By Emmanuel Legrand
Here's a sample of initiatives around the world related to the pandemic and its consequences:
> The federal government is setting up a scheme called CERB, that would allocate CA$2,000 per month for four month, accessible to all people without unemployment rights, which applies to most songwriters and creators. Rights society SOCAN is working with policy-makers to ensure that members that only collect small amount from the rights society do not get disqualified to access this scheme.
> SOCAN has allocated up to a total of CA$2m for emergency royalty advances, primarily aimed at SOCAN’s songwriters and screen composers "whose ability to sustain their income has been compromised by the impact of the crisis on the music industry, especially on those whose concerts have been cancelled, or whose television and movie productions have been suspended." The interest-free advances will be considered based on each member’s most recent earnings history, urgency, and need. Domestic music publisher members are able to access support as well. The interest-free advance program will be followed by additional support initiatives, to be announced in due course.
> Paul Shaver, President of the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA), has announced to its members music publishers that CMRRA’s regular quarterly royalty distribution occurred on March 16, 2020 "without any complications." The next distribution is scheduled for June 15, 2020. Said Shaver: "At this time, we do not envisage any delays to our royalty distributions. We are in communication with our licensees who have informed us that, although they are also working remotely, they are not anticipating any disruptions at this time and they are still able to process reports and make payments in the usual course." Shaver added that CMRRA is monitoring streaming usage in the current market conditions in particular to ensure that licensing terms and rates remain in force.
> The music sector has joined together to call for the European Union to address the current crisis in a more robust way. In an open letter, some 40 organisations alerted policy-makers on the "stark reality" facing the creative sector: "Profound harm will be felt long into 2021 due to how the music ecosystem operates."
In light of this "dire situation," they called for "emergency as well as sustainable public support and structural policies at EU, national, regional and local level to consolidate the music ecosystem, and help it thrive again in all its diversity."
They urged Member States and the European Commission "to take a stance and significantly increase the national and EU budgets dedicated to culture, and within that to music. Secondly, under the EU Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, it is imperative that each Member State provides Europe’s creative sector with swift and comprehensive access to Structural Funds in order to offset the harm in the shorter term."
> European authors’ societies regrouped within GESAC welcomed two European initiatives: the European Parliament’s approval of the Coronavirus Response Investment initiative, which will provide €37 billion to help address social and economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic; and the EU Commission’s 'Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support the economy in the current Covid-19 outbreak'. Point 15 of the framework specifies that Member States can “compensate undertakings in sectors that have been particularly hit by the outbreak (e.g. transport, tourism, culture, hospitality and retail).”
GESAC called the initiative "a positive start that will enable Member States to provide funds to bolster the resilience of small and medium-sized enterprises in the cultural sector."
> The French government has clarified the operating rules of the solidarity fund for companies particularly affected by the economic, financial and social consequences of the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic. Beneficiaries of the fund are natural persons (self-employed workers, artist-authors, etc.) and legal persons under private law (companies, associations, etc.) carrying out an economic activity. Beneficiaries must fulfill the following conditions: a workforce less than or equal to ten employees; a turnover (excluding) tax during the last financial year of less than €1m; taxable profit of less than €60,000; be subject to an administrative ban on welcoming the public between March 1-31, or a loss of turnover of more than 70% (soon to be increased to 50%) during this period compared to the former year. Eligible beneficiaries will receive on request a lump sum of €1,500 (or aid equal to their loss of turnover if it is less than €1,500) under certain conditions.
> The French government has passed a regulation allowing collective management organisations to "exceptionally" use part of the sums which they are required to allocate to actions of general interest for the payment of relief to copyright holders and holders of neighbouring rights whose income have been seriously affected by the consequences of the Covid-19 virus. The decree was signed by the President of the Republic on March 27. The authorisation given to them will extend until December 31, 2020.
> Since April 2, French rights society SACEM has activated a series of emergency measures amounting to €43 million as a relief for authors, composers and publishers, who can apply to grants on the society's site (sacem.fr). The plan consists of three aid schemes: a) a €6 million rescue fund for authors, composers and publishers who are most in distress. Grants will amount to €1,500, €3,000 or €5,000, depending on the situation; b) up to €36m in exceptional royalty advances; and c) a €1m reinforcement of a support programme for publishers.
> Neighbouring rights society ADAMI has allocated €1.7m to a relief fund for artists performers and will contribute to the tune of half a million euros to the special fund put in place by the Centre national de la Musique. The other neighbouring rights society for musicians SPEDIDAM has also pledged half a million euros to the CNM fund.
> Neighbouring rights society for labels SPPF will allocate €4m to its members as an "exceptional advance."
Investitionsbank Berlin (IBB)'s applications for emergency grants for freelancers, artists and small businesses are now open (the process is reportedly slow and applicants often have to wait hours, if not days, to fill in the form). The IBB grants funds up to €5,000 to freelancers and companies with five employees or less.
Funds from the German Federal Government are being provided to cover operational expenses (leases, electricity, etc.). Applicants with up to five employees could receive up to €9,000 while applicants with up to 10 employees could be granted up to €15,000.
The UK's furlough scheme has been activated this this month, allowing businesses to put their employees on temporary leave, leaving the government picking up to 80% of full-time or flexible workers’ wages. The scheme only applies to individuals with a maximum gross salary of £2,500 per month.
The Italian government has set up a €25 billion emergency package representing 1.4% of the country's GDP, which entered in force March 17, 2020. Known as “Cura Italia,” the package consisted of a wide range of measures, many of which aimed at providing economic support to households, workers and businesses.
