Coronavirus

'Very Existence' of Germany's Music Industry Threatened by Coronavirus Shutdown, Says BVMI Chief

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BERLIN — Live music promoters across Germany, Australia and Switzerland are anticipating losses of €3.7 billion euros ($4.04 billion) in the first half of 2020 due to the coronavirus, according to a new joint paper from industry organizations. No audiences means no concerts across the region, which expects total damages across various industry music sectors of roughly €5.5 billion euros ($6 billion) due to the pandemic.

The organizations — from live event industry association BDV to the German music publishers association DMV, as well as collection society GEMA, have a clear incentive for banding together: quick, non-refundable help from the government is badly needed. Unsurprisingly, the live sector is seeing the biggest financial losses, due to the cancellation of ten thousands of events. Publishers are also suffering from a lack of concerts and events, as are record companies, retailers and producers of instruments.

In a two-stage program, GEMA is providing financial assistance totaling around €40 million euros to its members. The "Schutzschirm LIVE" [protective shield LIVE] is primarily aimed at composers and lyricists who are also performers and who get into financial difficulties due to cancellations of events throughout the country. The "Corona Relief Fund" provides financial transitional aid for individual cases of hardship within the framework of social and cultural support.

Dr. Florian Druecke, the chairman & CEO of industry umbrella BVMI told Billboard that a six-month shutdown could impact physical sales of music to the tune of €100-150 million euros. "Furthermore, in addition to losses of around €50 million euro expected by the GVL, companies are expecting decreases which cannot yet be quantified. So at the moment, our aim is to [examine] the concrete questions of the industry and to transfer them into political discussions."

BVMI also calls for additional governmental pandemic aid programs for medium-sized companies, including ones associated with music. Existing aid programs are appreciated, but often fail to meet the actual needs of many music entrepreneurs, he said. "Fast, unbureaucratic emergency aid must take into account all sub-sectors of the fragmented, collaborative music industry," he said. "The current shutdown in public life is threatening the very existence of the entire music industry, including record companies."

Birgit Böcher, the new CEO of DMV, said in Berlin: "Music publishers and their associated authors are massively affected by the stagnation of cultural public life. The vast majority of German music publishers are small and medium-sized enterprises, many of which have already introduced measures such as the introduction of short-time work compensation."

The effects of the global recession are also expected to hit the area of licensing of copyrights for, among other things, cinema and TV productions. Since no new productions are being created in the current situation, a 25% drop is expected in this area.

GEMA said will host its planned live concerts on its Facebook account for up-and-coming artists in April. Kickoff will be on Tuesday, April 14 at 8.15pm CET with the Hamburg band Roast Apple. LiLA will also perform live for the online community on April 23 at 8.15pm CET, while Lendgold is compiling a video with contributions from each individual band member in their domestic quarantine. All three bands had originally been booked by GEMA for live performances on April 25 as part of the Long Night of Music in Munich. Like many other concerts, this event had to be canceled due to social distancing mandates.

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