
Annabella Coldrick, CEO of the UK’s Music Managers Forum (MMF), warns that the cost of touring will see some artists priced out of their careers, resulting in a “lost generation” of talent.
According to the CEO, the membership is dealing with a “perfect storm” of Brexit, Covid and inflation, making touring unaffordable for some acts.
“I want to be really positive because we’re so pleased that live music is back but when costs have gone up 30-40% – and you can’t put tickets up at the same level because people are working out how to pay their heating bill – that’s tough,” says Coldrick.
“Some artists can absorb the current costs of touring but most can’t. I think we’re going to have to look at how we tour and what reductions we can bring in.”
One band that has spoken up about the overwhelming cost of touring is Belfast-based band New Pagans, who earlier this year opened up about the “massive debt” they racked up on a European tour with Skunk Anansie.
“I think we’re going to have to look at how we tour and what reductions we can bring in”
“Brexit and Covid have truly done a number on small bands. To break even on a tour, or even come home with a little profit was always the goal… to come home from a tour having accumulated massive debt is now the reality for many small and independent bands in 2022,” reads a tweet from the band.
“Fuel costs, tolls, venues taking 25% of merch, buying a carnet to get through customs: just a few things conspiring against you.”
Coldrick raises concerns that the hike in prices will result in a talent drain of British artists.
“I think in five or six years’ time, you’ll see a load of artists who lost momentum because of Covid and not being able to make ends meet,” she says. “And when you look at festival bills in half a decade, they’ll be much fewer British artists on them – partly because they’ve not been able to build the audiences from touring.”
And for the acts that do continue to tour, there’ll be some tough decisions to make – both financially and creatively.
“I think in five or six years’ time, you’ll see a load of artists who lost momentum because of Covid”
“I think production will be severely stripped back for those who do go ahead with touring,” she continues. “I’ve already heard about bigger bands that would usually take three trucks and are now just taking one. We will definitely see different types of shows now.”
With no silver bullet for the cost of touring, the MMF CEO anticipates a tough few years for gigging acts but says there are some things that can ease the pressure.
A 5% rate of VAT on ticket sales is high on the CEO’s wishlist, along with acts being able to take home 100% of the proceeds from the merchandise sold at concerts.
“So many managers have spent a lot of time trying to find ways around venues taking a commission of merchandise,” she explains. “I’ve heard stories about artists hiring ice cream vans and putting them outside of the venue to sell merch, or taking over cafes. We don’t want to do that – it’s a lot more time and effort.
“We’re hoping the venues will realise that being able to make it possible for artists to tour at the moment is a key thing. I think we need to realise we’re all in it together and try and find a way to make that level of touring work or shows will get pulled and that’s not good for anyone in the industry.”
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LGBTIQ+ List 2022: This year’s queer pioneers revealed
IQ Magazine has revealed this year’s LGBTIQ+ List – the second annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business.
The landmark list is the centrepiece of IQ’s second Pride edition, which will be available for subscribers online and in print, in the coming days.
The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2022 – as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee – are individuals that have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.
The sophomore class comprises agents, promoters, CFOs, CIOs, tour managers, marketing managers and more – all of whom identify as LGBTIQ+ and, in the face of adversity, have made enormous contributions to their respective sectors.
In alphabetical order, the LGBTIQ+ List 2022 is:
Alexander Rastén Rydberg, head of diversity and talent management, Dansk Live (DK)
Alexandra Ampofo, promoter, Metropolis Music (UK)
Can Büyükcinar, head of operations, Wizard Promotions Konzertagentur (DE)
Cloe Gregson, senior events manager, Manchester Pride (UK)
David Davies, founder and head of live, Double D Live (UK, IE)
David Jones, chief information officer, AEG Global Technology (UK)
Georgie Lanfranchi, tour manager for Years & Years, Only Helix (UK)
Hatice Arıcı, promoting director/ artist agent, Charmenko (TR)
James Fleury, marketing lead, Ticket Swap (NL)
Jill Wheeler, director of booking, Red Mountain Entertainment (US)
Joel Siviour, director & booking agent, Seismic Talent Agency (AU)
Jonas Sjödén, CFO, Live Nation Sweden (SE)
Natalie Rudland, senior promotions assistant, Live Nation (UK)
Nikos Kazoleas, agent, UTA (UK)
Nix Corporan, fan support team lead, DICE (US)
Patrick Erhardt, senior manager content & creation, Goodlive (DE)
Patrick Janssen, marketing manager, Live Nation Germany (DE)
Paul Bonham, director of professional development, MMF (UK)
Peter Taylor, promoter, Cuffe and Taylor (UK)
Troy Suda, chief product officer, Ticketmaster (UK)
Throughout the next month, IQ will be publishing full-length profiles of each person on the LGBTIQ+ List 2022.
