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Covid-19 news in brief: 23–27 March

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

By IQ on 23 Mar 2020

Vampire Weekend were to have headlined Governors Ball 2020

image © Taylor Hill/Governors Ball Music Festival 2014


Friday 26 March

Major UK festivals axed
Coronavirus laid its claim to three UK festival favourites today, as organisers of All Points East, Lovebox and Parklife announced the 2020 editions would not go ahead.

All Points East promoter AEG Presents said “there was simply no alternative” to calling off the event, which was due to take place across two weekend in May in London’s Victoria Park. Refunds will be issued.

Fellow London festival, Lovebox, was also cancelled, with organiser Mama festivals saying “it’s simply not possible for this year’s festival to go ahead”. The festival was set to take place from 12 to 14 June in London’s Gunnersbury park with acts including Tyler the Creator, Disclosure and Khalid.

Manchester’s Parklife Festival, scheduled for the same weekend as Lovebox, is another to announce its cancellation. The festival was set to feature acts such as Jorja Smith, Hot Chip, Robyn Anderson Paak, Nina Kraviz, Four Tet and Peggy Gou.

Tickets for both Lovebox and Parklife will remain valid for the 2021 events or will be refunded.

The festivals add to a growing number of key UK festivals to fall foul to coronavirus, following yesterday’s cancellation of Download and Isle of Wight festivals, and last week’s loss of Glastonbury Festival.

The O2 lights it blue
In support of the #LightItBlue campaign, the O2 in London last night illuminated a message of thanks to National Health Service (NHS) workers for their work during the coronavirus crisis.

#LightItBlue at the O2

Governors Ball 2020 cancels
New York’s Governors Ball festival, scheduled for 5–7 June 2020, has been called off.

Among the artists due to perform at the event, part of the Live Nation portfolio, were Vampire Weekend, Tame Impala, Stevie Nicks, Missy Elliott, Solange, Miley Cyrus and Carly Rae Jepsen.

“It is with a heavy heart that we must announce the cancellation of Governors Ball 2020 due to Covid-19,” reads a statement from organisers.

“Simply put, due to current government mandates and the evolving situation in NYC, it is neither safe nor prudent to move forward with our June dates. The well-being of our fans, artists, staff, vendors, partners, and the surrounding NYC community is always our #1 priority.”

Lollapalooza Chile comes home
With Lollapalooza Chile, originally scheduled to begin today (27 March), postponed until November, organiser Lotus Productions has announced an online festival, Lolla at Home (Lolla en Casa), for its original dates.

Broadcast via Lolla Chile’s Instagram account, Lolla en Casa will feature artists performing from their homes from noon to 9pm on Friday 27, Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 March.


Thursday 25 March

MJF releases 50+ digital shows, as line-up announce postponed
Montreux Jazz Festival has made available more than 50 concerts from its 54-year history to stream online, free of charge. The performances, 35 of which are also available on streaming video service Qello, include James Brown (1981), Nina Simone (1976), Johnny Cash (1994) and Run-DMC (2001).

The release, by Montreux Media Ventures, comes as the venerable Swiss festivals postpones its first line-up announcement “due to the exceptional circumstances all are currently facing”, though organisers intend to push ahead with the festival on 3–18 July 2020.

View the historic concerts on the Montreux Jazz website.

Endeavor lays off 250 non-agents
WME parent company Endeavor has laid off around 250 staff who cannot work remotely, including gardeners, restaurant staff and temporary postroom workers, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

In a companywide memo sent yesterday (25 March), Endeavor CEO Ariel Emanuel said “additional measures” would take place that would affect both pay and employment across the 7,500-person company, including Emanuel and executive chairman Patrick Whitesell giving up their 2020 salaries.

So far no agents have lost their jobs, though “every option is on the table right now”, according to a source.

The move comes as staff at other Hollywood agencies UTA agree to take pay cuts (see Tuesday) and Paradigm reportedly lays off more than 100 staff (see Monday).

Spain’s La Liga announces online charity fest
Alejandro Sanz, Juanes, Aitana, David Bisbal and Antonio Orozco are among the 20 artists that will take part in #LaLigaSantanderFest, Spain’s first online coronavirus ‘solidarity festival’.

The virtual event will be held on Sunday 28 March at 6pm local time, with the proceeds used to buy medical supplies to fight the spread of Covid-19.

