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News March 13, 2020

Music biz bands together during coronavirus chaos [updated]

Executive Editor, B2B & Print
Music biz bands together during coronavirus chaos [updated]

The music industry’s worst fears became a reality on Friday, but the show must go on.

The Prime Minister and state and territory leaders want all non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people to be suspended from today amid fears about the spread of coronavirus.

“These events that we are seeking to advise against and restrict are non-essential, organised gatherings of persons of 500 or more,” the PM said.

The announcement followed the advice of chief health officer Brendan Murphy.

“All international evidence suggests that if you have some community transmission, the way in which it can be spread more rapidly is in very large events,” Professor Murphy said.

“You might only have one or two people at a very large event who might be carrying the virus, and the chance of it being spread out those large events accelerates the rate of progression.”

As the number of coronavirus cases in Australia nears 300, authorities said the speed at which the pandemic is spreading is too great to not act immediately.

Details during Friday’s press conference were scarce, leaving promoters and event organisers uncertain on how to proceed and more events cancelled altogether.

Among the Australian promoters now in limbo is Bluesfest chief Peter Noble.

In a statement posted on Facebook, the Byron Bay festival says it’s now awaiting the “official requirements” from authorities on Monday (March 16) before it updates ticket holders.

UPDATE 16/03/20: A ‘heartbroken’ Bluesfest has since cancelled.

Live Performance Australia is already seeking urgent clarification on the details of the announcement, in particular, ‘advice’ versus a ‘government directive’.

“The government needs to provide a clear directive as other jurisdictions have done so industry and the public are very clear about what this means,” LPA chief Evelyn Richardson said in a statement.

“The flow-on effects of this are huge which is why this morning we called on the Federal Government to urgently work on a plan to support industry immediately, both in the short term and as part of the recovery phase.

“This is an unprecedented crisis and will have a catastrophic impact on jobs and revenue as shows and festivals across the country are cancelled. What we need now is a timeframe so companies can plan for closure.”

Australia’s live performance industry contributes more than A$2.5 billion to the country’s economy each year and employs over 34,000 people.

Richardson warns that many promoters don’t have the “balance sheet strength” to withstand a box office freeze and is urging the government to prepare a meaningful relief package.

“We’re already seeing cancellation of events and touring programs across the country. We expect this to get worse with industry losing hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs.”

Over the weekend, the Australian Music Industry Network and the Australian Festival Association launched a website for musician’s to report lost income in response to the crisis.

Since launched it has been inundated with submissions, bringing the reported lost income from cancelled performances to a staggering $25 million from over 10,000 events.

APRA AMCOS, ARIA, Australian Hotels Association, PPCA, Live Performance Australia, Australian Music Industry Network, Australian Festivals Association, AIR, Australian Artist Managers and the Live Music Office will work together to support the music ecosystem.

The live music, festivals, events and hospitality sector are integral to the nation’s tourism industry in towns, city centres and regions across the country.

Each year, APRA AMCOS distributes on average over $10 million each year to local artists for the performance of their songs at live music events. The potential loss of this income will represent a huge blow if live events are further disrupted, the coalition warned.

Industry organisations will meet this week to discuss strategies for the most-affected.


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