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News April 29, 2020

Live Nation and AEG call on Congress for emergency aid, Australian government refuses to budge

Senior Journalist, B2B
Live Nation and AEG call on Congress for emergency aid, Australian government refuses to budge

Live Nation and AEG have buried the hatchet and teamed up with rival companies and live entertainment professionals to request emergency federal aid.

The once flourishing U.S. concerts landscape is a desert right now, with social distancing restrictions wiping out all gigs and festivals for the foreseeable future.

Almost certainly, the lockdown will continue through the northern summer, wiping out billions of dollars of activity.

Like elsewhere, there’s no timetable on a return to normal. Though several states are moving against medical advice and lifting isolation orders.

In the meantime, a coalition of live industry leaders has pleaded with Congress to expand the Paycheck Protection Act to entertainment business with 500 or fewer employees.

“Our businesses were the first to close and will be the last to reopen,” reads the letter, which lists names organisations as signatories, including the big two concert promoters, LN and AEG.

“Without immediate financial assistance, the future of the public entertainment and event industry is in question. Accordingly, Congress must act now to address the severe impact that governmental closures orders have had on this industry.”

According to the memo, published by Billboard, the live entertainment sector also requests an expansion of loans to mid-sized businesses under the CARES Act and the Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending programme.

“Many insurance carriers have pre-emptively asserted that property damage and event cancellation policies will not provide coverage related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the letter continues.

The U.S. bailout plea has echoes of the situation in these parts, where Live Performance Australia has engaged in talks with government on behalf of its members on securing a $650 million stimulus and relief package.

Weeks have passed, and the cash hasn’t come.

“We’ve presented the Gov’t with a plan to support our industry through this crisis,” reads a message from LPA posted online last Thursday. “All we have got in reply is ‘try the dole, good luck with JobKeeper and see you again some day’.”

On Saturday, LPA reiterated, “Canberra needs to step up and do a much better job of supporting Australia’s arts workers who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19.”

According to the U.S. coalition of live businesses and advocates, more than 25,000 jobs have been lost as a result of the shutdown and the industry faces the loss of $10 billion to $12 billion this summer, and potentially double that if shows are banned until 2021, a scenario that’s been touted by officials and medical professionals.

Across Australia, event cancellations and postponements have cost $340 million (or US$222 million), according to I Lost My Gig.

The U.S. has reported more than 58,000 deaths related to COVID-19, and last Friday the country saw its largest single-day spike in infections.

In other news, LN Chief Executive Officer Michael Rapino has spelled out the financial damage caused to his business by the health emergency and detailed plans for issuing refunds.

“The volume of events being cancelled and postponed in the last month is larger than last 10 years combined,” reads the memo, reported by Billboard.

After LN-owned Ticketmaster came under heavy fire for its refunds policy, Rapino has clarified the rules. If new dates aren’t announced within 60 days of the original show date, ticket holders will be emailed a refund offer, or they can choose to keep their tickets.

Read more here.

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.


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