The festival will also feature 20 players from La Liga Santander, Spain’s highest football league.


Wednesday 25 March

Sofar pays artists for cancelled shows
Sofar Sounds, which stages shows in living rooms and other non-traditional small venues, says artists will be paid as normal, despite Sofar being forced to suspend all its shows earlier this month.

“Our whole focus right now is in how we can support artists and give them a broader stage to engage with an audience and with each other,” the company’s CEO, Jim Lucchese tells Rolling Stone, adding that it will introduce online ‘listening rooms’ with livestreamed performances, video premieres and conversations with musicians.

Lucchese has also announced a ‘global artist fund’, with an initial goal of US$250,000, to support out-of-work musicians.

Songkick introduces livestreamed concerts
As online video streaming continues to grow in popularity, concert discovery platform Songkick has introduced a new livestreams page, described as “a one-stop shop for every online concert from your favourite artists”.

“The show must go on, right? We’re still as dedicated as ever to helping music fans (that’s you!) see their favourite artists perform live,” the company says in an email to its mailing list. “To that end, say hi to live-stream concerts on Songkick.”

Upcoming streams include Benny Benassi, Grouplove and Robyn Hitchcock today (25 March) and Songe, Richard Marx, Charlotte Cardin and Big Freedia later this week.

Buy a #VirtualPint for indie venues
#VirtualPint, a new fundraising initiative helping fans to support UK music venues, theatres and pubs, has launched in response to the challenge faced by venues during the coronavirus pandemic.

Fans can buy a virtual pint for £3.50, a virtual cocktail for £5 or a virtual round of drinks for £20. Supporters will be entered into a prize draw, which includes tickets to festivals such as End of the Road and 2000T rees, as well as band merchandise, bar tabs and concert tickets.

Half of the proceeds go to the Music Venue Trust, a charity supporting UK grassroots venues, with the other 50% going directly to a selection of the UK’s most at-risk independent venues.

Fans can support the campaign, which currently stands at almost 50% of its initial goal, here.

ReConnect: Beatport to host streaming marathon
Beginning this Friday (27 March) at 8pm GMT, Beatport will broadcast a live, 24-hour global DJ marathon, ReConnect, in partnership with Twitch.

Twenty-four artists, including Carl Cox, Bonobo, Nina Kraviz, Griz, Rüfüs Du Sol (DJ set), A-Trak and Nicole Moudaber, will perform from their homes or studios, with viewers able to donate to an AFEM fund to benefit those affected by the coronavirus crisis.

“Over the past few weeks, we have seen so much of humanity come together as one to battle the escalation of the Covid-19 virus in an effort to protect the most vulnerable,” says the site’s CEO, Robb McDaniels. “With so many of us sheltered in our homes, wanting to stay connected to the people and music that plays such a positive role in our lives, Beatport and the passionate DJ community we work with on a daily basis feel compelled to deliver a unique music experience directly into homes across the world.”


Tuesday 24 March

Tokyo 2020 postponed to 2021
The 2020 Olympic games are off.

In a joint statement, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee say: “The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating. Yesterday, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that the Covid-19 pandemic is ‘accelerating’. There are more than 375,000 cases now recorded worldwide and in nearly every country, and their number is growing by the hour.

“In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC president and the prime minister of Japan have concluded that the tames of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic games and the international community.”

UTA staff to take pay cuts
United Talent Agency in Hollywood has implemented a company-wide salary cut, Variety reports, as all the major agencies try to find a way through the global entertainment shutdown.

“Like companies across the industry and our country, UTA is taking some immediate and painful steps to ensure we get through the current public health and economic crisis as strong as possible,” says an agency spokesperson.  “In addition to aggressive cost-cutting measures, this includes asking our colleagues at every level to take pay reductions, structured so our most senior colleagues make the largest financial sacrifice.”

The decision follows rival Paradigm’s reported move to temporarily lay off more than 100 staff (see Monday).

DWP cancels spring festivals
Yucaipa-backed US festival producer Danny Wimmer Presents (DWP) has called off its its spring music festivals Epicenter (1–3 May), Welcome to Rockville (8–10 May) and Sonic Temple (15–17 May).

“We are crushed to say that Epicenter, Welcome to Rockville and Sonic Temple are being cancelled due to the governmental restrictions on mass gatherings,” reads a statement from DWP.

