- 16 Apr 20
Some experts have speculated that live concerts will not return until Autumn 2021.
Recent statements from public health officials and experts around the world have raised further fears for struggling musicians – as continued social distancing restrictions will potentially halt concerts and live events for another 12 to 18 months.
Speaking as part of a recent panel discussion organised by The New York Times, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a former advisor on health policy for the Obama administration, has claimed that "conferences, concerts, [and] sporting events" will be "the last to return", and may be further postponed until "fall 2021 at the earliest".
"You can't just flip a switch and open the whole of society up," Emanuel continued. "It's just not going to work. It's too much. The virus will definitely flare back to the worst levels. So I think you are going to have to do segments. Again, this requires testing and tracking, so you reduce the risk of the infection spreading, even if it doesn't come down to zero."
Emanuel's words have sparked serious fears across the global music industry, which has been dramatically upended by COVID-19. Every aspect of the industry has been impacted, with live music taking the heaviest hit of all. According to PwC, the concert industry was predicted to be worth $31 billion globally by 2022. Almost overnight, however, concerts have come to a grinding halt.
"Can you imagine our country without independent live music venues?" Eventbrite CEO Julia Hartz remarked in a recent interview with Billboard. "We're staring right into the face of that potential reality if we don't bring some serious relief and impact to this group."
While the collapse of the live music industry has taken its toll on the major promoters and companies, it has also had a devastating impact on small, independent musicians – who, in the face of declining record sales in recent years, have relied solely on performing to make a living.
In a statement about the launch of the new Irish Music Industry Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund, IMRO chair Eleanor McEvoy noted that many "talented and beloved members of the Irish creative community are struggling financially due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic."
"It is essential that the Irish music industry survives this crisis, not just for the benefit of music creators, but for the benefit of our country," she continued. "Music unites us and is fundamental to who we are. Losing it would be detrimental to our society and culture."
However, hopes that live music could makes its gradual return in the coming months were dashed this week, after Minister for Health Simon Harris stated that social distancing will be enforced until a vaccine becomes available.
Noting that there is "no magic point" at which normal life can resume, Harris claimed that "social distancing is going to remain a very big part of life not just in Ireland but the world over."
Despite these announcements, MCD's Denis Demond is reportedly "optimistic" that this year's sold-out Electric Picnic will go ahead in September – a hopeful outlook that will be much-welcomed by musicians, crews and concertgoers alike.