Brussels, 25th March 2020
IMPALA’s Covid-19 Task Force has published a package of ten recommendations seeking urgent action at EU, national and sector level. The aim is to try and secure a co-ordinated approach across Europe to minimise the impact of Covid-19 on the independent music sector.
Music was one of the first sectors hit by the crisis. Made up of predominantly micro-businesses, self-employed workers and freelancers, IMPALA’s plan calls for a swift and massive response to ensure music and other cultural sectors can weather through the storm. The aim is for artists and freelance workers to preserve their livelihood, and for independent companies to stay in business and continue investing. European cultural & creative sectors account for 4,4% of EU GDP and 12 million full-time jobs. Diversity is their strength, but also a vulnerability in times of crises.
The sector is starting to see some good local initiatives, which IMPALA fully supports, but more is needed. Jobs, creativity and cultural diversity are all at stake here. Co-ordination is important because the EU and national governments are reacting at different paces. Music and culture need to be recognised as priorities. IMPALA’s crisis plan asks the EU to monitor national responses to ensure a minimum level of support across Europe and deliver fiscal incentives to promote growth post crisis.
Digital players, collecting societies and media are also asked to implement specific measures to help the music sector withstand the crisis. Solidarity will create new opportunities and partnerships that IMPALA hopes will also have an impact longer term.
The roll-out of IMPALA's plan will be accompanied by an ongoing survey of members to help measure responses and promote best practices. The survey also aims to collect information about sector losses.
Helen Smith, Executive Chair of IMPALA commented: "This is a call for urgent action. Small businesses, artists and freelance workers all need support. A joined-up approach across Europe is vital. Incentives for future growth are also part of the plan. No one should get left behind."
Francesca Trainini, Chair of IMPALA and the Task Force added: "To help achieve an effective safety net, the EU should monitor what is happening at national level. We also need to map the results. Italy is just one example where the music sector is crumbling."
IMPALA’s 10-point COVID-19 crisis plan
Key pillars of action
Co-ordination - This will ensure a cohesive approach across Europe and avoid excessive burdens on smaller actors having to negotiate different situations in each country.
National plans - Each country needs a comprehensive economic response, especially for smaller actors. This is the key to navigating the crisis.
EU measures - EU action is essential to complement national plans and boost Europe's economic recovery. This will promote added value and EU leadership.
Sector initiatives - Light and agile sector action will provide concrete help where it is most needed. This will inspire solidarity and boost recovery.
Mapping- A review will be ongoing to help map action at EU, national and sector level, as well as assess expected losses. This will promote best practices and a faster response.
1. Joined-up approach across Europe - co-ordination and EU liaison will help ensure each country has a comprehensive package of measures in place. With the EU introducing looser state aid rules and more fiscal flexibility, national governments have the freedom they need to act swiftly and effectively. Sector actors exchanging best practices is also a key part of co-ordination.
2. Clear rules - all countries should take clear decisions on event cancellations and lockdowns. This will help the sector claim on their insurance where applicable and access compensation schemes.
3. National economic measures - comprehensive plans need to be adopted by all countries with key measures such as: self employed and freelance workers income protection, unemployment relief for self employed and freelance workers, support for staff costs small business relief funds, access to interest free loans, payment holidays for rents and business rates, company tax relief, suspension/delays in tax/VAT declarations and social security payments, mortgage payment holidays, loan repayment holidays, lower VAT rates, lower national bank interest rates and fiscal incentives to boost investment and recovery post crisis.
4. Sector specific compensation plans - national financial support packages must be launched immediately for hard hit sectors like music, plus VAT should be lifted on all cultural goods and services.
5. Increased EU loan guarantees for cultural sectors - the capacity of the EU's Cultural and Creative Sectors Guarantee Facility should be tripled, with 100% guarantees to promote national lending (current guarantee level is 75%).
6. EU crisis measures for culture - with culture being in the first and hardest hit sectors, a specific crisis fund is needed specifically for smaller actors to provide non-refundable financial support and interest free loans, along with other measures such as allowing countries to lift VAT on cultural goods and services and providing incentives for new growth in the sector post crisis.
7. Monitor national action and integrate culture in general EU decisions - the EU should monitor effectiveness of national responses, general EU funds released to address the crisis should be accessible for culture, all EU projects that depend on events should be automatically carried over, and delays in reporting and project management should be accommodated.
8. Collecting society mobilisation - all collecting societies should set up crisis funds for their smaller members (producers and artists, as well as publishers and authors), make advances available for all members, as well as interest free loan facilities.
9. Digital services action - music services and platforms should be properly licensed, introduce crisis funds for small businesses, make faster royalty payments, pass over a higher percentage of revenues to rightsholders, provide advances to all rightsholders who need them, boost local music and artists with playlists and support local social media campaigns.
10. Support from national media - radio and other media should promote local music and artists with increased music programming, put more focus on independent and local artists, and promote new local releases as well as local social media campaigns.
IMPALA was established in April 2000 to represent independent music companies. 99% of Europe’s music companies are micro, small, medium-sized enterprises and self-releasing artists. Known as the “independents”, they are world leaders in terms of innovation and discovering new music and artists - they produce more than 80% of all new releases and account for 80% of the sector's jobs (for more information, see the features of independents). IMPALA's mission is to grow the independent music sector, return more value to artists, promote cultural diversity and entrepreneurship, improve political access and modernise perceptions of the music sector.