Several prominent companies in the music industry such as Amazon Music, BMI, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Sirius XM + Pandora, Spotify and the “Big Three” major labels Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group have bee voicing support for the RESTART Act via a letter sent to Congress.
Several other large conglomerates such as A2IM (American Association of Independent Music) ASCAP, DiMA, Etix, Eventbrite, Future of Music Coalition, Music Artists Coalition, Music Business Association, See Tickets, SESAC, SoundExchange and YouTube support the legislation.
The RESTART act is a bipartisan piece of legislation spearheaded by Senators Todd Young (R-IN) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Representatives Jared Young (D-ME-2) and Michael Kelly (R-PA-16), to assist businesses affected by “long-shuttered with dramatic loss of revenue, high overhead and no clear timeframe for fully reopening.”
This legislation is particularly important to the National Independent Venues Association (NIVA), who represent 2,000 independent venues, promoters and festivals across the country. According to a statement NIVA views this legislation as the last chance to keep these venues alive during the pandemic, as they can no longer generate revenue due to the shutdowns across the country.
This statement also cited a study released last month which showed that 90 percent of independent venues across the country could close without additional financial assistance. The letter also states that the venues generate $9 billion a year to local economies.
Major labels and artists alike support the legislation as artists “derive 75 percent of their income from touring” making their sustainability and integral part of the music industry. Unlike other businesses, music venues have been unable to open during the pandemic, according to the letter, which has further affected their business model. More than 600 artists including St. Vincent, Foo Fighters and Bon Iver also signed a letter to Congress last month, urging them to help save vulnerable music venues.
“Venues are already folding and with every day that passes with no government support, the risk heightens,” Dayna Frank, NIVA president and president of First Avenue Productions in Minneapolis explained. “The stark reality is If RESTART doesn’t become law before Congress goes out for recess in August, this industry will collapse.”
Read the full letter below:
July 14, 2020
The Honorable Marco Rubio Chairman Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Nydia M. Velázquez Chairwoman House Committee on Small Business
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Ben Cardin Ranking Member Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Steve Chabot Ranking Member House Committee on Small Business
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Rubio, Ranking Member Cardin, Chairwoman Velázquez and Ranking Member Chabot:
As the country starts to slowly and partially reopen in certain jurisdictions, one critical part of the economy is still effectively shuttered and is at risk of near total collapse: independent music venues. These venues were the first to close and will be the last to fully reopen. We stand with the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) and its
2,000 independent venue and promoter members across the country, urging you to support The RESTART Act (S. 3814/H.R. 7481) led by Senators Todd Young and Michael Bennet and Representatives Jared Golden and Mike Kelly, and other likeminded proposals that tailor PPP to work for shuttered businesses that have no revenue, high overhead and no clear timeline for reopening. With zero revenue and the overwhelming overhead of rent, mortgage, utilities, taxes, and insurance, 90% of independent venues report that if the shutdown lasts six months and there’s no federal assistance, they will never reopen again.
Beloved venues in all corners of America are already shutting down forever. Each venue’s closing is accompanied by the reality that communities are losing their local economic and cultural hubs. Their absence will be sorely felt; for every $1 spent on a ticket at small venues, a total of $12 in economic activity is generated within communities at restaurants, hotels, taxis, and retail establishments. Keeping independent venues alive is a benefit not just for fans, employees, and artists; it’s an investment in communities across America.
The ominous reality is venues will be shutdown indefinitely, likely extending deep into 2021, as these gathering places which host live music and comedy are in the final stage of nearly every jurisdictions’ reopening plans; many are not permitted to open until there’s a vaccine or cure. The ability to open at partial capacity is not economically
feasible for most. Rents, utilities, payroll, taxes, insurance, and artist pay are fixed costs; they are not on a sliding scale that matches the capacity venues are permitted to host.
Under normal circumstances, these mom-and-pop entrepreneurial businesses fuel about $9 billion a year into local economies throughout the U.S. Due to the national routing of most tours, this industry will not recover until the entire country is open at 100% capacity. NIVA members need assistance in order to survive until that day. This
relief is critical for our nation’s artists, too, as they derive 75% of their income from touring. They will need a place to play – and not in boarded-up buildings – when the world opens up again. These independent venues are the unassuming, unsung heroes of the music industry where developing artists get their start, hone their craft, and build
a following. Without these venues, there are no arena acts or major festivals and the music economy will be in further peril.
Before it’s too late, Congress must take quick and specific action to address the unique circumstances of this still-shuttered component of the small business sector. We are asking you to support NIVA’s request for assistance so these venues can live long enough to reopen when it’s safe — and once again serve as the economic engines that
fuel local economies.
Last month over 600 artists including Foo Fighters. St. Vincent and Bon Iver signed a letter to Congress, which called on them to help provide funding to save venues.
A2IM (American Association of Independent Music)
Future of Music Coalition
Music Artists Coalition
Music Business Association
Sirius XM + Pandora
Sony Music Entertainment
Universal Music Group
Warner Music Group
cc: Members of the Senate and House