On Thursday music industry bodies wrote to the Prime Minister and Ministers Grant Robertson, Carmel Sepuloni, and Kiritapu Allan, on behalf of Aotearoa’s contemporary music industry: artists and songwriters who write, perform and record; and the many workers and organisations who support them.
The letter asked the government to urgently reinstate the Wage Subsidy and Resurgence Support Payments for music sector businesses and sole traders while New Zealand remains is in the red traffic light setting.
The change to the red setting means all imminent significant size shows, festivals and events have been cancelled or postponed, with no certainty as to whether any event will be able to safely proceed in coming months, which is already having a significant impact on the lives and livelihoods of artists and the entire music sector.
While the music sector is very grateful for the targeted assistance from the government to date, and supports the government’s health response to protect all New Zealanders, the current move to Red sees the music sector in the most precarious position it has faced during the pandemic. The summer festival and touring period accounts for the majority of annual live music income and provides a financial buffer for the rest of the calendar year. The 2022 ‘earning season’ has been drastically reduced, and many have already depleted their reserves surviving the uncertain times so far.
The MCH Event Support Scheme and the MBIE Events Transition Support Payment scheme (ETSP) are useful tools which provide assistance to the live sector, but only within certain parameters and criteria, and the cancellation or postponement of live music and events has a flow on effect across almost all music businesses and workers, regardless of whether they are involved in live music themselves. A cancelled gig means the loss of economic opportunity in many forms – not just the tickets sales or fee, but the opportunity to connect with fans, increase streaming and record sales, sell merch, create new content, and secure interest in future live performances. The lost revenue also stops the economic flow to studio bookings, local media spends, investment in publicity and marketing, manufacturing and production, music retail, management and agent companies, etc.
A reinstatement of the Resurgence Support Payment and Wage Subsidy would assist almost all music sector businesses and sole traders, including the artists, to survive through this next phase of the government’s health response for COVID-19. It would support artists and performers, music venues, live music workers and technical crew people, along with assisting the rest of the music sector who will be affected by the ensuing impact.
The Resurgence Support Payment and Wage Subsidy schemes are very effective tools which can be quickly and efficiently implemented for the music sector. The eligibility criteria centred on decreases in revenue and income ensures the support is being targeted at the most affected people, and artists themselves can access both schemes.
The music industry bodies are united in their support of this request, and ready to provide further information to the government should they need it.