Singer-songwriter Josh Pyke aired the worries of artists and entertainers whose livelihoods are affected by the coronavirus pandemic on Q+A last night (March 30).
Speaking personally, Pyke admitted he’s lost a substantial amount of potential income due to the restrictions on public gatherings put in place. However, he recognises the efforts made by the government to date.
“Our industry has been decimated, my personal touring income has been written off for the next six months,” Pyke said.
“We contribute $15 billion to the economy every year… so we’re optimistic but we’re definitely deeply concerned about how the next six months is going to play out for our industry.”
These concerns have been echoed by some of Australia’s largest touring companies, who on March 28 submitted a letter to the federal government calling for a $650million package to support affected small businesses and contractors.
When a question was asked by festival organiser Damian Gelle about whether contractors are covered by the government’s stimulus packages, Pyke spoke of the multiple business structures musicians operate under, such as corporate entities, sole traders or self-employed artists.
“We’ve often fallen between the cracks of subsidies and benefits. The new announcement seems positive but there’s still so much we don’t know about,” Pyke said.
— ABC Q+A (@QandA) March 30, 2020
According to a Treasury fact sheet, the newly-announced JobKeeper payment will cover self-employed workers “where they have suffered or expect to suffer a 30 per cent decline in turnover relative to a comparable prior period (of at least a month)”. Similar provisions are available for sole traders, according to the government’s business support website.
Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar also confirmed on the show that self-employed workers and sole traders are entitled to apply for the JobKeeper payment on the show. They would apply “in their own right” and not in connection with an employer or client, unlike the majority of affected employees who are connected to a business.
However, as Pyke pointed out, musicians often go through peaks and troughs of revenue, meaning they may not meet the criteria of a 30 per cent decline in turnover relative to a comparable prior period.
“Our industry’s very much a famine and feast industry. You could have a quarter that’s highly successful and then basically have nil income for two quarters,” Pyke said.
“I find it confusing to see how the eligibility criteria would apply to us.”
On March 27, Pyke performed a live-streamed concert in lieu of his cancelled tour and released his latest single, ‘I Don’t Know’.