COVID-19 & the Entertainment Industry

night riots
© Alisson Nilsson // www.plugin-mag.com

WHAT IS COVID-19?

We are not a science magazine, so of course you are not going to actually learn about the disease here, however, just to sum up – it’s important to keep the essentials in mind – COVID19, commonly known as “Coronavirus” these days is a virus, responsible for the current pandemic we are living, as declared by the World Heath Organization (WHO) on March 12th, 2020.

Pandemic refers to an infectious epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people and enough to become a global issue. As of now, COVID-19 is present on all of the continents, with 267,000 confirmed cases and 11,201 deaths worldwide.
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Basically, the World is shutting down, as we speak. With thousands of confirmed cases every day and casualties multiplying, governments are one by one taking unprecedented measures in order to try and slow down the spread of this invisible enemy. It started with the ban of big gatherings, then the scope narrowed, until we realised (or started listening to doctors and scientists) that the only way to get rid of this mess is to prevent people from moving around and being in contact with each other, as this virus is extremely contagious. Not knowing exactly all of COVID-19’s attributes or having a known cure to prevent it doesn’t help either.
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As a result, most of the borders around the World are currently closing, while entire populations are told to stay at home, confined and urged to NOT go out, unless it is necessary. Needless to say, the whole economy is globally collapsing and everyone’s dreading the aftermath.
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WHY IT IS BAD FOR THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY`

Coronavirus, COVID-19, The word is scary as it is unknown and the consequences for the live industry can be really tough. While drowning under a constant stream of information, we have started to figure out what this all means to the entertainment industry. Spoiler: It is terrible..

Due to the unpredictable and uncertain nature of the virus, it was very difficult to anticipate and take appropriate measures in reasonable time. Plus, the different contexts in each area make it even more difficult to coordinate all the efforts and each situation must be taken care of differently. Therefore, the outbreak of this virus is scary for the live music business especially.
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On the one end, there’s us, the people, the consumers, who like to enjoy gigs and concerts every other day. Yes, it is slightly annoying to see all of these events you are looking forward getting cancelled one by one. Even more so, when, as many of us do, travels are involved, leaving us with uncertainty and – more often than not- travel costs left at doubt. But before you start crying over the fact that life is unfair as it’s taking away from you your dearest concerts, let’s not forget that there is a whole world actually suffering severe consequences.
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What we see is that shows and music events are cancelled one by one. But what truly happens is that it directly affects people’s jobs, which is extremely dreadful. At best, day to day activities for some have just become a complete mess, in so far as projects that took months to organize and complete are completely compromised now. A lot of time, energy, work and money put in there just seems to fade away in the blink of an eye. Also think about all the people whose jobs are literally to run the shows: they see their jobs literally disappear, with absolutely no certitude for the near future whatsoever. For instance, France recently issued the chilling numbers for this industry that was already struggling: around 38,000 jobs are threatened, as we speak.
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      “It’s a lot to handle, it’s exceptional but terrible circumstances, so things can move quickly. What can be a good solution today, might not be happening tomorrow. That’s a real issue as we keep postponing/canceling shows and now record releases day after day all around the country”, tells us Roxy, who works in show promotion.
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    “Beyond the concerts concerned by the governments’ measures, we notice that everyone is terrified (…) not knowing what the future is made of. On our side everybody’s trying their best to keep people informed as much as possible but sadly, we do not have control over everything.”
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This time of the year is especially crucial since festival season is approaching fast and seems already compromised. So far, many festivals and big gatherings such as SXSW and Coachella in the US have been either cancelled or postponed. SXSW alone laid off a third of its full time employees. In Europe, Glastonbury festival has announced its cancellation, due to uncertainty earlier this week, estimating the financial blow up to £100m.
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First in the line are independant workers, left with no job and therefore no income. It’s the roadies and the techs, the security and the freight companies that are all affected. And of course independant artists. The latters often put a good portion of their savings ahead of big tours, supporting new releases. A time known in the field as already difficult under normal circumstances. They do therefore rely on tours to cover the advanced money and debts. Many of them, as well as “behind the scenes” workers actually rely on these tours to make a living, as they do not have a fixed income coming to the bank every month. As for the said artists, let’s not forget that most of an artist revenue comes from music sales, merch and live performances. Cutting out these sources is dramatic, not only for them but for their entire ecosystem.
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However even in this crisis, live music professionals (artists, promoters, managements, venues, etc.) are still trying to do their best to support each other and get the best out of a terrible situation. It’s the whole business that is suffering from such measures as this is just the tip of the iceberg. If consequences will be noticed on the long run, each party understands how we’re all in this together.

