So of course the news headlines around the world all concern the Coronavirus. While certainly alarming, and spreading fast, it is generally not deadly to the majority of the population. Like most contagious diseases, it is most dangerous to the very young, the elderly, and those with underlying health issues.
Of course the wider impact is already being felt economically. Wild fluctuations in the NYSE and oil prices are already in full swing. One aspect of the economy that is also being affected is the music industry. The SXSW -South by Southwest Festival has been cancelled, as has the Ultra Music Fest in Miami. Coachella has announced concerns, and you can bet they will end up a no-go for 2020. Man, I bet Fyre Fest wishes they’d had this excuse! Many individual tours have been postponed as well, including Greenday, Avril Lavigne, Slip Knot, Whitesnake, Sons of Apollo, and many more. Other tours currently under way, such as KISS, have announced they will no longer be doing meet and greets.
Many small bands are undoubtedly being adversely affected by these developments. Indie and growing bands that earned a spot at SXSW surely counted on the festival as their promotional highlight of the year. A huge opportunity to perform for huge crowds and leap frog into extended tours outside of their home turf. All that work and planning, poof. Gone. Also of no small consequence is the loss to the local economies of the towns that host these events.
As much of a blow as this is, unfortunately it may be prudent. By far the bigger danger here is public panic. The media are only too happy to make this seem like Armageddon. They will ride those ratings right down to the downfall of civilization, if it means a few extra bucks. If one of these festivals were to go ahead, and suddenly the next week there were 500 new cases in Austin, TX. you’d see people really start to freak out. As it is now, people are streaming into the nation’s Walmart’s and Costco’s to buy metric tons of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and Mountain Dew. You can’t be expected to fight off zombie hordes without Mountain Dew.
So yes, unfortunately the best plan is indeed to cancel these tours for the time being. The virus has nothing on the impulsive nature of panic-stoked people. If Twitter had been around for the 1918 Spanish-Flu pandemic, it would have had half the country fleeing into the wilderness to live in isolation (a.k.a. Die).
Hopefully this will run its course, testing will improve and treatment will be effective. Until then I hope it’s not too much to suggest that everyone just use common sense.
By Peter Harris