The impact on music festivals from Coronavirus in 2020

For anyone who loves the festival season – definitely us – 2020 has been a very sad year for live music, but just how deep is the impact of the global shutdowns?

The heat of Summer is here and whilst we should be sat in a field sipping from tins and laughing with friends with the backdrop of nearby bands taking to the stage – unfortunately the Coronavirus, which I don’t think anyone needs catching up on, has scuppered any big festival plans.

Pretty much all of the festivals around the world have either been postponed or fully cancelled for the year. We’re all experiencing the sadness of missing our favourite festivals but I think we can all understand and accept the decisions made. But how is it affecting the music industry, festival organisers, and artists themselves?

A new report from Viberate, who provided us with the great resource Sick Festivals earlier in the year to track the status of festivals, looks into just this impact.

They’ve found that more than 750 festivals have been hit by the effects of Coronavirus shutdowns worldwide. Remarkably, the country who seems to have had the most festivals affected is the Netherlands. With 121 festivals feeling the effects of Coronavirus they were hit worse than the UK and the US, with 86 and 90 festivals reported to be affected respectively.

July was supposed to be the busiest month and would have seen the peak of the year’s festivals however the report from Viberate shows that festivals planned for between March and May were the worst hit. This is because the effects were still fresh and they sadly had little time to prepare.

Overall, the predicted impact of 2020’s unfortunate festival shutdown is predicted to have a $16.8 billion direct economic impact around the world. This includes ticket sales but also merchandising, food and drink, and other businesses based in festivals. The loss of ticket sales is predicted to $5.1 billion with 13.2 million fans unable to go to festivals.

This is a clear representation of how massive the losses are for everyone involved in the festival industry. It is clear that organisers, the musicians, and the people who work elsewhere at festivals – like food vans – need support with these damning losses.

It’s not just a simple case of festivals and event organisers cancelling for the year and delaying until next year. Huge losses have been seen and for many organisers it may be fatal. The UK’s Glastonbury festival organisers, one of the world’s most renowned festivals, have warned that if the effects continue through to next year they wouldn’t survive another postponement.

The WHO have warned that the worst may still be yet to come with the fallout of this global pandemic. If large events are still in such a questionable position next year it could be truly disastrous to an industry which is already struggling under the effects of what is essentially a write-off year for them.

For the full report from Viberate on the impact of Coronavirus on festivals around the world head here.

Glastonbury festival warns they’ll “seriously go bankrupt” if they cancel 2021

2020 has been a devastating year for live music and festivals around the globe and a world favourite warns that a repeat could kill their livelihood.

It’s been a circular news cycle the past few months of seeing waves of gigs and festivals shut down for the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Glastonbury, the huge and beloved UK festival, was among the first to cancel their plans for the year back in March.

As with most cancelled festivals, like Coachella in the US, Glastonbury decided to write off this year and set a triumphant return for next year. But with the global situation still up in the air and the WHO warning the worst could still be yet to come with inevitable “second spikes” even the distant dates of 2021’s festival season is up in the air.

Glastonbury organisers, Michael and Emily Eavis, have said that if they’re forced to cancel again next year they will go bankrupt. This is telling for the thousands of smaller festivals and independent venues around the world facing similar struggles over the shutdown of live music and events if even this globally renowned festival could see it’s end with one more cancellation.

They explained that there are reserves to cover it for this year but they haven’t got the funds to handle two in a row. Michael told the Guardian: “We have to run next year, otherwise we would seriously go bankrupt. It has to happen for us, we have to carry on. Otherwise it will be curtains. I don’t think we could wait another year.”

In the UK, license fees for cancelled events haven’t been refunded to organisers which has had a huge impact on events organisers instability. Emily Eavis adds that those refunds “would offer a financial lifeline to many events.”

She says of their uncertainty: “We’ve navigated choppy waters so many times. This festival has always evolved and found ways to survive and I’m confident that we will again.”

It was Glastonbury’s half a century anniversary last weekend. In celebration the BBC brought Glastonbury to the homes of people around the country to tune in for 5 nights of the best sets over the years featuring David Bowie, Beyoncé, Adele, RadioHead, and many more.

UK lockdown easing: What happens next for music venues?

The UK government have announced changes to lockdown next month which will see pubs and restaurants re-open but no news for venues.

From July 4th restaurants, cinemas, pubs, galleries, hotels and hairdressers will be allowed to re-open across the UK. Unfortunately (although perhaps for the best) venues and live performances are not yet in the plans for re-openings across the UK.

Whilst theatres and concerts halls have guidance on re-opening they won’t be allowed to put on live musical performances. They will be permitted to host recorded performances with limited audience capacities but there are reportedly “risks associated with singing” and social distancing in putting on full performances.

