This article appears in the May/June 2020 issue of Canadian Musician magazine.
By Michael Raine
No one saw this coming. Not like this, at least. Just two months is all it took for the music industry to be turned on its head. On Jan. 11th, China reported its first COVID-19 death. On March 12th, the Juno Awards were cancelled at the last minute – just one in a wave of cancellations that hit the industry like a tsunami. For many in the Canadian music world, it seems, that was the moment they knew Canada would not be miraculously exempt from the pandemic’s fallout. As it has done to many industries, COVID-19 has devastated the music world and now everyone – quite literally every single person who makes a living from music – is trying to figure out what lies ahead.
In late April, Canadian Musician spoke with five prominent people in different segments of the Canadian music industry – an artist and advocate, a manager, an agent, an association head, and a label executive – to get a behind-the-scenes snapshot of the crisis.
“The next day was just chaos and everything changed”
To paraphrase Hemingway, this crisis hit the music industry slowly, then all at once. In early January were the first reports of a novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China. On Jan. 21st, the U.S. had its first confirmed case in Washington State, and on Jan. 25th, Canada had its first presumed case. Weeks then passed with a trickle of new cases. In late February, the dozen or so Canadian cases were all linked to travel or contact with a family member who travelled. So, while concerning, things seemed under control.
In the music industry, like in the general public, there were flashbacks to the SARS outbreak of 2003, which infected 375 in Toronto, killing 44. Not to be crass, but that was bad for business, especially for those involved in live events in Toronto. But for the fortunate majority of Torontonians and Canadians who were not personally impacted by SARS, what they remember most is a free Rolling Stones concert.
“You certainly started to get a few phone calls from managers and different people asking what the worst-case scenario could be and, I’ll be straight, at the time, I felt that it was probably going to be fairly close to business as usual. Maybe there would be pockets or places that were no-fly zones and we wouldn’t be permitted to go to,” recalls one of Canada’s top booking agents, Tom Kemp, who also co-owns The Feldman Agency. Thinking back to those days in late-February, he adds, “But nowhere in my wildest dreams could I have imagined how quickly things would transpire.”
Helen Britton, artist manager and president and CEO of Six Shooter Inc., recalls being in the U.K. throughout late-February where one of her artists, The Dead South, were touring. “It really changed a lot while we were over there,” she says. The Dead South were due to come home after their British shows and then head back to Europe, including a show in Milan, Italy in May. Milan, of course, would become the epicentre of Europe’s first COVID-19 wave. “We were tracking it super carefully every day for The Dead South and we felt fairly certain we’d have to cancel that tour. But it was us, it was not necessarily the promoters and agents thinking it at that point. We were having to push, like, ‘I don’t know, I’m not sure if we’re going to be able to come to Europe.’ So, I think we were a little ahead of the music industry curve on that just because we had to be.”
“Things really started to escalate once the Italian story started to develop and the stock market started to wobble,” recalls Chris Moncada, the senior vice president of eOne Music and Last Gang Records. “As soon as the real dominoes started to fall, like the travel bans and the sports league cancellations, at that point you obviously knew it was on. It was a slow trickle, but then once the other side of the hill came, it was very steep.”
Documentaries will be made about the night of March 11, 2020. That evening, Tom Hanks revealed on Instagram that he tested positive for COVID-19. Before the night was over, the entire NBA season was on hold. Meanwhile, from the Oval Office, Donald Trump was giving an error-filled speech on live television that created panic at European airports and further cratered an already-weak stock market.
The next day, Thursday, March 12th, mega concert promoters Live Nation and AEG both halted all global tours and CARAS cancelled that weekend’s Juno Awards.
On March 13th, Ontario’s chief medical officer called for the suspension of all gatherings of more than 250. Within a couple weeks, every province would shut down all non-essential businesses and ban public gatherings altogether.
“I sent a note to Allan Reid and the team at the Junos on March 11th saying, ‘I’m glad you guys are still going ahead. I know it’s crazy, but you’re doing the right thing by moving forward. Can’t wait to see you!’" recalls Erin Benjamin, the president and CEO of the Canadian Live Music Association.
