Saturday, March 14, 2020

Cancel culture

Announcing the (typically solid and nicely gender-balanced) line-up for this year's Glastonbury on Thursday, Emily Eavis wisely alluded to "the current circumstances" and admitted that "we are keeping our fingers firmly crossed". And well the organisers might, with coronavirus laying waste to gigs and festivals the world over - Coachella (postponed) and SXSW (cancelled) arguably the two biggest casualties so far. Even if the virus peaks in the UK in May as predicted, the festival's 50th anniversary bash may still be called off because of the impact on preparations. Selfishly, my concern is for Green Man - but hopefully the fact that it's scheduled for late August should ensure it goes ahead.

In an article for Pitchfork, Marc Hogan has explored the ramifications of cancelling a festival due to a pandemic: disputes over legal terms and the extent of insurance coverage, job losses, and everyone from promoters to bands to fans left out of pocket.

Among the artists counting the cost of the SXSW cancellation are Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard, Rosehip Teahouse and Adwaith, who were all set to play a Focus Wales showcase gig on Wednesday. Grounded in the UK, they've decided to put the show on at Clwb on the same night instead to recoup some of the money they've lost - but unfortunately even that may be under threat. Rolling Stone's Brian Hiatt spoke to Daniel Griffin, an infectious disease expert, about why concerts are so conducive to the spread of viruses like COVID-19.

I've got two gigs in the diary in the next fortnight, and while part of me wants to go and show support for the bands and the local music scene in person (assuming they go ahead), it might be wiser to opt for alternative means - such as buying albums and merch rather than simply streaming. Even that's been affected, though, with the news that Record Store Day has been pushed back from 18th April until 20th June.

Whatever happens, coronavirus is another enormous blow to the music industry on every level.

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