Coronavirus is filling the news pages, but how will it affect the live music industry? Around the world, tours are being cancelled, travel restrictions put in place and live culture events banned. Will 2020 see a collapse of concert companies? How will Covid-19 affect smaller venues? Will governments step in to help freelance musicians?
Coronavirus: The Impact on Live Music
One thing is quickly becoming crystal clear: The spread of Covid-19 is going to cause a whole lot of changes in our lives – at least for the time being. One of the many arenas in public life that will be hit hard is live music.
At the time of writing, governments around the world are stepping up their response to the spread of Covid-19 to help curb its spread. One step either already implemented or being mulled by national and regional governments is to ban large public gatherings. A major target here are music concerts and festivals.
Various EU member states have imposed travel restrictions and banned public gatherings. France has banned public gatherings of more than 1000 people and Italy has essentially placed the entire nation on lockdown. In Germany, schools are closed and cities like Berlin have shut down the city’s bars, clubs and pubs. In the USA, many festivals and tours are being cancelled or spotponed, including SXSW, Coachella and Stagecoach (Vulture is keeping tabs for you on the bigger US concerts affected). Resident Advisor is also running an ongoing blog listing cancellations of major events on the electronic music calendar (check it out here). We expect more to follow. Music instruments trade shows like Musikmesse have been affected, too. Superbooth has been cancelled. Surely it will be only a matter of time before Summer NAMM follows suit. PRS has cancelled its Experience PRS 2020 event.
What does 2020 hold for live Music?
There’s no question that Coronavirus is going to have an enormous effect on the live music industry this year. If you’re planning on playing or putting on large shows which are over 500 capacity, you should probably postpone until the autumn. Conversely, small (under 500 capacity) may not be as harshly affected by restrictions in most areas. That said, we’re obviously in a fast-changing situation and new restrictions on gatherings may be imposed on your area very soon.
Meanwhile, governments are preparing stimulus packages to prop up the economy in the hardest hit areas. Smaller companies may soon find their cash flow dwindling too fast to cope. Some will need funds to help them stave off bankruptcy. Hopefully, live music companies and venues will be included here.
Financial Help for Artists, Musicians and Cultural Centres
In Germany, Culture minster Monika Grütters has promised cultural centres and artists government support, including “liquidity support.” That sounds encouraging. Hopefully, other countries will follow suit.
So it’s all doom and gloom then? It’s not good news for stadium acts, that’s for sure. On the other hand small venues may not be as badly affected. I think we should expect the worst, and hope for the best. If you’re a musician, use any downtime to practice as much as possible and (as ever) support your local small venues!
Has your life as a musician or concert venue owner been affected by Covid-19 so far? Have you been forced to cancel gigs or put them off until later in the year? Let us know in the comments section below.