With the worldwide concert industry now in flux due to the new coronavirus disruption, there is now a volatile environment for artists, musicians, songwriters and producers on all levels.
The effects of the global coronavirus pandemic on the music industry are noticeable from the cancelation on postponement or the major festivals’ 2020 editions around the world. Some like Coachella, Lollapalooza, Rock in Rio or Brussels’ Listen! Festival were already called off or postponed due to the new coronavirus.
Besides the festivals and concerts, it has also impacted everything from music conferences and award shows such as Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards and BMI Latin Awards which were rather cancelled or postponed. Also, international tours schedule for 2020 are still being postponed on a daily basis.
As the coronavirus continues to spread – and we don’t know when it will slow down or even disappear –, so does its effect on the music industry. While industry experts and analysts project that the live concert business could lose billions, the financial fallout is virtually immeasurable at this point.
Allen Kovac, an artist manager who represents Mötley Crüe and other acts, told The New York Times that "you have people delaying on-sales for tours, and you have people who are going to postpone tours. It's chaotic and stressful, from agents and managers to artists, their families and their support teams". The truth is that music's financial collapse is already taking its industry-wide toll.
This downfall comes in the streaming era when a big part of artists and musicians rely heavily on touring and live performances as their main – and sometimes only – source of income. A 2018 survey by the Music Industry Research Association and the Princeton University Survey Research Center, in partnership with the Recording Academy's MusiCares, found that live performances were the "most common income source for musicians," according to Rolling Stone.
Although the streaming industry continues growing, with streaming accounting for 80% of the music industry’s overall revenue, the low royalty rates make it difficult for small and independent artists to earn through streaming and the profit from the traditional AM/FM radio platforms streaming continues being nothing.
This makes the live music industry necessary for artists and musicians, especially for those who rely on paychecks from touring and live gigs to make a living. A coronavirus-sized pandemic that causes festival and tours cancelations will undoubtedly impact the bottom line of artists and creators on a global scale because, simply, no shows means no paycheck.
The coronavirus cancellations will also trickle down to songwriters, who depend on performance royalties from the live performances of their songs and a decrease in shows unquestionably equates to a decrease in potential gains via live performance royalties.
Then, of course, there's the team crew which includes many audio engineers, sound and light crews, backstage teams, tour managers and other behind-the-scenes hands who have doubtlessly lost work due to cancelled tours, conferences and festivals. Most of them work freelance which means that won’t receive from the events they were supposed to do as they were either cancelled or postponed.
With the global concert industry in flux, the disruption has created a volatile environment for artists, independent musicians, songwriters, producers and everyone whose work is inserted in the music industry. As tours and festivals continue to cancel, these same industries are also impacted, leaving session players, live musicians and all sorts of creative workers to face potentially empty touring and recording schedules for months on end. Worst of all, there is no end in sight just yet.