ROUND 1: COVID-19 vs The Music Industry

by | Mar 13, 2020 | COVID-19

Every morning I’m waking up to the news of more and more gigs being cancelled. Whether its unsigned or bigger artists pulling out of shows, it’s become apparent that the music and live performance industry is taking a really powerful and unwanted hit from the corona virus.

From my point of view, all plans are still going ahead. I have gigs lined up, a TV show to film and radio program to host. So, I’ll simply be adapting the namaste (which I think looks pretty cool anyway) or elbow-bumping for the foreseeable future.

Listening to music last night, I took a glance at Twitter to see that not only had My Chemical Romance pulled out of the Australian leg of Download festival, but the actual festival itself had been cancelled. Stunned, I scrolled through twitter a little further to see that Country to Country had also postponed their dates in London, Dublin and Glasgow as a result of the virus.

After reading about these three big announcements, I took to Instagram and Facebook to ask how people thought the virus would continue affect the world of music? I had a few interesting responses. On my Facebook, a friend of mine, Julie Weir, label head for Music for Nations said ‘The impact is already there‘ adding that ‘some people may not come back from this‘. X-Factor finalist Sam Callahan reached out to me and wrote that he thought ‘more gigs would be cancelled‘ over the next few months. One interesting point of view came from an unsigned singer/songwriter Lee Bennett who said he thought we may see a rise of ‘live streaming performances‘. I suppose people do this with major sporting events, so it could be a possibility and I’d be interested to see if many other bands take this approach and how this idea evolves.

Over on my Instagram, Marcus Powell, guitarist for New Zealand based rock band ‘City of Souls’ (who are totally amazing by the way) said ‘generated revenue from live performance and merch was the last stable source of income. As a band we are discussing how we now get on people’s screens‘.  Pop singer and BMA 2020 nominee Sheddy Maria also got involved with the post on my Instagram writing ‘Right now, everything needs to be shut down. Prevent not react?’. Whereas Jaff, the drummer of Southend punk duo ‘Suspects’ took time out of the bands busy schedule to poetically state ‘we are all f*cked‘.  

So, what happens next? Honestly. I don’t know. But it is refreshing to see that Glastonbury remain all systems go for their 50th anniversary festival later in the year and plenty of other UK festivals seem to be maintaining the same approach. For festival goers this is certainly providing an optimistic light at the end of what appears to be quite a dark and lengthy tunnel. However, whilst festivals are a cause for concern, it’s the smaller and more intimate shows that could possibly take a harder knock. These home-grown and locally loved venues that capture and support the naked soul of emerging bands on a weekly basis could really feel the financial pinch, and my worry is that if large gatherings are forbidden, it could see venue owners lose their livelihood which would mean unsigned artists lose one of the last surviving pillars of support. With every fibre in my body, I hope this doesn’t happen.

How can YOU help your favourite band? If you don’t want to risk going in to a busy area of fear of contracting the virus, stream the band you’re loving as much as possible, purchase a t-shirt or buy an album if you can afford to. These little things will help an artist possibly more than you know. Other than that, I guess it’s a waiting game.

Over and out. 

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