The next morning, just before leaving to catch her flight to Saskatoon, she got a call from a colleague telling her not to get on the plane. “I did not go to the airport and it was at that moment that I actually burst into tears, to be honest. I can’t really describe that feeling. I am sure we all had it, whether it was that moment or another one where we realized, ‘Okay, this is really, really not good.’”
“The live music industry was the first hit, and will very likely be one of the very last to recover.”
Few people or businesses have been spared the ramifications that come with the evaporation of live events. It’s the backbone of the music industry. Really, it’s a weird thing to see the government shutdown your livelihood for the greater good – to agree that it needs to be done to save lives, while simultaneously throwing your future into question.
Benjamin’s Canadian Live Music Association surveyed its members twice in mid-March following the government-ordered shutdowns. At first, 30 per cent said they doubted they would still be in business in six months. In a second survey done just days later, but after the WHO declared a pandemic and all professional sports leagues were halted, that grew to 71 per cent.
“To be honest, we haven’t asked them again because we have so much more context and know it’s just bad for virtually everyone,” Benjamin tells Canadian Musician in late-April. “We know that the live music industry was the first hit and will very likely be one of the very last to recover, especially large gatherings.”
What aggravates the professional problems, as well as the personal anxiety, is the open-ended nature of the timelines. When the shutdowns began, many were thinking it would last maybe two weeks to a month, then maybe two months. Now, large concerts aren’t expected back for up to a year-and-a-half or more. When medical bioethicist Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel predicted in the New York Times that large events like conferences, concerts, and professional sports won’t return until fall 2021 at the earliest, many couldn’t believe it — or didn’t want to.
“That was a week ago where we’re going, ‘That’s ridiculous! The fall of 2021? Give me a break.’ And I said just this morning to a colleague that within the last 48 hours we’ve gone from thinking that was a ridiculous joke to a total reality with L.A. and New York making that very clear, and countries like Italy and more making that decision right now,” laments Benjamin.
“Yeah, it’s frustrating. You’re doing your job with one hand tied behind your back, at best,” says Kemp about booking shows and planning for the future. “The only solace I can take is that we’re all in the same situation. Every agency, every agent, every promoter, every festival buyer — it’s a pretty leveling situation. I will say that I was impressed with how quickly people reacted to try to make good on a situation rather than duck and run. And that is across the board.”
In the first weeks after the WHO declared the pandemic, many event organizers opted for the mammoth task of rescheduling large events instead of cancelling. Among them, Toronto’s North by Northeast rescheduled from June to August and is still on the calendar as of early May. The Canadian Music Week conference and festival moved from May to September before eventually cancelling. Others, like the Festival d’été de Québec and the Halifax Jazz Festival, both originally scheduled for early July, opted to cancel and shift their focus to a 2021 return.
“I really feel for promoters and festivals who postponed rather than cancelled,” says Benjamin. “I say this because I really understand the need to see something on a calendar. We’re looking at zero revenue. Zero revenue. It’s impossible to imagine, so just moving something on a calendar, I think, maybe just helps us deal a little bit better.”
This is devastating for the agents, promoters, festival buyers, concert venues, and so many others. At the heart of it all, though, are the musicians – musicians who had already seen their income from recorded music decline severely in the digital era, and whose careers had become heavily reliant on live shows. For the professional musicians with new music released and a corresponding tour on the calendar, it’s especially devastating.
Between March 20th and 30th, a survey went out specifically for musicians that was spearheaded by Miranda Mulholland along with Music Canada and CONNECT Music Licensing. Mulholland has unique vantage points on the current situation as she wears so many hats. Among them, of course, she’s an artist, and her group Harrow Fair released its new album, Sins We Made, on April 17th.
“We had a bunch of things planned touring-wise and we had hired a U.S. radio promoter this year; I’d finally made something radio-friendly!” she laughs to Canadian Musician. “We had some U.S. tour dates and radio studio meet-and-greets planned as well. It’s a pretty big blow to not be able to tour this record.”
In addition to being a professional artist, Mulholland is also an indie label owner (Roaring Girl Records), festival organizer (Muskoka Music Festival), chair of Music Canada’s Advisory Council, and an artist advocate who regularly lobbies provincial and federal governments. “I felt like there needed to be something specifically for musicians so that we could really get a sense of what that was and try to get as clean data as possible,” she says of the artist impact survey. “Unsurprisingly, it was pretty grim – 90 per cent had reported cancellations, 84 per cent were going to require some significant financial assistance, and people were turning to credit cards.”
