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Coronavirus puts Italy’s live scene on lockdown

Coronavirus, which has been affecting the live entertainment industry in China and other Asian countries for the past few months, is now taking its toll on the Italian business, with all public events in the north of the country cancelled until Sunday 1 March.

Over 400 cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have now been recorded in Italy, with towns in the country’s north placed in quarantine. Cases have also been reported in France, Germany, the UK, Austria, Croatia, Greece, Norway, Switzerland, Georgia and North Macedonia.

The cancellations of concerts in the affected regions, which include the cities of Milan, Venice, Bologna, Trieste and Turin, have cost the live industry an estimated €10.5 million. According to Vincenzo Spera, president of Italian trade association Assomusica, wider losses to the sector’s supply chain could reach as much as €20m.

Affected events include Venice carnival and concerts by Brit Award-winner Mabel, US rock band Algiers, UK rockers Procol HarumItalian and electronic act Tycho, as well as Italian artists Francesca Michielin, Nuclear Tactical Penguins, Negrita, Brunori Sas and Angelo Branduardi, among others.

The men’s and women’s Six Nations rugby ties between Italy and Ireland, set to be played in Dublin on 7 and 8 March, have also been postponed.

“The risk, in particular, is that many of the companies and promoters active in the local and regional territories will suffer a rapid collapse,” says Spera, noting how important the concert industry is to other sectors, such as tourism and hospitality.

“We represent one of the sectors most affected by this emergency and we find that there are still no measures in place that seem to take into account our reality.”

“The risk, in particular, is that many of the companies and promoters active in the local and regional territories will suffer a rapid collapse”

Artist manager Katia Giampaolo, who is also co-director of Bologna’s 2,000-capacity Estragon Club and organiser of the Botanique festival, tells IQ that over 7,400 musical and theatrical events have been postponed or cancelled in the past few days.

“This is without even knowing what will happen from 1 March,” says Giampaolo. “The real extent of the damage is innumerable, considering that no legislation supports independent activities and we have an entire industry that has no guarantee in these types of circumstances – hopefully the government does view this as a crisis for the entire music market.

“We are obviously aware that this is an extraordinary emergency,” adds Giampaolo, “so, despite the extreme difficulty, we are in solidarity with the government and with the prudent measures it is taking, to which we are adhering fully.”

A spokesperson for Live Nation Italy states that the authorities have given no information “regarding the shows scheduled after 1 March”, adding that although “the situation is getting better”, no long-term forecasts are possible.

Live Nation Italy is promoting upcoming shows in Milan by King Nun, Cage the Elephant, OneRepublic, Louis Tomlinson, Kelis, Rex Orange County and Avril Lavigne.

Photo: Harald Krichel/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0) (cropped)

 


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Samsung debuts first ‘vertical stage’

Consumer electronics giant Samsung has debuted an Instagram-friendly ‘vertical’ stage, described as the world’s first, at its Samsung KX venue in King’s Cross, north London.

On Tuesday (3 September), Mabel inaugurated the new three-storey, 9m (30’)-high stage in front of a crowd of 2,000, with the British-Swedish singer performing alongside her dancers on one level, and her band on the other two.

Samsung says the creation of the stage was spurred by research that shows 94% of smartphone users take photos and videos vertically, and that 79% of people find vertical content to be “more engaging”. The vertical stage, then, is “optimised for the crowd to capture and share instantly across social media”.

“This experience was designed to give fans the ultimate performance tailored specifically for instant sharing”

Samsung KX’s Tanya Weller says: “We are thrilled to deliver a world-first music event for our guests at Samsung KX; this experience was designed to give fans the ultimate performance tailored specifically for instant sharing.

“We pride ourselves on creating innovations that defy barriers, and tonight’s vertical stage performance […] showcased how, if we work together, we can do just that. We’re excited to see how Samsung can integrate into their visions of a better future by providing a destination for the latest in local culture and innovation, powered by Samsung technology.”

You think discussions over festival bills can get heated? Try telling an agent their act is playing on the bottom storey of a virtual stage…

 


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