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Survey shows over 400 Australian Live Music Businesses face imminent closure

Survey shows over 400 Australian Live Music Businesses face imminent closure
October 23, 2020

A survey released by the Australian Live Music Business Council (ALMBC) has found over 400 live music businesses across the country are facing imminent closure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant restrictions and social distancing measures.

The recently formed advocacy group says the survey of its membership base points to an “imminent collapse” of the country’s live music industry, and put “a critical question mark over the sector’s ability to recover after COVID-19 shutdowns”.

The survey, conducted in August, found that 70% of businesses who participated in the survey predict they will be forced to close in the next six months, based on cash flow projections and taking into account current government support initiatives. Of those, 29% say they expect to close within three months. Those numbers translates into a potential loss of around 18,000 jobs.

73% of participants reported a revenue downturn of between 75 and 100% in the past six months, with many of those reporting a 100% loss of income since March with the survey finding overheads to be a key challenge facing survey participants, with a large proportion saying they’re not currently receiving any form of rent relief.

The survey also revealed that many in the industry feel they have been “overlooked” by government support initiatives, with only 17% expecting to benefit from the Federal Government’s $75 million RISE support package - which was meant to “reactivate” the sector - the rest falling outside the eligibility criteria.

Over 70% of Australian live music businesses expect to close within six months. Credit: Australian Live Music Business Council

When asked about what could be done to help those businesses recover, participants suggested a roadmap for easing venue restrictions and opening domestic borders back up, extending the JobKeeper program at current rates, and a survival package that provides additional cash flow to those businesses in order to support the recovery of Australia’s live music industry.

Commenting on the findings, ALMBC interim Chair Stephen Wade advised “it is our urgent priority to find solutions for the 30% of members who are not expected to see out Christmas - after six months of no revenue and gigs out to at least March 2021 still in doubt, we are almost out of time for a solution for these businesses."

Advising that the sector has been uniquely impacted by COVID-19, Wade noted “the role of live music cannot be ignored as part of the roadmap to getting the country back to good commercial and mental health. But if live music businesses don’t make it through the knock on for the entire music industry and wider national consciousness will be immense.

“You can’t remove two-thirds of businesses from an ecosystem and not have a flow-on impact to all the other businesses in the chain.

“Tours can’t happen without engineers, road crew, marketing staff and countless others. Venues and promoters need agents to book acts and essential skilled technical staff to deliver the live experience.

“What happens when festivals return but there are no production companies or crew to service them? What happens when there are no operators to handle production in local pubs and clubs? What happens when international artists want to visit Australia and there are no venues to play? When the ecosystem collapses, it’s the artists, the public, our culture and way of life that will ultimately pay the price.”

The surveyed members pointed very clearly to solutions for the crisis: easing venue restrictions, an extension of JobKeeper, and an additional economic survival package.

In June, the Federal Government unveiled a $250 million emergency package for the whole arts industry - which is worth $111 billion to the Australian economy.

In September, the Victorian Government announced a $13 million funding package for the state’s live music sector, in an effort to help it reopen following the lifting of lockdown.

The ALMBC was formed in July to advocate on behalf of the ‘backstage’ voices in the Live Music supply chain who play a vital role providing the infrastructure to nurture and expose talent for the entire music economy.

Led by Architects of Entertainment, ALH Group, EMC, Oztix and Untitled Group, it represents over 600 businesses across the country from all corners of the live music landscape.

At the time of it launch, Wade explained “COVID has shown just how important a collective approach is in times of crisis and the Australian Live Music Business Council fills that gap, providing for the first time, a platform to help galvanise our passion to work in this amazing industry.

“The formation of the ALMBC gives a coordinated voice to the thousands of small and medium businesses working at the coalface of Australia’s essential night economy, representing the long-tail of shows, venues and events that underpin Australian commerce and culture.”

For more information go to www.almbc.org.au

Lower image shows ALMBC interim Chair Stephen Wade.

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28th March 2020 - Major entertainment promoters call for Australian Government support through Coronavirus crisis

18th August 2020 - Woodford Folk Festival cancelled with organisers launching ‘Bushtime’ experience

7th August 2020 - Port Macquarie festival organiser uncertain about holding event in 2021

27th July 2020 - Bluesfest highlights losses incurred due to festival cancellation in 2020

22nd July 2020 - Live Entertainment Industry Forum applauds Australian Government’s JobKeeper extension

8th July 2020 - Festivals plan for 2021 editions with improved health measures

27th June 2020 - ASM Global releases operational plans for the reopening of its arenas, stadia, theatres and convention centres

11th May 2020 - Live Nation says no return to ‘full scale’ concerts until 2021 as it looks to drive-in events

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