As artists and suppliers all over the world are affected by COVID-19, we want to thank you for your calm and compassion when working with both the Alive team and your clients in this incredibly difficult situation. We couldn’t be more proud of our artist community.
We know that loss of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic will result in serious financial hardship for many of us in the live music and events industry, especially artists that are self-employed with no alternative income.
With that in mind, we’ve put together some information and other resources to help provide reassurance and answer some of your questions about what we’re doing, including links to financial support, and advice on staying healthy, both in mind and body.
Should you need any further help or advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our dedicated Artist Liaison team:
We’re here to help wherever we can.
Last updated: Thu 26 March, 13:46
1. Our Response
We’re asking clients to re-book artists rather than cancel completely.
We’re encouraging this in scenarios where force majeure does and does not apply. After getting feedback from some of our artists, it was agreed that working with clients to reschedule to a date within the next 12 months is a much more positive approach than losing gigs completely, or having to chase clients for fees during a difficult time with unpredictable outcomes.
We’re encouraging clients to pay a 50% advance to artists now.
Where a client is rescheduling, we’re asking them to consider a down payment on your fee now, which goes straight to you. It means clients can lock down their preferred artists for next year, as well as ensuring artists still have income during this difficult period - and are still working as artists next year! Whilst we can’t make this compulsory, we’re pushing this approach where we can.
Business as unusual!
At Alive HQ, most of the team are now working from home. While it isn’t quite business as usual - we’re working round the clock during this period to help support clients and artists - we’re still receiving enquiries and securing bookings. We’re putting even more emphasis on responding to enquiries quickly and converting them into future bookings as swiftly possible. Please help us by keeping your diaries and fees up to date.
Protecting your right to cancellation fees
We’re trying to ensure that force majeure* is applied legally, not liberally. We know that there are other companies applying the principle of force majeure to every cancellation affected by COVID-19, including future events cancelled as a precautionary measure. This approach would be much easier for us to handle, but it leaves artists vulnerable. To help, we’re seeking regular legal advice as the situation develops, and acting upon the guidance of our solicitors.
*Force majeure is the clause in your contract which determines when both parties can be released from all obligations without penalty due to unforeseen circumstances.
My client has cancelled - can I claim cancellation fees?
If your client is forced to cancel for a reason covered by force majeure, no.
If a client has the decision taken out of their hands, such as if the venue has had to close; if they become ill with COVID-19; if a third party event organiser cancels the event; or if the UK Government do ban social gatherings, it would be deemed ‘force majeure’ as neither you nor the client would be able to fulfil the contract. No cancellation fees would be due.
If your client chooses to cancel as a precautionary measure, yes you could.
Making the difficult decision to cancel a future event as a precaution is understandable, but is not strictly force majeure at the moment. Here, the client may be liable for cancellation fees. However, the unprecedented nature of the current situation could mean that, if taken to court in the future, cancellations that happen now may be interpreted as being ‘within the spirit’ of force majeure.
We’d much rather work together to reschedule.
This is our first port of call with both clients and artists. So far your response as artists has been incredible, working with us to quickly move things to a mutually agreeable new date to help clients avoid paying any fees where possible. We know that most of you are doing this in the face of personal hardship. Likewise, we’ve been getting a great response from clients, with many happy to pay artists 50% of the fee upfront.
What if the client doesn’t offer a new date and refuses to pay cancellation fees?
Current advice states you would be entitled to claim cancellation fees provided a. you don’t secure other work for the same date, or b. the client’s venue is not closed or small gatherings banned between the cancellation and event date. This would then cause the contract to be cancelled under force majeure.
If you are entitled to fees, you may decide to make a Money Claim in the small claims court, which may take 6-9 months and, as stated above, the outcome is uncertain. In this instance, you may prefer to negotiate a reduced cancellation fee with your client where possible to secure a faster payment.
What happens if I’m not available for the new date?
If you are entitled to cancellation fees, you may choose to proceed as above.
3. Health and Safety
Right now, your safety, and the safety of our clients and staff, is our main priority.
For any events that may still be going ahead, we’ve put together some ‘must-follow’ advice to help keep you safe and help stop the spread of Covid-19.