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WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?

  • The easiest answer is to buy the music and buy merch! Try to find ways to do so that would go straight to the artists’ wallet, the less intermediates, the more money in your favorite band’s pockets.

    some ideas: 

–  Resolve have put up their upcoming (now cancelled) tour merch online, same goes for Lotus Eater.
Creative Crisis Collective: a group of bands, including With Confidence, The Faim, Roam, Holding Absence and a few more released merch to support bands and crews through these difficult times.

  • Keep an eye on the efforts companies and/or organizations, non-profits, etc. are putting  together at the moment (eg: fundraisers, flash sales and other operations…) This weekend, Bandcamp is waiving its revenue with 100% of music sales going directly to the artists.
  • Donate! You will notice many artists hosting sessions on Twitch and such. Some of them are open to donations if you feel you can do so. Get in touch with your local music venues and small promoters and ask how you can help.
  • If you can afford it, do not ask for refunds to your tickets, especially with your small local promoters. Their losses are already huge and this can make a difference.
  • Similarly, had you planned a budget for a canceled event? Consider re-allocating a portion of it into what’s mentioned the above.
  • Share people’s work and spread the word about your favorite artists.
You don’t have to spend all of your money, but every little bit counts and can make the difference. Support at your scale!
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YOUR FAVORITE ARTISTS WILL KEEP YOU ENTERTAINED NO MATTER WHAT

Helping them is the least you can do, since they’re always here for you. You can already see it, while everyone is practising self isolation/social distancing or simply confined at home, many artists and collectives are starting to find alternatives to them not being able to perform and tour anymore.
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Here’s a list of all the upcoming digital music gatherings you can check out in the next few days:
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  • The Boatless Booze Cruise (Molina Galore, Makewar, Ratboys, Pity Party, The Hard Aches and many others) – 22/3/20, livestreams + fundraising;
  • Isolaid Festival (Stella Donnelly, LANKS, Didirri, Bakers Eddy, Columbus, Emma Russack, Ro, Yours Truly, Clews and many others) – 21-22/3, livestreams (AUS times) + fundraising;
  • Alone together fest (Palmist, Sunsleeper, Pronoun, Future Teens, Whale Bones…) – 21-22/3/20 (US time);
  • Quarantine Karaoke, hosted by BBC1’s Jack Saunders on Instagram, with the likes of Miles Kane, Kieran Shudall, Lauv and more;
  • Distant together (Camp Cope, Slingshot Dakota, Rosie Tucker…) – 24/3/20;
  • Many, many other artists from Anthony Green, to Hozier (in collaboration with WHO), to John Legend, to Death Cab for Cutie, do perform a few songs live on the Internet these days, so you better keep an eye on your social networks and mark your agenda!

FINAL THOUGHTS

We know this is all you’ve been hearing these days but really:
  • Stay at home
  • Be aware
  • Be responsible
  • Stay safe and follow the guidelines
Each country has its own emergency landlines and we strongly recommend you to keep yours close. Stay alert and be smart.
We’re all in this together and we’ll hopefully make it through.
Words: Roxy & Mary
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Reliable sources:
Look after yourself and your mental health:

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