In an bid to demonstrate the unsustainable nature of NSW’s current system of reactive COVID-19 measures, the Sydney based producer, songwriter, and artist Cam Nacson took to Instagram to call for help and understanding from the state government.

“This is Australia living with the virus, look out there…”

That was Scott Morrision last Saturday, and “out there” were 28,415 punters watching the cricket at the SCG.

Meanwhile, Cam Nacson and many others in the music industry spent the day canceling gigs and trying to work out how he’d pay rent for the next few months, following Dom Perrottet’s announcement of a return to ‘no singing, no dancing’ restrictions that morning. The same type of restrictions that helped drain $1.4 billion in live revenue and reduce the live sector by 70% in 2021.

In an bid to demonstrate the unsustainable nature of NSW’s current system of reactive COVID-19 measures, the Sydney based producer, songwriter, and artist took to Instagram to call for help and understanding from the state government.

“This isn’t a ‘call-out’,” Nacson tells TIO. “We’re not trying to slam anyone, our industry is complex and unique and it’s completely understandable that during a pandemic those in power don’t fully understand the impact on us. There’s so much time and preparation on the back-end that someone like Ben Franklin (incoming Minister for the Arts) or Dom Perrottet simply wouldn’t be aware of.”

“But as they are, these restrictions and lockdowns are crippling our industry – it’s not just the top-end of town, the international players… we’re literally losing a whole generation of emerging musicians and crew.”

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Nacson, who also builds and produces live shows for a slew of local artists, posted: “On Tuesday, two of my amazing artists [CXLOE and L-Fresh The Lion], played Elevate Sydney…. The event was incredible and there was no expense spared for the spectacle, shutting down the entire Cahill Expressway (a whole side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge) for a week. The result was an amazing and diverse lineup and a crew that were brilliant, friendly and professional.

elevate sydney
Elevate Sydney. Credit: Tiffany Williams

However, to put that show on, my team had been working for over a month, building the music, programming the live set, creating the visuals, syncing the visuals, rehearsing the show and even the simple things like buying new clothes and getting haircuts.”

And here’s the crux of his message:

“BUT… if we didn’t get to go on stage and play our music for that 20 minutes, that entire month’s worth of work would not have been paid for.

Imagine if your employer said “Hey so you’ll work 5 days a week and your pay is monthly, but if you don’t show up to work on the last hour of the last day of the month you don’t get paid for the entire month. Oh and also there might be a lockdown… or there might not, who knows. But if there is, too bad, no pay.”

Within hours of making the post, Nacson says he quickly “lost $2,500 in gigs and over $4,000 in work” in January alone, following that morning’s press conference. 

“This is the third time now that we’ve planned our lives and our income around work that’s then completely disappeared in one press conference. Not only that, but the restrictions actually cause more work in canceling and rescheduling work,” – additional hours and work, that for the most part, also go unpaid.

Further exacerbating the problem, Nacson highlights that “no one can get insurance on cancellations based on changing government restrictions and lockdowns. 

“We need financial help and new thinking, both now and in the near future. We are always the first, as an industry, to put our hands up to help. I feel it’s okay for us to say that we deserve the help now in our time of need.”

Without proper assurances and bespoke financial aid for the industry, it’s the next generations of working musicians and crew that Nacson is most concerned for. “

Many of us are resilient and will pull through with sheer determination and support from within the industry. We won’t thrive by any means, but we will survive.

“I’m more concerned about the future – the emerging artists and their teams – they’re being set up for failure. How will artists, musicians, roadies, techs, investors, venues, festivals and booking agents keep putting themselves out there knowing the gig they’re rescheduling for the 4th time could get canceled again?

“It’s incredibly dire.”

Australian music industry workers in need can contact Support Act or Listen Up for support or information on further resources.