We are currently still in a pandemic and it is a fact that everyone experiences this situation differently. Some are still mostly at home, while others are slowly coming out again.
Dealing with this situation is different for each person, that’s also a fact. For some people this pandemic had terrible consequences, that should not and cannot be forgotten.
Since The Netherlands is currently in a heatwave, it might not be a good plan to worry about the various situations created by COVID-19. But still, I would like to pay attention to one specific aspect, because it is something that is close to me. It also has various connections with other industries, so very secretly it is much bigger than just one industry. And what the impact will be, it has to be seen in the future.
I’m sure you have noticed that pop venues, theatres, festival organisers, other important people working in the music and events industry, musicians and other people involved in events have been commenting on the situation that has arisen as a result of various governments deciding to put a stop to various events, concerts and festivals. It has meant that pop venues had to close down in most cases, as well as companies related to the music and events industry, even there has been music groups that had to stop. Here and there, there have been some major blows that the event industry has had to deal with. The bigger names can deal with this more easily, but also seem to have run into problems. Even though I don’t know the finer details about it, several news items have emerged that things are really not going well.
Looking at The Netherlands, a country well-known as the land of festivals for many, you can see how empty the summer has suddenly become with all the cancellations of large and small festivals. Financial support was available from the Dutch government, but that was temporary. The situation around COVID-19 is still unresolved and that seems to take some time. More time than some people might have thought.
In various places in Europe, many buildings, such as live venues, turned to the colour red to draw attention to the harsh situation that many people, who work in this industry, find themselves in at the moment. For a lot of people, it means that it is five minutes to midnight and that the event industry is in a crisis. Of course, it is easy to notice that things are not going well at all, because at the moment there are very few concerts taking place. At these concerts a distance has to be created between the visitors (and even the stage). In The Netherlands, for example, this has been solved with chairs. There must be a distance of one and a half meters between the chairs, because that is the distance we have to maintain at the moment. Because of these kinds of measures, fewer people can go to a live venue to enjoy a concert. In terms of income, it is quite sad, of course, because that way less money will come in for the venue and the musicians performing. Or you have to increase the ticket price considerably. How do you pay the musicians, but also the employees of the venue where the performances take place? Then it might be easier to go outside for gigs, right?
Fortunately, many soon found a solution by streaming the concerts live and asking a certain amount of money for it. This way, many people can still enjoy the concert and in many cases, it can also be viewed worldwide, which could mean that more money could possibly come in through new fans. Of course, it’s hard to estimate how many people are going to watch such a live stream and what eventually will end up in the pocket of the venues and musicians. Some musicians even decide to share free concerts with their fans in order to be approachable for those who might happen to come across them in the future. It remains to be seen to what extent this will be positive for them in the future, but for the music lovers, there is a lot more to consume now.
On a personal level, there is also less to do this year in terms of events. Normally I am walking (or better said: running) at conventions, like AnimeCon and Abunai!, to accompany musicians. But I also usually have a concert here and there that I book and promote and also not to forget the preparation of the interviews that I have with musicians who are coming to the Netherlands. After the concert of sokoninaru on the 7th of March, a sold-out show on the red ship in Rotterdam, a show I was allowed to promote, I decided to temporarily stop attending concerts. At the moment of the band’s performance in The Netherlands, the situation of the novel coronavirus was already going on and people started to talk more and more about it, because the virus had also arrived in the country. Since sokoninaru’s show was sold out, we speak of about 100 people, we were standing close to each other enjoying a very intense and impressive performance of the Japanese band. I can’t really imagine that now, but at that moment we apparently weren’t thinking very seriously about it. Maybe it was still considered for many to be far removed from their own personal lives.
At that time, the Japanese rock band from the label Koga Records was in the middle of the second European tour. Shortly before the show in The Netherlands, they had to find out that their big shows at Made in Asia in Brussels got cancelled, as the event would get rescheduled to September. By now we know that that event will not take place at all this year, but at that time that was a different story. Behind the scenes, people were still looking at a possible option to have sokoninaru perform at another location in Belgium and possibly also in the Netherlands. They were still working on that when the band was in Rotterdam. But after the gig at Vessel 11, it went very fast. Several governments came with regulations, concerts here and there were cancelled and the borders were getting closed. The band members of sokoninaru had to cancel the rest of the tour and left with hanging heads back to Japan. Of course, they weren’t the only band that had to shorten the tour or cancel concerts.
And now we are in August. While the first steps in the area of performances have been taken very slowly, it will take a very long time before everything is running at full strength again. This has to do with the uncertainty that the situation around the virus has brought with it. We cannot predict what the situation will be in a few months, let alone in a week. And that makes it difficult to organise something. Yet you see, especially in the open air, small-scale events taking place with an emphasis on small (and in most cases smaller than we are used to from events). We can see that enough people are creative in finding the solution to organise something anyway, with public health in mind. But it’s all still small, people are still cautious. And we have to follow the government’s regulations, so there are stricter constraints to adhere to. Besides, things can change quickly, so you have to think and act flexibly. Not an easy situation.
It’s not really quiet in the world of musicians and tour organisers, behind the scenes people are still looking hopefully for possibilities to have performances again. There are several who are already considering to have European tours in 2021. Musicians are still releasing new music and nowadays there seem to be more musicians choosing to offer their new music through various streaming services. Especially now it is very important to support your favourite musicians by buying music and merchandise, but also by listening and sharing the music digitally. It’s hard to know what the future will look like, that much is still uncertain, so, for now, let’s see how we can make a difference for your favourite musicians.
Of course, this was just one of the many unfortunate and also very sad stories that arose as a result of COVID-19. The last thing I want to say right now is that I hope you are all in good health and stay that way. It’s a difficult time for everyone and I really hope that soon we can return to a situation where we can see and hug each other, enjoy music in physical form and can dance and sing, all without worries.