MAKE MUSIC LEGAL

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Ex Hot Chocolate singer Greg Bannis was about to perform when the Police arrived
Ex Hot Chocolate singer Greg Bannis was about to perform when the Police arrived

Bars and restaurants wishing to play music in their establishments are required to have permission to do so on their ‘Licencia de Apertura’ and for the most part, until lockdown and the subsequent changes to the law, that was all that was required.

In recent weeks, however, the authorities seem to have clamped down with regard to entertainers, stating that only those performers who are fully legal may operate. Although this has always been the case they would now seem to be paying more attention to the matter insisting that entertainers must be legally self-employed and paying both their autónomo and their taxes.

The most recent crackdown took place just 2 weeks ago as the state bulletin ordered the closure of nightclubs, karaoke, and cocktail bars, with or without live musical performances, with the local police touring local venues and closing down entertainment. The closure was for an initial period of 21 days although the Generalitat has now said the period is to be further extended.

Villamartin Plaza, despite holding a legal events license, was one such venue that had its entertainment cancelled by the Valencian Health Authorities, although there were still many local venues seemingly not affected.

Villamartin spokesperson Casey Shaddock
Villamartin spokesperson Casey Shaddock

It appears that many establishments were then told they could proceed with live entertainment, providing they used only fully legal and professional entertainers and there were no local complaints. However, many venues that the Leader spoke to decided that the drop in trade didn’t’ justify the financial outlay for entertainment and they will wait to see an improvement in their business before hiring again.

Prior to the pandemic, many singers and musicians who were operating on the bar and club circuit paid little attention to contracts and taxes, but with the government now underpinning the need for them to ‘be fully legal’ a large number have recently registered as autónomo and are now making their social payments at a cost of anywhere between 70-400 euro per month. However, there are many more who are refusing to do so, and who are simply hanging back until such time as the situation eases, at which point they feel they will be able to find work once again.

They make no bones about the fact that, dealing only with ‘cash in hand’ they will be able to undercut the entertainers who are making tax and autónomo payments, at which point there is likely to be a ‘battle royal’ among the two groups of entertainers.

While legal performers that I have spoken to have said they will continue to operate in a self-employed capacity there are many others, who continue to refuse to make social security payments, and will perform only for ‘cash in hand’ as they claw back earnings lost during the lockdown, and if that means undercutting their ‘legally employed’ contemporaries, then so be it!

One legal entertainer said that he is considering launching the Facebook Page ‘Make Music Legal’ which will only accommodate input from those entertainers who are doing things the right way.

Meanwhile Villamartin Plaza suffered a blow on Thursday night when, moments before the Ex Hot Chocolate singer Greg Bannis was about to perform, a complaint was lodged with the authorities and the Valencia Police closed down the show.

In apologising to diners who had turned up to watch the show, Plaza spokesperson Casey Shaddock said that she was absolutely disgusted that they had been given so little notice of the complaint, but as the Plaza operated on a fully legal basis, she had no alternative but to postpone the entertainment.

She promised to provide an update on the situation and any future entertainment after consulting with the Villamartin legal team.

Casey once again echoed the fact that the celebrated Villamartin Plaza has always strived to ensure legal entertainment. She said “We have many acts that want to perform here but don’t even have an NIE number which we turn away”.

“As a taxpayer myself, this angers me. I feel everyone should pay into the system to receive the benefits and keep the playing field even for all entertainers. We even pay the tax on acts from abroad so as not to have any problems with the authorities.”

“Entertainers forget when they walk into a business to perform and are not legal, not only are they putting themselves at risk but it could result in a huge fine for the business as well, is that really fair? The big factor is getting the bars to check and only employ those who are legal!

I agree that all entertainers should be legal and setting up a Facebook page for that is a fabulous idea, please let me know as I will support that. We need to make the general public aware as their support for certain artists who are not legal is what keeps the bars employing them.”

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