Money Matters: Making Sense Of The SOS/SBA/PPP/SVOG Alphabet Soup

Get Him To The Greek
AP Photo / Chris Pizzello
– Get Him To The Greek
The passage of the Save Our Stages Act and another round of PPP loans will surely help many weather the storm as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues.

The passage of the $900 billion COVID stimulus package in December will surely lead to some relief for the live events industry, but there is much to figure out, including how to go about getting relief, what different operators may qualify for, and when to expect it.

Some of the biggest questions concern the Shuttered Venue Operators Grants (SVOGs), which would provide grants rather than loans totaling 45% of a business’ 2019 revenues up to $10 million. With many venues, agencies, management companies and other live-related businesses down to near zero since March 2020, the SVOGs would be a huge relief to many, and a huge victory for the Save Our Stages movement, which included not only the NIVA venue group but NITO talent agencies, managers and artists.
The latest SVOG FAQ from the U.S. Small Business Administration sheds some light on qualifications, such as whether an outdoor venue with fixed seating could apply for a grant and how to determine whether a PPP loan or SVO grant would be appropriate – and whether a company or venue can apply for both.
“Per the Economic Aid Act, as well as how the PPP loan system operates, entities cannot apply for a PPP loan and SVOG at the same time,” the FAQ states. “Entities must make an informed business decision as to which program will most benefit them and apply accordingly. If an applicant is rejected by one program, it will then be eligible to apply for the other.”
An SBA representative told Pollstar that those wanting to apply for SVOGs should register for a DUNS number in the System for Award Management (at, gather documents demonstrating number of employees and monthly revenue, and determine the extent of gross revenue loss experienced between 2019-2020. The grants are to be awarded by level of mayhem upended on a particular business – with “first priority” awarded in the first 1-14 days of grants going to those suffering losses of 90% and greater. However, it’s still unclear when the SVOG applications will open.
A chief concern among many Pollstar readers is if, after being turned down for receiving an SVOG, it’s too late to apply for a PPP loan, as the first round of PPP money was depleted quickly. Both the SBA and ones administering the PPP loans appear to think the situation is less frantic than when first rolled out in 2020.
“I think there’s less pressure overall,” says First Horizon Bank executive vice president Andrew Kintz, whose Music Industry Division lends to festivals, venues, production companies and artists. “The first round, everybody was freaking out that the money was going to run out. That doesn’t seem to be the feeling this time. We’re still working late but it’s almost like, ‘We’ve done this before and can do it again. We’ll knock this out and be able to help.’”
Kintz, whose company also operates heavily in the publishing and content side, noted the additional relief provided by the Save Our Stages Act and familiarity with the PPP program after learning on the fly in 2020. “Most of our clients that are eligible for SBA guidelines, they’re waiting on the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant window,” he adds. “A lot of clients in the venue space, some in California or New York for instance, those were markets down to zero, by law. They’re feeling confident they will get relief from the grants, and feel pretty good about 45% of 2019 revenue up to $10 million. That’s real money that would really help them through what I think will be a very light 2021 as well.”
PPP is intended to keep paychecks flowing for employees, which is a challenge for many companies in the live entertainment business that remain shut down and therefore unable to staff their buildings or event sites, but Kintz said by and large the program is helping the bank’s music clients. 
“For a minority of our clients, they do get left out a little bit and it’s smarter to actually shutter than hire and apply for PPP, but thank the Lord that’s a small portion. For the large part it’s working. PPP is keeping people employed and helping to keep businesses going.”
Kintz said macro-economic factors have led to a somewhat unexpected windfall in the copyright and publishing space, but he believes the live music sector will pick up where it left off when the time comes.
“We cannot wait to jump back in and when everybody is making a lot of money again,” he says, adding that the calendar is full of hopeful gatherings of all kinds for the summer and fall.