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Paradigm makes temporary lay-offs permanent

Paradigm Talent Agency is to permanently lay off 180 employees – around 70% of the workers who were let go temporarily in March – CEO Sam Gores has told the agency’s remaining staff.

“As you know, over the last six months, we have brought back as many of our temporarily laid off colleagues as we could; unfortunately, the profound effects of the coronavirus have continued to severely impact every aspect of our industry and our world for longer than we had even imagined six months ago,” writes Gores in an email to staff.

“Consequently, we had to examine every aspect of our business and make this difficult decision.”

“The effects of the coronavirus have continued to severely impact every aspect of our industry … for longer than we had imagined”

Hollywood-headquartered Paradigm – which also has offices in London (the former Coda), Toronto, Nashville, Chicago, New York, Austin, Texas, and elsewhere in California, was one of the first major music agencies to make staff reductions as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic – laying off an estimated 250 employees (initially reported as 100) in mid-March.

At the start of 2020, Paradigm had more than 700 employees.

UTA announced earlier this month that around 50 employees would lose their jobs permanently, as the shutdown in concert touring continues to negatively affect the global agency sector.

 


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Covid-19 lay-offs hit Dutch live market

Promoter Friendly Fire has become the latest Dutch concert business to make redundancies following a challenging summer, according to local media.

Amsterdam-based Friendly Fire, part of CTS Eventim’s Eventim Live grouping, organises festivals such as Best Kept Secret (25,000-cap.), Indian Summer (30,000-cap.) and Tuckerville (30,000-cap.) and promotes both local and international artists, including the 1975, Fontaines DC, alt-J and Pip Blom. The National, the Strokes and Massive Attack will headline the company’s flagship event, Best Kept Secret, next year; the festival, like all major events, was axed in 2020 because of Covid-19.

Of its 35 employees, Friendly Fire has been forced to let go of ten, reports public broadcaster VPRO.

The lay-offs at Friendly Fire follow redundancies at other Dutch live entertainment stalwarts

The lay-offs at Friendly Fire follow redundancies at other Dutch live entertainment stalwarts, including the country’s leading promoter, Live Nation-owned Mojo Concerts, which has laid off around a third of its staff, according to VPRO.

Other Dutch industry professionals to have lost their jobs in recent months include staff at arenas Ziggo Dome (14 of 34) and AFAS Live (10 of 25) and pro-AV company Ampco Flashlight Group.

The Dutch live music industry, united under umbrella group the Alliance of Event Builders, recently warned of a wave of bankruptcies of events businesses without further government support for the sector.

 


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UK venues announce redundancies

Some of the UK’s most iconic venues have recently announced wide-reaching staff redundancies as the financial pressures of the Covid-19 shutdown continue to bite.

The news of sweeping staff layoffs in venues including the Southbank Centre and the Royal Opera House, come just as venues in England are finally given the go-ahead to reopen, albeit under restricted circumstances.

The announcements also come in the wake of the losses of well loved Manchester venues Gorilla and Deaf Institute last week, as well as VMS Live’s Hull venues the Welly and the Polar Bear.

London’s Southbank Centre, a multi-venue arts and culture complex including the 2,700-capacity Royal Festival Hall, is to make up to two thirds of its staff redundant, equating to around 400 roles.

The centre, which has previously warned it may be forced to close until at least April 2021 without the correct support, has already furloughed the majority of its 600 employees and pecits a deficit of £5.1m for the current financial year.

“It is with great sadness that the Southbank Centre announced that up to 400 roles have been put at risk of redundancy,” says a spokesperson for the venue.

The spokesperson says the cuts form part of a management plan designed “to stem the financial losses being incurred as a result of Covid-19, and to help safeguard the future of the UK’s largest arts centre.”

The news comes as the Royal Opera House (ROH) announces it is laying off its entire team of casual workers.

“It is with great sadness that the Southbank Centre announced that up to 400 roles have been put at risk of redundancy”

It is unclear how many jobs are affected, but the organisation has confirmed that all casual contracts have been terminated and a process of voluntary redundancies among other staff is already underway.

