Music's Biggest Companies Are Asking Legislators to Save Indie Venues - Rolling Stone
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Music’s Biggest Companies Are Asking Legislators to Save Indie Venues

Music companies, including Spotify and the three major record companies, urge legislators to support struggling independent concert venues

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 14: Live music venue The Troubadour remains closed due to restrictive Coronavirus measures on April 14, 2020 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

Live-music venue the Troubadour in West Hollywood remains closed due to restrictive coronavirus measure.

Rich Fury/Getty Image

In the latest push of the National Independent Venue Association’s request for government assistance for shuttered concert venues, several of the music industry’s most powerful companies and organizations have signed a letter to federal legislators imploring the government to take action.

The world’s three biggest music companies — Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group — signed the letter along with streaming services such as Spotify, Amazon Music, and YouTube, and trade groups that include the Recording Industry Association of America.

The latest letter marks 1 million total emails sent to legislators since NIVA’s founding in April, advocating for more aid, the association said. Tuesday’s letter — addressed to Senate Committee on Small Business Chairman Marco Rubio, House Committee on Small Business Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez, and Senate and House Committee ranking members Ben Cardin and Steve Chabot — encourages the legislators to support the RESTART Act, which, if passed, would bring a new loan option for businesses most severely hit during the pandemic.

“It is essential that these small businesses receive the necessary relief in order to reopen their doors,” Horacio Gutierrez, Spotify’s head of global affairs and chief legal officer, said in a statement. “The RESTART Act is a crucial step to helping revive these cultural hubs. Spotify applauds the leadership of Senators Bennet and Young and Representatives Kelly and Golden, and urges Congress to swiftly take action to save our stages.”

The letter also reiterates figures NIVA has previously brought to legislators, including that 90 percent of its member venues worry they will permanently close if the pandemic lasts six months and no further aid is given.

“The ominous reality is venues will be shutdown indefinitely, likely extending deep into 2021, as these gathering places which host live music and comedy are in the final stage of nearly every jurisdictions’ reopening plans; many are not permitted to open until there’s a vaccine or cure,” the letter said. “The ability to open at partial capacity is not economically feasible for most. Rents, utilities, payroll, taxes, insurance, and artist pay are fixed costs; they are not on a sliding scale that matches the capacity venues are permitted to host.”

NIVA’s membership has grown to more than 2,000 independent venues since the organization came together in April. Among its members are historic institutions like the Troubadour in Los Angeles and the Bowery Ballroom in New York. NIVA has gotten support from hundreds of musicians who signed another letter in June similarly asking for more government assistance.

Read the full letter and list of signees below.

Dear Chairman Rubio, Ranking Member Cardin, Chairwoman Velázquez and Ranking Member Chabot:

As the country starts to slowly and partially reopen in certain jurisdictions, one critical part of the economy is still effectively shuttered and is at risk of near total collapse: independent music venues. These venues were the first to close and will be the last to fully reopen. We stand with the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) and its 2,000 independent venue and promoter members across the country, urging you to support The RESTART Act (S. 3814/H.R. 7481) led by Senators Todd Young and Michael Bennet and Representatives Jared Golden and Mike Kelly, and other like-minded proposals that tailor PPP to work for shuttered businesses that have no revenue, high overhead and no clear timeline for reopening.

With zero revenue and the overwhelming overhead of rent, mortgage, utilities, taxes, and insurance, 90% of independent venues report that if the shutdown lasts six months and there’s no federal assistance, they will never reopen again.

Beloved venues in all corners of America are already shutting down forever. Each venue’s closing is accompanied by the reality that communities are losing their local economic and cultural hubs. Their absence will be sorely felt; for every $1 spent on a ticket at small venues, a total of $12 in economic activity is generated within communities at restaurants, hotels, taxis, and retail establishments. Keeping independent venues alive is a benefit not just for fans, employees, and artists; it’s an investment in communities across America.

The ominous reality is venues will be shutdown indefinitely, likely extending deep into 2021, as these gathering places which host live music and comedy are in the final stage of nearly every jurisdictions’ reopening plans; many are not permitted to open until there’s a vaccine or cure. The ability to open at partial capacity is not economically feasible for most. Rents, utilities, payroll, taxes, insurance, and artist pay are fixed costs; they are not on a sliding scale that matches the capacity venues are permitted to host.

Under normal circumstances, these mom-and-pop entrepreneurial businesses fuel about $9 billion a year into local economies throughout the U.S. Due to the national routing of most tours, this industry will not recover until the entire country is open at 100% capacity. NIVA members need assistance in order to survive until that day. This relief is critical for our nation’s artists, too, as they derive 75% of their income from touring. They will need a place to play — and not in boarded-up buildings – when the world opens up again. These independent venues are the unassuming, unsung heroes of the music industry where developing artists get their start, hone their craft, and build a following. Without these venues, there are no arena acts or major festivals and the music economy will be in further peril.

Before it’s too late, Congress must take quick and specific action to address the unique circumstances of this still-shuttered component of the small business sector. We are asking you to support NIVA’s request for assistance so these venues can live long enough to reopen when it’s safe — and once again serve as the economic engines that fuel local economies.

Respectfully,

A2IM (American Association of Independent Music)
Amazon Music
ASCAP
BMI
DiMA
Etix
Eventbrite
Future of Music Coalition Music Artists Coalition Music Business Association RIAA
See Tickets
SESAC
Sirius XM + Pandora Sony Music Entertainment SoundExchange
Spotify
Universal Music Group Warner Music Group YouTube

cc: Members of the Senate and House 

In This Article: coronavirus, live music, Spotify, venues

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