How The COVID Relief Bill Will Help Musicians, Venues & More
UPDATED: It’s official. The $900 billion COVID 19 Relief bill which overwhelmingly passed the US Congress on Monday night was finally signed into law by President Trump on Sunday night. It includes tens of billions of dollars in direct and indirect help for individuals and businesses across the music sector.
Here is Hypebot’s guide to how the new COVID 19 Relief Bill will help venues, musicians, and much of the independent music community.
In what is the greatest support of cultural institutions in US history, $15 billion in grants are available to independent live venues and some related businesses.
Indie venue trade group NIVA, who with NITO and others lobbied for help under the #SaveOurStages banner offers this explanation of the new aide package and who is eligible:
“The Save Our Stages Act will provide financial assistance to independent venues and promoters that have been devastated by the pandemic’s shutdown. The Save Our Stages Act will enable these locally owned businesses to hold on until it is safe to gather, re-open fully, and once again return to serve as economic engines for their communities”.
“The legislation provides critical help to shuttered businesses by providing a grant equal to 45% of gross revenue from 2019, with a cap of $10 million per entity. This grant funding will ensure recipients can stay afloat until re-opening by helping with expenses like payroll and benefits, rent and mortgage, utilities, insurance, PPE, and other ordinary and necessary business expenses”.
This aid is for live venues, theaters, and museums that have lost at least 25% of revenue with initials grants of up to $10 million. A second grant of half the amount of the first may also be available. The money can be used for specified expenses such as payroll costs, rent, utilities, and personal protective equipment.
UPDATE: Independent agent and Manager trade group NITO successfully lobbied for wording that makes some indie agents and managers eligible for Save Our Stages Funding. The group is working to educate its members on how to apply for relief.
To help the hardest hit business first and before the money runs out, during the first 14 days of the program grants will be awarded only to those with 90% revenue losses. That will be followed by businesses with at least 70% revenue losses during the next two weeks. After the first month, other eligible businesses can receive grants.
It’s a 5500-page bill, but you can find the Save Our Stages portion on pages 2124 to 2153 here.
Help For Musicians & The Industry
Many musicians and other music industry professionals will also benefit from other portions of the $900 billion package designed to help the unemployed, gig workers, and small business devastated by the pandemic,
Direct Stimulus Checks
The bill means direct stimulus payments of $600 to individuals including children of eligible families. The payments start phasing out for individuals with 2019 adjusted gross incomes of more than $75,000, and those making more than $99,000 would not receive anything. The income threshold is doubled for couples.
Extended Unemployment Benefits
The bill adds a $300 weekly federal enhancement to unemployment benefits for 11 weeks through March 14th.
Of particular interest to many musicians, touring crew, recording studio workers, and others, expanded jobless benefits for gig workers, freelancers, independent contractors and the self-employed will continue.
The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program which provides an additional 13 weeks of payments to those who exhaust their regular state benefits has also been extended.
There is also a $100 per week additional benefit to those who have at least $5,000 in annual self-employment income but are disqualified from receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance because they are eligible for regular state unemployment benefits.
More PPP Funding
The new bill also reopens the Paycheck Protection Program for some businesses.
Second loans of up to $2 million will available to businesses with fewer than 300 employees that have lost at least 25% of their revenue during the first, second or third quarter of 2020.
There is also more flexibility on how they spend the money and simplifies the forgiveness process for loans under $150,000.
$12 billion has been carved out for minority-owned businesses.