The problem with concerts and live performances is that they’re famously a crowded affair and there is still an emphasis on social distancing even with the re-opening of other industries. However, many venues and artists are looking to the government for clarification on when they will be able to return and earn money again.

UK Music’s acting CEO, Tom Kiehl said: “While it’s welcome news that social guidelines are being eased for other sectors, many parts of the music industry are still urgently awaiting clarity from the government.

“Thousands of people who work in the music industry, which generates £5.2 billion a year for the UK economy, are struggling to survive and many businesses will go to the wall unless we get the vital support needed to get the music business back on its feet.”

Among the musical body’s requests to help re-ignite the music industry is the call for VAT relief on ticket sales, potentially saving £300 million over the course of a year.

Kiehl adds: “The absence of live music has left a huge hole in the lives of millions of music lovers and temporarily deprived tens of thousands of people of the (sic) livelihoods. We need to move towards a place where we can once again let the music play.”

The Music Venue Trust found that, if they were to operate a 2-metre social distancing system for any concerts, only 13% of their venues would be able to operate.

Are you going to Glastonbury this weekend? Tune in from home

We’re all missing festivals right? The season is upon us and everything is shut down. Well thankfully, Glastonbury is here all weekend long and you can tune in now!

The good ol’ BBC are here to lift our festival funk out of the mud and bring us an unmatched line-up of amazing performances from over the years so you can tune in from home.

Starting today and going all the way through to Monday evening on the 29th you can tune on on the BBC iPlayer website and catch artists like Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Radiohead, Billie Eilish, Adele, David Bowie, Blur, and many, many more of the world’s hugest artists!

There’s a full line-up below so you can get ready for your favourite artists, crack open some tinnies, and bring the festival spirit to your living room.

Tune in on BBC’s Glastonbury iPlayer page this weekend from now.

Live Nation announce cuts to artist fees as gigs return; artists called them out and now they’re backtracking

Live Nation felt the anger of artists earlier this month after announcing they’d cut their fees whilst expecting them to perform as usual.

It’s going to be a difficult transition as we return to some level of normality after months of shutdowns, particularly in the events industry. Live Nation’s solution to their loss of income was to take it from the artists – a move that has understandably had a huge backlash on them.

Their “exploitative” plan was to cut artists fees by 20% whilst pushing them to face the risks of performing because they need income. They also had terms in place that meant artists would receive no fee in the event of more cancellations due to a second spike or further social distancing rules.

A bunch of artists took their complaints to Congress saying that Live Nation were exercising “monopolistic behaviour” in their terms for artists returning to play concerts. Live Nation’s announcements also said that if the artist cancelled a performance they would owe the promoter 200% of their original fee, regardless of reasoning.

Live Nation’s founder and co-president has clarified some of the terms they had proposed and gone back on the most controversial. Charles Attal said that the latter point where artists would be required to pay promoters 200% of their fee upon cancellation has been wiped from their contracts.

In regards to the 20% reduction in artist fees, Attal explains that their is space for artists fees to be increased based on the success of festivals. They’re hoping at Live Nation that the success of festivals next year will in fact mean that artists ultimately earn more than they did in 2019 – though this of course is hugely subject to chance.

Of course it’s hard to predict what the future holds for COVID, lockdown, and how we will be able to re-open industries and gatherings. It could all change at any moment again so Live Nation say they’re keeping their discussions “fluid” and will hopefully keep an ear to what artists are saying about any proposed policies.

Over 3/4 of a million people paid to watch BTS livestream a concert last week

With all of their concerts cancelled for the foreseeable future BTS took to the web to HUGE success.

Over 750,000 people tuned in to watch BTS’s ‘Bang Bang Con The Live’, their livestreamed online performance. That’s a huge amount of people tuning into a digital concert but what makes it even more spectacular is that it was a paid concert!

Every attendee of the South Korean boy band’s gig paid entry – costing around 29k won or $24 for BTS fan club members and more for others. Assuming each attendant paid for entry to the gig that’s at least $18.1 million in ticket sales.

Big Hit Entertainment, BTS’ label said: “This was the largest paid online concert to be held in the world. Even though the performing arts industry is struggling during COVID-19, BTS has opened up new possibilities through this online performance.”

Whilst many artists have taken to the web to perform with gigs off the table for the foreseeable future – BTS have now set a precedent as to what artists can do for their fans through livestreamed concerts.

Coachella and Stagecoach are now offering full refunds for 2020

After 2 of the US’ biggest festivals cancelled any 2020 plans they’re offering customers a ticket to next year or limited time refunds.

Last week festival organisers announced the plans for Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals. The two large US festivals had been on hold with hopes to postpone from their original dates to later this year but they’ve officially stated that both festivals will return next year instead.

They are offering would-be attendees a full refund for their tickets for 30 days from the receiving of an email they should have sent out by now. However, if ticket-holders don’t respond within 30 days from receiving their email they will be automatically have their passes transferred to the 2021 events.