“Before accepting this fate, we worked really hard to try to reschedule the festivals. Unfortunately, scheduling conflicts, venue availabilities and a number of other factors out of our control made postponing impossible. Make no mistake, each of these festivals will return in May 2021 bigger and stronger than ever!

Autumn festivals, including Metallica-headlined Louder than Life (17–20 September), will go ahead as planned.

Bandcamp raises $4.3m for artists
D2F platform Bandcamp has revealed that its decision to waive its fee for 24 hours on Friday 21 March generated $4.3 million sales, 100% of which went directly to artists.

“The numbers tell a remarkable story: on a typical Friday, fans buy about 47,000 items on Bandcamp, but this past Friday, fans bought nearly 800,000, or $4.3 million worth, of music and merch,” the company says. “That’s more than 15 times our normal Friday, and, at the peak, fans were buying 11 items per second.”

“We don’t yet know the long-term impact of Covid-19, but we know that we all need music – to uplift and inspire us, to heal us, and to give us hope,” it adds. “We’ll continue working to make Bandcamp the best place for fans and artists to come together and sustain each other in the challenging times ahead.”

IMS Ibiza to take place virtually
Organisers of Ibiza electronic music event IMS have said the conference, originally scheduled for May, will go ahead as a ‘virtual’ conference.

“After consultation with our host venue Destino, it is with regret that we have to announce that IMS Ibiza will not take place this year and the 13th edition of the summit will be rescheduled to May 2021,” reads a statement from IMS (International Music Summit). “We have been monitoring the Covid-19 situation closely, hoping for it to stabilise and allow us to hold the summit, but unfortunately this is no longer a viable option. […]

“We will be offering badge and hotel refunds to all delegates who request, but we ask our community where possible to transfer their tickets to the 2021 event to ensure the long term survival of the summit.”

“We will be producing a virtual edition of the 2020 summit and will release more news on this soon,” it adds.


Monday 23 March

SeatGeek encourages donations for venues
Ticketing platform SeatGeek, whose SRO software is used by many leading UK theatres, has added functionality that enables audiences to ‘donate’ their tickets to closed venues.

Charlie Sefi, SeatGeek’s managing director for EMEA entertainment, explains: “This is a hugely challenging time for theatres and venues, who are dependent on ticket income. We are trying to support our clients in any way possible, helping them to appeal to theatregoers who have already purchased tickets to also support the arts at this time by donating the cost of the ticket back to the venue.

“If the majority of customers chose to support theatres and the arts by opting to refuse their refund, it would make a significant impact on a venue’s financial stability and its long term viability.”

Paradigm announces lay-offs – report
Paradigm Talent Agency CEO Sam Gores has told staff to expect temporary lay-offs of at least 100 people out of the agency’s 700 employees, Deadline reports.

“The call was an emotional one, we heard, and staff [were] told that every effort will be made to help those impacted with health insurance and other things. And the hope is that when the world is no longer on lockdown, people will find a place at the agency sometime in the near future,” writes Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jnr.

The agency was one of six companies, alongside Live Nation, AEG and agencies WME, UTA and CAA, to call for the postponement of all large-scale live events through the end of March.

SoundCloud partners with Twitch for livestreams
SoundCloud has announced a partnership with Twitter-owned livestreaming platform Twitch that will enable music creators to monetise their live broadcasts to fans.

“We’re partnering with Twitch so all SoundCloud Pro, SoundCloud Premier and Repost by SoundCloud creators can start earning money from their Twitch streams by fast-tracking affiliate status,” reads the announcement. “Now, wherever you’re social distancing, you can still connect to millions of fans IRL and get paid for your work.”

In addition to live performances, Twitch streams “can open up new creative avenues through interactivity with chat; musicians on Twitch often host Q&A sessions with their fan communities, take live requests or even write songs based on chat feedback,” according to SoundCloud.

Isol-aid becomes Australia’s first Insta music fest
Isol-aid, “Australia’s first festival in the age of social distancing”, took place live on Instagram on 21–22 March.

Organised by Emily Ulman, Merpire (Rhiannon Atkinson-Howatt) and Shannen Egan to raise funds and awareness for the industry charity Support Act, Isol-aid featured 74 acts, each of whom played a 20-minute set streamed live from their own Instagram accounts.

According to Guardian Australia, most artists pulled crowds of between 400 and 600, “including a bunch of other musicians, managers, label folk and promoters who were lighting up the comments with love hearts and applause emojis”.


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