Stay Up To Date
Keep on the pulse of latest updates from the government and reliable news sources.
Stay In Contact
Keep in regular contact with your band members, venue, client and Alive Network. We all need to work together closely to ensure the health and safety of everyone.
If you (or any of your band mates) feel unwell at any time, it is important you speak up and cancel your performance.
Do not share equipment (particularly microphones) with anyone else, band members or audience. To make this easier, we recommend you label your microphones and equipment to avoid any accidental sharing.
When not performing, remove any ‘appealing’ equipment (instruments/mics etc) off stage to avoid guests picking up, touching or using any of your personal items.
Ensure all equipment is properly cleaned before and after every performance.
Wash your hands regularly, in particular:
- before you leave for gigs
- after visits to services on your way to events
- after loading in and setting up
- right before you go on stage
- before you eat
- after you pack down
- as soon as you get home
Also ask your venue what measures have been put in place to ensure the cleanliness of backstage, on-stage and any other area’s you will be spending a lot of time in. Follow NHS advice on regular hand cleaning and other virus prevention tactics.
Stay At A Distance
Keep your performance area at a suitable distance from each other and your audience and avoid any physical or close contact (e.g. selfies and group photos).
For more information about the virus and ways to stay safe, check out the following resources:
4. Mental Health Support
It’s not only your physical health that needs looking after at a time like this. If you’re suffering with mental health issues at all during this crisis, please know that our door is always open and we’re happy to hear from you.
You will also find support from the following amazing organisations:
Help Musicians UK
Music Minds Matter - contact MMM@helpmusicians.org.uk telephone 0808 802 8008 (24hrs free support line)
Help Musicians runs a support line called Music Minds Matter (MMM) available any time of day or night for a listening ear; it doesn’t have to be a crisis. We have trained advisors that are here to listen, support and help at any time. Through calling MMM, eligible musicians can access free face-to-face or telephone counselling, or online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
The Musicians Union
The MU have published a list of mental health resources specifically for those working in music and performing arts. Check it out here.
Coronavirus and your wellbeing - https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/
5. Financial Support & Resources
Government Support and Advice
- Support Updates: For up to date advice on how individuals and business can access state support, please check out the official UK Government page here.
- Business Support: For specific advice on support for businesses, there are some guidelines and resources here.
- Self-Employed Support: Government guidance on accessing financial support for the self-employed can be found here.
- Universal Credit: Here's official information on how you can claim income support. Citizen's Advice have more information for self-employed people claiming Universal Credit here, which may be updated in the coming weeks as the situation develops.
Support for Businesses Paying Tax: All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. Check out the UK Gov site here. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, there is a dedicated HMRC helpline: 0800 0159 559. Opening hours are Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, and Saturday 8am to 4pm. The line is closed on Bank Holidays.
Other Funding Available
- Help Musicians Financial Hardship Fund: Independent charity Help Musicians have launched a new £5million fund to help reduce the impact Coronavirus is having on the lives and careers of professional musicians across the UK. Applications for the fund are able to be submitted online and offer a one-off payment of £500 per eligible applicant. For more information and instructions on how to apply to the Help Musicians Hardship Fund, head here and see section 2.
- Arts Council Financial Support Fund: Arts Council England has announced a fund available for artists, entertainers, creative practitioners, educators, and freelancers working in the cultural sector. There is £20 million available, with individuals able to apply for grants of up to £2,500 if they have a track record of receiving public funding for their work. Visit their dedicated page here for more information.
- The Musicians' Union: The MU also has details of it's Hardship Fund here.
Other Advice and Resources
- Insurance: If you have any kind of business insurance you should check with your provider, however most business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property, which will exclude pandemics. No matter, it’s worth giving them a call.
- For Advice on Debt Management: StepChange - You can access debt advice and support through StepChange on 0800 138 1111. Business Debt Line - Access advice on business-related debts by calling the Business Debt Line on 0800 197 6026
- The Musicians’ Union have a website page dedicated to information on coronavirus here.
- ISM has a page here.
- The MU, Help Musicians UK and other music industry trade associations have created a website on Corona Advice for Musicians here.
We'll be updating this page regularly to include any details of financial support or advice we come across, so please do check back.