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Covid-19 news in brief: 30 March–3 April

Updated daily, a rolling list of coronavirus-related live music industry news and goings-on you might have missed

By IQ on 30 Mar 2020

The postponed Estéreo Picnic is marking its original dates with a streaming festival

The postponed Estéreo Picnic is marking its original dates with a streaming festival

image © @festereopicnic/Instagram


Friday 3 April

Rock in Rio Lisbon 2020 cancelled
Rock in Rio has postponed its ninth visit to Lisbon, due to take place this June, to 19–20 and 26–27 June 2021.

Any tickets already purchased for this summer’s event will remain valid for 2021, and day ticket purchasers have the option to choose their preferred dates when the full line-up is revealed.

In a statement, Rock in Rio Lisbon vice-president Roberta Medina emphasises Rock in Rio’s ‘firm commitment to keep Europe smiling’, telling fans: “It is through smiling together [that] we will enjoy music, entertainment and culture again in the near future”.

Arctic Monkeys, the 1975 play Estéreo Picnic from home
Colombia’s Estéreo Picnic festival, which has been postponed to December 2020, is marking its original dates (3–5 April) with an online streaming event, dubbed #UnMundoDistintoEnCasa (#ADifferentWorldAtHome).

#UnMundoDistintoEnCasa will see artists including Arctic Monkeys, Sam Smith, Interpol, Rüfüs du Sol, Years and Years, Tiësto and the 1975 performing live from their homes, reports El Tiempo, with fans able to register to ‘attend’ via their Facebook on Google accounts on the festival website.

Estéreo Picnic 2020, headlined by Guns N ‘Roses, the Chemical Brothers, the Strokes and Wu-Tang Clan, takes place from 4 to 6 December at the Briceño 18 golf course in Bogota.

United We Stream Berlin raises €300k
United We Stream, Berlin Club Commission’s 24-hour ‘virtual club’, has raised around €330,000 for Berlin’s nightclubs in the past two weeks, Musik Woche reports.

The initiative, since copied in Manchester (see Monday), has so far racked up more than five million streams, with many fans buying ‘virtual tickets’ to support the shuttered venues.

Other cities reportedly interested in hosting their own United We Stream events include Vienna, Amsterdam and Munich.


Thursday 2 April

EMI announces three-day Lockdown Live fest
Vivendi’s Virgin EMI Records has announced Lockdown Live, a three-day online music festival featuring 32 of the label’s artists.

Running from this Friday to Sunday (3–5 April), the livestreamed festival features Alessia Cara, Tori Kelly, the Vamps, SG Lewis and more, and aims to raise money for Global Citizen’s Covid-19 ‘solidarity response fund’.

The event will be split across three virtual ‘stages’: the pop-themed Rhapsody stage on Friday, the alternative Fools’ Gold stage on Saturday and the urban-themed Encore stage on Sunday.

Events, venues, festivals and crowded space webinar
Mind Over Matter Consultancy (MOM) is staging a free online webinar with European venue and festival personnel this Friday (3 April).

The WebEx workshop will focus on the effect of the coronavirus on participants’ workstreams, programmes and futures. Speakers are the O2 Arena’s Danielle Kennedy Clark, Wembley Stadium’s Liam Boyland, Paleo Festival’s Pascal Viot, Roskilde Festival’s Morten Therkildsen and the Roundhouse (London)’s Sam Oldham.

To learn more, go to the Mind Over Matter website.

Sony Corp announces $100m Covid-19 fund
Japan’s Sony Corporation has launched a US$100 million fund to support people affected by the coronavirus worldwide.

With the fund, Tokyo-based Sony – whose subsidiaries include Sony Music Group, which, in addition to a record label, owns venues across Japan and UK promoter Senbla – says it will provide assistance for first responders, support for children and their teachers, and aid for members of the entertainment community.