“It is with huge sadness that we have begun a restructure process,” reads a post on the ROH Twitter page. “The scale of financial pressure on ROH alongside continued restrictions on our ability to perform to live audiences, has resulted in this very difficult decision.”

The post adds that ROH’s director of music, Antonio Pappano, has forgone his salary since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, with the venue’s chief executive, Alex Beard, also taking a “significant reduction” in pay.

The National Theatre in London has also signalled its intention to proceed with around 400 redundancies among its casual staff base, including 250 front-of-house workers.

The Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), is another organisation to announce it is planning redundancies across its UK workforce.

ATG, which operates close to 50 venues worldwide including theatres Bristol Hippodrome, London’s Lyceum Theatre, Sunderland Empire, Manchester’s Palace Theatre and the Alexandra in Birmingham, as well as live venues Swansea Arena and the Stockton Globe, says layoffs may affect around 5% of its staff, predominantly those working in its head offices in London and Woking.

The operator has also said that while it zero-hours staff will continue to be supported by the government’s furlough scheme, arrangements beyond that have not been confirmed.

The wave of redundancies come despite the UK government’s recently announced £1.57 billion rescue package for arts and culture and a reduction in the value-added tax (VAT) levied on concert and event tickets, from 20% to 5%.

It remains unclear how the funds will be distributed across the sector.

Photo: Saval/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0) (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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TicketSwap lets go nearly a third of staff

TicketSwap, the Amsterdam-based fan-to-fan ticket marketplace, is letting 30% of its staff go, becoming the latest live music company to make cutbacks due to the impact of the coronavirus.

TicketSwap ended 2019 in a strong financial position, says the company, “with a sizeable financial buffer in place and a clear growth strategy”, and the start of 2020 saw it bolster its workforce in anticipation of a strong summer festival season. But with the summer calendar in the Netherlands and elsewhere now empty, the firm was forced to implement cost-saving measures, including pausing remuneration for execs and reducing budgets across all departments.

“As the full extent of the coronavirus impact became clear, and with the EU suggesting that large-scale events would be the last thing to return to normal, further action was necessary and staff cuts were inevitable,” reads a statement from TicketSwap. “While the NOW support from the Dutch government certainly helped the company, it was not sufficient […] and did not allow the business to keep going at its current state.”

TicketSwap, which has users in 22 countries, says the lay-offs fall most heavily on the marketing and customer support departments, “since these teams handle day-to-day activity, which has stopped almost entirely”.

“It is a very sad day for TicketSwap, but we know we are not the only ones hurting”

The staffing reduction, which takes TicketSwap’s workforce back to early 2019 levels, comes as the company seeks loans and other funding and investment opportunities to help it weather the pandemic. The company remains fully owned by its founders.

TicketSwap CEO Hans Ober (pictured) says: “It is a very sad day for TicketSwap, but we know we are not the only ones hurting. Festivals, venues, event organisers, artists and everyone behind the scenes is hurting badly.

“The fans are hurting, too, and it’s imperative that the government does all it can to support the creative sector through this remarkably difficult time.”

Other companies known to have made redundancies during the Covid-19 outbreak include Cirque du Soleil, Paradigm Talent Agency, Eventbrite, StubHub and Endeavor/WME, while many more industry professionals are temporarily furloughed.

 


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London agents affected as WME reduces staff by 20%

Agents, assistants and other support staff at WME’s EMEA headquarters, at 100 New Oxford Street in London, are among those affected by a 20% reduction in the agency’s workforce globally, IQ understands.

Effective today (Monday 11 May), approximately 20% of Hollywood-based WME’s staff are subject to lay-offs, furloughing, or pay and working hours reductions, as the powerhouse agency becomes the latest to slim down its workforce amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Paradigm Talent Agency is known to laid off some 250 staff in the early days of the outbreak, while CAA, UTA and APA have all reduced employee pay; UTA is also believed to have furloughed a number of workers.