“We work in an industry that aims to entertain the entire population. And that population is made up of extremely diverse audiences,” says Ticketmaster’s Troy Suda in his profile.
Joel Siviour, Seismic Talent Agency, adds: “I’ve witnessed plenty of virtue-signaling from within our industry, but when push comes to shove there are companies whose actions don’t align with the values they claim to hold.”
Check out last year’s cohort of queer pioneers here.
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Elton John stars at UK’s Artist & Manager Awards
Elton John and David Furnish were honoured at the 2021 Artist & Manager Awards (AMAs), which attracted more than 700 artists, managers and music industry professionals to Bloomsbury Big Top in London.
The duo made a final-hour appearance to collect the Artist & Manager Partnership Award at last night’s ceremony, which was organised by the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) and the Music Managers Forum (MMF).
Rina Sawayama, who was also named 2021’s Breakthrough Artist, presented Elton and David with the accolade at the first in-person AMAs since 2019. Other artists recognised on the night included Little Simz (Artist of the Year), Mogwai (Pioneer) and Bicep, who shared their award for Innovation with their management team at This Is Music.
Coming together again with friends and colleagues feels like such a hugely positive and symbolic step forward
“Coming together again with friends and colleagues feels such a hugely positive and symbolic step forward,” said MMF CEO Annabella Coldrick and Featured Artists Coalition CEO David Martin. “Tonight’s Awards was about celebrating music, talent, innovation and camaraderie across the artist and management community – whether that’s individuals at the start of their careers, survivors and legends, or those still standing after decades.”
September Management’s Amy Morgan was crowned Manager of the Year for her work with Glass Animals and Metallic Inc’s Grace Ladoja MBE received the Entrepreneur Award in recognition of her bridge-building between music scenes in the UK and Nigeria. In addition, Kayleigh Thorpe of Little Runaway Management was revealed as the 2021 Breakthrough Manager for her work with Gerry Cinnamon.
The Black Music Coalition were named Industry Champions, while Karma Artists picked up the award for Writer/Producer Manager, and YMU Music Group were presented with the Team Achievement Award in recognition of their groundbreaking inclusion initiatives, including a Mental Health and Well-Being programme for clients and staff.
Presented by Capital FM’s Roman Kemp, the event featured live performances from Wes Nelson & Hardy Caprio, The Anchoress and Lucy McWilliams.
MMF appoints new five-person board for 2021
The UK’s Music Managers Forum (MMF) has appointed its board for 2021, with members reelecting the association’s vice-chair, Kwame Kwaten (Ferocious Talent), and electing four new members.
As part of its annual general meeting yesterday (1 July), the MMF welcomed Adenike Durosaro (Big Drum Entertainment), Ross Patel (Whole Entertainment Group), Sandy Dworniak (This Much Talent/Twisted Talent) and Karl Nielson (William Orbit, Maeve) as board members, with Adam Tudhope (Everybody’s Management), Lisa Ward (Red Light Management), Ric Salmon (ATC Management) and Rachael Bee (ILuvLive).
At the AGM, MMF CEO Annabella Coldrick revealed that the association has increased its membership from 700 in 2019 to more than 1,200 today. She puts the the dramatic increase to successes in outreach, training and campaigning, including new initiatives such as Unite (the MMF’s forum to discuss race, anti-racism and injustice, run in collaboration with The Zoo XYZ), emergency funding programme ReBuild, which has provided nearly £500,000 of support to managers’ businesses to survive the pandemic, and the continued development of Accelerator, the grants and education programme for music managers.
The MMF’s membership, she said, is now 38% female or non-binary/gender non-confirming and 29 black, Asian or minority-ethnic.
Seven new associate partnerships were also announced at the AGM: livestreaming platform Moment House, funding platform beatBread, NFT marketplaces Bondly and Serenade, revenue share platform Shout4, advertising platform Feed and royalty firm CWorks. These companies join the MMF’s 44 existing associate members, including Amazon Music, YouTube Music, Spotify, TikTok and Songtrust.
