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Coronavirus: What does it mean for the electronic music industry?

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, things have become hectic. From people rushing to the stores to stock up on provisions, to public events being canceled. Some schools are not offering classes, home-officed employees numbers have sky-rocketed, and our day-to-day existence has been tampered with.

In every direction, and music is no exception, with festivals like Time Warp and Ultra Miami already being canceled or postponed. We sit down with industry leaders, event organizers, PR’s and globe-trotting DJs to get an inside perspective of how the Coronavirus will affect the industry in the short term.

Electronic Groove: What are your thoughts on the current situation of the virus COVID-19 and its impact on the music industry? Do you envision any changes in the industry for the foreseeable future?

Hernan Cattaneo: Well, I think this is a situation bigger than any specific industry and the sooner we take the measures it’ll back to normal for everybody. As an Argentina citizen, I am obliged to stay isolated for two weeks and there will be no flights to USA/ Europe / Asia for the near future.

Sure, financially it will hit hard many  We all know this is like a big pyramid and only those at the top can afford to live without income for many months. I hope at least the smaller club & events can go in a safe way.”

Guy J: “We are going now through a phase of a reset for our planet, I believe life will be different once we get past it. It is going to be a social test to see if people will cooperate and follow the rules in order to go through this and hopefully with less harm as possible.

Same it reflects on our industry. I don’t want to be negative, but if it is what we are being told it is and how easy it spreads, then the event industry will have to be on hold for a while till it’s 100% safe for everyone to be in the same room enjoying the sounds of music, and with that comes the economic hit that some venues and DJs &producers are going to take.

For now, we have to wait, make sure as individuals we are not taking actions that are harming ourselves and the people around us. And after that, we will work hard to bring back the beautiful scene that existed till now.”

Danny Howells: “At the moment it’s really hard to predict what is going to happen. My gut feeling is that things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. In terms of its impact on the music industry, it could be catastrophic. Now is a time for working together, not just DJs and producers but agents, promoters and so on. Everyone is going to get hit in some way and people will need to be sensible and respectful in how they adapt to this particular period. 

Short term travel restrictions are going to impact heavily, coupled with the fact that there will be restrictions on large gatherings and fewer people wanting to go out. In the long term, I honestly think it could change the landscape as we know it. There will possibly be promoters and DJs etc who are not prepared for what could be a lot of cancellations and this could be a tough time for all.”

Nick Warren: “We are in uncharted waters with this! We really have no idea how long it is going to take to improve. Shows are being canceled everywhere and I could see this lasting for months. It’s going to get very serious very quickly for all the industry; clubs, promoters. DJ’s and labels. This could well be the biggest crisis in our lifetime.

Luciano: “Today, for me, the most important thing is to contribute to stopping the spreading of this virus, and for this, it is essential to stay at home, avoid interacting with our seniors to keep them safe and be constantly informed of the situation.

The music industry is one of the first to be affected, but in this situation, we have to be creative and find another way to share our music. It’s why I ‘ve made these ‘Living Room Sessions’. Session 1, Session 2, Session 3.

We are fortunate today to live in an interconnected world and to be able to continue to communicate with the world even while being at home. Music evolves in parallel with the development of its technologies, so yes, I think there will be more changes.”

Mr. C: COVID-19 Virus seems to be spreading fast. I think each country needs to do what it can to stop the virus. Of course, it’s having a dramatic effect on the clubbing industry. I hope everyone in the industry is understanding & mindful of each other’s needs.”

Guy Mantzur: I think we are in a very delicate and shady period of time because of the virus. It affects everybody and everywhere, and leaves no stone unturned. 

The music industry in all of its aspects it’s something that usually must be pre-planned in advance: line ups, festivals, club booking, and even releases. And the uncertainly regarding when it will end leaves, everyone, without the ability to plan things and reschedule all the shows and festivals that they had to cancel.

On the other hand, nothing can stop the big love that people have for music and I really believe that it will come back to normal in about 6-8 weeks, and parties will be even crazier. But still, we have to be super sensitive and look at the weaker people who can get really damaged from this situation, and try to help them and each other, so they can all keep on being an important part of the industry.

