As desperate US sites contemplate Marc Geiger’s 51% buyout plan, their UK counterparts receive millions in government aid

Marc Geiger wants to save live music in America.

The former WME agent told the New York Times a few weeks ago, he raised a “war chest” of $ 75 million to offer a “rescue solution” to American music venues struggling because of the pandemic.

This “bailout” has a catch, according to the report: it would see Geiger acquire at least 51% of the businesses of its site partners.

With no end date in sight for the live stop, news of Geiger’s so-called “SaveLive” program comes as independent music venues across the country increasingly need cash to survive.

The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), which formed at the start of the pandemic, says 90% of its 2,900 members face permanent shutdown without government help.

Among the NIVA suggested solutions are the adoption of U.S. law, including RESTART law (S. 3814), and the Save Our Stages Law (S. 4258), which, if approved, would provide assistance to sites in the form of flexible loans and grants, respectively.

In the meantime, NIVA has launched its own emergency relief fund to raise money for the most cash-strapped live music clubs, while another new organization, the Live Music Society, has committed $ 2 million in grants for sites over the next two years.

In the United Kingdom, another story is playing out.

UK government just announced latest round of £ 1.57bn ($ 2bn) Culture Restoration Fund, with this new tranche of aid totaling 18 million pounds ($ 23.8 million) to be shared by eight arts and cultural organizations across the country.

New recipients include legendary venue Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London, which receives £ 1.27million ($ 1.7million), and the London Venue Group, which will receive £ 2.35million. pounds sterling ($ 3.1 million) to maintain its venues, including Omeara, The Social and Lafayette, when they close.

The Academy Music Group, meanwhile, will receive £ 2.98million ($ 3.9million) to help cover the core operating costs of its 20 concert halls across the country, including the halls of the O2 Academy in London, Leeds and Liverpool.

Previous cycles of the UK Culture Recovery Fund have seen money earmarked for the Cavern Club of Liverpool, which will receive £ 525,000 ($ 680,000) and the London Symphony Orchestra, which will receive £ 846,000 ($ 1.1 million) to help “start a gradual return to scale performance”.

More than 2,500 UK cultural organizations will receive state funding under the $ 2 billion pledge, following extensive government lobbying by the UK Music Venue Trust.

Although many applications for grants from troubled sites have not been successful (as highlighted by Music Venue Trust today), and dubious quirks like Paradigm Music Group, Resident advisor or Secret cinema have been named as multi-digit recipients, the funding will ensure that a large number of UK concert halls will be able to operate after the pandemic.

The news of this funding is interesting read for US sites, which continue to press Congress for federal aid and may be tempted to consider resorting to the acquisition of 51% more equity from Marc Geiger (also referred to as ” rescue solution ”).

“Hope here,” Geiger told the New York Times, “Is to create a network effect.” To be a long term support, help and producer of these companies and enjoy the gains. “

The NYT article notes Geiger’s insistence that his deals with the venues “would be partnerships,” and that he would not seek to “reverse the assets” despite continuing those 51% majority stakes.

In that same article, Frank Riley of High Road Touring said that “Geiger’s solution scares me on some level”.

He added, “He’s going to buy distressed properties for real money on the dollar and end up owning 51% of their business. Is it independent? I do not know.”

Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino is not convinced. He suggested last week that Geiger’s thesis was “broken.”

Talk to investors during the call for third quarter results from Live Nation (the company was hit by $ 7 billion in lost revenue this year due to COVID), Rapino criticized the suggestion that iconic venues would be willing to sell majority stakes at a discount.

Said Rapino: “The thesis with Mark Geiger and others is that these independent rooms are so distressed that they’re going to throw the keys at someone for a very cheap price and maybe you can run some cheap. and have scale.

He added, “Well, the thesis is fundamentally broken. A big live club doesn’t throw anyone in the keys on the cheap. There is a lot of capital there. If you are the LA Troubadour this is a legendary company and you are having a rough year, you are not selling to Mark Geiger or anyone else.

“[There are] many ways to keep your business afloat as you weather the storm. “Music company in the world

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