This past Friday (Dec. 22), Senator Rand Paul released his “2023 ‘Festivus’ Report on Government Waste,” which – per his official website – aims to “alert the American people to how their federal government uses their hard-earned money.” According to the analyses, artists such as Slipknot, Korn, Nickelback and Smashing Pumpkins played a part in the “$900,000,000,000 in government waste.”

Near the end of the lengthy document, Paul talks about how the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was responsible for “distributing financial relief” when “local concert venues and family-owned theatres were forced to shut down during the pandemic.” In particular, the “Shuttered Venue Operators Grant [SVOG] program was supposed to provide a lifeline to small entertainment businesses nationwide.”

The report continues:

Sadly, but not surprisingly, SBA failed to deliver. Business Insider identified dozens of famous music artists and their touring companies that received over $200 million through the program.

So-called “small business owners,” such as Post Malone, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, and Smashing Pumpkins, received up to $10 million each. Even Nickelback received $2 million. While some may claim these funds were used to keep supporting staff, artists were not required to do so, and we have no way of determining how these blank checks were used.

These multi-millionaire musicians were cashing checks, instead of the intended recipients: America’s small businesses.

Alongside the text is a graphic featuring multiple other acts who’ve received grants.

For instance, Korn’s Jonathan Davis is pictured alongside “$5.3M”; Slipknot’s Corey Taylor is pictured alongside “$9.7M”; and Vampire Weekend vocalist/guitarist Ezra Koenig is pictured alongside “$8.3M.” Taylor’s image is also matched with a statement claiming: “A music festival founded by Slipknot, Knotfest, also received a $1,050,736 grant”; likewise, Koenig’s image is also paired with a statement claiming: “Vampire Weekend’s manager Monotone Inc. also received a grant, for $3,077,888.”

In addition to the Business Insider article, the analysis links to an Excel spreadsheet that includes SVOG data.

You can read Rand Paul’s full report here.

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Per Blabbermouth, the SVOG program “provided over $16 billion to closed venues.” Blabbermouth also clarifies:

Eligible businesses includes live venue operators or promoters, theatrical producers, performing arts organizations, talent representatives and movie theaters. The SBA also prioritized businesses that saw the greatest losses during the pandemic.

Applicants were eligible to receive 45% of their 2019 gross revenue up to $10 million per grant. To qualify for the grant, businesses had to have been open on February 29, 2020. Any federal Paycheck Protection Program loans the companies had forgiven would have had to be subtracted from the total grants.

Back in July 2020, Loudwire reported on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was authorized by the SBA and the Treasury to “distribute loans to help businesses pay their staff.” Both Slipknot and Nickelback were among the artists who “benefited from the stimulus program.”

There’s also Live Nation’s “On the Road Again” program, which – Loudwire reported in Sept. 2023 – was designed to “mitigate the difficulties of touring and help support developing artists and crew members. Part of this new initiative includes an end to merchandise cuts, an issue several artists have spoken out against post-pandemic.”

As demonstrated by Falling In Reverse frontman Ronnie Radke’s recent criticism of ongoing venue “greed,” there are still issues with how these programs are implemented and maintained.

Oh, and in case you’re unaware, “Festivus” refers to the secular anti-holiday created by author Daniel O’Keefe in 1966; popularized by the 1997 Seinfeld episode “The Strike”; and celebrated on Dec. 23 of each year.

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