Over 400 Live Music Businesses Predicted To Close Within The Next Six Months

According to a new survey, Australia's live music industry is heading for "imminent collapse".

music festival coronavirus vaccine photo

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Over 400 live music venues across Australia are facing “imminent” closure because of the economic downturn caused by COVID-19,  a survey by the Australian Live Music Business Council has found.

The ALMBC was formed in July in response to the devastation wreaked by COVID-19 on the local industry, and it represents over 600 businesses across the country from all corners of the live music landscape.

The first survey of the council’s membership base has today revealed some grim insights — namely, that the Australian live music sector is heading for “collapse”.

Seventy three percent of businesses surveyed reported a revenue downturn of 75 to 100 percent over the last six months — many reported a 100 percent loss in income. Somewhat unbelievably, only 17 percent of these businesses will benefit from the federal government’s $75 million RISE stimulus package, which was meant to “reactivate” the sector. Most businesses fall outside of the eligibility criteria.

Most shockingly, 70 percent of businesses who took part in the survey are now predicting closure in the next six months — that’s over 400 businesses and roughly 18,000 jobs. Nearly 29 percent of these are expected to shutter within three months. These figures are based on cashflow projections and the current government support measures.

live music survey photo

Credit: ALMBC

“It is our urgent priority to find solutions for the 30 percent 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,” Select Music’s Stephen Wade, interim chair of the ALMBC, said.

Wade says that the sector has been uniquely impacted by COVID-19, and the industry cannot be ignored on the path to economic recovery. If they don’t, he warns, the effect on the country 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,” Wade said. “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 (that includes theatre, opera, everything). It’s an industry that’s worth $111 billion to the Australian economy. Do that math. For comparison, the construction industry received a package worth $680 million.