News April 1, 2020

Will the Government’s $130b wage subsidy keep the music biz afloat?

Publisher & Content Director
Will the Government’s $130b wage subsidy keep the music biz afloat?

There is some fresh hope for music businesses facing uncertain futures.

Thousands of music-based operators are expected to be eligible for the Government’s latest package to keep its people employed through the pandemic.

It spells good news for those hit hardest, including promoters, artists, agents, travel companies, road crew, managers, media, ticketing outlets and venues.

On Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the JobKeeper scheme, with businesses big and small able to access the latest support efforts.

The subsidy will payout $1,500 per employee, each fortnight, for six months. It’s the largest part of the $130 billion economic stimulus package in response to COVID-19.

Businesses with a turnover of below $1b, who can demonstrate a projected 30% decline in revenue, will be eligible. Businesses earning over $1b will need to show a 50% drop.

It will also be backdated to include staffers stood down after March 1 and includes full time, part-time and casual employees and sole traders.

Frydenberg said the JobKeeper scheme would benefit the hardest-hit sectors.

“This $1,500 payment is a flat payment and is the equivalent of around 70% of the median wage and represents about 100% of the median wage in those sectors most heavily impacted by the coronavirus,” he said.

Talking to TMN, music and entertainment industry accountant Meredith Fannin from Darkwave Consulting said although it provides some hope, many questions still remain.

“The JobKeeper announcement on Monday afternoon has been warmly welcomed, however, the devil will be in the detail,” she said.

“Once the full legislation is passed, it will be interesting to see how the JobKeeper stimulus will work on a practical level.”

The Australian Tax Office will oversee the scheme and has launched a website for employers to register interest in the JobKeeper program, with more than 8,000 registering within an hour of the PM’s announcement.

Live Performance Australia CEO Evelyn Richardson told TMN that a “targeted industry package” for the events sector is still needed to ensure the industry can bounce back.

“We welcome the announcement and it will help a lot of people across our industry,” she said.

“We have some questions regarding eligibility that we are talking with Government about so that we can fully understand how it will work.

“We still maintain the view that it’s critical to help individuals but we must also ensure we secure our companies so they can maintain a structure for when we move to the recovery phase.

“A targeted industry package is required which includes cash grants, temporary loans, long term loans and a rebate on transaction fees through ticketing companies. Plus, additional support for the Australia Council and Support Act.”

The Parliament will be recalled “soon” to pass legislation for the JobKeeper payment.

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