NITO Begins Charting Course After SVOG; Frank Riley Addresses Vaccines, Artist Fees

Frank Riley
– Frank Riley
National Independent Talent Organization spent most of the past 18 months battling for economic relief for talent representatives and others in the wake of the live business shutdown resulting from the COVID pandemic. With money flowing and bookings again being made, however, NITO isn’t hanging up its hat.
NITO co-founder and Executive Board President Frank Riley, who is also the founder of indie booking agency High Road, shared via Instagram the organization’s focus going forward, including a call to action to educate the public and industry about the need to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The statement declared, “We must find common ground to push back on “pandemic-related contract language currently implemented by the two largest concert producers in North America and a smattering of independents.” 
Riley writes that in the coming weeks, “we’ll be sharing more details about our upcoming efforts to keep our artists and their fans safe, our businesses open, and speak collectively to the general public about the need to be vaccinated.”
But then he seemed to throw down the gauntlet about what he sees as a dwindling money pool available to artists while ancillary costs continue to rise.
“We’ve all seen the pool of money generated by ticket sales, from which we negotiate artist fees and compensation, shrink to unacceptable levels. Increased facility management fees, outrageous ticket surcharges, to say nothing of parking and other ancillary money generated by shows, have reduced the percentage of money to artists in an alarming way,” Riley wrote.
“… If we do not have a collective voice, if we are reduced to individuals taking on large corporations on their own, we will not be successful,” he continued.
“Reminder: the independent music community is one of the major sources of new voices, supportive audiences and musicians’ careers … we are the incubators and supporters of the independent artist community. If we as a group walk away, who is left to protect the rights and well-being of the artists we represent?”
Riley, noting the success of NITO and the National Independent Venue Association in working collectively to make Congress fully aware of the potential financial devastation of the live business and pass SVOG legislation, stresses the need for independents to continue banding together and using their voices to address other needs within and outside of an insular business. 
“Rather than being satisfied that we implemented a grant program that helped save a large swath of independents, it’s time we double-down and refocus our collective attention on other looming issues that are threats to the way we do business and – indeed – our very existence.”

Riley was named to Pollstar‘s 2021 Impact 50 list.