Also, it’s a good time to hit the studio so I guess will be lots of very good music coming up this year. In general, it’s a serious thing we are going through and we all be responsible enough and listen to the act guidelines we get day by day. Stay home today so we can almost dance together tomorrow.”

Artist Agent (Anonymous): COVID is a threat to global stability because it’s tag-line of being incurable engenders the same level of fear and panic as the Aids/HIV crisis of yesteryear did. Similarly, that panic was rife with misinformation, political posturing, disingenuous and often conflicting medical opinion and a hype-inducing media armed to the teeth with rhetoric and phlegm. Instead of calmly highlighting the dangers and smoothing the situation with love and genuine care our politicians are telling us that ‘many will die’ and we will ‘lose loved ones’ for sure if we do not follow what they tell us to do.

Well, I’m calling Corona out and all it’s evangelists in the media and politics. Do more for the 1.5m that died of TB last year. I could go on with a laundry list of global tragedies as well as the 170,000 people that died yesterday, only one of them was from Corona. Stay calm, stop the nonsense and stop playing with people’s lives and livelihoods whilst you peddle fear.

The effect on the dance music industry will be felt in the same way as other industries, disastrous of course. The local cinemas are only allowed to be half full now so people can have one space in between them whilst watching a film, yet the London underground is still open and packed like Sardines. It’s not serious, it’s just posturing and as usual, churches, bars, clubs, social clubs, concert halls, and all lifestyle interests will suffer. How long will it last, who knows…maybe until too many people lose their jobs and businesses and finally realize that they’ve been duped into closing their businesses. I’ll give it two months. After that, we should all show resolve to be even more resilient against top-down controls disguised as security for our own good and hold our elected officials to greater account so that they work for us and not the other way around.

More than anything we need to stay positive and try to exact real person to person social change based on love, care and support for each other and our diverse interests.”

Here’s a list of things we can all do in order to help out the music scene:

Sign petitions

  • There are hundreds of petitions out there to sign and share to get governments to offer economic assistance to the events industry. Like this one for UK-based artists, or this one for people based in Germany.

Buy Music

  • Many have begun sharing Twitter threads filled with Bandcamp links to encourage supporting artists through directly buying their music. New York collective bizaarbazaar has one here, and Native Instruments’ thread can be found here.
  • Warm Winters ltd. has compiled a list of electronic artists affected by the crisis, hosted here by Buy Music Club.
  • London record shop Vinyl Pimp, which remains open, is taking some useful steps to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. Idle Hands in Bristol is also open and asking the community to “support us in whatever way you can over the coming weeks.”

Attend Virtual Events

  • Cherie Hu has compiled a virtual music events directory that lists existing events, explains how to hold your own virtual events and also links to emergency funds for artists affected by COVID-19’s impact on the music industry.

Offer and receive help

  • This particular Word Press site includes numerous resources for helping freelance artists, including law advice, preparation tips and what to do if your gigs have been canceled.
  • Berliner queer art space Karada House has set up two forms: this one for those in need of assistance, and this one if you can offer support (shopping, cooking, driving) to the ill and elderly in your local area. “This is a queer community effort. Priority will be given to people on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum and other marginalized folks (i.e. BiPoC).”
  • The Instagram account techno4hire is connecting out-of-work nightlife professionals with alternative work. “You can DM types of work you are willing to do to the profile and I will post them as an image,” organizer Alyce C says.
  • UK charity Help Musicians offers advice for musicians (working or retired) in need of support. In some cases, help is also available for partners or dependents of musicians.
  • In Seattle, the US city hit hardest by the pandemic, a GoFundMe campaign has been set up to support the artist community. The target is $100,000. Priority will go to “BiPoC artists, transgender, and non-binary artists and disabled artists—but we will try to help as many artists with need in Seattle as we can.”
  • Truants founder Soraya is working with subscription membership platform Patreon “to set up a network of independent musicians, DJs, music labels, promoters and other nonprofits across the UK, which I think might be a useful conversation to have right now” she tweeted. Learn more about that here.


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