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Coronavirus devastates the live music industry

WORLD -
World News
March 30, 2020

AS THE worldwide death toll for Coronavirus continues to rise, governments have attempted to control the spread with quarantines, travel bans and restrictions on public gatherings.

Consequently, the live entertainment industry has ground to a halt.

Tours, concerts and festivals between March and June have been wiped-out, leaving all involved consumed with damage control and a desperate rush to reschedule.

Some of the industry’s biggest players have teamed-up to see how they can mitigate the impact to the live music sector.

Live Nation Entertainment (LNE) and AEG issued joint statement announcing the formation of a global taskforce to, “drive strategic support and unified direction ensuring precautionary efforts and ongoing protocol are in the best interest of artistes, fans, staff and the global community”.

The task force team includes LNE CEO and president Michael Rapino, AEG president and CEO Dan Beckerman (also on the ASM Global board), AEG Presents chairman and CEO Jay Marciano, CAA music division head Rob Light, WME head of music Marc Geiger, Paradigm chairman Sam Gores, Paradigm head of global music Marty Diamond and UTA global head of music David Zedeck.

In Australia, where there was a relatively low death toll at the time of writing, companies including Frontier Touring, Chugg Entertainment, Live Nation Australia and TEG have established Sound of Silence (SOS) to counter the impact of cancellations, and collect donations for music charity Support Act.

Fans are encouraged to keep tickets for rescheduled shows or donate refunds from cancelled shows to venues or Support Act.

The festival scene is in a state of virtual suspension. Hundreds have been cancelled around the world and ticket sales have stopped for thousands of others.

However, this has not discouraged a group of European festival organisers who are determined to go ahead with their summer events.

Roskilde (cap. 60,000) in Denmark, Electric Castle (40,000) in Romania and EXIT festival (50,000) in Serbia are among more than 50 festivals that have created Festivals Stand United.

In a joint statement backed by festivals association Yourope, they say “owe it to the community” to continue with the events and that by doing so, they will be a “crucial part of the survival of the industry”.

In the country so far worst affected by Coronavirus, Italy, the government imposed a national quarantine on 9 March, restricting movement except for necessity, work and health circumstances in a bid to slow the spread of the virus, a practice adopted in various forms by other countries.

“We are rescheduling April and May shows, but at the moment, we stand by our summer shows and we are booking concerts for autumn and 2021,” says Claudio Trotta of Barley Arts Promotion in Milan. “We are dealing with the present situation but working for the future.”

Promoters worldwide are in a similar position. In Belgium, Greenhouse Talent MD Pascal van de Velde reports.

“We all know this is going to go into June and maybe longer. Even when the virus is dying out, when are the governments going to give permission to organise big events again?”

In the UK, the Government ordered the closure of all entertainment and leisure premises on 23 March, to be reviewed in three weeks. Venues closed immediately, followed by the cancellation of a sold-out Glastonbury (147,000) and many other events including Download (85,000) and the Isle of Wight Festival (55,000).

Glastonbury organisers offered ticket-holders the chance to roll their £50 ($60.25) deposits over to next year and guarantee themselves entry to the 2021 event.

In similar situations around the world, promoters are hoping not too many ticket-holders will request refunds for the time being. But, along with artistes, suppliers, booking agencies, managers and many more sectors directly related to live events are going to be extremely tough.

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