"Cataclysm" of live music: turnover has fallen by 87%

Sector estimates €88m in losses due to the pandemic

"Cataclysm", "upheaval", "disaster", "catastrophe". These words were the main theme of the presentation of the 2020 Music Yearbook, which took place this Friday at the Apolo in Barcelona and could be followed online. "The recovery that has been taking place since 2017 and that had accelerated in 2019 made us foresee a 2020 with very good perspectives. All of this has gone down the drain", explained Lluís Gendrau, editorial director of the Enderrock Group, responsible for publishing the yearbook, before providing the figures on the state of the Catalan music industry in the wake of the pandemic.

The 2020 catastrophe has numbers, according to the information gathered by the Professional Association of Representatives, Promoters and Managers of Catalonia (ARCO), the Catalan Academy of Music and the Association of Concert Halls of Catalonia (Asacc):

  • The turnover of the live music industry has fallen by 87%, and the estimated loss is €88 million.
  • Compared to last year, there have been 80% fewer concerts. An estimated 16.500 concerts and musical activities did not take place.
  • ARCO estimates that live music in 2020 will have 94% fewer spectators. Or, to put it another way: 12.3 million spectators.
  • As for the impact of the crisis caused by the coronavirus on musicians, only during the first half of 2020 there has been 75% less activity.

Concert venues accumulate a significant part of the losses. According to the Asacc, 95% of the activity has been cancelled (more than 4,350 concerts cancelled); the estimated loss is €43.5 million compared to 2019, and the direct loss due to closure costs is €11.3 million.

Record companies also suffered the impact of covid-19, with the loss of 65% of their annual turnover, which in 2019 was €22 million. According to the Association of Catalan Phonographic and Video Producers and Publishers (Apecat), the postponement of many of the planned releases has resulted in 85% of physical record sales being lost and the volume of digital distribution falling by 25%.

The drama also affects private music schools. The association that represents them, Emipac, estimates that they will have stopped earning 725,000 euros in 2020 and will have suffered an expense of 280,000 euros due to structural costs, in addition to the direct effect on 300 teachers and 4,800 students.

All these data are even more devastating when compared to 2019, a year in which live music companies had good numbers: a turnover of 90.8 million euros (6.3% more than 2018), 17,362 concerts (2.6% more) and 10.89 million spectators (2.1% more). In contrast, the number of permanent and/or variable employees hired by ARCO companies fell by 17.7% in 2019 compared to 2018. According to the Anuario de la Música, "due to the higher seasonality of hiring, especially during the summer season, most ARCO companies were forced to diversify their purchases, and at the same time a lot of small new companies have emerged, most of them specialised and in many cases one-man operations, which work on demand".

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