In case you missed it, the world is screeching to a halt.
Supplies are evaporating from grocery store shelves at alarming rates. The stocks have fluctuated harshly and rapidly. Small-town schools and international sports leagues alike are shutting down for extended periods of time nationwide.
Nashville, with its reliance on the music, service, and tourism industries, has been especially pummeled by the fallout of the COVID-19 outbreak that has led to the indefinite self-quarantine of innumerable people. With safety the top priority of every event organizer in the country, all sorts of venues and live experiences are being affected by the pandemic.
Live Nation, the largest music and entertainment conglomerate in the industry, watched their stock plummet on Wednesday, losing $1.8 billion dollars in one day. Meanwhile, fellow companies like iHeartMedia and Eventbrite have faced similar drop-offs in response to the virus.
So what does all of this mean? While these companies will likely rebound in time, many of their planned events will not. Live Nation and AEG have suspended all tours for at least the month of March. They also formed a “global task force” with representatives from CAA, Paradigm, WME, and UTA to “drive strategic support and unified direction ensuring precautionary efforts and ongoing protocol are in the best interest of artists, fans, staff, and the global community.“
Meanwhile, bands like The Avett Brothers have postponed touring to May 1. Pearl Jam and Rage Against The Machine have suspended the first leg of their tours, and all Bridgestone Arena events through April 1 have been postponed.
Marathon Music Works has postponed all shows before Thundercat‘s March 31st appearance. Six shows at Exit/In have been canceled or postponed for the remainder of the month. All but a handful of shows at the Mercy Lounge and its various associated venues have been put on hold, including performances from artists like Blue October and Circa Survive. All “nighttime events” at Ryman Auditorium are postponed through April 4th. Brooklyn Bowl Nashville‘s grand opening has been postponed “until further notice,” and TPAC has closed its theaters through April 12th.
The festival industry has been hit immensely hard by these developments as well, leading to many postponements and cancellations for spring festivals. While Tennessee’s Bonnaroo and CMA Fest are both safe for now, Knoxville’s Big Ears festival has been canceled for 2020. The Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival and Stagecoach Music Festival have both moved to October, with the former’s first weekend now competing directly against Austin City Limits‘ second weekend.
Austin’s South By Southwest Festival was canceled, while New Orleans’ BUKU Fest has been postponed until Labor Day Weekend. Atlanta’s Sweetwater 420 Fest has announced that it will be postponed or canceled, with more updates to come. California’s Lightning In A Bottle and Virginia Beach’s Something In The Water Fest are both canceled.
Miami’s Ultra Music Festival canceled for 2020 as well, and the event’s decision not to allow refunds has become one of the most controversial talking points in the festival industry over the last few days. The event simply does not have the money to make refunds available with the contracts that they still have to honor, so they’ve chosen to allow patrons to use their 2020 tickets at either the 2021 or 2022 incarnation of the event. South By Southwest has employed a similar deferment program in place of refunds, and ticket holders have not been happy.
Like most festivals scheduled for May and beyond, Memphis’ Beale Street Music Festival has shown no signs of cancellation. Other May festivals, including Hangout Fest and Summer Camp, have made their intentions to press onward clear, but the unpredictable nature of the virus means that these efforts may still be invalidated down the line. Festivals like Shaky Knees and New Orleans Jazz Fest have remained quiet up to this point, but can be expected to release a statement in the near future. Jazz Fest, in particular, seems likely for postponement to October or cancellation, according to The New Orleans Advocate’s Keith Spera.
Ultimately, as long as the industry still tries to understand the scope of how widespread the virus is and how long this will last, the short-term future of live music is largely waiting in a state of limbo. With no definite end in sight, expect to see more cancellations and suspensions over the next few days. This is undoubtedly a rough patch in the history of the music industry, but expect things to return back to normal once everything calms down and the rate of spread has slowed.
For more breaking news on changes in the festival and live event industries, The Festive Owl is the best, most reliable source of information. For more updates on local cancellations, check out this running list from the Tennessean.
In the meantime, stay safe, stay indoors, and wash your hands.
(Photo Credit: ResearchGate.net)