“In order to overcome the unprecedented challenges that as a society we now face around the world, we will do all we can as a global company to support the individuals on the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19, the children who are our future, and those who have been impacted in the creative community,” says Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida, according to MBW.


Wednesday 1 April

Rick Astley to play free show for health workers
SJM Concerts has announced a free Rick Astley concert for all UK National Health Service (NHS) frontline staff, primary care workers and other ‘blue-light’ staff on Wednesday 28 October 2020 at Manchester Arena (21,000-cap.).

“Our NHS and emergency services are amazing. This concert is a thank you to all those fantastic frontline staff,” says Astley. “I promise my band and I will give it everything to give you a great night out.”

Tickets will be limited to two per person (eligible staff plus one guest) and go on sale tomorrow (2 April) at 7pm via Ticketmaster.

Esports events continue unabated
Despite wreaking havoc on traditional sporting events, coronavirus has left esports largely untouched, with competitive videogaming living “on in the age of social distancing”, reports Time.

“Sports are out and something needs to fill that void,” says Chance ‘Maux’ Moncivaez, who plays Call of Duty: Modern Warfare on the Florida Mutineers, an esports team. “I think esports is perfect to fill that void because of the ability to play online competitions.”

According to Time, viewership on Twitch, the go-to site for game streamers, is up 31% in March, by one estimate, as people stuck inside play – and watch – more video games.

DanceSafe introduces at-home harm reduction
Denver-based charity DanceSafe has launched Party in Place, an at-home harm-reduction initiative that seeks to address the impact of Covid-19 on the electronic music community.

Party in Place will focus on social distancing, mental and emotional health, and harm reduction for people who use drugs during “this unprecedented time”, explains DanceSafe founder Emanuel Sferios.

“It is incumbent upon each of us, as individuals, to do the right thing to protect our communities,” says Ferios. “And this means staying home and only going out when necessary (groceries, laundry, emergency medical needs). […] Remember, this isn’t just about protecting yourself; it’s also about protecting others.”

MM Band Services offers coaches to NHS staff
MM Band Services, a Hull-based provider of coaches for touring artists, is offering its 15 sleeper buses for the use of NHS staff across the UK.

In a tweet, Ian McCoid, MM’s national sales manager, explains: “We have 15 sleeper buses with 16 beds on each available for NHS staff anywhere in the UK for accommodation or office/admin/welfare areas.”

McCoid can be reached on [email protected],+44 01964 563 464 or +44 7376 383 485 (mobile).


Tuesday 31 March

Buma Stemra brings forward payments
Dutch copyright collection society Buma/Stemra will bring forward its payment date for 2019 performance royalties, from September to April–May 2020, to ease pressure on musicians.

The move means Dutch artists will receive a collective €12 million three months earlier. Buma/Stemra is also making available a €2.75m emergency fund for members who are struggling.

Buma/Stemra chairman Bernard Kobes tells NRC: “When prime minister [Mark] Rutte three weeks ago announced he had to close restaurants and nightlife, a significant portion of our revenue dried up in the space of half an hour. The emergency fund is really meant to help smaller composers who are in acute trouble due to the sudden disappearance of much of their income.”

Tokyo gov. says venues spreading infection
Yuriko Koike, the governor of Tokyo, has pointed the finger at music venues, bars and nightclubs amid a spike in infections in the Japanese capital.

At a press conference yesterday, Koike said Tokyo’s small venues, many of which have floor space of less than 10m², are breeding grounds for coronavirus, reports AFP. The criticism follows a previous intervention from Labyrinth festival promoter Mindgames, which urged Japanese venues to close.

Japan, which still has fewer than 2,000 cases of Covid-19, has yet to issue any stay-at-home (lockdown) orders, and most venues and places of entertainment remain open.

Podcast downloads down 10%
Podcast listening, surprisingly, appears to be trending down while people are self-isolating.