The fund provides up to €300m for employees and self-employed workers who ceased, reduced or suspended their employment relationship or business due to the pandemic. This provision can apply to self-employed artists and professionals from the creative sector who will receive a tax-free one-time allowance of €600. In addition, self-employed, freelance, music professionals and businesses with revenues lower than €2m can defer tax payments, including annual/monthly VAT and social security and insurance.
Micro-enterprises and SMEs of all types, including freelancers and sole proprietors, can benefit from a moratorium on a total volume of loans estimated at around €220bn. The measure applies to the music and entertainment sector, according to Enzo Mazza, director general of record labels' trade organisation FIMI. Current account credit lines, loans for advances on securities, short-term loan maturities and installments of loans due are frozen until September 30.
There are also specific provisions for the music sector such as ensuring that 10 % of the private copy income for 2019 will be used to support authors and artists facing financial troubles. In addition, a special fund of €130m will be dedicated to support the entertainment sector affected by the suspension of activities, applying to movie production, live music promoters and artists.
Tokyo-based Sony Corporation has launched a $100 million fund to support those around the world impacted by the Covid-19 virus. The fund will provide support in three areas: a) Assistance for those individuals engaged in frontline medical and first responder efforts to fight the virus; b) Support for children and educators who must now work remotely, and c) Support for members of the creative community in the entertainment industry, covering music, film/TV, games and animation. Sony said it will “seek ways to support up-and-coming creators, artists and all those in professions supporting the industry, who have been impacted by the cancellation or postponement of concerts and live events, or the shutting down of film and television productions."
The South Korean government has unveiled a series of measures to support the local film industry. This include lifting the contribution of 3% of the gross box-office paid by multiplex chains to the country’s movie development fund KOFIC. The measure would apply retroactively from the beginning of February. The relief programme also includes subsidies to cover the marketing costs of 20 selected movies which had to cancel their theatrical releases in February and March; cash injections into 20 selected movie productions, where filming was halted due to the virus outbreak; provision of vocational training for 400 casual workers who have lost jobs due to the crisis. Variety wrote that the measures, announced by deputy Prime Minister and finance minister Hong Nam-ki, drew a mixed response, with many wondering it the response was proportionate to the impact of the virus on the film economy.
> US artist rights organisations – the Artist Rights Alliance (ARA), American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), theMusic Artists Coalition (MAC), National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), the Recording Academy, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Songwriters of North America (SONA), among others – have joined forces to develop a website with guidance and resource materials for those in need in the arts/entertainment community. Music Covid Relief (MusicCovidRelief.com) will help music professionals access information and applications to receive benefits made available by the recently passed CARES Act and showcase solutions and opportunities for those in need, along with downloadable forms and other resources.
> Charity MusiCares and its parent organization, the Recording Academy, have set up the Covid-19 Relief Fund mid-March with a $2 millions. Since they, they have raised “millions more” through private donations and the support of many major music companies, including Amazon Music, Facebook, SiriusXM-Pandora, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube Music, Universal Music and Warner Music and many others, reportsVariety.
> Universal Music Group, whose chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge has been hospitalised with the virus for at least two weeks, has implemented programmes to protect workers’ pay and enhanced benefits. It will be launching the UMG All Together Now Foundationto support employees who face extraordinary needs." UMG has also launched All Together Now: Stay Connected, expanding the company's philanthropic programme to support those in the music community most deeply impacted by the virus in two ways: 1) direct financial support from UMG to organisations such as MusiCares’ Covid-19 Relief Fund and Help Musicians UK that provide relief to impacted music workers; and 2) matching the contributions that its US employees donate to qualifying charities.
> Independent distributor [PIAS] has started the #LoveRecordStores initiative to support independent retailers weather the crisis. The project initiated in France but it also catching up in other countries and is supported by many artists and trade organisations (SNEP, UPFI, Calif, Gredin, Félin in France). Laurent Didailler, general manager of PIAS France, told News Tank that labels and distributors are considering the possibility of staggered payments, "to be able to give them a little breath in these difficult times" and also "thinking about how to support them after confinement, by offering them pretty things to sell, capable of bringing people back into their stores."
> The UK's Official Charts Company (OCC), which compiles the British sales charts, and the Entertainment Retailers Association(ERA) are joining forces to increase the number of independent retailers who can report home delivery sales for the chart.
> PaulClements, CEO of the UK's MPA Group confirmed that the April distribution of mechanical collections from MCPS will be delivered to members, as scheduled. "The MPA will endeavour to ensure that music publishing is supported and protected throughout this difficult time, which will in turn protect our creative community for decades to come," said Clements.
> Beatports' 34-hour live stream 'ReConnect' in partnership with Twitch, has raised more than $180,000 for the WHO’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund, and the AFEM Members’ COVID-19 Hardship Fund, set up to administer donations from this event to help struggling AFEM member companies.
> Other resources:
- KEA has listed the various plans put in place at European Union level and some national programme (Germany, Italy, Belgium, France, the Netherlands.
- GESAC, the groupment of European authors' societies, has listed initiatives taken by several of their members. Most European authors’ societies are providing the following immediate help to their members, the creators: Emergency funds; Exceptional advance royalty payments; Supporting business programmes for small music publishers and creators; Freezing license fees for users; Pressuring local and national governments to take action in support of the creative sector and individual creators; Collaborating with unions and other partners to identify the needs of the sector and find joint solutions; Helping business partners find innovative solutions to cancellations; Participating in social media campaigns and competitions to raise awareness about the situation and support government action.
- Eurocities has created an information hub on how European cities are responding to the crisis.