The impact extends to all tiers of the musician community in different ways. “I feel like another thing the survey showed is just how precarious musicians’ lives are. It’s month to month and being one gig away from eviction,” she says, but later adds: “It’s interesting because I was talking to Alan Doyle [of Great Big Sea] and he has some significant concerns about this. Obviously, you think that Alan Doyle is, you know, Alan Doyle, but he had a full tour booked and he’s got an amazing band that he pays what they’re worth, and a crew and all the people he employs he’s worried about. His concern, too, is rebooking the tour and hoping people will keep their tickets. It’s interesting because he’s having the same problems, just on a macro level, to the guy who plays the Dakota or the Cameron House twice a week. So, different boat but same ocean.”
To further drive home the point with data from the survey, Mulholland says artists employ an average of 3.7 people, meaning every part of this catastrophe has tentacles.
“All those indie record stores, how are they supposed to survive?”
“You really rely heavily on touring when you’re a label. We’re managers and we’re a label, so it works hand in hand,” says Britton about Six Shooter. “For a band like The Dead South whose record came out in October, one of their biggest markets is Germany and they still haven’t played in Germany yet. They were supposed to be there now, but now they won’t be there for at least a year. That really changes the sales in that country and, in fact, most of Europe they haven’t been to yet. That is going to affect our physical sales, and streaming is down when the band aren’t on the road.”
Not only that, streaming is down across the board. The initial assumption for many was that with everyone at home all day, streaming would skyrocket. That’s proved true for the movie and TV services. Netflix reported a record increase in subscribers in April. But it ignored how most people consume music.
“People listen to Spotify on their commute, at the gym, at the office, and you can’t necessarily listen at home when you’ve got family members who are sharing the space and kids at home who are home schooling, or you’re on Zoom meetings,” explains Britton. “So, basically everything is going to be down.”
The interesting exception is children’s music, which, again, makes logical sense when you think about the current situation.
“Every morning I wake up and – no joke – I look at yesterday’s streams,” reveals Moncada, saying that eOne Music’s “not insignificant cache of children’s music” has been one of the company’s few bright spots during the pandemic. In normal times, Moncada says streams for popular genres – pop, rap, rock, etc. – will climb through the work week and spike on Fridays when the new releases come out.
“Then on weekends there will be a dip because routines are interrupted. The commutes aren’t happening, maybe you’re not going to the gym that morning and so on and so forth,” he says. “For children’s music, it’s reversed. So, you’ll see a spike on Saturdays and Sundays and then it flattens during the week.” Ever since about March 13th, he reveals, streaming for both popular and children’s music has stayed at weekend-type levels.
But while streaming is now the engine of the recorded music market, physical music is still a worthwhile chunk of a label’s yearly revenue. In 2019, according to Nielsen Music, 5.5 million CDs and one million vinyl records were sold in Canada. But as of late-April, CD sales in Canada were down 46.5 per cent over the same point last year, and vinyl was down almost 30 per cent. The pandemic, labels worry, may be a lethal blow to the physical music market.
“All those indie record stores, how are they supposed to survive?” Britton asks. “A lot of the major artists have held back their releases and I am sure for a lot of the record stores, the big releases are their bread and butter.”
Moncada maintains hope that brick-and-mortar music retailers will bounce back, but notes that eOne and Last Gang recently adjusted their forecasts for the rest of 2020 and “from a physical music perspective, as you can imagine, it’s not pretty.”
So, streaming is down and physical sales are on life support. Not to rub salt in the wound, but there’s more.
“There are also some problems with radio maybe not paying their SOCAN fees and such because the ad money is down,” reveals Britton. “There’s been organizations saying that people have requested to halt their payment. So, that affects everybody. For the artists specifically, it’s not just going to be their live shows that are affected. Their SOCAN cheque is going to be smaller and there is going to be way less placements because film and TV is halted [because of social distancing orders] and who knows when that will come back. There is going to be a huge gap there before it gets up and running. And when it does, as usual when it comes to a production, the music budget is not the top budget item. We’ve already seen that decline over the years and it’s going to decline more. So, every aspect of it is down.”
And in the same way TV and movie productions are delayed, which will only be evident in the market months from now, the pattern extends to records.
