Live music is in peril

Picture of Band on Stage

Is Live Music in Peril?

The virus outbreak has brought the world to a standstill. Businesses have closed, staff have been put on temporary leave (or may not return at all) and any business that relies on large numbers being on one place at one time face absolute uncertainty as to when they'll not just be allowed to reopen, but how many people they'll actually be able to host at once!

Every musician in the world is wondering when they'll be able to get back to work, of course, but for the managers - bigger questions are being asked because, after all, music is a business.

1. If and when the venues re-open, how many people will be allowed in?

For those who rely on ticket sales, every show has a 'break even' point. A show might required 160 seats before there's any chance of profit. Bigger shows, run by production companies will require many more than that because they'll have staff and premises to pay for on top of the performer wages, marketing, travel costs, etc etc etc.
If the venues are cutting their capacities in half to enable them to maintain social distancing, will bigger productions be able to continue if they can't make enough money to pay their ongoing overheads?

The smaller shows may be able to continue if the overheads are small but there's a real chance that a 400cap venue will suddenly become a 200 cap venue and a 200 cap venue might not even be viable anymore because 100 people won't cover the costs of two businesses.

2. Are the theatres actually booking?

If you're an independent show producer, you're likely continuing to work to book your show because that's what we do. We spend our time in anticipation of income on the show date. But show programmers and bookers in agencies and production companies are waged staff, working for theatres who are closed and likely furloughed. Are these bookers working? Are they working for free? Are they going to be returning to their jobs when the theatres re-open, or are they going elsewhere? For many of them - it's just a job after all.

3. Are audiences going to want to come out?

Only time will tell there. There's going to be people on both sides: those who don't want to be in crowded places and those who are unfazed by any scale of risk and just want to continue with their lives. On the upside here, if we only have 150 seats to fill - it's likely that 150 will want to come out for a night of authentic entertainment!

What's the solution?

We're just going to have to remember that theatres are a business - they need to make money to pay their overheads - and the show producers are a business, and their overheads will also be considerable. Musicians should probably prepare for the fact that it might not be affordable for show producers to maintain the number of musicians in each performance, and also that the fees may have to reduce to make shows affordable to run with respect to the level of return.

In an ideal world, every show - no matter the scale - will be able to continue and the companies involved will just suck up the losses to keep the jobs going, but the reality is that this just isn't sustainable for either the venue or the producer.

Everyone's going to need to tighten their belts and do what they need to do to keep their shows going and keep as many people in work as is required to keep the shows running to a minimum level of quality.

Prestige will be able to help

For those who need to bring FOH and engineers in for your shows in 2020 and 2021, Prestige is priced to be very affordable for the smaller shows so we may well be able to be a solution for you if you're in the category of 'shows that need to tighten their belts'. Speak to us today about how we might be able to be part of the solution.

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