A new survey by the Australian Live Music Business Council 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 advocacy group says the survey results point 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 percent 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 percent say they expect to close within three months. Those numbers translates into a potential loss of around 18,000 jobs.
73 percent of participants reported a revenue downturn of between 75 and 100 percent in the past six months, with many of those reporting a 100 percent loss of income since March.
Many businesses also said they were “overlooked” by current government support initiatives, with only 17 percent expecting to benefit from the federal government’s $75 million RISE support package – the rest falling outside the eligibility criteria. The survey found overheads are a key challenge facing survey participants, with a large proportion saying they’re not currently receiving any form of rent relief.
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.
“It is our urgent priority to find solutions for the 30% of members who are not expected to see out Christmas – after 6 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,” commented Stephen Wade, interim ALMBC Chair.
“Our sector has been uniquely impacted by the pandemic and 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.”
“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.”