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How Coronavirus is affecting the music industry

by Pierce King. Published Mon 09 Mar 2020 21:52, last updated: 17/03/20

Fears regarding the spread of the coronavirus are starting to have a big impact on the music industry, especially for event organisers and attendees.

As the coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, its impact is being felt by many industries. The music industry is not exempt from the ripples it has caused, especially when it comes to live performances and large-scale events.

One of the most recent festivals to be cancelled due to the rapidly spreading virus is South by Southwest (SXSW). The festival organisers announced the event was cancelled in a post on social media that stated, “The city of Austin has cancelled the March dates for SXSW and SXSW Edu. SXSW will faithfully follow the city’s directions.”

Considering the festival was expected to host 500,000 people from over 1,000 countries, many parties feared that it would make the spread of the virus worse. A petition calling for its cancellation had been launched that attracted over 50,000 signatures in a short span of time.

Although SXSW is the latest event to be cancelled, it is far from being the only one. The Ultra Music Festival in Miami has been cancelled too at the last minute due to public safety, despite initial claims that it would proceed as planned.

Numerous live music performances across the world that are facing the same issue and have either been voluntarily cancelled or compelled to do so due to government restrictions. Several governments have already issued bans on public gatherings that exceed a certain number of people, and more are likely to follow.

In Asia, K-pop band BTS recently cancelled their tour dates in Seoul, the Hong Kong Arts Festival was cancelled, and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra announced it would have no performances in February and March. In Europe the famous La Scala opera house cancelled most of its upcoming performances as well.

For now SXSW and the Ultra Music Festival are the first major US-based music festivals to be cancelled due to coronavirus fears, but they may not be the last. The upcoming Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California that is scheduled for April 10th to the 19th is facing a similar predicament.

As things stand it will proceed as planned and the Coachella organisers have yet to issue a statement. However as the date becomes closer that may yet change. The Riverside County Public Health department has the authority to shut down the festival if they feel that the risk is too great.

For any attendees of upcoming festivals who may have purchased tickets well in advance, as well as booked flights and accommodation, the uncertainty regarding whether or not the festivals will proceed makes things difficult. Many aren’t sure if they should attend the festivals even if they aren’t cancelled, or if they should stay away.

By that same token, the cities that host large festivals have been affected as well. Each festival represents millions if not billions of dollars in revenue, and cancelling them would be a big loss. At the same time proceeding with them if the risk to public health is too large would be unacceptable too.

Right now it remains a coin toss whether any upcoming live performances proceed as planned. In Betway Online’s interviews with event organizers and promoters, most appear to be adopting a ‘wait and see’ policy.
Until a cure is found or the virus spread halts, it is unlikely that the situation will get any better. If anything it is likely to get worse as the number of reported cases continue to rise.


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