“Right now, our release schedule is good because we’ve been preparing for April for a year,” says Moncada. “But what will eventually happen is in December or January, we’re going to have a bit of a black hole, because all the records that are supposed to be made right now are supposed to come out then.”
“There is only so much you can do to promote your record from your living room.”
For every professional musician, this clearly sucks. But for those who spent the last year making an album, generally a costly undertaking, and should now be making money on the road – well, this really sucks.
Harrow Fair should be on tour in support of Sins We Made. Meanwhile, Kemp the booking agent, Moncada the label executive, and Britton the manager all had artists who should be touring right now.
Britton singles out rising singer-songwriter William Prince. This was supposed to be his moment. “His record just came out in February through Six Shooter in Canada and Glassnote internationally. He had rereleased his last record through Glassnote, but this was to be the big push for them. This was their big ‘let’s show the world William Prince’ moment and it was going so well. He had 40 tour dates booked starting in March,” says Britton. “His entire touring schedule is gone. He has done a couple livestreams that have gone really well and he has a tip jar and that’s great. But there is only so much you can do to promote your record from your living room, right?”
The fan and media appetite for William Prince was real. He had high-profile radio sessions booked in Britain and Europe and U.S. shows with Katie Pruitt. “Now, when that gets rescheduled, it might happen that his U.S. dates, the person he is supporting reschedules for the fall and does the tour because those venues are open, but William is not going to be able to get across the border, so he might just simply miss out on that opportunity altogether,” says Britton regrettably.
For Moncada, one of his big frustrations is Last Gang artist Louis Prince (real name Jake McMullen and no connection to William Prince).
“I have a really, really good feeling had none of this happened, we’d have gotten him to a place now where we would’ve had four or five European agents probably competing for his business there. He’s got a lot of support in America from an editorial perspective. He’s got a lot of fans who are super famous, like Hayley [Williams] from Paramore. The buzz is really palpable on Jake,” he says. “I am not one to cry over spilled milk and of course this is unfortunate, but we would definitely be a lot farther ahead than we are now because we’d done some really great work developing him.”
Now, the Last Gang team is trying to keep the fan and media interest alive so those opportunities are still there are the other side. “It’s an every-week discussion. Like, ‘Okay, can we get a remix? Is there another piece of visual content we can put out there?’” he says. “It’s going to be a feeding frenzy on the other side of this thing. Everyone is going to want to play and there’s going to be five bands playing on a Monday night at the Horseshoe. So, it’s up to us to keep artists engaged and make sure that they feel like they’re supported.”
“You know, everyone is experiencing this in a very different way and there’s a lot of, like, ‘Go write the great Canadian novel!’ and ‘Now we can go do a livestream!’” says Mulholland.
The truth is, as it’s been for the rest of us, for many artists stuck at home, it’s been a rough collision of professional and personal responsibilities and pressure. As Kemp, Britton, and Moncada were saying about touring and their artists’ career development being handicapped, the same can be true about creativity.
“What was revealed in these answers,” Mulholland adds about the artist impact survey, “was a feeling of almost a crippling pressure to do a livestream performance when people didn’t really feel like that was representative of their art. Also, not feeling like they could write or create at all because of anxiety. Child care is a huge deal and not being able to even have the time to work on anything because they’re so busy.”
Listen to our full conversation with Miranda Mulholland on the May 6th, 2020 episode of the Canadian Musician Podcast.
“We’re building a plane while we’re taking off”
When one region or industry gets hit hard by crisis, whether it’s a natural disaster or an economic downturn, it’s hard enough for governments to respond quickly and adequately. When every business and community across the country is hit by both a health and economic crisis simultaneously, you’ve got to sympathize. Frankly, anyone who doesn’t sympathize with Canada’s politicians and bureaucrats at this moment — even if that’s not a popular sentiment in normal times — has to remind themselves that they’re people, too, just trying to do the best they can, for as many people as they can, as quickly as they can.
“All three levels of government have been really receptive to artists’ message, I think,” says Mulholland.
As a prominent artist advocate who has been in the weeds of the creative industries’ lobbying efforts in recent years, Mulholland has had a front row seat as the government scrambles to provide financial relief then backfill the holes in their plans. From the early days of the shutdowns, she has been in regular contact with Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Sport, Lisa MacLeod, as well as the federal Minister of Canadian Heritage, Steven Guilbeault, and his parliamentary secretary, Julie Dabrusin. She is also on a working group with Toronto Mayor John Tory.
