- The letter was also signed by Diplo, Gwen Stefan, Tim McGraw and others
- Estimations state that $146m in income has already been lost (that number is expected to rise)
As each industry scrambles to find solutions to get through this uncharted territory caused by the spread of coronavirus, a group of prominent musicians are leaning on the United States government to lend support to help the music industry survive this epidemic. Today, the Music Artist Coalition (founded by industry veterans Irving Azoff and Dave Matthews) sent a letter addressed to the Trump Administration, asking for some sort of relief for the “hundreds of thousands of people whose livelihoods depend on the live music business“. The letter was co-signed by a wide range of successful mainstream artists, including Lizzo, Lionel Richie, Gwen Stefani, Anderson .Paak, Tim McGraw, Diplo – and countless others.
The mandatory cancelations of major live music events as a result of government restrictions has not only seen events like Coachella and SXSW rescheduled or canceled – but it has also had significant impact on the wider touring industry as a whole. Ranging from musicians, to dancers, background vocalists, audio / visual / stage production professionals, tour managers and beyond – there are countless people who solely depend on the live music industry to earn a normal living. To make a comparison of just how crucial the world of live music is – 2018 revenues for recorded music stood at $19.1bn, whereas live revenues brought in $27bn that same year. Much of that income goes to supporting those above-mentioned individuals who will essentially be out of work until this pandemic dies down.
This was reiterated in the letter to congress, stating: Concerts are not just about the headliner”.
“The foundation of live music are the touring musicians, truck and bus drivers, stagehands, production teams, crews who handle lighting, sound, equipment, security, and so many others, who do not have any option for work as there are no live events for the foreseeable future.” it wrote.
They go on to mention that the people in the music are “one of the groups most in need of government assistance” as they have had their business removed “without warning or a safety net“.
Whilst the U.S. government has yet to respond to this request, a number of music organizations and companies have offered financial relief to the music community – including The Recording Academy and Sound Royalties.
Internationally, Australian website ilostmygig.net.au has been setup exclusively for those across Australia and New Zealand who have and will be out of a salary due to touring cancelations. The website claims that $146m in income has been already lost – affecting over 470,000 people.
Trump has stated that there are plans to offer financial relief to affected Americans, but is yet to provide any details on a plan to distribute funds – or confirm who exactly they’ll be going to.
You can read the letter to the U.S. congress in full below:
Dear President Trump and Secretary Mnuchin,
The Music Artists Coalition (MAC) appreciates the bipartisan efforts underway to address the severe economic impact on millions of Americans because of COVID-19. As economic relief efforts are finalized, MAC believes it is essential that support is reserved for the hundreds of thousands of people whose livelihoods depend on the live music business.
In compliance with CDC guidelines, all concerts and events have been canceled indefinitely. As a result, the concert business is as drastically and negatively impacted as the airlines and the hospitality industries, despite a lack of media attention. The men and women who work tirelessly to bring live music to fans are unable to work from home and have no alternative means of supporting themselves and their families.
The cancellation of concerts, tours, and festivals means that the musicians and crews who make every concert a special experience for music fans are now out of a job and have no other way to pay rent or put food on the table. Concerts are not just about the headliner: the foundation of live music are the touring musicians, truck and bus drivers, stagehands, production teams, crews who handle lighting, sound, equipment, security, and so many others do not have any option for work as there are no live events for the foreseeable future.
The cancellation of concerts, festivals, and tours has brought an abrupt end to income for hundreds of thousands of people. For these dedicated individuals, it is not an unwillingness, but an inability, to work, when all concerts, tours, and recording sessions are canceled or indefinitely postponed. While some concerts will be rescheduled, it is inevitable that many will be canceled and unable to find a venue in which to perform when this crisis has passed.
The music industry is facing an existential threat that is unprecedented – the touring business as we know it has disappeared without warning and without a safety net for hundreds of thousands of people. MAC believes the impacted people in the music industry are one of the groups most in need of government assistance.
Thank you for leading the fight to ensure Americans are able to pay their bills and survive these trying times.
