Czech Music Community Creates Initiative to Save the Czech Music Industry

As the Czech music industry struggles with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the Czech Music Community, an association representing those working in the popular and classical music sectors, has proposed measures to avert total collapse with a new initiative, #zazivouhudbu. The hashtag is now being used to call on politicians to adopt and implement the proposals. Photo: Courtesy of #zazivouhudbu.

Brno, May 12 (BD) – The Czech music industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus. Half of the 130,000 jobs in the sector are at immediate risk due to the crisis, and according to the Czech Music Community (Česká obec hudební), a professional association, the industry may be facing collapse as it deals with a seasonal loss of CZK 10 billion, half of its annual turnover. To help support the industry and mitigate the effects, the association has set up the initiative #zazivouhudbu, which aims to “avert the collapse of the Czech music scene and help people who have been put out of work overnight,” by calling on politicians to adopt their proposed measures, which they say are necessary to save the Czech music industry.

“The music sector requires significant upfront investment and is dependent on seasonal earnings. We already know that this season will fall short by approximately CZK 10 billion. Our field was the first hit by the crisis and is the last to recover,” said Alexander Smutny, spokesman for the Czech Music Community. “Immediate measures can prevent a spike in unemployment, and long-term measures will help revive the music scene. We want to fight the consequences of the crisis, but without the support of the state, there is a risk that the field will not be able to get back on its feet.”

Smutny added that an immediate plan is necessary to stabilize the industry: “We want to prevent the collapse of the industry with a number of rapid and systematic solutions.” According to their analysis, the industry would need to raise CZK 4.5 billion to avert a collapse. “The first measure should be the abolition of VAT on the sale of music and the reduction of the VAT rate on ticket sales to 10%. We are also proposing the establishment of a National Music Fund, which will help prevent the most serious damage,” explained Smutny.

The Czech Music Community reports that 20,000 professional musicians are already encountering major problems, being unable to perform at home or abroad and thus losing their main source of income. The viability of live music events and festivals is in doubt, the production of musical instruments and equipment has decreased by 50%, and 250 music clubs are on the verge of closing. In addition, says the association, there is a risk that musicians and music professionals will be forced to leave the sector altogether. Planning a return to the stage remains impossible for now, and most events have been postponed to 2021 for fear of further losses. Artists are also having to deal with travel restrictions, further preventing them from performing and generating income.

The association does not see a recovery in the near future, as there are a number of factors specific to the music sector that make it impossible to restart quickly after the seasonal decline. Two key factors are the high input and operating costs, which are carried by the organizers of large events and operators of concert halls and clubs, as well as technical professionals, artists and publishers. Another pitfall, according to the association, is the seasonality of income. High income in the peak season ensures that businesses can continue operations for the rest of the year, when demand is lower. The last factor is the large role of planning inertia. Even if the measures are relaxed, it is not possible to resume concerts overnight, as planning takes an average of one to two years in the music sector. Many promotional agencies have already fully written off 2020 and are predicting that activities in 2021 will still be affected. In such uncertain conditions, planning cannot yet begin.

The Czech Music Community is an association promoting the interests of 130,000 people in the fields of popular and classical music and related services, including artists, authors, playwrights, promoters, festivals, clubs, music publicists and professional music technicians. You can find out more about the initiative here.

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