Coldrick also gave an update on the MMF’s advocacy work, including #LetTheMusicMove, the campaign to end post-Brexit restrictions around European touring which now has the backing of more than 1,000 artists.
“It’s been a ludicrously tough 12 months and throughout the MMF has rallied to support the management community with initiatives like ReBuild, Unite and Accelerator, extensive virtual learning sessions and tireless campaigning and advocacy work. I’ve no doubt it’s why we’ve seen such a huge and rapid increase in our membership,” she says. “Music management can be an isolating and highly pressurised way of making a living, and I’m proud of the way the MMF continues to be an organisation where knowledge is shared and everyone is welcome.”
“As board members, the contribution made by Adam Tudhope, Lisa Ward, Ric Salmon and Rachael Bee has been immense, and I’d like to thank them sincerely for their generosity and input over many years of service,” comments MMF chair Craig.
“Alongside my redoubtable vice-chair, Kwame Kwaten, I would also like to welcome our four new board members Nike, Ross, Sandy and Karl. Their expertise and experience will be vital as we strive to ensure the MMF makes ongoing progress to represent all in our community.”
MMF updates guide to mental health
The Music Managers Forum (MMF) has published a new expanded version of the MMF Guide to Mental Health 2021 – a free online resource tailored specifically to the wellbeing concerns of modern-day managers.
Stress management, imposter syndrome, anxiety and depression, alcoholism and drug dependency, and healthy boundaries are among the issues addressed in the guide, which also includes a full directory of professional support services and signposting to further reading and detailed expertise.
The updated version, which is being discussed today at music industry conference The Great Escape, is co-authored with Sam Parker of specialist music mental health consultants Parker Consulting and co-founder of Music Support.
MMF Chair and Biffy Clyro manager Paul Craig has penned the introduction and chairman and CEO of Universal Music UK David Joseph has written the guide’s closing words.
“Managers often experience extreme stress which has only recently been properly recognised”
“I’m really proud that the MMF continues to recognise the importance of mental health support for music managers and artists,” says MMF chair and Biffy Clyro manager, Paul Craig.
“Through initiatives like this updated guide and our revised Code of Practice we continue to be part of a vital industry-wide conversation. Managers and artists often experience extreme stress, with a myriad of highs and lows, which has only recently been properly recognised and which the pandemic has exacerbated and placed immense focus on. The more we talk openly and candidly about these pressures, the better the safeguarding and guidance everyone will be able to provide in the coming years.”
Sam Parker, co-author of the MMF Mental Health Guide, says: “Music has the power to educate, to break down cultural, social and economic barriers, to influence politics and promote cultural appreciation. As an audience member at a live show it can make you dance, sing and share a common experience with those around you that will be remembered forever. It enriches the human experience.
“What better job could there be than to facilitate this? But sometimes the level of intensity can take its toll. This updated guide takes some of those challenges and presents solutions, which I hope will allow artist managers to successfully support the work and careers of their artists without sacrificing their own health and well-being in the process. All whilst performing a job that is truly unique. I look forward to discussing the nature of this relationship and the guide at the Great Escape today.”
UK orgs react to new PRS tariff for small live streams
Key organisations from the UK’s music industry have criticised PRS for Music for its new “ill-conceived” licence for small-scale livestreamed gigs, following last year’s backlash about the proposed tariff for larger livestreamed events.
The UK performance rights organisation has today launched a new licensing portal for music creators, venues and promoters wanting to stage livestream small-scale events, which will impose a flat fee equating to a minimum 9% tariff on events generating less than £500.
The blanket rate for a show that generates less than £250 is £22.50, and £45 for an event that generates between £250 and £500.
The move follows the last year’s proposal that larger livestream events should be subject to a tariff of between 8% and 17% of gross revenues, compared to 4.2% charged at normal in-person live shows.
This prompted Music Managers Forum (MMF) and Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) to send a joint letter – countersigned by more than 50 artist managers – to PRS for Music CEO Andrea Martin last month urging her to reconsider the move.
“[PRS] need to commit to a full and transparent industry-wide consultation before issuing invoices to cash-strapped artists”
PRS says it will not be actively pursuing licences for livestreamed events that took place prior to the launch of the new portal, which would have qualified for the fixed fee licence.
