Rises reflected in bills have hit the live music and concert industry

WALL – While live music and concert halls were opened after a hiatus of about a year and a half due to closures due to Covid-19 measures, this time the industry was hit by high inflation and d huge increases in items such as electricity and natural gas. While the decision to cut the music at 12 p.m. is still relevant, music, already blocked in a limited time on certain days of the week, is also struggling with a total increase of more than 50% in basic consumption needs. The sharp rise in electricity bills became more visible last month as many businesses shared their bills. A medium-sized concert or live music venue faced monthly electricity bills of 30-40,000 lira, with the need for heavy use of electricity in this sector. This figure reaches astronomical proportions for large companies.

Companies trying to reduce the consumption of electricity and natural gas, which are mandatory for heating and ventilation in winter conditions, say this is also reflected in customers who prefer them for music and entertainment. While many establishments have started to serve at a minimum, there is also the low consumption induced by the sharp increase in the price of alcoholic beverages. Concert hall and live music operators say they cannot reflect price increases, so most businesses are currently at a loss.

On the other hand, it is noted that there has been a slight increase in the salaries of musicians due to high inflation and increased expenses. Many companies that grant rights to musicians and music workers in this regard warn that if there is no change soon, this sector will shrink and people will be increasingly deprived of the possibility of listen to music.

Mesut Eroğlu, who runs three different concert halls in Istanbul Kadıköy, reminds us that electricity is a basic need in the sector: “Electricity is the most basic thing we use. Music installations require enormous electricity consumption. In addition, we pay huge bills for refrigerators, heaters, coolers and, of course, lighting installations. Rent increases are also known. Faced with all this consumer burden, we have to raise to survive, but we can’t.

Stating that they cater to middle-class people and university students in particular, Eroğlu said, “Our customer profile is clear, their purchasing power is clear. How much will you sell a beer with a gross cost of 20 lira, in order to cover all these costs and earn some extra money? While it was said that we would fully cover the damage of the pandemic period, while people started to come and listen to music little by little, this number has dropped a lot with the latest increases. Those who come cannot spend money either. Imagine if there are customers who come to listen to music and have fun on a Saturday night but spend the whole evening drinking beer.

“Musicians at least go on stage so as not to be outside of their work”

Like many operators, Eroğlu says they continue to operate just to survive, but that could shift to a more negative place in the near future: “We are currently open just to survive. We hope and expect something to change. Otherwise it’s not sustainable this way, we all borrow more and more every day. Many places have no choice but to close. Right now everyone is desperately trying to do something, at least not to stop it. We invested heavily in things like the music system and the lighting system. The same cannot be dared today, no one will make these investments. The situation is not easy for musician friends either. Of course, we have increased their salaries, otherwise they can’t get by. However, despite the increase in wages, we can clearly see their livelihood problems. Right now, musicians work saying, ‘At least I can do my job, the best of the bad.’ »

“THE 12-NIGHT BAN SHOULD BE LIFTED IMMEDIATELY”

Taner Yavuzaslan, the director of Kadıköy Sahne, one of Istanbul’s most recognizable indoor concert halls, expresses his concern that the difficulties encountered will hit the field of culture and arts. Recalling that there has been an increase of almost 50% in rental rates and in the food and beverage group, Yavuzaslan says that businesses are no longer able to make money, especially with the increase in alcoholic beverages: there have been increases in caches. We cannot increase these rates. We could only pass on the increase in alcoholic beverages to our prices. It is very difficult for a concert hall that operates three days a week, between 10 p.m. and 12 p.m., to survive.

Stating that these businesses should be seen not only as places of entertainment, but also as places of culture and art where music meets people, the director said, “All those years of hard work and effort are wasted. We keep culture, art and social life alive. We demand immediate support and of course we want the 12 night music limit lifted.

“THE NUMBER OF CONCERTS HAS INCREASED FROM TWO A WEEK TO A MONTH”

Halil Ünsal, the manager of Last Penny, which is one of the venues where jazz bands can perform in Ankara, also talks about the great damage that the pandemic period has caused to businesses and points out that there is no It is not possible to cover these damages at this stage. Ünsal said, “We were unable to open our stores on the day the restrictions were lifted because our electricity was cut off. We had to borrow large sums of money, some in foreign currencies, from our environment. As we know that it is not possible to recover immediately, although we prioritize customer satisfaction, i.e. working harder, the latest increases in SCT and electricity have brought our costs to an impossible level. Clarifying that before the pandemic, at least two concerts were held on their stage, the operator said: “With the support of the sponsor, we can only perform a concert once a month. It was unavoidable to pass on all these costs to our customers, but all my partners and employees were frankly embarrassed to charge a beer at 40 lira. We have overcome this situation with reasonable price increases, but it is almost impossible to survive as it is. Stating that there has been an increase in concert stamps from musicians and bands, Halil Ünsal says that the conditions of the pandemic have hit musicians very hard, and these increases are understandable: “Of course, I can understand the increases they have made in this period, but it is unlikely that we will be able to continue the concert organizations at the old rate while there is a negative calculation. It does not appear.

“PEOPLE TRY TO SPEND HOURS WITH A DRINK”

We also interviewed Tuncay Savaşlı, President of the Kadıköy Artisans Association (KADIDER), of which many of these venues are members, about the challenges faced by live music and concert venues in recent times. “When we say that the losses for about two years will be covered by the opening after the pandemic, the high inflation and the sharp rises in items such as electricity and natural gas have dealt a heavy blow,” says Savaşlı. Savaşlı says that the burden of bills on the one hand and the increase in all items on the other hand, have not only put traders in a difficult situation, but also that consumption has decreased noticeably: “The sharp rises of alcoholic beverages, in particular, consumption has dropped significantly. This means that citizens cannot travel to these places as they wish, merchants cannot sell their products or services, and taxes collected by the state are greatly reduced. It is a chain, in particular our sector buys goods and services from about 120 other sectors. When the food and beverage, bar and entertainment industry collapses, these other sectors also suffer.

Recalling that the crisis in the service sector will inevitably create employment problems, the president of the association declared: “Traders are brooding over this situation. Today, 2-3 people work in a place where 7-8 people should work. This creates an employment problem. While the state will be able to collect taxes immediately, under these conditions, it cannot pay the traders’ tax on time, it goes into debt”, he summarizes.

“IF IT WORKS LIKE THIS, A LOT OF PLACES WILL BE CLOSED”

Stating that there has been a significant decrease in the number of people visiting venues where concerts or live music are held, Savaşlı says customers are not spending as much as they used to: by 50%. People try to spend a lot of time with a drink, but that’s how they socialize. Basic expenses are in the middle, once people have paid their rent and their bills they don’t have much money to spend on fun, socializing and listening to music anyway. In other words, there is no actual purchase between the customer and the venue. Yes, places like Beşiktaş and Kadıköy are crowded some days, people naturally feel the need to go out and meet their friends, but believe me, even if these people go to these places, they don’t eat and drink half as much than before.”

Tuncay Savaşlı, who said the sharp increase in electricity bills is a heavy burden on venues, says many companies are returning refrigerators donated by beverage companies, reducing the product line and refraining from lighting air conditioners and heaters. Savaşlı also clarifies that many businesses within their association are trying to be transferred, and traders who have done so have had to close it or were planning to close it: “It is very painful. We have so many friends who want to transfer the place where they worked for 10-15 years at a loss. We have hope, this crisis will definitely be overcome, but it is unclear how it will survive until these days pass.

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