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Report: Covid-19 to cost festival sector $16.8bn

Festivals around the world are set to collectively lose almost US$17 billion due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new report carried out by music data start-up Viberate.

Using data from Viberate’s recently launched Sick Festivals tool – which monitors over 5,000 data-enriched festival pages from the company’s blockchain-based music industry database – the report estimates the monetary loss for festivals in 2020, as well as the number of fans who will miss out on festivals this season.

The report, entitled ‘The economic impact of coronavirus on the music festival season’, also catalogues the number of festivals affected worldwide by Covid-19; the countries with the highest proportion of cancelled or postponed festivals; and the rate at which organisers made decisions on the fate of their festivals.


The losses in numbers
Viberate calculates that the direct economic impact of Covid-19 on music festivals is $16.8bn, with $5.1bn – or around 30% – of that coming from losses in ticket sales.

The remainder of the monetary loss comes from other festival site businesses, such as food and drink suppliers, merchandise vendors and other paid-for onsite facilities.

The company also provides a breakdown for the types of festivals likely to lose out most due to coronavirus, with “mega” festivals – those for 80,000 visitors or more – taking on almost 75% ($12.4bn) of total losses.

“Huge” festivals – those for 30,000 to 80,000 fans – account for $2.4bn of total losses; “big” festivals (15,000 to 30,000 visitors) for $1.2bn; “medium” festivals (5,000 to 15,000 visitors) for $500 million; and small festivals – those with a capacity smaller than 5,000 – for $300m.

The estimated number of fans unable to attend music festivals this year is estimated to be 13.2m worldwide.


The most affected countries
Over 750 festivals have been affected worldwide by Covid-19, according to the Viberate report.

The Netherlands is the country with the highest number of festivals affected by the coronavirus outbreak (121), followed by the United States (90), the UK (86), Germany (84) and France (80).


How quickly did organisers react to the outbreak?
The report shows that festivals planned ot take place from march to May were the most likely to be affected by the outbreak. However, some optimism remained until the end pog April, with around 50% of festivals having been postponed, rather than cancelled, at this point.

A total of 127 festivals were cancelled or postponed in March, with 230 also getting the coronavirus treatment in April and a further 193 becoming affected in May.

Organisers of some of the largest US festivals, such as Stagecoach, Bonnaroo and Coachella, were among the last to call time on 2020, holding out for autumn editions until finally cancelling in June.


How festival organisers can get back on track
The report also offers words of advice to music festival professionals on the back of its findings.

The first piece of advice is to make “less risky, data-based decisions”. The likelihood for smaller budgets in the future calls for a greater use of data to drive decisions. The Viberate team is developing Viberate Pro, a tool offering data-driven insights to those in the music industry.

Currently in beta trial, the tool allows users to explore Pro Charts, filtering artists by nationality, genre and subgenre, and to sort by Viberate popularity, desired timeline and other channel-specific parametres.

For more information, email the Viberate team.

The other recommendation is to maintain good levels of communication with fans, which is possible via a customisable, sector-specific mobile app.

The full report can be accessed here.


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Sick Festivals: 300+ events now affected by coronavirus

With the coronavirus forcing festival cancellations on a daily basis, music data start-up Viberate has launched Sick Festivals, a list of some 5,000 music festivals, updated daily, tracking which events are on, which are postponed and which have been cancelled altogether.

Slovenia-based Viberate has, at the time of writing, identified 141 cancelled and 185 postponed festivals. The data is sourced from artists, venues, events and festivals featured in Viberate’s blockchain-based music industry database, which the company hopes will become the ‘IMDb of music’.

The idea for Sick Festivals came when one of the company’s founders, techno DJ Uroš Umek (aka DJ Umek), started receiving a slew of festival cancellations, he explains: “Just a week ago, I played on the Resistance stage at Ultra in Melbourne and Sydney, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. When I landed back home and turned my phone back on, most of my upcoming gigs had already disappeared from my calendar.

“That was when I realised how serious this outbreak had become in a matter of days. It feels eerily dystopian.

“It’s up to us to do whatever we can to manage the damage”

“Now it’s up to us to do whatever we can to manage the damage. At Viberate, we quickly put together a service that we hope will help people see what’s going on with the festival they had been planning to visit, and shed a light onto industry professionals’ income loss, which is no laughing matter.”

In addition to listing festivals’ current statuses, Sick Festivals allows fans to express their disappointment at cancellations/postponements, demonstrated by a sad-face emoji next to the festival’s entry. (At press time, Coachella had 19,175 sad faces, some 5,000 more than Ultra Miami and 9,000 more than Glastonbury.)

Viberate, one of the first wave of music-focused cryptocurrencies, started out as an Airbnb-like service which promised to cut out the agency middle man and connect unsigned musicians (who would be paid in Viberate’s native crypto, the vibe) with a database of those who might want to book them.

Nearly three years on, its creators are focused on building blockchain-powered database that maps the entire live music business, including artists, music venues, booking agencies, festivals and other music events.


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