Post Malone, Chris Brown, Others Received Millions in Covid-19 Aid – Rolling Stone

Some of music’s most popular and successful acts, including Post Malone, Steve Aoki, and Chris Brown, received millions of dollars from the government grant program designed to help venues and arts programs during Covid-19, Insider reports.

The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) was a massive, $14.5 billion aid program operated through the Small Business Administration, meant to provide relief to shuttered venues — from music clubs to local theaters — and other businesses tied to the live entertainment industry (like booking agencies). Artists were also eligible, and according to Insider, corporations and limited liability companies tied to prominent acts took advantage of this.

All grant recipients were eligible for up to $10 million, with no obligation to repay the government; Post Malone and Chris Brown were among the artists who received the maximum amount, according to Insider. Other recipients reportedly included Steve Aoki ($9.9 million), Lil Wayne ($8.9 million), Smashing Pumpkins ($8.6 million), and Korn ($5.3 million).

While it is unclear how that money was used, there is no evidence suggesting it was distributed improperly or unlawfully. For instance, SVOG aid received by artists could’ve been used to pay crew members, contractors, or other workers left in the lurch after tours or concerts were canceled. However, there was enough flexibility in the rules that recipients could also spend it on things like mortgages, taxes, and payroll (including personal payments). 

None of the artists mentioned above returned Rolling Stone’s requests for comment on how their SVOG funds were used. Nor did any artists provide such details to Insider

As the new report notes, one business management firm, in particular, played a major role in helping popular artists secure SVOG funds. NKSFB helped artists (including Post Malone, Aoki, and Korn), venues, and managers receive a combined $260 million. On average NKSFB received about $1.6 million more than other grant recipients. NKSFB did not immediately return a request for comment. 


The SVOG saga has undoubtedly been tumultuous, from its long journey to becoming part of the crucial 2020 spending bill/Covid-19 relief package to its incredibly calamitous rollout. The grant portal infamously crashed upon opening in April 2021, and it took 17 days for the SBA to fix the array of technical problems that had plagued the initial launch. After it was up and running, it then took months for venues and other grant recipients to start receiving money

There have also been questions of fraud surrounding SVOG funds (as well as other Covid-19 aid programs, as Rolling Stone recently reported). In a report issued last year, the Inspector General highlighted one “concerning” aspect of the SVOG program that differed from other SBA grants: recipients could move the money around for other authorized uses after receiving the funds. The SBA, however, has rejected the likelihood of rampant fraud, claiming recently that both the SVOG and another aid program it oversaw, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, “achieved estimated fraud rates of well below 1%.”

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