Covid-19 pauses music industry.


Jack Vanstone
26 March 2020
SXE 003

Introduction / Covid-19 is a specific strain of a family of viruses known as Coronaviruses that cause acute respiratory disease. The impact that the disease is wreaking on the world is profound, but the total impact on the ever-developing history of music has yet to unmask itself.

Back in November 2019 the first case of the Covid-19 virus was reported in Hubei province at the heart of the Chinese city of Wuhan, at the time the future implications of the virus were unknown and the disruption it would go on to inflict on the rest of the world and the music industry were as yet undefined. As the virus ripped through the city of Wuhan throughout December and into January, many more individuals succumbed to the infectious pathogen, with numbers more than doubling on a daily basis.


Since December 2019, cases outside of Wuhan and more importantly China have increased exponentially, with WHO (the World Health Organisation) declaring a global pandemic of Covid-19, also known as Sars-CoV-2 on 11th March 2020. By this time there were more than 114 effected countries, with 118,319 confirmed cases and 4292 deceased. From the day a global emergency was declared, significant restrictions have been placed on the daily lives of the world’s citizens and this has started to impact specific sectors, including that of creative arts and music.

The music industry and creative arts in general rely heavily on clusters of teams and individuals that contribute to a rich artistic tapestry. Due to the nature of the Covid-19 outbreak, there has been significant disruption to nightlife, events and festivals that has reverberated throughout the industry, leaving many music fans and audiophiles feeling disconnected from the communities and normalities they are accustomed to.


The over-arching tone however, is unanimous. With event promoters, venues and artists mirroring the same cautious and amenable approach to the crisis; whilst ‘it is with deep regret that we cannot continue as planned, our collective safety during this crisis takes priority’. Notable restrictions started relatively small, but soon this snowballed into a cascading influx of cancelled events and festivals ranging from commercial festivals such as Ultra Music Festival (Florida, USA) and Glastonbury (Somerset, UK) through to localised events and venues focused on more underground music such as Griessmuhle (Berlin, DE) and Bassiani (Tbilisi, GE).


In the first two weeks of March, several European countries declared either partial or total quarantines of their entire population and locked down borders for both inbound and outbound travellers. This bold and evidently necessary action has meant that venues have had to issue notices with immediate effect for an undefined period of time, with many rightly branding the postponement of events and closures of venues simply as ‘for the foreseeable future’.

The current situation begs more questions than it provides answers, many of the people I’ve spoken to about the pandemic have no idea when it will next be prudent to arrange for artists to perform at their venue or what exactly the situation will be for venues in three, six or nine months time, if and/or indeed when things begin to return to normal. The list of cancelled performances is exhaustive and features artists from all corners of the industry, notably performances at some of the world’s most renowned Techno venues are postponed and/or delayed until further notice, with the likes of Manni Dee, Shlømo, VTSS, I Hate Models and RAW (Agency) all cancelling performances in the next four weeks.


Whilst these quarantines are in place across the globe, music fans are showing true acts of solidarity and respectful defiance, with many turning to balcony raves in apartment complexes and live streams for remote parties and social gatherings – showcasing the lifeblood of music communities across the world – inclusion.


There has been an outpouring of acknowledgement and support from distributors and media agencies too, with companies such as Bandcamp issuing a day of ‘revenue share’ free sales on the platform on Friday 20th March 2020 as well as Resident Advisor launching the #SaveOurScene campaign, in aid of protecting global nightlife. Additionally, several of the industry’s leading Techno imprints are offering lockdown discounts to enable fans to purchase more music for less.

As with all sectors, the future of creative arts is left uncertain at this time, unfortunately we are likely to see a natural phenomenon occurring in the coming months where constrained demand impacts abundant yet undeliverable supply and venue closures begin to surface in the wake of a global quarantine. As the situation continues to develop it’s important to remember some salient facts:

  • Shared love for expression, creativity, art and music will never be lost;
  • We are together in our fight to protect our music communities and sub-cultures from harm;
  • Collectively, we will do what we can to ensure the longevity of our nightlife.


Lastly, it is worth reenforcing advice and guidance that can help us all to return to business as usual:

  • Wash your hands frequently;
  • Cover your mouth if you cough or sneeze;
  • Obey quarantine advice and laws;
  • Do not deprive others by stockpiling resources;
  • Continue to support the artists you love by buying their music;
  • Continue to support the venues you love wherever/however you can;
  • Look after your family, your friends and of course – yourself.


You can read about more ways to support the music industry through Resident Advisor.