Svensk Live launches Life is Live campaign
Swedish concert trade body Svensk Live has teamed up with performing arts group Svensk Scenkonst on a joint campaign aimed at encouraging fans to return to live events.
The Life is Live initiative has been launched ahead of what is shaping up to be a record year for the country in terms of shows following two years of Covid measures.
“The goal is to encourage and stimulate more people to take part in the living performing arts, which are once again open and accessible to all,” the organisations say in their mission statement. “During the pandemic, gigs and performances have been moved forward in different rounds at the same time as new ones have been added,” it says. “This is one reason why Sweden’s scenes are now heading for a record year in terms of supply.”
The campaign is being shared on outdoor screens in the country, as well as via social media.
“With the campaign, we want to remind you of the wonderful feeling of taking part in performing arts together”
“It is with pleasure that we welcome the audience back to a large and varied cultural offer, where there is something for everyone,” says Svensk Live operations manager Joppe Pihlgren. “During the pandemic, we have strengthened the cooperation between our organisations. The campaign is a result of that and the collaboration will continue.”
The bodies note that while many events are selling better than ever since restrictions were lifted, many people are waiting until much closer to showtime before buying tickets.
“Our members offer the audience a fantastically large and wide range throughout the country,” adds Svensk Scenkonst CEO Mikael Brännvall. “Each performance or concert is a unique event and it adds something extra to share that experience with others. With the campaign, we want to remind you of the wonderful feeling of taking part in performing arts together.”
Sweden announced it was lifting its coronavirus restrictions back in February.
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Swedish trade bodies unite for live events study
Four Swedish trade bodies have formed an alliance in a bid to strengthen knowledge about the country’s live events’ industry and how it can be developed.
Swedish promoters’ association Svensk Live is collaborating with Swedish Performing Arts, the Swedish Sports Confederation and hospitality organisation Visita on the project, which is being overseen by the Visiting Industry Research and Development Fund (BFUF).
The groups plan to gather “relevant and reliable” statistics on an annual basis to measure the sector’s financial contribution to Sweden, including the contribution to the hospitality industry and the number of jobs, with the first set of findings to be presented at the start of next summer.
“We have collaborated with each other on a number of previous issues such as climate change, security and safety, as well as all cooperation during the pandemic,” says Joppe Pihlgren, operations manager for Svensk Live. “That our organisations now also collaborate on statistics feels very natural.”
For the first time, we will get reliable statistics
The work will be based on a feasibility study delivered at the beginning of the summer of 2021, and the coalition says the results will provide a better basis for development and political decisions regarding the industry.
“So far, similar surveys have been conducted in different ways in different parts of the country,” adds Mikael Brännvall, CEO of Swedish Performing Arts. “What we will now get is a common way of measuring and, for the first time, we will get reliable statistics.”
The work is financed by the participating organisations with the support of the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth, which is contributing SEK 1.5 million (€151,297) of the total budget of SEK 2.4m (€242,071).
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Sweden to issue vaccine passports, reconsider rules
During a press conference on Thursday (4 February), Sweden’s minister for energy and digital development, Anders Ygeman, said: “When Sweden and countries around us start to open up our societies again, vaccination certificates are likely to be required for travel and possibly for taking part in other activities.
“[The digital infrastructure] will make the vaccination certificate more secure, simple and international,” he says.
The Swedish government is aiming is to have the digital vaccine passport in place by 1 June and has pledged to offer the Covid-19 vaccination to all adults before Midsummer (the final weekend of June), depending on the availability of vaccines.
Sweden’s live music association, Svensk Live, says the passport “would be a piece of the puzzle in the work of being able to reopen concerts and festivals this summer”.
Svensk Live, says the passport “would be a piece of the puzzle in being able to reopen concerts and festivals this summer”
Festival organisers in Sweden’s neighbouring country, Denmark, are similarly optimistic about the viability of the forthcoming season after the Danish government announced plans to roll out a vaccine passport in three to four months. However, unlike Sweden, the Danish government has said vaccine passports will initially only apply to travel.
Elsewhere, Sweden’s minister of culture, Amanda Lind, has revealed that the government is preparing proposals for more “accurate and appropriate” restrictions for public gatherings and public events.
Lind says that restrictions and capacity limit should be able to vary depending on whether the gathering or event is organised indoors or outdoors, as well as the size of the venue or area.
The proposals will be submitted in February and implemented as soon as the infection situation allows.
