- 02 May 21
As part of our special feature on the impact of Covid-19 on the Irish music industry, Victor Finn, CEO of IMRO, shares his thoughts, and looks to the future...
How has the impact of Covid-19 affected your business at IMRO?
Our primary focus at IMRO since the start of the pandemic crisis has been to ensure royalty payments to members and affiliates are expedited. This has been successfully achieved.
In April 2020 we introduced monthly distributions for our radio broadcast pools, which were previously paid quarterly, so that royalties can get to members more quickly.
Importantly, we have also delivered significant cost savings through the introduction of company-wide cost containment measures.
IMRO will however continue to face significant challenges ahead. There was an inevitable decline in public performance royalty payments in the latter half of 2020 due to entertainment venue closures and this will continue across 2021. IMRO is working closely with all our licensees to assist them through the ongoing series of lockdowns and reopening phases, to ensure any negative affect on licensing revenue is minimised.
A lot of your members have been badly hit...
They have been badly hit. However, IMRO has continued to support its members through a number of initiatives and support programmes:
• The Irish Music Industry Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund was created by IMRO, IRMA and supported by Spotify to assist music creators who are experiencing the greatest financial need at this time.
• IMRO has set up a dedicated helpdesk. Through this, we have been able to assist members across a range of issues.
• We have created an advice and resource section on the IMRO website which is updated regularly.
• We have also provided ongoing support and funding for organisations such as the Irish Association of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (IASCA), Screen Composers Guild of Ireland, the Association of Irish Composers (AIC) and the Music Publishers Association of Ireland, among others.
• We have continued to programme membership development seminars and workshops which are now being delivered online.
Mental health has been a huge issue for a lot of people involved in music. How has your experience been in that regard?
We’re involved in the initial and ongoing funding for Minding Creative Minds, a free 24/7 wellbeing and support programme, which was fast tracked for launch in response to Covid-19.
The initial phase of Minding Creative Minds, was aimed at musicians, songwriters, artist managers and event production crew. In December 2020 the Department of Culture, Arts, Media, Tourism, Sport and the Gaeltacht announced financial support for the initiative which allows for the further expansion of the service to assist the entire Irish creative sector. It starts with a dedicated 24/7 phone line, but it is a wide-ranging and far-reaching programme which should be a vital support to everyone in the creative community who experiences difficulties.
Is there anything else positive that can be done for songwriters and composers?
IMRO has been lobbying government and policy makers for additional supports for the creative community. The music industry contributes over €700 million to the Irish economy annually and more than 13,000 people in Ireland work in the music sector. Acting now to protect Irish music will benefit culture, tourism, and the economy long-term.
More specifically, we have asked the Irish Government to:
• Put in place an emergency aid package to assist authors, composers, performers and crews who are unable to work during the crisis.
• Support creators who are having liquidity difficulties through the EU’s Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative.
• Ensure that authors, composers and performers are included in any definition of an SME for any packages introduced.
We also asked the Joint Oireachtas Committee to form stakeholder group to advise government on safe re-opening of venues. This needs action now, so that all in the sector can plan accordingly.
We have also sought the rapid introduction of the European Copyright Directive to be transposed into Irish law as it is currently framed.
Finally, the Arts & Culture Taskforce, which was formed in September, is Chaired by IMRO board member Clare Duignan and also includes IMRO Chairperson Eleanor McEvoy. The Taskforce has warned that there is real risk that Ireland will emerge from Covid-19 to find its arts, culture and events sectors decimated, with some venues closed for good, many businesses folded, large numbers of skilled and talented performers and workers gone to other careers, and much of the experience and creativity of the sectors gone. IMRO fully supports the recommendation that decisive action is taken by Government to support the long-term recovery of the creative sector – including the provision of a “universal basic income” (UBI) for the creative community in Ireland.
IMRO Member Helpdesk:
E: [email protected]
P: +353 1 661484
24/7 Dedicated Phone Line (Phone 1800 814 244) (Calling from NI – 0800 0903677)
• Victor Finn is Chief Executive of the Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO).
'Music Industry in Ireland: Where To Next?' is a special feature in the current issue of Hot Press, running to over 20 pages, featuring music industry professionals as well as artists including Moya Brennan, Jess Kav, Luka Bloom, Fia Moon, Kneecap, Gavin Glass, Mick Flannery, King Kong Company, Mary Coughlan, Rosie Carney and many more.