AEG's Jim King maps out live business recovery plan

AEG's Jim King maps out live business recovery plan

Leading promoter Jim King has called on performance rights organisations to implement "rights payment holidays" for the next two years in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Speaking as part of Music Week's recent cover story on the future of live music, the AEG Presents' CEO of European Festivals, said "everyone is going to be working for less" as the live industry recovers from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.  

And King (pictured), who organises events such as BST Hyde Park and All Points East, has made a series of other recommendations to help the live business get back onto its feet. 

"I’d like to see the rights organisations and their members, who have earned so much money from the live industry boom of the last 10 to 20 years, recognise that those high earnings were for a large part driven by the passion, entrepreneurship and the acceptance of high risk by live music promoters," King told Music Week. "I hope sincerely that this recognition leads to a rights payment’s holidays for 2021 and 2022. If we are in this together then everyone who has benefited from the hard work of promoters needs to put back in and help save the industry and the jobs it provides."

The value in music played in small rooms outweighs any tax or rights fees

Jim King

AEG Presents

Last week, the Music Venue Trust (MVT) warned the government that the UK grassroots scene requires an immediate £50 million cash injection to prevent mass closures in July, August and September. Subsequently, 560 of its member venues have signed an open letter to the UK Government highlighting the need for an immediate financial support package and a reduction of VAT on future ticket sales. 

Speaking prior to that announcement, King stressed the wider business could play its own part in keeping small venues afloat.

"Instead of waiting on government action, I'd expect that colleagues within the industry will start the process and substantially reduce/waive all performing rights charges for the next two years for all venues under a certain capacity," he said.

"The value in music played in small rooms outweighs any tax or rights fees. Our small live venues are the curators of our live music culture and they need to be protected. The fans and artists in these rooms attend many other events where sufficient rights revenues are earned. The reverse is that we lose our small venues, a vital gateway for fans and artists to develop into lifelong contributors to the much larger and longer lasting revenue pool."

King added: "I want to see entrepreneurship encouraged. Large parts of the UK live music industry will remain mainly in the small business and/or sole trader category. I'd argue for immediate front loaded tax savings to remove more financial barriers to entry for those independent entrepreneurs setting up a small venue or festival and offer them tapered taxation relief on VAT, business rates, employers national insurance, FEU and other forms of taxation in their first years. Small venues support what we do, they do not compete with AEG or Live Nation and they need special protections."

Yesterday, the government announced an easing of the UK's lockdown measures from next month, but offered no clarity regarding the return of live music. 

King said it was too early to predict permanent operational changes to events moving forward, but warned there would be "substantial" change in the short and medium term for shows to take on board in light of the developing situation.

"The permanent changes need to be in areas that surround and support shows," he said. "I truly hope that if we see any permanent change, it will be an openness to ideas that didn't seem possible just a short time ago.  For example, harnessing and developing how artists are finding new ways to deliver live content with the same enthusiasm we have seen in lockdown and artists taking greater, direct involvement in marketing and promotion. One of the few joys of lockdown has been the world’s biggest performers, in stripped down environments, incredible collaborations that may never have seen the light of day under usual circumstances. 

"I expect to see more receptive and positive attitudes to filming and broadcasting live events in both visual and audio formats. I can't see any negatives to this and promoters, artists and rights holders should embrace it.  I hope more fans around the world will experience this.

"Festivals also need artists to promote much, much harder. It's difficult at times to have artists even announce themselves. Amazingly, a promoter can pay an artist millions of dollars and they won’t even announce the festival that they’re playing at - sometimes it's carried out with reluctance. A more engaged approach to marketing and promotion, as well as filming and broadcast, needs to be part of the deal, not just what the fee is."

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