Last year, Sweden imposed one of the lowest capacity limits in Europe for cultural events, reducing the threshold from 300 seated and socially distanced patrons to just eight.
Non-essential activities, including concerts, are currently banned until 7 February under Sweden’s extended restrictions.
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The Associates: PSA, Svensk Live, SMA
Covid-19 has impacted every business sector around the world, but with live entertainment likely to be one of the last industries to return, given social distancing regulations, the associations that represent its millions of employees have never been more important.
As restrictions in many countries enter yet another month, for issue 91 IQ found out more about some of our association partners and discovered just what they are doing to help their members navigate and survive.
Following the last instalment with the National Arenas Association, Plasa and Prodiss, this time we check in with the Production Services Association, Svensk Live and French trade union SMA.
Production Services Association (UK)
The Production Services Association (PSA) is the UK trade body for companies and individuals that provide and operate live event technology, representing their interests with anyone that indirectly affects their business.
In February, when it paused counting, the PSA had about 2,300 paid members with annual fees ranging from £100 (€112) to £500 (€560).
The association’s members started to feel the effects of the pandemic long before the UK government began to introduce support measures. Companies went into survival mode very quickly, and PSA did its level best to add to industry calls for support. When the cavalry arrived, it was a case of pointing people in the direction of help, and taking feedback back to government on where improved measures were needed.
With everyone thrust into an alien world of loans, grants, job retention schemes and benefits, real-world feedback from people who were plugged into the various systems gave the PSA resources to share and the organisation has been busy collecting evidence to back up sector calls for continued support. During the pandemic, lobbying has been a key part of PSA’s work and because of its membership of UK Music, doors that others may have had to knock on were already open.
The PSA’s members started to feel the effects of the pandemic long before the UK government began to introduce support measures
Svensk Live (Sweden)
Svensk Live is a non-profit organisation with about 250 members, which include the likes of festivals, clubs, concert promoters, non-profit grassroots venues, amusement parks and booking agencies (provided they organise gigs in Sweden). Fees are based on annual revenue, with the largest organisations paying up to €5,000.
During the pandemic, Svensk Live has been focusing on securing state support, a timeframe for planning, and an official recommendation from government to persuade ticket buyers to retain their tickets for postponed events.
Outside of the pandemic measures, Svensk Live is engaged in a major project called Dare to Care, which centres around consent in sexual relations, and last year won a prize for the best crime prevention project in Sweden. Svensk Live CEO Joppe Pihlgren is happy to share details of this initiative with other live music organisations.
During the pandemic, Svensk Live has been focusing on securing state support and a timeframe for planning
The Union of Contemporary Music (SMA, Syndicat des musiques actuelles) is an organisation consisting of 450 members, including venues, festivals, concert producers, phonographic editors, radio stations, federations, schools and training centres. These independent companies share a common goal of promoting diversity, in particular by supporting the expression of artists and advocating equal access to culture.
The role of the SMA is to inform and advise its membership on legal, social and tax matters. It also represents them in numerous professional bodies and defends the interests of the music sector with public authorities and politicians.
The annual fee for access to the services provided by the SMA depends on budget and ranges from €65 to nearly €1,500 for the largest companies.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the SMA has been supporting its members through different actions, including gathering and communicating information about governmental assistance; providing daily updates on how to manage business activities; making legal experts available for consultations; encouraging cross-sector communication to identify common issues; and actively lobbying local authorities and politicians in an effort to ensure that no company disappears because of the crisis.
This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.
Positive signs but a long way to go, say Nordic promoters
Live music was allowed to return to Norway earlier this month, but event organisers in the country – as well as those in neighbouring Sweden, which has not seen a blanket ban on shows – say the return to business for the live industry is still some way off.
After almost two months of silence, concerts of up to 50 people were permitted to take place in Norway from 7 May, providing a one-metre space is kept between attendees, with capacity limits set to increase to 200 people by mid-June if all goes well and, possibly, to 500 by September
“It’s great to see that some concerts can take place again,” says Anders Tangen of Norwegian live music association Norske Konsertarrangører (NKA), “but to make it very clear – it’s not something that can keep our industry economically afloat.”
In a similar vein to responses from those in the Spanish music industry when reopening plans were unveiled, promoters in Norway suggest that initial restrictions are not viable for live events.