Commenting on the new licence for small-scale livestreamed concerts, David Martin, CEO at FAC, and Annabella Coldrick, chief executive at MMF, say: “All of us want songwriters and composers to be paid fairly and efficiently for the use of their work, but this is not the way to go about it. Once again, we would urge PRS for Music to stop acting unilaterally.
“They need to urgently listen to the growing concerns of artists and their representatives during the pandemic, implement a waiver for performer-writers to opt-out of such fees, and commit to a full and transparent industry-wide consultation before issuing invoices to cash-strapped artists.”
“Unilaterally announcing ill-conceived new tariffs in a crisis is not such a discussion”
Mark Davyd, CEO at Music Venue Trust, added: “The live music industry, including grassroots music venues, artists and promoters, is in crisis mode and pulling together. The team at MVT have been in regular correspondence with PRS for Music throughout this crisis on how we can work together to ensure everyone emerges from this crisis and we can get back to work. At no time during those conversations has anybody suggested that a new tariff for streaming would be created. We have not been consulted on this, advised of it, or even notified of it prior to a press release being issued.
“The principal beneficiaries of paid streaming during this crisis have been artists. The beneficiaries of charitable streaming, online broadcasts by artists to raise money for causes, have included venues, crew, artists, and the wider community, including healthcare workers, food banks and homeless charities.
“It is unclear from this press statement whether PRS for Music wishes to clampdown on artists paying themselves or on artists supporting charities, but we would strongly suggest that neither should have been advanced to the stage of an announcement of a Tariff without understanding the most basic economics of what streaming is actually doing during this crisis.
“We remain available to discuss the realities of streaming during this crisis with PRS for Music if they wish to have an informed discussion on it. Unilaterally announcing ill-conceived new tariffs in a crisis is not such a discussion.”
“[PRS] is continuing to work to agree a range of licensing options for larger events, including a proposed discount”
Andrea Martin, CEO, PRS for Music, says: “We recognise the importance of providing simple licensing solutions wherever possible and the licensing portal for small-scale online events is an example of this. We are continuing to work hard to agree a range of licensing options for providers of larger events, including a proposed discounted rate during the pandemic.
“This is a part of the market which has seen exponential growth and is itself constantly evolving, meeting the expectations for worldwide blanket licences is alone no small feat, but we are committed to finding solutions which ensure members can be paid fairly when their works are performed.”
John Truelove, writer director, PRS Members’ Council, says: “Composers and songwriters have faced monumental challenges this past year. So, the huge surge in the online live concert market beyond anyone’s expectations, is positive news all round. It is great that so many artists are performing online concerts to stay connected with fans, to earn a living, and to promote new releases.
“Anyone wanting to hold small online ticketed gigs can now get a PRS licence in a simple and straightforward way. This will create even more opportunities for artists, musicians and writers to thrive together while ensuring that songwriters and composers are being properly paid when their music is performed.”
PRS is proposing to apply temporary discounted rates on livestream licensing for bigger events until the live sector can reopen – though these are yet to be determined.
Managers, artists slam proposed UK livestream tariff
The Music Managers Forum (MMF) and Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) have written to PRS for Music, the UK performance rights organisation, to protest a proposed new tariff for livestreamed concerts, which the associations criticise as “unworkable” and punitive to artists.
The MMF/FAC letter, which can be read in full here, is countersigned by more than 50 artist managers, including representatives for Dua Lipa, Biffy Clyro, Liam Gallagher, Bicep, Fontaines DC, Gorillaz and Yungblud, as well as a group of FAC member artists and songwriters.
The proposed tariff for live streams, described by PRS as a “temporary experimental and non-precedential rate structure”, has been devised without any consultation with industry. It would see a fee of up to 17% of gross ticket sales levied on livestreamed events, and would apply retrospectively to events which have already happened.
Even for the smallest events (those grossing under £50,000), the tariff would be 8% – double the 4% generally charged on a physical concert under the existing tariff ‘LP’.
The proposed tariff, particularly at the top royalty rate, compares unfavourably to the rates charged in several other European countries: The Netherlands’ Buma, for example, has a 7% tariff for live streams, while Germany’s Gema licenses live streams under its existing VR-OD 10 tariff, which is charged at a flat rate up to a maximum of €1,200. (By contrast, 17% of £450,000 is £76,500.)
