The arts is one of the industries that has been hardest hit by the crisis. The Government has approved a Royal Decree-Law to offset the impact of the pandemic on the cultural industries, but limits on capacity and number of people will mark a before and after. What changes will each of the industries comprising the arts have to face?
- As far as musicis concerned, online concerts are now huge, but most of them have been for charity and musicians can’t make a living. The industry had already suffered a big blow with the onset of the internet and rampant piracy. The transformation of the industry arrived hand in hand with the platforms (Spotify was the pioneer and was decisive in reducing piracy) and with it came an unwritten rule: artists would live mainly off tours and would put their albums out online even though that meant seeing royalties decrease. The new Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market seeks to break that inertia and includes mechanisms to renegotiate contracts with record labels to improve royalties from streaming. The pandemic will not kill live music, but it will transform it: the music festival business, which has taken such a strong hold in our country, hopes that simulcasting will save it from capacity restrictions. In the meantime, many managers are replacing contracts with large sponsors, with other more modest contracts with theaters and venues that already have a reopening date. The idea for artists to charge for their concerts on social media is taking shape: Facebook has announced the imminent launch of Messenger Rooms, a tool that will allow people to charge for live events on the cloud.
- Another of the industries that has been badly affected is the audiovisual. Figures reveal that streaming has picked up with lockdown, and that subscription to platforms such as Filmin, Netflix or Amazon Prime continues to grow. However, the pandemic has forced filming to stop and has placed a question mark over audiovisual production and the screening of films in cinemas. The Ministry of Culture has reacted with a set of measures to encourage investment in Spainand in many cases filming has resumed. Screenwriters now have to reduce the number of scenes in which the actors are in close contact and love scenes may have to be recreated digitally. But if CGI technology was able to bring back James Dean, why shouldn’t we be able to recreate the most passionate kisses? The virus will encourage open-air cinemas and the drive-ins that are so popular in the US and which have brought us so many romantic scenes. Cinemas, which are such an essential part of the cultural landscape of our towns and cities, will have to lay down strict disinfecting rules and gradually increase seating capacity.
- One of the arts that may fare best is literature. Writers work from home as it is, bookstores have opened – albeit with big restrictions – and avid readers are slowly but surely returning, muffled up in our masks. Book presentations may suffer, but writers are getting used to platforms such as Zoom or Teams and it will be possible to combine face-to-face book signings with distance events. Book fairs however, which year after year breathe air into the lungs of the industry, are going to find it more difficult and will have to implement safety protocols to enable orderly access. The Madrid book fair has just been declaredan asset of general interest to the city.
- Art museums have reopened in Juneand we are able to visit our favorite paintings in the Prado, Thyssen and Reina Sofía. Virtual visits will continue, but can you charge for them? For now, any guarantee in this respect seems foolhardy. To truly enjoy a painting you have to see it in person and entry restrictions mean you can concentrate, reflect and marvel at the creations.
Garrigues Intellectual Property Department