“A capacity of 50 works for private events like weddings and anniversaries, but I don’t see a concert boom returning with these restrictions,” Tonje Kaada, CEO of Norway’s Øya Festival tells IQ. “Maybe if the limit increases to 200 like they say it may from 15 June, but I think most promoters need a 500 limit before finding it financially healthy to restart their businesses.”
“It’s great to see that some concerts can take place again, but it’s not something that can keep our industry economically afloat”
Øya was among major festivals in Norway to cancel its 2020 edition following the extension of the government’s large-scale event ban to 1 September. Although having to cancel is “every festival organiser’s nightmare”, Kaada states it was helpful to be able to do so “in such controlled circumstances”, with time to discuss with other organisers and the wider industry.
“It’s been an incredibly tough time for our whole eco system, but at least we’re in the same boat and I really feel that everyone is doing what they can to support each other.”
Mark Vaughan from All Things Live Norway agrees that there is “no financial reward for anyone” putting on an event under current restrictions. However, the reopening, albeit slight, does “give people a chance to work in many different sectors of the business”, says Vaughan, adding that putting on shows, even under the restrictions, is “a positive step for everyone”.
In addition to capacity limits, the need to maintain social distancing at events provides more problems for promoters. FKP Scorpio Norway head promoter Stian Pride says the one-metre distancing guideline means it is “very difficult to make [shows] work”.
“The economic margins for venues and festivals were tight before the crisis, and this makes it even worse”
In order to facilitate easier and safer reopening, the NKA has developed guidelines for venues and organisers on how to meet regulations from the health authorities. “It’s a lot to consider and implement,” says Tangen, “but at the same time there is of course eagerness to open up and get back to come sort of normality.
“The economic margins for venues and festivals were tight before the crisis, and this makes it even worse.”
The situation in Norway is much the same as that in neighbouring Sweden which, unlike its western European counterparts, has yet to impose a full lockdown, keeping bars, restaurants and shops open and allowing events of up to 50 people.
However, the country’s live industry is facing the same issues as most others. “No concerts at all are taking place,” Edward Janson of Swedish promoter Triffid and Danger tells IQ. “We were supposed to promote 42 concerts from mid-March to late May and all of these have either been cancelled or postponed.” Janson adds that he is “more and more sceptical” as to whether shows rescheduled to autumn will be able to go ahead.
Indeed, unlike in many other countries, no end-date for restrictions or plan for resuming normal business has been given in Sweden, making it difficult for promoters to plan for the future, says Joppe Pihlgren of Swedish live music organisation Svensk Live.
“Our focus is to help our members to survive this spring and summer.”
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 [email protected] to submit missing association information.
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:
- A wage subsidy for industry employees who “no longer have meaningful work due to restrictions on gatherings, including casuals, sole traders, and self-employed” workers
- Business loans with zero-interest for five years
The package would include:
- A $550m (€302m) investment in the commercial sector, consisting of a cash injection of $25,000 (€13,748) to $2m (€1.1m) per company; a rebate of transaction fees through ticketing companies to be passed back to promoters, venues and festivals; and a $25,000 (€13,748) grants for 4,000 live music venues nationally
- A $180m (€98.8m) investment in Australia Council for the Arts, including a cash injection to performing arts companies and regional venues; an extension to all current government funding arrangements; and additional funding for the Four Year Funding for Organisations programme
- A $20m (€11m) support act dedicated to providing mental health and harship support for artists, performers, crew and technicians
- A recovery and reactivation package including a marketing campaign; consumer stimulus; tax incentives for live music events; and money for the support acts and Australia Council
“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”
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:
- A lift of the ban as soon as the quarantine period is over
- A period of grace in regards to current and future payments due to the local collection society, Musicautor
- Talks with managers and agents to lower fees for upcoming shows in order to offer customers lower ticket prices
- Agreements with local municipalities to promote future shows through their advertising and broadcasting channels
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”
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:
- An Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 (€478) bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks to provide income support to workers – including the self-emplyed – who must stay home and do not have access to paid sick leave
- An Emergency Support Benefit of up to $5bn (€2.7bn) in support to workers who are not eligible for employment insurance benefits and who are facing unemployment
- A 10% wage subsidy for small businesses for the next 90 days, up to a maximum of $1,375 (€731) per employee and $25,000 (€13,285) per employer
- An increase in the credit available to small, medium, and large Canadian businesses
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:
- A large-scale compensation fund for concert and festival producers, such as the €12 million fund recently approved by the European Commission for Danish concerts and festivals.
- Assistance for self-employed workers and small businesses, who are “exceptionally vulnerable” to the effects the virus may have on the industry.