“I think the metaphor that came up in one of these calls is, ‘We’re building a plane while we’re taking off.’ It’s monumental, obviously, what they’re trying to do,” Mulholland says sympathetically.
For the first month of the crisis, the biggest concern was making sure musicians were eligible for the $2,000-per-month Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Based on the CERB’s initial eligibility criteria, many worried that earning just small royalty cheques, for example, would disqualify them from much-needed government support. Thankfully, on April 15th, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister Guilbeault announced changes to CERB so that artists and other gig workers were covered.
In that week-and-a-half of uncertainty, being the middle person between the artist community and the government, Mulholland was in a bind. She was hearing the anxiety and frustration building among artists; at the same time, she knew help was coming but couldn’t say much.
“What scared me the most was hearing people say, you know, ‘the government is trying to fuck us over,’ and what I was hearing from government was, ‘we’re going to get there,’” she says. “I think it was the panic from artists that really scared me, because people were saying, like, ‘Should I take my music down off all the platforms so I don’t have an income, so I can still apply?’ My message, unofficially, kept being, ‘If you need it, apply for it because this is what it’s for.’”
On the business side of things, Benjamin was and remains in constant communication with governments to get relief for shuttered venues, out-of-work promoters, and everyone else in the association’s orbit.
“Government has been amazing,” she says off the bat. “I am just so grateful for how flexible, in particular the federal government, has been on the relief measures. We’ve gone to them when we’ve heard what the challenges are, and sometimes these are one-sentence emails to a senior official with no preamble, no nothing, like, ‘Here’s a real-time story, take this to the minister.’ Or sometimes I’m lucky enough to go directly to the minister with this anecdotal stuff and say, ‘It’s great that you’ve done this, but look here at this little snapshot of how this is not working,’ and then the next day stuff changes. Of course, a lot of sectors have similar challenges and it’s not just the live music industry influencing policy, but we’re one voice and we’re certainly in there loud and clear.”
When we spoke in late-April, Benjamin said they were still in the “stop the bleeding” stage. The 75-per-cent employee wage subsidy and the federal-provincial partnerships on commercial rent relief had been announced but not yet implemented, in addition to other tax deferral and interest-free loan programs. As well, Trudeau had just announced but given few details about $500 million in federal support for the arts, culture, and sporting industries.
“The reality with the $500 million is there are a lot of stakeholders on that list,” offers Benjamin. “I’m cautiously optimistic that it’ll do some good and we’ll certainly be working with government to help point them in the direction we think it would be most needed.”
Overall, though, remembering that 71 per cent of her association’s members thought in mid-March that they would be out of business within six months, does Benjamin think the government’s programs have eased some of that concern? “I am really optimistic, but again, we’re talking about three to four months of relief measures. So, yes, it may keep the wolves at bay for 12 to 16 weeks, but what really matters now is what happens after that.”
For Britton at Six Shooter, “in terms of some of the business support, I think the loan is excellent,” she shares. “The wage subsidy is great, although it remains to be seen how you can prove your loss of income. In the music industry, specifically for labels and such, our loss of income isn’t going to show now; it’s going to show in a few months when we get our payments.”
As holes in the existing government relief programs have been filled and concerns addressed, Mulholland and Benjamin say their focus now turns to extending the existing benefits like CERB beyond the current four-month plan.
“I think this is going to be such a longer haul than originally thought,” says Mulholland. “If everybody is off the road until at least January, and even then it’s not like on January 1st everyone is back and it’s ‘go play!’ That’s just not the way the music industry works. So, there are going to have to be a lot of really thoughtful, staggered assistance programs in the fall.”
According to Benjamin, the Ontario government is eyeing late-May or June as the time to ease some restrictions and allow certain non-essential businesses to reopen. Other provinces have already begun to implement their multi-phase plans. “That bodes really well, I think, for all of our peace of mind to know there is some good news. But the reality is for all live music people, and all of the supply chain connected to those stages, whether they’re indoors or out, the long-term piece is huge. We need to really be working with government to extend those programs and then be thinking about the longterm – 18 months, 24 months, up to five years.”
