- 09 Oct 20
The well-known Irish music promoter shared his thoughts on the future of the live industry in a statement on Twitter.
Irish author, broadcaster and music promoter Leagues O'Toole has shared his thoughts on live-streaming, socially-distanced concerts and insurance, in a statement about the future of the live music industry in Ireland.
"The momentum of the live industry is currently fuelled by a somewhat unscientific optimism as to when/if it will come back to the full capacity gathering format we are accustomed to," O'Toole wrote on Twitter. "As much as optimism is essential in any crisis, pragmatism & contingency are equally important."
Noting that the current uncertainty in the industry is "a draining experience for all concerned", O'Toole pointed out the benefits of live-streamed concerts.
"Live-streaming is here to stay," he said. "It's a different dynamic but it has its benefits not just as stop-gap solution but as facility whereby we can document these events, make films, promo videos or sell more tickets for sold out physical concerts & generate more revenue."
However, he went on to note that "if there is an opportunity to establish socially distant concerts in the foreseeable future, significant financial structural changes must be implemented."
In this respect, he raised the issue of insurance: "Several major insurers have left the live industry due to its precarious nature – factors due to cancellation, the very real risk of venues or promoters going out of business or potential virus/disease related issues."
O'Toole posited that "there is an onus on governments to address this now."
"One potential method might be to establish a regulated government funded insurance pool from which promoters can access," he said.
Another issue he raised was VAT: "In Ireland the VAT rate on concert tickets for shows in venues where there is a hospitality factor (ie availability of food/alcohol) is 13.5%... With the imminent budget in Ireland it would be wise to consider suspending or at least reducing VAT rates for potential socially distant events."
"Online events are currently marked in Ireland as a standard VAT rate which is 21% (as of September 1st 2020)," he continued. "This seems prohibitive and poorly considered at a time when artists and promoters are being pushed into the arena of online/streamed events for practical reasons."
O'Toole noted that "selling tickets for online events is a completely different dynamic to that of physically attended concerts."
"We are not selling tickets per person, we are selling tickets to household/groups of people," he said. "There is no way to regulate this. This means if, for example, 2000 people buy a ticket each the actual viewing audience is potentially a large multiple of this."
He also questioned how best to protect live-streaming from being "monopolised in the manner in which streaming of recorded music has been" – which he described as "a somewhat dire situation where artists and labels are cornered into poor royalty rates."
Concluding his statement, O'Toole remarked that it "is essential that live-streaming of concerts is a profitable source of revenue for artists."
"Outside of merch, syncs and other limited peripheral sources of revenue, live-streaming is essentially all artists have for the foreseeable future."
Read his full thread on Twitter here.
Today, October 9, the Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland (MEAI) issued a budget submission – accompanied by a campaigning video – which seeks wide-ranging legal and financial support from the Government for everyone in the live music and entertainment sector.