$345m plan to kickstart Australia’s live music scene
Music fans would be gifted "See It Live" e-vouchers for concert tickets as part of a $345 million package proposed to get the $4 billion concert industry back on its feet.
Live Performance Australia has called on the Federal and State Governments to support the comprehensive plan to restart the devastated sector, one of the first to be hit by mass gathering restrictions and will be one of the last to be allowed to resume normal operations.
As well as capital investment strategies and income support - hundreds of thousands of arts workers were ineligible for JobKeeper or JobSeeker assistance - the package recognises many music fans would struggle to afford to buy tickets because they have lost their jobs or suffered financial hardship during the pandemic shutdown.
"Australians have always been great supporters of live performance, and buy more tickets to live performance events than all of our major sporting codes combined," LPA chief executive Evelyn Richardson said.
"Our proposal for a 'See it Live' e-voucher program for households will help them get back to their favourite live performance event."
The LPA plan also recommends a "See it Live" international travel incentive program worth $5 million of entertainment vouchers to attract overseas fans to Australian events when borders reopen.
Tax incentives, support for regional venues, digital and technological innovation funds to implement post-COVID safety protocols and a $70 million boost to the Australia Council are also outlined in the LPA's package as the concert industry sets its sights on potentially reopening in September.
"Our $4 billion dollar industry will be a major driver of economic activity, jobs and cultural tourism recovery," Ms Richardson said.
"Our number one priority is getting our venues open and our people back to work. We look forward to working closely with governments at all levels to make this happen in the coming months.
"Getting our theatres open in spring is our first priority followed by our larger events such as concerts and music festivals.
"Our Kiwi cousins are back in theatres in the next two weeks with no physical distancing, so we believe our September time frame is very achievable."
TEG CEO Geoff Jones believes the return of crowds to live sporting events will ultimately set the precedent for what musical mass gatherings will look like when they return.
"The better they do it, the better for all of us," Jones said. "The NRL and AFL are doing a good job at putting the lines in the sand."
Jones said the concert arms of the business, TEG Dainty and TEG Live, which helped to stage the Fire Fight Australia bushfire benefit in February "are planning stuff at the back end of the year" but large concerts would be unlikely to happen until 2021.
As well as implementing safety protocols at venues and observing social distancing restrictions, getting to the gig was also an important consideration.
He pointed to the increased security measures - banning backpacks, metal scanners and wands - undertaken at Australian venues in the wake of the Manchester bombing in 2017 as evidence concertgoers would easily adapt to the post-COVID environment.
But getting to gigs is also a major hurdle for promoters and state governments to address.
"Public transport is possibly a worse environment than being at the gig," he said.
When concerts return, there will be a balancing act between funding all the new safety protocols, negotiating artist fees and ticket prices so they don't operate at a loss.
"Promoters are talking to agents and managers because the way we did it before has got to change; we have to have flexibility in contract arrangements," Jones said.
"We can't charge more for ticket prices and also we just don't know when we are booking something in now that we might not be able to go ahead because of another massive outbreak."
The big promoters in Australia aren't looking at drive-in gigs as a way out. But artists are, with Drive In Concerts Live announcing a concert with Russell Morris, the Soul Movers and Masters of Pop in Redland City, Queensland on June 13.
Wollongong band Hockey Dad will launch their new album Brain Candy at the Alive at the Drive In event at the Bulli Showground in NSW on July 31.
The band's young rockers Billy Fleming and Zach Stephenson, have never been to a drive-in themselves but were quick to embrace the novel option to perform their new record for local fans, with 400 cars allowed into the event.
They are keen to explore doing more drive-in gigs around the country - if the first goes well - when travel restrictions are lifted.
Originally published as $345m plan to kickstart Australia's live music scene