The sales of creative work and products continue despite the covid-19 outbreak. As the members of AGMA work globally with partners and clients, the virus affects them in different ways depending on the market and type of business. Government support for small businesses, which most of these companies are, is to be hoped for. The role of agents and managers is now extremely important to many creatives.
Covid-19 deals a great blow to future business and work opportunities of those working in the creative industries. Freelancers and others doing project-based work, and entrepreneurs in the creative sector are already in a critical situation, as all work planned for this spring has been cancelled. Over the past weekend these people have been active on social media, where several support and networking groups have been set up, so that working opportunities could be found more easily. Virtual events have already been arranged over the weekend, and it is safe to assume that more business will be conducted this way over the coming spring.
”On Thursday afternoon the calendars of booking agencies, artists, musicians, technicians and producers were wiped empty,” says Petri Ekman, agent for music acts and artists and the owner of Central Line Entertainment. “What makes this especially challenging is that our industry runs on a shared risk policy, where a cancellation means that no one gets their money, even if they have already incurred costs. People are left with literally nothing, and still have their families and mortgages to take care of. Our insurance company let us know well in advance that cancellations caused by the covid-19 epidemic are not covered by our insurance” he says. “The UK estimates that the height of the epidemic there will be in June. If we are in the same situation over here and all gigs over the summer months have to be cancelled, it is a catastrophe. For some it would mean losing all of this year’s income – this is a very seasonal industry.”
Agents and Managers in Exceptional Circumstances
The viral outbreak also affects the sales of creative products, services and rights to clients and partners. The members of AGMA try to continue their work as normal in order to sell creative work and products both within Finland and internationally. The reduced level of consumption and increasingly more difficult to predict patterns of purchasing, especially in the West, currently pose a big challenge. Members of AGMA have specialised to cater to different markets and areas of business, and as the recovery of business will take place at different times for different areas, the need for an agent or manager’s professional knowledge will be pronounced. Under these circumstances, decisions will be taken very cautiously, and we can assume that the return to normal will take time, even once the risk to public health recedes, but the capabilities of an agent or manager can ease the pressure of deciding which way to go.
"Great Regional Differences in International Business"
”From an agent’s point of view, covid-19 brings an increased uncertainty” says Heikki Laaninen, Chairman of the board for AGMA and experienced licensing agent. “For my part it now seems that the effects on business in Asia will be minor, and the situation there seems to be already improving” he says. “In Europe and North America, however, the situation is the opposite. The cancelling and rescheduling of expos and restrictions on travelling all directly affect any agent or manager doing business internationally, but on the other hand a lot can be done working remotely with your existing clients.”
Support is Required
Companies in the creative industries are typically small, with small assets. “I worry the most for the smaller companies in the design and cultural sectors that are entirely dependent on a single or just a few markets, or are in any way seasonal. It’s already certain that the situation is global and affects us all, so we are sure to have a stormy year 2020 ahead for export and agenting” Heikki Laaninen says.
Work in the creative industries is often seasonal, with gaps in income formation. Under exceptional circumstances the companies’ endurance is quite low. That is why public action has to be taken to support companies. Support should also be geared towards easing products and services’ access to market by using agents and managers, which can, even at the point of the market’s recovery, be the most efficient way to bring a business back to a sustainable level. AGMA’s 40 member companies represent more than 1 500 domestic creatives, companies or properties. The Finnish Government will hold a press conference about support for companies later on Monday 16.3.2020.
For more information: Kati Uusi-Rauva, director, AGMA. Mob: 040-865 8738, firstname.lastname@example.org