- Short-term work benefits for all live music workers including easy access to Employment Insurance benefits.
- Tax relief for all those involved in the live industry.
- Insurance accountability to ensure insurers are “following proper protocol by paying out on claims where legally applicable”.
- Eligibility for grants and loans for live music companies, “regardless of ‘perceived risk’”
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”
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-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:
- To provide clarity regarding state aid rules
- To define the corona-crisis as “force majeure” throughout the EU
- To provide clear guidance on the consumer rules in relation to the reimbursement
Furthermore, the organisation urges member states to enforce specific measures relating to labour and employment, tax, financial and grants, asking government to:
- Exempt or postpone payments of employers social security contributions
- Introduce the possibility for temporary unemployment and where relevant access to unemployment benefits without a waiting period
- Provide a specific fund for freelancers to compensate the lost income which cannot be accessed through unemployment social benefits
- Ensure quick access to short-term work, provision of flexible work measures and support mechanisms to provide additional benefits for short-term workers
- Reduce business tax for private entities
- Reduce or remove VAT rates on tickets and/or on cultural services
- Introduce non-accrual of interest in case of late payments, especially as regards general services such as electricity, gas, water
- Suspend the application of the right to levy withholding tax on artist income in the case of touring groups and artists in the context of double tax treaties
- Extend deadlines to submit reports for grants/subsidies
- Create special strands of support in the period 2020-2021 to make touring and co-productions possible again
“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”
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”
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”
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:
- An extension to the period within which organisers can reschedule an event before having to refund tickets, allowing them a full year to do so
- An option to offer ticketholders a voucher worth the original ticket price, instead of a cash refund, for cases when an event cannot be rescheduled
- The creation of another emergency state fund to support service providers in the event industry
- The introduction of proper regulatory action and “clear and binding cancellation orders” from the authorities to ensure promoters are not liable to pay damages
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”
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:
- Suspension of VAT payments for companies that have suffered cancellations or temporal shift of concerts
- A 12-month stop on the payment of mortgage installments and leases for the organisers of shows
- Tax credit for the costs of organizing canceled or postponed concerts
- A government guarantee on loans for entertainment companies
- Extraordinary support measures for workers and cooperatives operating in the live entertainment sector, such as tax exemptions
“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”
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:
- the government’s support and cooperation for restoring the concert industry
- economic backing
“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”
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.
- The Temporary Emergency Measure Bridging for Retention of Work that sees the government pay 90% of the salary for workers at companies that expect a 20% reduction in turnover. The scheme also applies to employees with a flexible contract and to on-call workers.
- A €4,000 emergency provision for entrepeneurs “directly affected” by measures implemented to stop the spread of the virus
- Benefits for self-emplyed workers
- A deferral of taxes and reduction of recovery charges to almost 0%
- €1.5bn of state-guaranteed loans, of up to €150m each
- A call on consumers not to request a refund for tickets purchased for cancelled events
“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”
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:
- Aid for artists and self-employed actors within the cultural sectors
- Liquidity enhancing measures
- Direct support towards festivals, venues and promotors who has been given an order to close down in this period
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:
- The delay in deadlines for paying for ticket refunds and other costs when events are cancelled or postponed
- Large state grants to help restore the industry for when the pandemic is over
“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”
The federation suggests:
- Guaranteeing the liquidity of companies, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises and self-employed workers in the music industry, with backing from the ICO (Instituto de Crédito Oficial), a state-owned bank attached to the ministry of economy and business
- The postponement of tax payment, including on value added tax (VAT), income tax and foreign income tax. This should also apply to any oustanding tax debt and the accrual of interest during the period of inaction
- The reduction of VAT from 10% to 4% on tickets to music events and from 21% to 10% on all services related to live music
- A reduction of the corporate tax rate for at least two years while the sector recovers
- The approval of means of compensating the customer other than by tickets refunds, in the case of events cancelled due to Covid-19
- The possibility of an official declaration of force majeure to facilitate the postponement of concert and festivals
- For self-employed workers, the suspension of social security contributions, implement paid leave from the day one and establish a severance payment by creating an emergency fund
- The simplification and streamlining of procedures in temporary employment regulation (TER) files.
