Australia’s $4bn concert industry on brink of collapse
Musicians from Keith Urban to Chris Martin are live streaming concerts to entertain self-isolated fans around the world as the Australian live music industry urges the Federal and State Governments to assist the shattered sector with a $850 million package.
Urban, with his wife Nicole Kidman on roadie and percussion duties, broadcast a half-hour set from their Nashville warehouse.
"You're up, baby," cued a giggling Nicole Kidman as the broadcast went live. She was one of only three people in the warehouse with Urban for the gig.
Coldplay frontman Chris Martin launched the first Together At Home virtual concert series on Tuesday, chatting to tens of thousands of fans in between playing some of the band's biggest hits and a cover of David Bowie's Life On Mars.
"The right thing to be doing is staying home … and not buying too much toilet paper," Martin said.
The next concert in the series, which is co-staged by Global Citizen and WHO to promote unity amid the COVID-19 pandemic's social distancing protocols, will feature John Legend.
Other resourceful artists planning to stage mini-gigs for fans via social media platforms include Richard Marx and American electronic musician and YouTube personality Mark Ribellet who had to cancel his Australian gigs this week.
But as artists continue to share their talents with the world any way they can, tens of thousands of performers, technicians, venue staff and associated employees, are facing at least six months without income as mass gatherings are banned and venues shuttered.
Award-winning independent artist Alex Lahey wrote an impassioned open letter to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews pleading for assistance.
Before the 27-year-old festival favourite started making a full-time income from her career, she worked as a media monitor at the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
All of her gigs scheduled during 2020 both locally and overseas have now been cancelled.
The ilostmygig Australia site has been inundated with thousands of people reporting how the virus crisis has affected them since they launched on the weekend.
In just three days, they have reports of 65,000 job opportunities worth more than $100 million have been lost with those numbers to spiral out of control as isolation continues.
"My team and I now do not have any foreseeable income to pay our rents, our mortgages,
our bills and support our families," Lahey wrote.
"While initiatives have been put in place to provide financial stimulus through tax initiatives and some employers have moved towards providing support for their casualised workforce, people like myself do not qualify for the latter and have to wait far too long for the former. There is no immediate relief and support.
"I am in no doubt that people like myself and my peers - artists and musicians who have
worked hard enough to make a modest living from their art - are among those most
affected by the current health crisis and yet there is no forthcoming assistance pledged
by governments for this group in our community."
Lahey also pointed out Australia's musicians moved swiftly to raise millions of dollars to aid bushfire recovery, further sacrificing their income.
Artists and their teams faced more bad news on Tuesday with Splendour in the Grass moved to October, Groovin' The Moo cancelled and many other tours shifted to later in the year.
Meanwhile, Live Performance Australia chief executive Evelyn Richardson and other concert industry representatives met via teleconference with Federal arts minister Paul Fletcher to push for a $850 million support and stimulus package for the arts community.
Ms Richardson believes gigs are gone for up to six months.
"Australia's $4 billion live performance industry is on the brink of collapse without immediate government support," she said.
"Realistically, we're looking at a 3-6 month closure period at least before any recovery phase. In this scenario we will have not just thousands of people out of work but major companies going under along with a decimated small to medium sector.
"The industry also needs to ensure our service providers can survive so that when we reactivate we have capacity to get moving as quickly as we can.
"Cash flow is our biggest problem and government needs to act quickly to put in place emergency measures to ensure we survive."
American band The Killers have postponed tickets going on sale for their shows in Australia in November.
"The news is changing every hour around coronavirus and, ultimately, we want you, our fans, to stay focused on prevention and remaining safe and cautious right now," the statement read.
"In addition, once we go on sale, we will be providing a portion of our ticketing income to local organisations who help people whose service industry jobs are impacted by the coronavirus in each of our tour cities. We are taking this personally. Both we and our families have had these jobs and our hearts go out to those affected."