The Music Industry vs. COVID-19
The entire atmosphere surrounding the COVID-19 crisis is, for the most part, a disastrous mix of information and misinformation.
However at a time where the full effect of the Coronavirus is largely unknown, that it is having an immediate impact on the entertainment industry is something that can be reported with certainty.
The scope for impact is so immense that it feels impossible to capture it accurately or completely, so perhaps the best approach is to go back to the start. Among the Government’s first measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 was the banning of all events with an expected attendance of 500 people or more.
Very soon after this announcement further restrictive measures were put in place on a Governmental level in the form of ‘social distancing’. These recommendations, despite their necessity for protecting community health, put further strain on the music industry. Many smaller venues felt the pressure to cancel their calendars of shows, with many bands and artists making the decision to voluntarily cancel in the interest of public safety, and indeed their own.
So where has this left us? We have seen the rapid cancellation of festivals, tours and many other performances across every corner of the music industry. Most recently we have seen the cancellation of Splendour In The Grass, Groovin’ The Moo, Download Festival and Byron Bay Bluesfest. After having already seen The Drop Festival, Dark Mofo, Slayfest and Unleash the Elephant Festival all cancel their events over the past few days.
Essentially we are facing months, and in reality many months, of the music industry in live lock down. For music fans this is an unhappy prospect to say the least. For artists this sudden news is devastating. The blood, sweat and tears that go into writing, recording, releasing and then touring music is massive and requires a great deal of mental and financial effort. Getting through the difficult times ahead will require a great deal more as, for the vast majority of artists, live performance revenue is their main source of income.
Sadly the mental and financial hardship imposed by COVID-19 is not limited to performers. Behind every stage of the process that a musician goes through there are countless other professionals that depend on the industry for their livelihood. Including producers, mixing and mastering engineers, booking agents, publicists, artist managers, tour managers, road crews, lighting and sound technicians as just a scratch on the surface.
In order to gain a realistic snapshot of the situation the Australian Music Industry Network in partnership with the Australian Festival Association, and other industry groups, has asked those who have lost work and income as a result of COVID-19 to report their losses. The first 48 hours of this initiative has seen approximately 20,000 gigs cancelled affecting 190,000 people’s income for a total loss of 47 million dollars.
All across the music industry people are facing loss of work for an immediate and indefinite period. The recognition of this potentially crippling financial situation has meant that many people have begun to devise ways of supporting the industry and its employees.
Many of us witnessed Tony Burke MP calling on the Government to formalise a plan for support of the arts and entertainment industry. This sentiment was echoed by Live Performance Australia’s CEO Evelyn Richardson who called for an immediate stimulus package for the industry and clarification of the projected time frame of relevant bans. As yet the Government has committed to neither.
So without firm Government assistance what can we each do to help offer support? While protecting our individual health, and the health of our wider community, is paramount there are still many ways to pitch in and help get through uncertain months ahead.
Support Act has initiated a specialised COVID-19 Emergency Appeal, in addition to the fantastic free support they already offer the industry 24 hours a day 365 days a year. This is an initiative encouraged by CrewCare Australia, an organisation devoted to supporting the behind the scenes live production professionals. You can donate here to provide a helping hand for those in the industry who need it.
In addition to this, now is the perfect time to redirect money from ticket refunds into merchandise purchases. This enables artists to continue generating an income while touring and live performances aren’t possible. This same income could potentially enable artists to continue recording and releasing music. Thereby allowing revenue to flow down channels of the music industry that would otherwise remain dry.
And of course, when we come through the dark time ahead and find ourselves in the bright sunshine of a Coronavirus free future, make sure you get out there and make up for lost time by attending as many local, national and international touring shows as possible!
If you or someone you know within the industry is doing it tough mentally or financially you can find help via Support Act.
Image Credit: The Australian Music Industry Network & Live Performance Australia