COVID-19 and the Live Music Industry

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Chaos is emerging globally with panic and despair over Coronavirus. Every day we are hearing of new cities on lockdown, more people infected and more people losing their lives to the fast-spreading virus. Aside from what we see regularly on the news and social media, the virus is having a profound effect on the live music industry.

With cities being locked down and airports and airlines refusing to fly, it comes to no surprise that events are being cancelled. SXSW festival in Texas has been cancelled due to fears of the virus and travel concerns and it is being reported now that Coachella has been postponed until October, leaving uncertainty over the line-up as some of the currently booked artists may not be available for rescheduled dates.

Artists like Slipknot and Pearl Jam have already cancelled tours of Asia and America respectively, solely due to Coronavirus. Pearl Jam explain that cancelling the tour was something that they just could not avoid – as travel would be far too risky. Madonna has had to cancel her show in Paris as the city have banned social events containing 1000 people or more, whilst Mariah Carey has unfortunately cancelled her show in Hawaii, again due to travel restrictions. Other stars like Stormzy have also cancelled tours, with the Londoner having to postpone the Asia leg of his HITH World tour due to ongoing health and travel concerns. Several other big name artists have had to cancel shows in Asia including The Pixies, Green Day and Foals.

However, it’s not just the well-known artists being impacted. In fact, the virus has had an even more devastating impact on smaller bands. Glasgow Metallers Lotus Eater were scheduled to go on tour with Poppy across the UK and Europe but due to governmental stances on events in Europe, the tour is just not feasible. In an upsetting tweet, Lotus Eater explained their disappointment about the circumstances and went on to say how they have an entirely new merch range exclusively for this tour. The cost of designing and printing merchandise is expensive and selling merch at shows is often the band’s main source of income entirely. The cancellation of the tour leaves the band out of pocket since they won’t be able to sell merch or get paid for their performances. Yungblud has also been left with little choice but to postpone shows in Asia as a result of the virus. Set It Off have also cancelled their Asia shows as well as being forced to pull out of their role supporting Jimmy Eat World on their tour too. The entire cancellation of SXSW festival puts a vast amount of small up-an-coming artists in unfortunate predicaments. Lauran Hibberd and Hotel Lux are two examples. Clearing schedules, paying for flights and organising a venture across the Atlantic to Texas aren’t easy tasks nor are they cheap and these sorts of issues can severely disrupt smaller artists. The money spent on travel arrangements could have otherwise been used to fund new material or pay for new merch lines but now this money has been wasted on arrangements for a festival that can no longer go ahead. Of course these circumstances are completely unforeseen but that does not change the negative impact they have had on small artists.

The inconvenience of the widespread illness means that artists will be hindered. Even if it is feasible that the artist can reschedule the tour dates at a later time, the cost of rescheduling can be enormous. Travel and accommodation arrangements could already have been paid for in advance, but this is something that would affect the fans and concert goers also. Smaller acts will arguably face the most issues from this. They do not have the financial capabilities like bigger acts mentioned earlier like Slipknot and Madonna who are also at loss from their cancellations and so they will be left feel particularly out of pocket and disappointed at any hinderance due to Coronavirus. Hopefully gigs and larger events can begin to re-commence soon and it is hoped that festivals in the UK and Europe don’t face the same fate as SXSW. Fingers crossed, anyway.

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Psychology student at UoS. Hate my degree, love music.

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