Britton, who is also involved in some discussions with government as a member of the Music Managers Forum’s executive committee, is sure CERB and other benefits will need to be extended.
“We do have a seat at the table and we have the ear of the ministers and we’re putting in proposals and filling in the government about how our industry really is going to be affected in the long-term,” she says. “The reality is that until there is a widespread use of a vaccine, there is not going to be normal touring.”
“We’ve got to be very flexible and agile to react to what it is that the market is giving us”
We all want to believe that, at some point in the foreseeable future, things will go back to normal, whatever that means. But the truth is, even when concerts are allowed again and stores are open, it’s going to be a different market than the one we knew in February 2020. And whatever that “new normal” might look like, it’s probably 18 to 24 months away. Until then, everyone still needs to make a living.
“We have become, in a really short amount of time, very comfortable seeing a lot of live music for free online. We’ve been watching more live music than ever before, which is wonderful,” cautions Benjamin. “But it has to be, for the most part, temporary.”
“I think we need to be very careful that, at this time when everyone is turning to the arts, which is great, that the value of the arts can’t just be, “Oh, it’s sustaining us and here we are stronger together.’ That’s great, but the value has to be understood to be not just cultural, but also that it’s an economic driver,” Mulholland adds.
Kemp is not overly concerned about the long-term devaluing of live music because of the current abundance of free livestreamed shows. “I honestly feel it’s being used too much. It’s like everyone and their dog is saying ‘come watch me in my living room.’ There is not much special about that.”
The upside he sees is that by normalizing livestreaming, it gives musicians another tool in their arsenal for fan engagement and monetization. It could be large online events that are free to the public and monetized through sponsorships, or as Side Door Access has been doing with artists like Terra Lightfoot and Said the Whale, it could be exclusive livestreams for ticket-buying hardcore fans.
“And then when you look to other worlds, like the hip-hop or EDM worlds, they’re doing incredible things online. There have been some big dance parties where it might just be a few dollars and sometimes it’s just a dollar or two but there are 20,000 people there,” says Britton. “Also, we did a watch party in advance of the YouTube premiere [with July Talk] and all the fans were chatting with the band along the side and they just loved it. It was a connection for everybody so they could still celebrate together. Those things will continue I think.”
“The good news is there are all these people who had never engaged with live music and maybe they will be intrigued to go,” offers Benjamin.
But even as the recovery phase begins, it’s going to be difficult. What is most likely to happen is some form of a three-phase approach to reopening live events, starting with small gatherings followed by medium and large over the course of weeks or months (though how those are defined is very uncertain). “The challenge with the phased-in approach in our industry is the business model doesn’t work,” she explains. “So, you have a 250-cap club and you can have 100 people in the club, say, as part of the social distancing rules. Well, can you still afford to put on a show if you can only sell 100 tickets? And how much do you have to charge for those tickets? Also, by the way, who has money to spend on tickets?”
That last point is important and an increasingly big part of the industry’s forward-looking conversation. As the lockdowns approach the two-month mark, household budgets are becoming more strained. Just how much disposable income will people have for music when this is all over? “That is important and we’re not sure yet what the recovery dollar will look like,” Benjamin continues. “Then you’ll have thousands of events happening at the same time, so there is the cannibalization of this sector. The supply will be huge, but will the demand be huge? We don’t know.”
“In that case, the people I worry about are the middle-level to beginner artists because the big fish will be swarming the market, I’d imagine, with all these rescheduled tours,” Mulholland points out. “At the same time, ticket prices will be fluctuating and are people going to take a chance on a new band?”
“We’ve got to be very flexible and agile to react to what it is that the market is giving us,” concludes Kemp. “It’s no different than what we were doing before in figuring out the best way to exploit the market and make the most of it for the artist – figuring out the timing of that event to really line it up to maximize the impact.”
It’s hard to know what to say about a situation like this. Unprecedented? Yeah, obviously it is. All you can do is stay optimistic, search out and exploit opportunities, and stay close to those who bring you strength and love.
“I mean, artists are so adaptable and so versatile and have been proven to be so used to change and reacting to it. I think this is going to be a really interesting time. I am optimistic but I am also sad,” Mulholland says at the end of our chat. “But in the end, I think we’re going to get through this.”
Yes. We are.