Covid19 and the Music Industry: Reflections toward the end of June 2020

This is the 3rd blog I have written intending to take stock of the various impacts Covid 19 has had on the music sector. Related news this week included discussions around the initial guidelines proposed concerning musicians returning to work, with the most alarming suggestion being the notion that brass players in orchestras have to social distance by three metres, with singers being capped to six per room (For a short piece advocating the return of public singing in churches for example, see here). Although the proposals have not gone through parliament as of yet, UK music are pressuring government to reconsider its plans, but it is fairly obvious that decisions such as these must be made taking into account the perspectives of representatives from the music industries – otherwise criticism is bound to follows. Aside from brass players not being able to hear each other properly, the resultant sound produced not to mention the capacity to fit players into a recording studio space are highly problematic.

Related to this, at the time of writing, music venues throughout the UK were waiting to see if any updates were forthcoming regarding the 2-metre social distancing rule. As it stands, government have announced that some restaurants and pubs will be open on July 4th – but two questions remain unanswered 1) will it be financially viable to open if a 2 metre rule is applied and 2) if it is reduced – is it safe and will the general public have the confidence to return to social spaces such as this? I absolutely have no answer to this, but considering grass root venues were already struggling – this is only going to make their financial viability even more precarious, hence the reason why UK Music are urging the UK Government for an agent cash injection of £50 million.

All of this was taking place during a week when Cameron Mackintosh announced that West End shows such as Les MisérablesMary PoppinsHamilton and The Phantom of the Opera will not open until 2021 – with resultant job losses on the table. In terms of more positive narratives, it was announced this week that artists such as The Lightning Seeds and Gary Numan, have signed up to play at the ‘Live From The Drive-In’ events, taking place in outdoor spaces in Birmingham, Liverpool, London, Edinburgh, Bristol and beyond. Although by no means a ‘solution’ to the crisis hitting live music around the world, this initiative at least provides a means by which the general public can experience music outside again, albeit in relatively small numbers (300 capacity). Although Live Nation support this initiative, the biggest concert promoter in North America, announced plans to make some radical changes to its proposed 2021 concert series, most of which shift the financial burden of concerts from promoters to artists. It seems that if touring artists want to work next year, they will have to accept a greater part of the risk and responsibility of promoting the concert. The changes are wide ranging and are summarised below (courtesy of Rolling Stone).

Artist Guarantees: Artist guarantees will be adjusted downward 20% from 2020 levels.

Ticket Prices: Ticket prices are set by the promoter, at the promoter’s sole discretion, and are subject to change.

Payment Terms: Artists will receive a deposit of 10% one month before the festival, contingent on an executed agreement and fulfillment of marketing responsibilities. The balance, minus standard deductions for taxes and production costs, will be paid after the performance.

Minimum Marketing Requirements: All artists will be required to assist in marketing of the festival through minimum social media posting requirements outlined in artist offer.

Streaming requirements: All artists will be required to allow their performance to be filmed by the festival for use in a live television broadcast, a live webcast, on-demand streaming, and/or live satellite radio broadcast.

Billing: All decisions regarding “festival billing” are at the sole discretion of the promoter.

Merchandise: Purchaser will retain 30 % of Artist merchandise sales and send 70% to the artist within two weeks following the Festival.

Airfare and Accommodations: These expenses will be the responsibility of the artist.

Sponsorship: The promoter controls all sponsorship at the festival without any restrictions, and artists may not promote brands onstage or in its productions.

Radius Clause. Violation of a radius clause without the festival’s prior authorization in writing will, at the festival’s sole discretion, result in either a reduction of the artist fee or the removal of the artist from the event, with any pre-event deposits returned to the festival immediately.

Also see this

Other News

For a nice story about a UK based record shop reopening – click here

If you live in or around Hamburg and are interested in playing your part in developing new business models to kick start the city’s music industry – click here.

For an honest outline of how Covid19 has impacted my colleague Martin Cloonan’s research in terms of importance and relevance, click here

About Paul Carr

Academic working at the University of Glamorgan
This entry was posted in Covid-19, Live Music, Musicology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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