- The suspension of the obligation for companies to pay social security contributions for workers during the period of inactivity
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”
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”
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:
- Help, guidance and clarity for the 72% of workers in the music industry who are self-employed
- ‘Holidays’ from VAT (value-added tax), allowing companies to delay payments to “potentially provide cash flow” to some businesses
- Compensation schemes to support live events and businesses, such as that given to Danish concerts and festivals
- Eligibility for grants and loans for all music businesses
- A holding to account of insurance companies
- An extension to the period of time within which refunds must be paid to consumers
- Business rates relief for the 132 grassroot music venues in the UK with a rateable value of above £51,000. (Last week, the UK government abolished business rates – the tax paid on non-domestic property – for businesses with a rateable value of below £51,000.)
“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 independent venue charity is asking the government to:
- Legally enforce the closure of the UK’s grassroots music venues in response to the coronavirus outbreak to avoid “the permanent closure and loss of hundreds of venues” and facilitate insurance claims
- Cancel the Festival of Britain 2022 – a one-off cultural event that the government has ring-fenced £120 million to deliver
- Reallocate the £120 million to create a Cultural Infrastructure Hardship Relief Fund, delivering funding to grassroots music venues, theatres, arts centres and other social and cultural spaces forced to close by the coronavirus
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.
No prison time for “guilty” Asap Rocky
US rapper Asap Rocky has been found guilty of assault by Stockholm District Court and given a two-year suspended sentence.
The rapper, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, received a ‘guilty’ verdict along with two members of his entourage, Bladimir Corniel and David Rispers.
The assault was not deemed serious enough to constitute a prison sentence, as long as the three defendants commit no further crimes for two years.
The rapper was ordered to pay Kr12,500 (US$1,300) in damages to the victim for “violation of his integrity” and “pain and suffering”, according to the Swedish arm of English-language publication the Local.
Asap Rocky and his two co-defendants spent almost a month in custody in Sweden following the assault. Many objected to the rapper’s pre-trial detention, with artists including Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes and Jada Pinkett Smith urging his release.
Joppe Pihlgren, head of Swedish live music association Svensk Live, told IQ last month that although Rocky being held in a jail cell while awaiting trial “might seem strange in America, where you can bail yourself out if you have enough money… this is not how the Swedish system works.”
Pihlgren said he believed the general public largely supported Rocky’s detention, saying the feeling in Sweden was that “he is accused of committing a crime and he’s being treated like anyone else”.
“We [in Sweden] have a judicial system that treats everyone the same”
“We have a judicial system that treats everyone the same,” explained the Svensk Live head.
Mayers, Corniel and Rispers returned to the United States when the trial concluded on 2 August, where they have been awaiting today’s (14 August) verdict. The return prompted a gleeful Twitter post from president Donald Trump, who had put pressure on the Swedish government to release the rapper.
The rapper made his return to the stage at California’s Real Street festival on Sunday, telling fans “I’m so happy to be here right now.” Rocky also referenced the support he received from fellow artists, stating that “hip hop never looked so strong together, we’re a big, strong community.”
Rappers Tyler the Creator, Schoolboy Q and Lil Yachty announced they would boycott Sweden as a touring destination following Rocky’s arrest.
Rocky was forced to cancel various festival appearances while detained, including headline slots at Sónar in Spain, London’s Wireless festival and Ukraine’s Atlas Weekend.
Lowlands re-announced the rapper’s appearance at the festival this weekend, following confirmation from the artist’s agency, CAA. Rocky is also scheduled to appear in Finland in the next few days, at Live Nation-owned hip-hop festival Blockfest.
Storsjöyran CEO appointed chair of Svensk Live
Andréa Wiktorsson, CEO and booker for Sweden’s Storsjöyran festival, has been named chairman of Swedish promoters’ association Svensk Live.
Wiktorsson was appointed to the role at the association’s recent annual general meeting, and replaces outgoing chairman Per Alexanderson.
“Interest in experiencing music live is huge. In 2016, live music in Sweden generated 5.5 billion kronor [€560m] and is the fastest-growing part of the music industry. At the same time, many promoters struggle with difficult financial situations,” she says.
“Working for better conditions must be a priority issue next year.”
Other 2018 board members are Luger vice-chairman Patrick Fredriksson, United Stage’s Anders Larsson, FKP Scorpio’s Kajsa Apelqvist, Lovisa Delehag of Blixten & Co., Marita Isaksson of Unga arrangörsnätverket (Young Promoters’ Network), Mattias Rudén of Heaven Up Here, Mikael Lindevall of Debaser, Elisabeth Rosenbrand of Musikens Makt and Dalapop’s Pelle Andersson.