The coronavirus has dominated the news cycle in multiple industries for weeks, and over the past few days, it’s been a primary focus of the music world as well. Coachella, Ultra, and other festivals and individual artists have either canceled or delayed scheduled performances as a precautionary measure, but these changes of plans aren’t necessarily a perfect solution to all the problems something like the coronavirus can present.
Rolling Stone recently published a feature that looks at how the concert industry is responding to and is impacted by the coronavirus. Something the piece gets at is that changing plans is a potentially insurmountable hurdle for some promoters. Howard King — a managing partner at law firm King, Holmes, Paterno and Berliner LLC — said that when it comes to non-major promoters who aren’t as big as Live Nation or AEG, “all these expenses they don’t get back could put them out of business.” Another agency source added, “There’s not much [organizers] can really do at this point.”
Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace also spoke to the publication for the piece, and she outlined some of the elements of an artist’s and/or promoter’s business that are impacted by delays and cancellations:
“People operate on such a long lead that these things being canceled right now are… Well, things like SXSW are more than a year of advance planning. To re-plan them, re-figure out, re-schedule — you’re hoping more dominoes don’t fall and you won’t continue to have to cancel stuff. People are just waiting to see what happens. […]
I don’t think there’s any way people can hold back release schedules because of the ridiculous lead times, which in this day and age are still very much planned around vinyl turnaround times for vinyl being pressed. So if you’re a band and you’ve got a record that you have had on hold to be pressed for the last five months and it’s coming out a month from now… you are not going to change the release schedule or the touring schedule unless you absolutely have to. It’s like full years of planning that’ve gone into it.”
Promoters and artists often have insurance policies that can protect them against certain negative possibilities, but Cameron Smith, senior vice president for entertainment industry solutions at insurance provider HUB International, noted that these policies might not be so helpful when it comes to the coronavirus: “Communicable disease coverage can be included, but by late January, a separate and specific exclusion for coronavirus has been added to policies across the board. So, if a festival or event purchased their cancellation coverage prior to that time, they may have limited coverage, but absolutely no one is covering coronavirus on newly bound policies.”
The feature is an interesting look at the broad and significant impacts of the coronavirus, so check it out here.