Coachella has been booked next or April 9th to 11th and then April 16th to the 18th for the two-weekend festival. Stagecoach will return next year on April 23rd until April 25th.

It seems that many ticket-holders are going to request a full refund but it raises the question of what will happen to those who don’t see the email within 30 days of receiving it. This is of course hoping that next April we are in a position where we can safely and confidently put on events with large gatherings again as well.

Coachella festival announces plans for a return

Along with Stagecoach Music Festival, Coachella have announced their return after cancelling this years festivals due to COVID-19.

Coachella will be returning next year – at least, that’s the plan for now. They had originally rescheduled the festival from April to October but with the ongoing issues stemming from the Coronavirus pandemic the possibility of any large gatherings are small – at least for those concerned about health and safety.

They announced this week that any plans for 2020 are now officially cancelled. Riverside Public Health Officer, Dr. Cameron Kaiser said: “I am concerned as indications grow that COVID-19 could worsen in the fall. I would not be comfortable moving forward.”

He added: “These decisions are not taken lightly with the knowledge that many people will be impacted. My first priority is the health of the community. My first priority is the health of the community.”

Stagecoach, the country music festival, has also now announced that it won’t be taking place this year and is hoping to return in 2021 instead. It’s the first year since 2000 that Coachella hasn’t taken place and the festival has become notable as one of the largest in the world with one of the most astonishingly large and notable set lists.

Spotify’s tips for artists livestreaming from home

Home concerts are becoming the standard with a lack of real gigs, so make sure yours are good as they can be.

Venues shut and fans stuck at home? That’s not stopping artists around the world playing gigs for their supporters. We live in a connected age which is blessedly keeping us all together through this. If you’re looking to join the home concert hype then make sure you look and sound as great as you can performing from home.

Spotify have shared some great advice for people, getting details from some adept with adapting to this new lack of concerts and festivals.

There are tips how to turn your devices like phones and tablets into external webcams for your computer using OBS Studio. Meaning you can use your audio interface for quality sound whilst adding video if you lack a webcam.

Cloud Cult frontman Craig Minowa shares how he positions microphones to get a good sound that feels personal and comfy. Meanwhile DJ Mel has tips on how to livestream your electronic set from a living room and still drum up the energy and feeling of a set in a club.

Then pianist and songwriter Julian Velard has some advice, from his personal testimony of having to entirely learn livestreaming from scratch when everything kicked off recently. He now provides intimate piano performances and makes the most of the limited equipment to hand.

Find the great tips and advice for musicians and artists streaming at home here.

Ticketmaster listens to disgruntled fans, allows refunds on postponed shows

Ticketmaster have reversed on their policy regarding COVID cancellations after meeting the ire of hundreds-of-thousands of customers.

The live events industry has been hit hard by the current situation, with all concerts, shows, and performances cancelled or postponed for the foreseeable future. Whilst we all of course empathise with artists, performers and venues – ticket companies have a reputation for being unfavourable.

Which makes their decisions at this time all the more difficult. Do they try to recoup their business by postponing shows and offering vouchers for future events to respond to the thousands of tickets they’ve sold for now-cancelled shows, surely meeting the angst of ticket-holders who want their money back in these difficult and uncertain times.

Or do they save face with their customers, maintaining or even bolstering their reputation, and offer full refunds for tickets as many are requesting but at the cost of millions or more in their own revenue which will challenge their ability to continue in these uncertain and devoid-of-profit times.

Well the renowned (for many reasons…) ticketing company Ticketmaster have changed tack from the first position to offer refunds. Originally they told fans who had bought tickets for events using their company that unless their show was outright cancelled they couldn’t get a refund. In fact, they sneakily changed their policy so that refunds only applied to cancelled shows.

Roughly 20,000 shows that would have taken place through to July have been postponed rather than cancelled. This left a huge number of ticketholders with tickets they no longer wanted or didn’t know if they could attend with Ticketmaster refusing to refund them.

Of course, people rallied together and, with the backing of members in the U.S. Congress and hundreds of thousands of furious fans, Ticketmaster have announced they will now offer refunds for postponed shows as well. However, the policy hasn’t changed for shows from August 1st for which they want to wait until a nearer date before confirming anything.

Ticketmaster are likely hoping that they’ll avoid the fate that met StubHub earlier this month, who are facing a lawsuit for refusing to refund tickets. Elsewhere, live events companies are rushing to cut costs and recoup their losses with months of inactivity and no business.

Live Nation are looking to cut $250 million in expenses and their CEO has taken a 100% pay cut for the year to help achieve that. It all now depends on just how long these lockdown measures need to remain in place as to what the next moves these businesses take, and if they’re able to survive the fallout of this global pandemic.