Sound of Silence: Festivals canceled over coronavirus concerns

Local News

(WLNS) – The City of Miami has officially postponed the 22nd Ultra Music Festival, according to an email from festival organizers.

“I wasn’t worried about the virus until about 10 minutes ago when I saw that Ultra was postponed,”

said one live music professional on Wednesday before Miami’s Ultra Music Festival was canceled, who like many in the business didn’t want to be named in an article about the rapidly worsening situation.

The City of Austin announces South by Southwest 2020 is canceled due to coronavirus. Although they currently have no confirmed cases in Austin or Travis County, the mayor declared it a “public health disaster” and canceled SXSW out of precaution or potential spread with around 227,000 people expected to attend.

“I wouldn’t doubt over the next 20 days if we see a festival a day canceled,”

Kevin Lyman, founder of Van’s Warped Tour, who believes the situation will get much worse before it starts to get better.

The two most vulnerable states right now are California and Florida, which host many spring and early summer festivals.

More than 50 cases of coronavirus have already been confirmed in Los Angeles where Mayor Eric Garcetti declared a state of emergency Wednesday morning.

The preparatory move is not a good sign for Coachella, begins its two-weekend run on April 10 with a fate that has never been more uncertain.

The Southern California festival is followed by Stagecoach the weekend after.

Officials with the country’s two largest concert promoters, AEG and Live Nation, have already publicly signaled they won’t pay anyone if a festival gets canceled since tickets will have to be refunded and revenue from food, parking, drink sales and merch will not be realized.

Artists and their agents, in turn, will argue that promoters like the AEG-backed Goldenvoice carry event cancellation insurance and that both their costs and their profits will be covered. As such, they will likely demand part or all of their promised payments.

An official cancellation would trigger refunds, and most fans would see money automatically redeposited in their accounts. There would also be significant damage to the local economy as income anticipated for home rentals, event spaces, transportation services, and restaurants would all be lost.

In 2016, Coachella and Stagecoach were projected to bring in $704 million in overall economic activity, according to the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership and Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“If Coachella gets canceled, there’s really no events that are probably safe,” says Lyman, noting that the collapse of one of the world’s largest festivals would undermine confidence in the entire live music ecosystem. “If this is going to work out, things need to start going right very soon.”

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