According to WWD (via Music Ally), “downloads in the space overall have dropped about 10 percent since the start of March” while “total unique listeners also dropped roughly 20 percent in the same time frame”

In the last week alone, meanwhile, “the entire American audience for podcasts fell 8% after declining 2% the week prior”, indicating, perhaps, that podcasts better suit commuting than sitting at home.


Monday 30 March

Big three Oz promoters form corona taskforce
Australia’s three biggest live companies have formed a music promoters’ taskforce to call for government aid for small- and medium-sized businesses during the coronavirus shutdown.

In a letter to Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, Roger Field, CEO of Live Nation Australasia, Geoff Jones, CEO of TEG, and Dion Brant and Susan Heymann, COO and MD, respectively, of Frontier Touring/Chugg Entertainment, say that while they “fully support the government’s ban on mass gatherings from a public health perspective”, the measures have hit the live sector particularly hard.

“This is not a letter asking for an industry package to support our own businesses,” write the four (although they stress that “overnight, we lost all revenue for at least the next six months”), “but for the people and businesses that we are unable to support during this time”.

They add: “As industry leaders we want to ensure the survival of the many small and medium-sized businesses that support our industry, so that we can continue to make a significant contribution to the Australian economy when we eventually emerge from this crisis.”

Leading UK venues to become hospitals
A number of music venues in the UK are being converted into temporary field hospitals, joining the ExCel Centre in London, Madrid’s Ifema and many other arenas, conference centres and large venues around the world.

Manchester’s 190,000-square-foot Central Convention Centre, Birmingham’s 15,685-capacity National Exhibition Centre (NEC), Glasgow’s Scottish Events Campus Centre (SECC) and the 74,500-seat Principality Stadium in Wales will all serve as hospitals.

The venues will accommodate between 1,000 and 5,000 hospital beds each, adding to ExCel’s 4,000.

Midem 2020 cancelled
The 2020 edition of music industry conference Midem has been cancelled. The event, scheduled to take place from 2 to 4 June in Cannes, France, will this year take the form of a digital conference, with livestreamed keynote sessions, talks, presentations and online speed meetings.

“In the rapidly-evolving context and with the various government guidelines on travel, public gatherings and home confinement, coupled with companies’ concerns for their staff, holding Midem in June is simply not possible,” comments Midem director Alexandre Deniot.

Midem is among a number of industry conferences to cancel or postpone because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The conference will return in its normal capacity from 1 to 4 June 2021.

Music Venue Trust’s £1m call to action
The UK’s Music Venue Trust has called on the music industry, the cultural sector and the UK’s most successful musicians to come together to create a £1 million ‘fighting fund’ to prevent the permanent closure of hundreds of grassroots music venues.

The Grassroots Music Venue Crisis Fund (GMVCF) will, says the association, give MVT the funding it needs to place its existing Emergency Response service on a crisis footing amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Last year, Emergency Response Service prevented 91 closures in 12 months.

Donations to the Grassroots Music Venue Crisis Fund can be arranged by contacting Beverley Whitrick on [email protected] or +44 (0)7809 155 388.

United We Stream expands to Manchester
Following Berlin’s example, Manchester, UK, has announced plans for its own ‘United We Stream’ initiative, with venues across the city, as well as artists’ homes and gardens, set to livestream music and other live performances every evening.

Launching next week at, it is hoped United We Stream will benefit the city’s dormant night-time economy. The streams are free, but fans will be encouraged to make a donation in the form of a ‘virtual ticket’.

“I want to keep our vibrant music and entertainment scene active”, says Greater Manchester’s night czar, Sacha Lord. “Over the last few weeks, I have been contacted by many grassroots venues, bar owners, artists and freelancers, and the main thing I’ve heard is how difficult this period is and will be for them. Many of them are in dire financial straits and at risk of never recovering.

“Together with the GMCA [Greater Manchester Combined Authority], we have been working hard to create opportunities and hope for these people, and I am delighted to confirm that what started as an idea last week is now about to come to fruition.”


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