“A starting rate 8%, rising to 17%, will make livestreaming unviable, for [all] artists”
The letter, addressed to PRS for Music chief executive Andrea Martin, says that while the associations accept that songwriters must be compensated fairly for use of their work in live streams, the 8–17% rate will make livestreaming – a format which has “presented artists with one of their few opportunities to perform and connect with their fans” this year – financially “unviable, for both the smallest emerging artists and the biggest superstar acts”.
“The larger, most-successful events involve significant production costs, and have provided a lifeline to crew and other industry workers,” write MMF’s Annabella Coldrick and FAC’s David Martin. “At the other end of the scale, livestreaming has been increasingly important for emerging artists and those operating in niche genres. For the sake of all artists, songwriters and the wider industry, it is crucial that this new format is allowed to grow and thrive.
“Charging artists up to four times the live [LP] rate strangles, rather than nurtures, this innovation. For some of the smaller artists who have just covered their costs livestreaming, it will be impossible to find this additional money retrospectively.”
According to the MMF and FAC, PRS has so far declined to enter into consultation about the proposed tariff, and it’s for this reason the bodies are making their position public. Additionally, they are inviting more managers and artists to add their signatures to the letter to demand a “full and transparent consultation”.
“The proposed online live concert pilot licence scheme is still evolving”
This consultation, the letter concludes, “should also aim to provide certainty that PRS actually holds a mandate to license livestreaming events on a global basis.
“Until that process is concluded, we are working on the basis that the current live tariff is the applicable rate to these ticketed events.”
Responding, a PRS for Music spokesperson says: “PRS For Music members, alongside many others across our sector, have been very badly impacted by the shutdown of live music this year. We welcome the many initiatives to move live concerts online and PRS For Music has designed an online live concert licence, which will allow the necessary rights to be licensed.
“The proposed pilot licence scheme is still evolving. As conversations with our partners are active and ongoing, it would not be right for us to provide further detail or comment at this stage while we await their assessment and feedback.
“Of course, our primary role is to protect our members’ rights and to ensure they are paid fairly for their work, which is more important than ever now. We hope that these conversation will progress quickly.”
UK live industry cautiously welcomes £1.57bn aid
British live music industry leaders have said they stand ready to work closely with government on the details of its £1.57 billion culture rescue fund, but cautioned that the whole live music ecosystem must be protected.
The financial aid package of emergency grants and loans must also be complemented by an exemption in VAT for the sector, a government-backed insurance scheme for shows and a conditional date for reopening, they say.
Sunday’s announcement about the support package followed the hugely successful #LetTheMusicPlay day, which saw 1,500 artists write directly to culture secretary Oliver Dowden and tens of millions of fans posting online about the importance of live music, a £4.5bn sector that employs 210,000 people.
The campaign, coordinated by members of the UK Live Music Group and Concert Promoters’ Association (CPA), with additional support from UK Music, trended at No1 globally on Twitter and attracted media coverage around the world.
“Thousands of artists, venues, festivals, managers, agents, promoters and production crew came together for #LetTheMusicPlay, and we must ensure that all of them receive the support that they so desperately need,” says Phil Bowdery, chair of the CPA.
“We stand ready to work closely with the government to ensure that this world-class industry survives”
“We stand ready to work closely with the government to ensure that this world-class industry survives.”
Live music was one of the first industries to close as a result of the coronavirus crisis, and concerts are not expected to return in full force until well into 2021. According to member research compiled by live music associations over the six month period between October 2020 and March 2021, the operating costs of the broader live music sector will be £298.8million. This figure is in addition to the £47m required by grassroots music venues, called for by Music Venue Trust.
“The government’s £1.57bn package for the arts is welcome, but we lack detail of how funding will be allocated for music,” comments Annabella Coldrick, chief executive of the Music Managers Forum. “The thousands who work and perform in our sector desperately require comprehensive support if their jobs and livelihoods are to be sustained.”
Kilimanjaro Live MD Stuart Galbraith, co-chair of the CPA, adds: “We are ready to work on the details of the scheme, and our other requests – a VAT exemption for the sector, a government-backed insurance scheme to allow shows to go ahead, and a timeline for safe reopening without social distancing – at the government’s convenience.
“We look forward to this ongoing discussion shortly.”