WME’s parent company, Endeavor, laid off around 250 non-agents, including gardeners and restaurant workers, in late March.

The latest round of cuts at WME affect employees at all levels, including agents, assistants, partners and executives, although they are understood to have fallen primarily on non-agent executives and support staff.

“While we are making these difficult decisions now to safeguard our business, we believe in the resilience of our team and our industry”

“WME is reducing its workforce by approximately 20% as a result of COVID-19’s impact on our business,” says a WME spokesperson. “We appreciate the contributions of our former colleagues, and, out of respect for their privacy, we will not be commenting on the status of specific employees.

“While we are making these difficult decisions now to safeguard our business, we believe in the resilience of our team and our industry.”

According to the UK Live Music Group, which on Friday warned the UK live industry is on “life support” without government assistance, booking agencies employ around 4,000 people in the UK.

A recent survey by the Entertainment Agents’ Association showed that 73% of UK agency employees are currently furloughed, while 77% will need to be furloughed beyond 1 September.

 


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Dave Newton leaves WeGotTickets

Dave Newton, co-founder and long-serving director of pioneering UK online ticket seller WeGotTickets, has left the company after 17 years, IQ has learnt.

Newton (pictured) resigned as a director in October 2017, just shy of 18 months after fellow co-founder Andy Clyde. The two started the platform that became WeGotTickets in 2000 as an extension of their online record shop, Oxford Music Net, and spun it off as a separate company two years later.

The company was among the first in the UK to issue electronic tickets via email.

IQ understands Newton’s departure came amid a round of redundancies for the company, which sells a million tickets a year on behalf of its 10,000+ venue and promoter partners.

A WeGotTickets spokesperson says: “While Dave’s day-to-day involvement is coming to an end, he will maintain a keen interest in our continued success as one of our supportive shareholders. We wish him all the best for his next project.”

 


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Function(x) furloughs 75% of its employees

Three quarters of staff at Function(x), the troubled online business founded by former SFX Entertainment CEO Robert Sillerman, have been effectively laid off, with the company telling investors it lacks the funds to pay them.

In its most recent 8-K filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Function(x) reveals it has been operating with a skeleton staff since 15 September, when 22 of its 31 employees were put on indefinite furlough owing to a lack of “sufficient available funds to continue their employment at this time”.

A furlough – a term chiefly used in the US – is a temporary leave of absence imposed on employees by a company, especially one facing unfavourable economic circumstances.

“Any such decision by the company will depend, in part, on whether adequate funding can be obtained”

In Function(x)’s case, the business says it is “considering whether it will offer any or all of the furloughed employees re-employment” – a decision dependent, “in part, on whether adequate funding can be obtained, and there is no such assurance that may happen”.

Function(x), which specialises in ‘viral’ online content, has been in a downward spiral since early summer, culminating in its delisting from the Nasdaq stock exchange after failing to file an up-to-date current report. In June, auditors for the company resigned after discovering alleged “insufficiently authorised cash disbursements” to Sillerman from its bank accounts.

 


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“Unadvoidable” lay-offs after Eventbrite–Ticketfly merger

Eventbrite has let go an estimated 25% of Ticketfly’s staff following the completion of its US $200m acquisition of the company last week.

In a statement, an Eventbrite spokesperson says it is “unavoidable to combine two companies of our size and not have some level of redundancy”, and confirms that – following a “careful talent analysis” – the company “notified some Ticketfly employees earlier this week that they have been impacted”.

According to Amplify, Ticketfly employed between 150 and 200 people, of which Eventbrite is retaining 75%.

“It’s unavoidable to combine two companies of our size and not have some level of redundancy”

“While it’s never easy to say goodbye to colleagues, we sincerely appreciate the hard work and contribution each person made to the Ticketfly business,” concludes the statement. “We have retained the vast majority of the team to ensure we have the collective experience and expertise to best serve our customers.”

The US$200m acquisition of US-based Ticketfly, announced in June, is Eventbrite’s third this year and seventh in total, and follows the buy-out of European market leader Ticketscript in January.

 


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