Amy Lee (Evanescence)
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Brandon Robert Young
Cold War Kids
J Ross Parrelli
Jerrod Bettis (p/k/a “Skins”)
Jonny Pierce (p/k/a “The Drums”)
Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds
Leslie Odom Jr
Little Big Town
Morgan Kibby/White Sea
Rory Andrew (p/k/a “Wynne”)
Stone Temple Pilots
The Doobie Brothers
The White Buffalo
Walk Off The Earth
Grammy Awards Postponed, New Date Revealed
The 2021 Grammy Awards has been rescheduled. Details surrounding the format of the show still remain unclear.
- March 14, 2021 has been confirmed as the new date for this year’s telecast due to COVID-19.
- Format and structure of the show still unknown.
In a joint statement from Harvey Mason, Jr (Interim President/CEO, The Recording Academy), Jack Sussman (EVP, Live Event, CBS Television), and the show’s Executive Producer Ben Winston, the 63rd Grammy Awards have been officially pushed back to March 14th, 2021. Citing ‘the deteriorating COVID situation in Los Angeles’ (where the ceremony is scheduled to be held) as the reason for the postponement, the statement confirmed what had already been speculated regarding the upcoming ceremony for some time.
According to Variety, a ‘limited’ show was being planned for the original date of January 31st – with only performers and presenters being allowed on-site (at The Staples Center), meaning nominees and winners would only make remote appearances. However, Recording Academy Interim CEO Harvey Mason, Jr. later stated that the event will be held “in and around Downtown Los Angeles”, and also mentioned plans to work with “independent venues” – which could mean we see it not held at Staples and perhaps take a similar production style to the 2020 BET Awards, where all presenters, performers and acceptance speeches were all pre-recorded and/or remote. The statement sent to Music Biz Nation regarding the new March date did not mention that it would be a live telecast – suggesting this may well be the case.
Top nominees for the 63rd Grammy Awards include Beyonce (leading with a total of 9 noms, with 2 for ‘Record of the Year’), followed by Roddy Ricch, Dua Lipa and Taylor Swift – who each have 6. You can view the complete list of nominees here.
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$500m of Live Nation stock was just purchased by Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia bought 12,337,569 shares in Live Nation Entertainment, according to an SEC filing.
- The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia bought 12,337,569 shares in Live Nation Entertainment.
- Saudi are now the third largest shareholder of the live music giant.
In an opportunistic move, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has purchased over $500million worth of Live Nation Entertainment shares on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Amongst other media conglomerates, Live Nation has seen a big dip in stock value amid COVID-19. After closing out at $76.08 on February 19, company stocks have closed at as low as low as $25.50 within the past two months – reaching an 52-week low of $21.70. However, after the half-a-billion dollar transaction by the middle eastern nation was revealed in a SEC filing today, value for the company shot up by 15% (at the time of writing).
As a result of this major purchase, Saudi Arabia now owns 5.7% of Live Nation Entertainment – holding the title of the third largest shareholder of the company. To be precise, that is a whopping 12,337,569 shares.
Music Biz Nation previously reported on the impact COVID-19 has had on the Live Music Industry, and specifically, Live Nation. Due to a widespread cancelation of concerts for the remainder of the year, LNE shares have been down around 40% since this time last year.
Company CEO Michael Rapiro announced he will be forfeiting his 2020 salary, and a number of senior Live Nation executives will be taking up to 50% pay deductions to compensate for loss of income occurred by the cancelations.
Prior to COVID-19, the Live Music Industry was set to see a record-breaking year in 2020 – but may instead incur potential losses of up to $9billion. With the year-on-year growth the industry has been experiencing over recent years (as reported by Pollstar), it is likely the demand for concert tours will see an unprecedented demand once the coronavirus pandemic has settled, globally. This, of course, creates a perfect opportunity for investors – that Saudi Arabia has capitalized on.
According to reports, Saudi’s Public Investment Fund has made a number of investments during the COVID-19 period, including oil companies – though this has not been confirmed.
Due to the strict islamic culture of Saudi Arabia, this $500million purchase of LNE shares raises questions about the country’s overall interest in entertainment. Due to some of their restrictions – which have been protested by Women’s Rights and LGBGTQ Activists, many artists have avoided performing in the region. Nicki Minaj famously turned down an offer to perform at Jeddah World Fest in Jeddah (Saudi’s second largest city) last year.
Time will tell if this buy was strictly an economic move – or one to boost tourism, which has been a focus of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman since he took office.