Managers peg October as earliest return for live
The latest IQ Focus session saw a line-up of international artist managers discuss the timeline for reopening, potential changes to artists’ contracts post-Covid-19 and monetisation of live streams.
The session, presented in partnership with the Music Managers Forum (MMF) and hosted by MMF chair Paul Craig, featured Kaiya Milan (Off Balance Group/The Sorority House & Co.), Marc Thomas (Red Light Management/Go Artist Management), Meg Symsyk (eOne Management/MMF Canada) and Per Kviman (Versity Music/MMF Sweden/EMMA).
Thomas compared the constant cancelling and rescheduling of shows in recent weeks to “rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic”, adding that he has been “targeting markets” such as Australia and certain parts of the US, which are likely “to get back to live more quickly”.
Thomas said he has accepted two offers for artists to play in the US in October – the earliest dates he’s looking at – including at “a leading festival”. A caveat in the contract allows the team to reassess 28 days out, in case there is a second spike.
Artists will also need to weigh up whether to take the hit of losing a couple of weeks in quarantine in order to do four weeks of solid touring in countries such as Australia, he said, highlighting the obstacles of a post-coronavirus world.
“I’m not optimistic that these things are going to run smoothly”
“I’m not optimistic that these things are going to run smoothly,” said Milan, referring to events scheduled for the autumn. Managers have been receiving offers with clauses allowing the promoter to cancel at any point, she said, which works out ok for “more established artists” but is a big risk for lesser known acts.
“I’m in a space where I know anything can happen.”
Versity Music manager Kviman agreed that things remain too uncertain for now, saying he is not putting new tours out until September 2021 as “people aren’t ready to buy tickets at this point”. Tours that had already sold lots of tickets prior to the Covid-19 crisis are being rescheduled for May 2021.
Craig asked whether any new opportunities had come out of the crisis for managers and artists, with panellists agreeing that livestreaming had presented a variety of options, if not always significant from a financial point of view.
Symsyk said live streams had, in general, worked more effectively for electronic or hip-hop acts. Bands have tended to face more technical difficulties and have often not been satisfied with the quality of streams. “[For bands, livestreaming] has worked ok for charity events, but hasn’t been worth it from a financial point of view”, she said.
Thomas, who works predominantly with electronic acts, said he has “leant into livestreaming a lot”. One act sold $15,000 in merchandise while playing in a virtual edition of Insomniac’s Electric Daisy Carnival festival.
“You can’t ask fans to pay for a ticket as a live stream doesn’t replace the experience of going to a festival, but you can sell off the back of it”
“You can’t ask fans to pay for a ticket as a live stream doesn’t replace the experience of going to a festival,” he said, “but you can sell off the back of it.”
Milan said there was more opportunity for grassroots artists to make money from paid live streams as audiences want to support them. “Livestreaming is the way people can see to help out and get something in return at the moment”, she said, which “works for a certain level of artist”.
Although the grassroots sector is one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus shutdown, Symsyk noted that the current situation is giving “a window of opportunity to focus on local talent” in Canada.
Turning to when live does return, Thomas stressed the need for “everyone to have a bit more give”.
“The reality is, in this situation, everyone needs to win, and I don’t win by getting the agent to squeeze the promoter so hard he has to pay me half the fee if the show cancels […] and he loses a load of money.
“We need everyone in this system for the system to function.”
Thomas said he accepted, to a certain extent, Live Nation’s recently expressed intention to adjust artists guarantees down for shows in the future.
“We need everyone in this system for the system to function”
“Promoters are the most exposed out of everybody and they’re not going to put these big guarantees out anymore,” he said, “it’s going to go on the backend.” This kind of “give and take” will be essential from all sides when rebuilding the business.
From a practical point of view, we can expect to see social distancing and other measures in place for a while as “not doing anything is not an option, however unpalatable the measures may be”, said Craig.
Outdoor shows seem to be a much better option than indoor shows, and a lot more scalable too in terms of keeping to distancing rules, said Thomas. Targeting the right age range is also important, as “kids think they’re invincible”.
For Milan, the deciding factor is whether people felt ready to go back into social situations as, “if they are, they will do whatever they have to” to get back to gigs or festivals, no matter how inconvenient the measures are.
Craig agreed, pointing out that we have all become accustomed to things that would have seemed unthinkable six months ago.
“If people want to go to a show, they will do whatever is necessary to go.”